Fender Telecaster

A major music retailer (who I think is crap and so shall go unnamed) had these as a special order exclusive to their stores.  I hate it when the only place you can get something from is the place you most hate, but a Mexican-made Tele that looks almost just like the real deal?  Are you going to pass that up?  Probably not if you're me, and you know you're going to modify the hell out of its guts.

This is quite an upgrade from the Squire Telecaster I had bought earlier.  Glossy neck, string-thru-body, etc.  It looks quite a bit like the '52 reissue, only for about a third of the price.  The only differences between it and the '52 that I could spot were:
  • Slight differences in logo and "Telecaster" label
  • The truss rod hole is open on this one; plugged on the '52
  • Modern tuning keys here instead of the vintage Klusons
  • Reversed control plate
Granted, I'm not a Telecaster expert, and I only spent about thirty seconds comparing the two versions of this guitar side-by-side.

The reversed control plate was the most galling of all.  I mean, I don't mind minor differences to prevent forgeries, but this was ridiculous, especially the lengths they went to in order to prevent this guitar from being sold as a copy of the more expensive version.  Specifically:

1) The giant shafts on these pots wouldn't fit through a stock control plate, meaning they had to be tossed.  They wouldn't fit the holes in any pickguard, control plate, or body face, honestly.  Actually, this wasn't too big a deal since I was swapping out these for push-pulls anyway.

2) See how the end of the plate meets the pocket of the pickguard?  Not if you reverse this one!

The plate was specially made so that it couldn't fit be reversed.  The screw holes lined up either way you turned it, but one edge of the plate was purposely made a little longer so that it overlapped the pickguard and couldn't be screwed down flush with the body.  Fortunately, I had another plate on hand from the ???Squier Tele, and that fit.

3) The routing made certain to leave a barrier in the way of placing the switch in the proper place, even though it would be easier to rout the entire control cavity channel to the same depth.

Granted, I probably would have had to rout if they did this without reversing it, just because I'm putting in push-pull pots, but it's just annoying that it's like this for these reasons.

With the new control plate and a couple of new push-pull pots as replacements, I was ready to upgrade:

Pickups: Lace Sensor Telecaster matched set
I had considered keeping the stock pickups, but they simply didn't have enough output to drive the distortion in my processor.  I liked their tone, but it just wasn't enough.  Also, there was always the fear of the 60 Hz hum Fender pickups in particular are notorious for.  I often take my guitars out to play, and being next to neon lights with unshielded single coils would be disastrous.

There are really only six combinations of pickups that are possible from a two-pickup guitar if you're talking about single coil pickups.  The pickup selector switch already provides three of these (i.e., neck, bridge, and both in parallel), but then a couple more DPDT switches (or push-pulls) will give you the rest.

There are other ways you can get all of these combinations as well.  For example, you could also use a 4-way selector will give you the pickups in series.  The addition of a phase switch will give you the other two combinations (i.e., either series or parallel out-of-phase).  Alternatively, a single 6-position rotary switch in place of one of the pots (I recommend the tone control) means you can rewire your pickup selector switch as a varitone or some such if you like (i.e., in place of the tone pot that the rotary just replaced).  However, the most intuitive approach is to leave all the controls as though stock and then add the new variations beneath them via push-pull pots as described below.

Series/parallel switch
Control: Under the volume pot

Function: This makes a pseudo humbucker.  I mean, well, technically it is a humbucker, but it's two coils on opposite ends of the guitar.  Still, combining the pickups in series makes them thicker than when added in parallel.  You get more output in addition to the change in tone for the warmer, which is always good for driving distortion.

Phase switch
Control: Under the tone pot

Function: This is such a versatile switch that I think all guitars should have one.  It's clangy and noisy in ways that definitely aren't twangy.

Brighter pots
Control: Both the volume and tone pots

Function: Stepping the traditional 250k pots up to 500k will brighten the tone as well as increasing the output.  And if any guitar is known for a bright and loud tone, it's the Telecaster.  In fact, Bruce Springsteen has a 500k tone pot in his trademark Tele.  I probably had 250k push-pulls on hand when I did this, but I made sure to grab the 500k pots just to brighten this up and make it even more Tele-like.

Non-electronic modifications
New tuners.  The originals weren't bad, but they weren't good either.  I originally bought this set with the intention of putting them on the old Squier Tele, but I never played that enough to make it worth my time.  By contrast, this guitar demanded it based on the vintage looks alone.

Copyright Alexplorer.