As you can imagine we get this question a lot. The answer really depends on the style of music you generally play and what you want from your Tele.
As a general guideline, select the Gatton T-Bridge for Rock-a-Billy and Classic Country styles and the Modern T-Bridge for Modern Country, Rock and Jazz styles. The Gatton T-Bridge exhibits more of the classic Tele twang Danny Gatton used in some of his playing, while the Modern T-Bridge pickup offers a slightly fatter bridge pickup tone to smooth out what some players believe makes stock Teles thin sounding in the bridge pickup. Yet, we have heard many talented players coax twang from the Modern T-Styles just as easily as they do from the Gattons.
Having said this, there are those who need to cover a variety of musical styles and need elements of both model tones. So now, which one to select? Lets start by saying that you will simply not go wrong with either model because you can always make EQ changes to accommodate your tonal needs.
Both pickup models live within the city limits of Tele-ville
Another way to look at the question of which is best for you is to understand that neither model ever leaves the tonal city limits of “Tele-ville”. The Modern T-Style, due to its inherent fatter tone, lies more outside the center of town… but not so far out of town that it sounds like a humbucker in Tele clothing where you lose Tele vibe. The Modern T is never dull, muddy, or as dark as a humbucker. In short is it not a darker humbucker disguised in a Tele footprint as some competitive pickups are known to do. You will still get great Tele tone from the Modern T and Gatton T Bridge pickups and improved performance that exceeds competitive Tele pickups….not to mention the most obvious advantage of either JBE Tele model pickup…no noise or hum.
How Does the Modern T Actually Sound?
Describing tone is as difficult as describing shades of color to someone who has difficulty with color differentiation or is color blind. The words sometimes just don’t describe tone in a way that is universal for each player. That leaves us to actually experiencing the pickup. The Modern T is best experienced while on a gig or in rehearsal where you can exercise the pickup more than you would in the privacy of your individual practice space. It is in this “heat of battle” that you will hear, as well as feel, the difference in the Modern T. You will notice a fatter tone (yet still Tele-esque) and have more “substance” under your pick that does not make you ‘lay-in’ as hard as you might otherwise do.
Others like the fact that the Modern T is just the right amount thicker/fatter/more beefy sounding…all terms we’ve heard to describe the experience.
Can I get Twang from the Modern T pickup?
Yes! Remember, this pickup does not lose its Tele character. Also, a lot of tone is in the fingers and picking… especially when chicken picking
Which one is better when using distortion or overdrive pedals?
This question has more to do with the pedal. However, the slightly darker nature of the Modern T may be more suitable for these pedals. But, distortion pedals each have their own unique characters. Some are brittle sounding and raspy while others are silky and may even have tone controls to tailor your distortion effects.
You can also tame your tone when using bright distortion pedals with your guitars tone control. This is because JBE Pickups are high-fidelity pickups that allow your guitar’s tone controls to actually function as they were originally intended (but never did) by reducing the highs in order drive a more silky tone from an otherwise “brittle” pedal.
Does the Modern T-Bridge pickup mate well with the Gatton T-Neck pickup?
Absolutely. The Modern T offers a bit more output but can readily be adjusted to balance with the Gatton T-Neck by raising or lowering its height. JBE Pickups are all very sensitive to height adjustment – even ¼ turn of the screws makes a tonal and tactile difference. Unlike competitive Tele pickups you will not be dancing on a volume pedal or playing with your guitar’s volume control when switching between neck or bridge pickups.
What is the price difference between the two models?
None! The Modern T-Bridge and Gatton T-Bridge pickups are priced the same.
Is there are difference in T-Style models for left-handed players?
Yes! When ordering you must specify that you need a left handed bridge pickup or set. The manner in which we orient the blades, the materials, and manufacturing techniques are different for a left-handed model. But the price is the same as it is for right-handed models.
Which model does Bruce Springsteen use and are his JBE pickups different from what you sell today?
Bruce uses our stock Gatton T-Styles. Thank you, Bruce!
And, if you have never seen Bruce with the E-Street Band, you owe it to yourself to see them in person. Whether you are a Bruce fan or not, you will not walk away disappointed and dare I say a bit amazed as well.