REVIEW: Sheptone Pickups for Telecaster

Photos by Dan Coplan.

A little over seven years ago, guitarist Jeff Shepherd faced a dilemma common to many of us. No matter how many guitars he tried, he just couldn’t find that elusive “TONE”! This need to solve a problem resulted in the founding of Sheptone, a boutique pickup company based in Port Orchard, WA. Through extensive research and analysis, Jeff built his company on the principle of “reasonably priced substitutes for over-priced vintage pickups.” His product line includes a variety of humbuckers, soapbar and dogeared P-90’s, Stratocaster and Telecaster sets, and 4- and 5-string P- and J-bass pickups. I’ve been working on restoring a ’76 Tele, so Jeff sent over a compatible set for review.


THE PICKUPS

Sheptone’s pickups are vintage-style construction. The bridge pickup for the standard Tele set is potted to reduce feedback and has staggered pole pieces reminiscent of the mid 50’s (flat pole Blackguard style also available). The neck pickup, also potted, came with a protective chrome cover (nickel is also an option). These pickups are potted upside down with the cover on to eliminate squeal by filling air gaps with wax. Both pickups use #42 enamel wire and Alnico 5 magnets. As a matched set, Jeff winds the neck pickup reverse wound/reverse polarity (RW/RP) to eliminate noise when the pickups are used in combination. Included with the pickups was a stamped certificate noting details including materials used, measured resistance, and “Guitar Tested” affirmation.

THE SOUND

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Tele sound. The bridge pickups tend to be too thin and bright for me and while I like the sound coming from the neck, it’s always felt a bit mild. This was the perfect test for running Sheptone’s pickups through the wringer.

Plugging my newly restored Tele into an Egnater Tweaker, I challenged the bridge pickup to restore my confidence in its usefulness. Thin, fragile tone be banished! Not only did the sound coming forth sound rich and full of harmonic content, I can honestly say I never thought my guitar could sound this good! The twang was still there, but rather than the bright, limited frequencies I’m used to, this twang had depth and life and a punchiness that hinted at Strat-like characteristics. Dynamics play a major role as softer attacks result in a smoother sound while harder picking brings out the clucking in your chicken pickin’ or the snap in your funky rhythms. Next stop: the neck pickup.

Give me some Mr. Bubble. I bathed in the warm, round, lushness provided by these windings. The sound was so big and full, I couldn’t believe I was playing a Tele. Lower register notes and chords vibrated in sympathy with my body as I literally felt the music. High registers rang out like finely tuned chimes. The two together…let’s just say I’m ordering food delivery for the next week because I ain’t leaving the house!

THE FINAL WRAP

It’s not often I gush about gear, even when I’m excited about it. Sheptone’s pickups, however, have to be the most significant contribution to quality tone that I’ve come across, possibly ever. Granted, when shopping for pickups it’s difficult to know how they’re going to sound without prior experience, but trust me, you owe it to yourself to check out a set (if not two, or three, or more) of Sheptone’s vintage-style pickups for your favorite axe.

PROS: Phenomenal sounding pickups. Your social life will blossom as fans will be mesmerized by your tone.

CONS: Your social life will vanish as you find it impossible to tear yourself away from jamming.

Sheptone is currently working on updating and improving their website. There are more pickups available than what is presented on their site currently. You’re encouraged to contact Sheptone directly regarding their full product line and custom orders.

Retail – $169

Sheptone’s website: http://www.sheptone.com

Follow Sheptone on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sheptone

Sheptone on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/sheptone

Dan Coplan is senior staff writer at SMG. Dan is a Los Angeles based cinematographer and self-admitting guitar junkie. Email: dancoplan@sharemyguitar.com

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  • Loved this post..

    I’m thinking of replacing my standard USA tele pups with these.. Only problem is, there are just so many choices for pickups these days!

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