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