ProGuitarShop

Your Telecaster Obsession : Mod Your Tele Part I

October 2, 2013

A friend of mine once told me that there are 2 types of people in the world: “people who believe there are two types of people in the world” and “people who don’t.” (Well said, Greg.) The “2 Types of People…” cliché can be found all over the land of guitar: acoustic or electric, Fender or Gibson, and of course: Strat or Tele. There’s no either/or in any of those matchups—plenty of us straddle those lines, but I’ll just lay out a cold fact*: The Telecaster is the Coolest Guitar Ever Made & Ever Played.

Okay, so I’m unabashedly biased towards Teles and have been from the day I first heard Jeff Buckley playing a Tele through his Fender Twin with the reverb cranked. I’ve owned a Japanese pink paisley RI, a ’72 custom, ’72 Deluxe, John 5 Triple Tele, and ’69 Thinline. Obviously I’m not exactly a traditionalist when it comes to Teles—I’ll happily rock humbuckers in a few of my Telecasters, but if I could only have one guitar, I’d grab a classically configured Tele (2 single coils) and just mod the hell out of it.

The Tele is a relatively simple instrument which makes it easy to mod. You can grab a Squier or Fender Modern Player and tweak a couple things to make a low end instrument play like a high-end one. Today we’re highlighting some popular internal mods to help you take your Tele to the next level. Of course, if you’ve already got a high-end Tele, some of these mods are still applicable/appropriate and will simply help make your already-perfect guitar a little more perfect!

 

Replacing your pickups is always the first, most-obvious mod and the mod that has the most effect on the sound of your instrument. The classic Tele configuration is 2 single coil pickups with a 3 way switch (allowing bridge/bridge+neck/neck pickup selection). The simplest upgrade you can make here is to simply replace the factory single coils with better quality pickups. If you like the snap and twang that the Tele is known for, the Fender Custom Shop Texas Special set is a great upgrade that gets you Custom Shop level quality and a hotter, increased output to make your Tele cut through the mix. There are several boutique pickup companies making fantastic Tele pickups—Lindy Fralin and Lollar are two of my favorites; both companies offer traditional Tele style single coils as well as some hot-rodded offerings… which leads me to another mod option for your Tele: HUMBUCKERS!

Most pickup companies offer a single-coil sized humbuckers that will drop in to your Tele with minimal hassle. I tossed a Seymour Duncan Little ’59 into the bridge position on my ’69 Thinline and added a push/pull switch to allow me to split the coils to get more tonal versatility—in single-coil mode, I still get a good amount of snap and in humbucker mode, I get great throaty tone that loves being paired with overdrive.

The discussion on pickup replacement leads directly to a discussion of upgrading/changing  your electrical components—if you’re going to replace your pickups, it also makes sense to look at your instruments switching and pots.

A popular Tele mod is to ditch the 3-way switch in favor of a 4-way switch. Why add a 4th switch position to a 2-pickup guitar?! The majority of guitar pickups are wired in parallel, meaning the signal hits them simultaneously. When you wire pickups in series, the signal passes through one pickup and then through the other, resulting in a fatter, hotter tone.

While you’re playing around with pickups and switches, evaluate your pots. Upgrading your pots to higher quality components can’t hurt, but also think about your pots’ values. Typical Teles come with 250k pots – and for good reason: higher value pots have more treble response. Teles aren’t lacking in that department, so changing to a higher value pot doesn’t make much sense if you are sticking with a classic single-coil tone in your Tele. However, if you swap in humbuckers or P-90s to your Tele, you may want to consider swapping your 250k pots for 300k or 500k pots to help keep some brightness in your tone.

And lastly, if you (or your tech!) are already inside your control cavity, consider shielding it as well as the pickup routings. Shielding  these cavities helps eliminate noise and hum and can be particularly useful for quieting the 60-cycle hum of single coils. Though this is probably more necessary on Strats, Teles can still benefit from shielding. There are a couple of ways to do this; there is copper shielding tape or conductive shielding paint available readily from Stewart McDonald or Digikey. An even more cost effective way to do this is with some good old fashioned tin foil glued down in the cavity and on the back of the pickguard.  Using the paint may have a slight advantage in that it can’t come off and cause an unexpected short in your guitar’s circuit. While not necessarily a tone upgrade, the shielding will eliminate a lot of noise if done properly and is almost a requirement for anyone using a single-coil equipped guitar in conjunction with a lot of overdrive or distortion.

Next time we talk Telecasters, we’ll talk hardware—but in the meantime, as always, we want to hear your Tele mod success stories (or horror stories!) and any advice the hive mind has for ways to make the world’s greatest guitar even more great. Viva La Telecaster!

I'm Not Jealous!

 

*not an actual fact

 

Comments

  1. Steve Dallman says:

    I have modded nearly every guitar I have ever had. My beat up 68 Telecaster has had at least 20 different pickups in it, preamps, all manner of wiring. It lives today in beautiful condition with three pickups, all noiseless.

    My favorite mod is the “Jerry Donahue” mod although I put it on a push/pull pot. It puts the neck pickup out of phase with the bridge, but uses a small capacitor to roll off the low end a little on the neck pickup when out of phase with the bridge pickup.

