Telecaster Upgrade

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Thread: Telecaster Upgrade

  1. #1

    Join Date: Jul 2011
    Location: Southern NH

    iTrader: 0

    Telecaster Upgrade

    I liked the MIM Tele in natural ash that I got at the beginning of July so much I figured I had to put some loving into it.

    For my first foray into guitar electronics, I opted to replace both pickups (including pots/caps). So after spending a few hours triple checking my circuit diagrams and soldering like mad, I go and restring the guitar and plug it in for the first time since the overhaul. Nothing, on any pickup. I immediately start thinking about wiring and problems then just get super depressed because clearly I'd done something stupid. Which, it turns out I had because I then accidentally knocked my volume knob and noticed it was at 0.

    Well anyway, minor heart attack aside everything seems to have gone well. It had stock Fender ALNICOs in it which were very weak. The sustain was awful (12 seconds from pick to inaudible) on the stock bridge as well.

    What I installed:
    SD Quarter Pound in neck
    SD Little '59 in bridge
    2x Bourns 500kΩ pots (1 dpdt to split humbucker)
    Orange Drop .022µF cap
    Babicz Full Contact Bridge
    Dunlop strap-locks
    EB Black Tele knobs
    All-Parts Dark Black Pearloid PG
    DR Tite-Fit LT9s
    Sperzel black graduated tuners (Still to come)

    It plays amazingly. The pickups are outstanding, but so far the MVP of this refit seems to be the new bridge. The Babicz bridge was perfectly set up out of the box for string height to factory specs and intonation was a breeze. However, the sustain has gone from 12 seconds (awful) to 48 seconds(!). Together with the clarity on the pickups, it really plays like a dream.

    The Quarter Pound is perhaps the only oddball (to be fair, I knew this going into it). It has a very full tone and plays nicely clean, just has a very different feel than the stock pup. Going to have to try it out with some distortion later. The little '59 is amazing though, and splitting it doubly so.

    I'm fairly experienced with electronics/circuits/wiring so to me the most daunting task for me was not breaking anything and not stripping any screws. As my first guitar project though, I have to consider it a success. There's something of a personal connection you get from doing your own work and I can imagine that those of you guys who are able to build entire guitars find it very rewarding. My woodworking skills are many years out of use, but maybe one day. Still, I can't recommend enough mucking about with a guitar. It's made me understand more about the instrument and I came out with a guitar that sounds like it cost me 5k from the fender custom shop vs. the $340 I bought it for. If anyone wants to know any specifics about the refit or have any questions on any of the things I used, feel free to ask.

    One thing this has made me realize, though, is that I need to go buy a cheap squier and make it my electronics experiment box. Anyway, some pics (sorry for the poor photography and the chrome smudges )

    First is the old pic of the guitar in stock condition, next 4 are of the upgraded version.

  2. #2

    Join Date: Jun 2006
    Location: Earth
    ME: 02 NAMM Jackson RR
    MA: Takamine 12
    MB: Spector Euro 5
    Rig: SLO|Road King|Überschall

    iTrader: 10 (100%)

    The Babicz is just so gaudy with that huge logo. Still, if it's that good, it's worth it.

  3. #3

    Join Date: Oct 2008
    Location: Faribault, MN
    ME: Charvel MetalCaster
    Rig: Line6/Carvin

    iTrader: 0


  4. #4

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Boston, MA
    ME: JP6 / Carvin CS4
    MA: Martin DC-1E
    Rig: Axe-Fx II XL

    iTrader: 34 (100%)

    Shit yes man, that looks awesome! Great call on the pickguard too, that looks tits. I was always on the fence about that bridge when I had mine, but now that I see it on a guitar, imo it looks a lot less gaudy than it does in the pics on their site. Very fucking cool.

    I dropped the tuner jig in the mail for you today, so it should show up Monday.

    There's something of a personal connection you get from doing your own work
    This is also so true. I still have Drew (the other admin here) do setups for me once in a blue moon because his setups have The Touch, but over the last year or so I've been getting way into pickup swapping and generally working my own axes, and it is definitely rewarding when you get it right. (and frustrating when you get it wrong, haha).

    All that said - clips!

  5. #5

    Join Date: Jul 2011
    Location: Southern NH

    iTrader: 0

    Oh no, I can't actually play the guitar...

  6. #6

    Join Date: Jul 2011
    Location: Southern NH

    iTrader: 0

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt C View Post
    The Babicz is just so gaudy with that huge logo. Still, if it's that good, it's worth it.
    I can't adequately describe how much of an improvement this bridge is. It basically feels like I've never played on anything but toy guitars before.

  7. #7

    Join Date: Jul 2011
    Location: Southern NH

    iTrader: 0

    Also, got the Sperzel's on today!

  8. #8

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Black Swamp, OH
    ME: Rich Mahogany
    MA: Godin A6 Ultra
    MB: SR500
    Rig: Massive/Boobies

    iTrader: 16 (100%)

    Wirelessly posted (Mjolnir: Opera/9.80 (J2ME/MIDP; Opera Mini/4.2.21992/25.657; U; en) Presto/2.5.25 Version/10.54)

    Nice work! Yeah, I love working on my axes. I got started doing pickups and setups on a '98 RG570 because I was to poor to pay someone else to do it for me . So, I got myself a $15 iron and hit the forums for tips/tricks

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