How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster

Yesterday was the day, I installed the neck position humbucker into my 99 US Fender Telecaster.

This is the finished result…

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster with Humbucker Installed

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster with Humbucker Installed


Vintage 1954 Fender Telecaster "Gloria"

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I must admit that I am extremely pleased with how it turned out. So if this is something you are considering doing to your Tele, then following pics will walk you through the process of how to install a humbucker in a telecaster.

The first step was to remove the original pickguard.

Removing the Pick Guard from my 1999 USA made Fender Telecaster

Removing the Pick Guard from my 1999 USA made Fender Telecaster

The next thing we did before de-soldering the original pickup wiring, was make sure the new guard was going to fit the neck heel, and all the screw holes would line up, which they did. Otherwise, if the guard wasn’t going to fit and we went ahead and de-soldered the pickup before checking, we would have just wasted a whole heap of time by having the re-solder everything up again while we sourced a new pick guard.

Testing New Pick Guard Size on my Telecaster

Testing New Pick Guard Size on my Telecaster


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Once we were confident everything would fit, it was time to remove the neck. I love Fender’s, just four screws and the neck is off!

Installing a Humbucker - Removing the neck

Installing a Humbucker – Removing the neck

Next step was to remove the old pick-up by de-soldering the wires attached to the selector switch and volume and tone controls.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Removing the Old Pickup

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Removing the Old Pickup


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With the pick guard off completely, it’s time to start marking out the routing.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Removing the Old Pick Guard

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Removing the Old Pick Guard

To make sure the routing was going in the right spot, we positioned the pick guard on the body where it should be. Positioning the pick guard in the exact spot allowed us to get a precise positioning for the routing.

Routing a Humbucker In a Fender Telecaster

Routing a Humbucker In a Fender Telecaster


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Next step was to scribe the pickup position onto the body so we knew where to cut. Using a sharp scribe and the pick guard as a template, we scratched out the line we would follow when routing the hole.

Scribing the Humbucker Position

Scribing the Humbucker Position

Once we had our lines scribed onto the body we added some masking tape on the outer side of the hole we were going to cut. This helps to protect the body from scratches that may occur during routing.

Protecting the Body From Scratches Using Masking Tape

Protecting the Body From Scratches Using Masking Tape


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Protecting the Body From Scratches Using Masking Tape

Protecting the Body From Scratches Using Masking Tape

Next step was to start routing out the bigger hole to allow for the larger pickup size. No turning back now!!! But, before we start cutting, we just want to make sure the routing bit wasn’t in too deep, so a couple of final checks and we’re ready to go.

How To Install A Humbucker In A Telecaster - One Last Check for Routing Bit Depth

How To Install A Humbucker In A Telecaster – One Last Check for Routing Bit Depth


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Once we were happy with everything, it was time to make some noise and dust…

How To Install A Humbucker In A Telecaster - Started Routing

How To Install A Humbucker In A Telecaster – Started Routing

How To Install A Humbucker In A Telecaster - Routing

How To Install A Humbucker In A Telecaster – Routing

After about 10 minutes of routing, we have a nice and tidy new hole the size of a Humbucker…

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Routing Almost Done

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Routing Almost Done


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Once the majority of the routing had been done, just a quick check to see if the pickup would fit.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Checking if Humbucker Fits

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Checking if Humbucker Fits

Then, with a very sharp chisel, some minor tweaking was needed to square up the corners, where the round bit of the router couldn’t get into.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Minor Adjustments with a Chisel

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Minor Adjustments with a Chisel


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So after the fine tuning with the chisel our humbucker routing is done, time for a clean-up and blow off the dust with a little compressed air.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Cleaning Off The Dust

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Cleaning Off The Dust

…and just to make sure everything is going according to plan, a little input and help from my son Luke.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Luke

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Luke


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So, with the routing done, and all of the dust cleaned up, it’s time to screw in the new pick guard, and one last comparison check.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - New Pickguard Installed

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – New Pickguard Installed

With the new pick guard on, the next step was to wire it in.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Soldering In the Pickup

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Soldering In the Pickup


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Screw in the volume and tone control plate.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Screwing in the Control Plate

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Screwing in the Control Plate

Then refit the neck. Which fits perfectly into the new pick guard.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Refitting the Neck

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Refitting the Neck


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String it up.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Re-string the Guitar

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Re-string the Guitar

And play.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Testing New Humbucker

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Testing New Humbucker


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The result speaks for itself I think.

How to Install A Humbucker - Finished

How to Install A Humbucker – Finished

How to Install A Humbucker - Finished

How to Install A Humbucker – Finished

How to Install A Humbucker - Finished

How to Install A Humbucker – Finished


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3 thoughts on “How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster

  1. Just a quick question, did you alter the selector switch and if I was to replace both pickups with humbuckers would I need to alter the selector?

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