Squire '52 re-issue Telecaster

This is in the style and butterscotch blonde color of the classic model played by Bruce Springsteen on the cover of "Born to Run" and at least half of his other albums.  This guitar sounds and looks great.  It is easy to play.  The finish is semi-translucent just like on its much more expensive look-a-like, and you can see the grain of the wood beneath.
With just two coils, two knobs, and one switch to work with, there wouldn't seem to be a lot you could so with this guitar compared to, say, a Les Paul.  However, I'm never one to settle for limitations.

(future) Modification: Lace Sensor pickups
The stock pickups are very weak and, unfortunately, have that cursed 60 Hz hum common to all cheap single-coils.  I have been very impressed with the Gold Lace Sensors in giving a classic sound in my black Strat, so I expect I will upgrade to the Tele versions shortly.

(future) Modification: 4-way pickup selector switch
Control: pickup selector switch (duh!)

Function: Gives series and parallel combinations between pickups.  Typically, the standard 3-way selector gives only a parallel combination.

(future) Modification: Phase switch
Control: Push-pull under volume knob (switch portion)

Function: Throws the middle pickup electrically out of phase with whatever other pickup it is combined.

(future) Modification: Treble Booster
Control: Push-pull under volume knob (potentiometer portion)

Function: Boosts the high end by keeping as much of the signal from going to the ground.

(future) Modification: High-pass capacitor
Control: n/a

Function: Placing a very low value capacitor (.001 microfarad works for me) across the appropriate lugs of your volume knob (or knobs) will keep your tone from loosing the high frequencies (i.e., getting "muddy").

Modification: Advanced Midrange/Tone Control
Control: Tone knob

Function: This is a fancy tone control built onto a push-pull knob.  With the knob in the down position, it's a standard tone control, but with the knob pulled up, it does two things: Turn it towards 0 and it pulls out the midrange frequencies to give you a glassy sound somewhat like an amplified acoustic.  Turn the knob to 10 and you get thicker, hotter sounds as if your pickups had some extra windings added to them.  In the middle setting (i.e., "5"), it's the default sound.  They're available from Griblin Engineering for less than $20 and take less than 5 minutes to install.

The Big Picture
The basic ("stock") Tele only allows only 3 combinations of pickups.
Stock configuration:
  • Neck 
  • Neck + Bridge 
  • Bridge 
The configuration in this guitar allows 3 more combinations in addition to the 3 above:
with the extra series combination on the 4-way switch:
  • Neck + Bridge (combined in series)
with the phase switch on: 
  • Neck + Bridge (out of phase... duh!)
with both the series config and the phase switch on: 
  • Neck + Bridge (in series, combined out of phase)

Non-electronic modifications:
vintage Bridge and Saddles - The original version cames with a standard bridge.  In order to bring it up to the level of the true '52 re-issue, I swapped out the bridge for the vintage style.  I was fortunate enough to find a hybrid (i.e. top- and bottom-loading) bridge that allowed me to avoid having to drill holes through the body and adding string ferrules to work with the tradition through-body design.  The string saddles are also brass on this vintage version, which are a harder metal.  This typically results in better sustain and a brighter tone (more characteristic of the classic Tele sound).  Remarkably, the guitar stays in tune much better than before even though I haven't yet replaced the tuners.

(future) Tuners - (Note that this was written before the bridge replacement discussed above.)  The original tuners are pretty poor.  I don't think I have ever owned a guitar that was worse about staying in tune.  Consequently, they absolutely have to go!  Ideally, in keeping with the vintage approach, I would like to replace these with Klusons.  I have had a lot of luck in using these on my red Strat, so they're probably the way to go as far as quality.

The Schematic
Components pictured:
  • 2 single coil pickups
  • 1 push-pull pot (250k Ohms)
  • A "hi-pass" capacitor
  • Advanced midrange/tone control
  • 4-way switch
  • Output jack

Depending on the manufacturer, different 5-way switches have different configurations of contacts.  This diagram doesn't specify which way is "up" or which direction is forward (i.e., position #1 vs. position #5, not that anyone is ever consistent in using these designations anyway).  When you prepare to assemble your own circuit, use a multi-meter to test the continuity between the common of each pole and the other lugs so you can determine which position selects the neck pickup, etc.
In this diagram, the gray wires go to ground.  Other colors were chosen arbitrarily.  Different pickups will have different color codes for the wires.  If you wish to add a 4-conductor humbucker, consult the manufacturer's website for which wires feed from which coils.

Copyright Alexplorer.