The Telecaster is undeniably a milestone in guitar history. As the first commercially successful solid-body single-cutaway electric guitar, the Tele played a huge role in defining the electric guitar as we know it today. Everything that made the Telecaster great in 1950 still makes it great today. It's simple but effective, sounds amazing and is found everywhere in country and rock, with a significant presence in other genres as well. No one can deny that the Tele is the model that put the solid-body electric guitar on the map, but it wouldn't be what it is without its pickups.
What makes this guitar's pickups unique is their asymmetrical design: the bridge pickup compensates for the narrower vibration of the strings at that position by having more windings in its coils to boost the output. Together with the neck pickup, this specially tuned arrangement produces a tone that's sharp, brilliant and rich—the signature sound that gave the Telecaster its success in the first place. This special design means that the pickups are especially important on the Tele, and they'll have a big impact on your sound.
The biggest difference between any two pickups is whether they're single-coil or humbucking. There's no right answer when it comes to which type to use, since the guitar can support one or the other just as well. In fact, the Telecaster is so receptive to different pickup configurations that it's earned a reputation as being a customizer's dream. Consider single-coil pickups if you want a classic vintage sound or the highest level of detail when playing intricate solos. To eliminate background noise or for higher power to overdrive an amp, take a look at the humbuckers. If you really want to push your amplifier to the limit, you might even think about active pickups, which have their own preamp to give a power boost to the signal.
One of the best things about any electric guitar is the ability to customize. They're like the hot rods of the instrument world, and there aren't many better examples of that than the Telecaster. Finding your favorite pickups is an important part of making the guitar truly your own—the more personalized the sound, the deeper your connection to the Tele will be.