t-style.jpgToday we will be reviewing the Joe Barden Engineering, Danny Gatton T-Style pickup set. The original T-Style set was developed by Joe Barden for Danny Gatton back in the late 80’s. They are direct replacements for Telecaster type guitars and do not require any alteration to your guitar. Also to note that the stock value 250k ohm potentiometers do not need to be changed. The Fender Danny Gatton Signature Model Telecaster comes stock with these pickups. They are a side by side coil design with blades instead of the traditional polepieces. The tone is vintage in character, balanced and is fully humbucking.

Our test guitars were a Scott Lentz T-Style guitar with light ash body and maple neck, stainless steel bridge with brass saddles and a Fender ’62 Relic Telecaster with medium weight alder body and rosewood neck, steel bridge with brass saddles. The Barden sets fit into each guitar perfectly without any modification as stated in the Barden literature. The bridge pickup does not have a bottom elevator plate. A small piece of copper tape with a wire soldered to it sticks to the body under the bridge. The end of the wire gets soldered to the volume pot to ground the bridge. The installations went very smooth.

The test amplifier was a 5E3 Deluxe clone using Mercury Magnetics transformers, Sozo caps, carbon comp resistors, a Larry Rodgers’ tweed covered pine cabinet and a Weber 12A125 speaker. Current production Tung Sol 12AX7’s and 6V6’s were used and the 5Y3 was an N.O.S. RCA. The amp was hand built by me here at 300Guitars.

First up was the Lentz T-Style guitar. This would be similar to the Danny Gatton Signature Model Guitar in construction materials. Played through the 5E3 type amp this guitar just sang like crazy. You could get great blues and rock tones with no problem at all. Aggressive, searing bridge pickup Roy Buchanan tones were at the ready. The single notes were full without the ice-pick high end. Chording was articulate and note separation was excellent, loaded with rich harmonic content. At higher volumes there was no trace of microphonic feedback at all. The neck pickup was fat and clear, almost Strat-like but with more punch. With the tone control rolled down you could play jazz and still have the clarity of each note. Both pickups together with the amp turned down a bit yielded a great rockabilly tone. This combination would be a winner in the studio for recording or put a mic in front of it for live gigs.

Next up was the Fender ’62 Relic Telecaster. Again the clarity and note separation was excellent. The alder body, rosewood neck and steel bridge combination definitely sounded different. There was a little less “bounce” with some more meat to the overall tone. The response felt a little slower and had a smokey blues tone.  With the amp cranked up the bridge pickup was slightly microphonic because of the steel bridge plate but was totally manageable. Maybe with an overdrive pedal or high gain amp it might get a little unmanageable but a non-ferrous bridge could remedy that. This guitar had a heavier sound and would work perfectly in a trio type setting where some players would prefer a fatter sounding guitar.

The overall tone of each guitar was very musical and there was absolutely no trace of hum. Both guitars were very quiet even at high volume settings. Using the pickup selector along with the volume and tone controls you could get a wide variety of tones. The Barden T-Style pickup set is much more versatile than a stock Telecaster pickup set. Clarity remained when the guitar’s volume was turned down.

The Bottom Line: The Barden T-Style pickup set would be great for the player that wants the absolute most out of their Telecaster type guitar. Versatility is greatly increased and noise is completely eliminated. This set is perfect for the gigging musician. List price is $169.95 per pickup and are available from Barden Dealers. Phot Credit: Barden Pickups.