    The result is that when both pickups are on, you get the out of phase tone in the mids and highs, but the low end and volume remain. It sounds much like the 2 or 4 positions on a Stratocaster.

    Even when using only the neck pickup, sometimes rolling off a little low end is very useful.

    I do like noise less pickups and thankfully there are many on the market that are wonderful. I don’t like hum and noise.

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 7:11 am
  2. JP Brown says:

    Well ive got a G&L custom shop Esquire (which i love), so not many of these mods are very applicable to me, but i am interested in the 4 way pickup selector. would it be possible to wire it so that the four positions are 1) just the pickup (no volume or tone control), 2) just volume control, 3) volume and tone control, and 4) the classic front esquire position of the tone rolled off and just volume control?

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 7:25 am
  3. Ian says:

    I have the cheapest Squier Affinity Tele with the 4-way switch mod and a push/pull pot on the tone for out of phase on the pickups. Cheap mod, but nice new sounds, even with the original pickups.

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 7:32 am
  4. micaiah says:

    i modded my 04’ squier std tele with the stock A3 neck pickup and a vint 51 neck pickup in series cause i wanted a fatter humbucker tone with single coil clarity and its clean and clear even under a DS-1

    plus: humbuckers are a dime a dozen in teles now i wanted to stand out and good god this mod is going on all my future teles if i do up grade from my squier (NEVER!!!)  its pure gold

    i only use the the neck pickup on that tele 95% of the time and am gonna put the other vint 51 bridge pickup in place of the stock squier pickup.

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 7:34 am
  5. Keoni says:

    I just want my old 52’ telecaster back and my rosewood tele back.

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 7:42 am
  6. Git Pickins says:

    I have two questions for experienced modders. In the mid 80’s I played a conventional two single coil Tele that the bridge PU just roared, it was the best rock sound EVER. It wasn’t at all fuzzy or fizzy just bold, smooth and perfect. The owner had bought it used, neither of us thought it was the original PU but he didn’t know, any ideas on what it may have been?
    My second question- about year 2000 a friend bought a reissue tele, I forget what year it was a reissue of. It had the original (for that year) capacitor and came with a replacement capacitor to give the neck PU the “modern” sound. To my ears the original cap gave the neck PU (which I usually find kind of unimpressive) a very “jazz box” tone that I really liked, a lot like the Jazzmaster’s switchable circuit. My friend swapped out the cap and the neck PU lost that quality. Anyone know what the value of the cap was?

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 7:48 am
  7. Spencer Nordyke says:

    I have a Deluxe Nashville Power Tele with the strat pickup in the middle & the Fishman acoustic bridge. I had a Seymour Duncan little 59 installed in the bridge tele pup spot and WOW! Now it’s a strat, a tele, an acoustic AND a humbucking rock machine! Everything I need in one!

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 7:56 am
  8. MickDett says:

    I have a Blacktop Tele HH, which comes standard with Humbuckers in both positions and the hardware reversed.  About a week after I got it, I put the hardware in the “right” order so I wouldn’t bump the volume and tone knobs while strumming.  A week later, I had a Stetsbar installed, which is a great, smooth whammy bar.  Now I want to coil tap the pick ups so I can switch back and forth from Double to Single coil.

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 7:59 am
  9. TroyD says:

    I have a Blacktop Tele HH and replaced the very anemic pickups with some nice Seymour Duncans with push pull pots for coil taps for each p/u on both the Vol and Tone controls.  Makes it a very versatile guitar…

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 8:23 am
  10. Jim says:

    I own a custom one of a kind thinline body, bottom is mahogony, top is brazialian tigerwood.  Christenson non slip tuners and two of the finest Bill Lawrence single coil telepickups known to man.  Oh yes a maple neck as well.  Bill’s wife Becky liked it so much they put it on their website.  Johnny Rawls, a major world wide touring Blue Artist loved it and played it on a cpl of his gigs.  Yay! Telecasters forever p.s. 3 brass above the string through body.  I love it and would take no less than $2000 for it.  Hugz

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 8:35 am
  11. Brad says:

    I have a 2001 american tele that always sounded good, but hasn’t been my #1 in years. Then I had the opportunity to play a 1955 tele and it blew my mind. It was warm, twangy, and overdrove very smoothly. I realized how far my new tele was from the original design. So I fitted it with a callaham brass saddle bridge and threw in some fender custom shop 51 nocaster pickups. The difference is huge! It actually sounds and plays like a tele! It sounds really nice! And the callaham bridge intonates just fine. Brought this guitar back to life! but you know what sounded closer to the 50s tele than it? I played an 80s fender jv tele and it blew doors of fenders current stuff.

    The modded fender tele is still not my #1 though. That’d be my greco les paul with dry z pus followed by my greco strat with ‘66 fender mustang pickups.

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 8:48 am
  12. AndrewO says:

    In response to “Git Pickins,” although I’m pretty sure the capacitor in the 2000 reissue was not the following. You might try a paper-in-oil vintage style cap .047uF. I have had good results with these similar to the jazz box tone you describe. In general trying to recreate the sound you got from a specific capacitor can be tricky due to how they’re made and the subjective quality of audio. This includes modern style caps. Capacitors even of equal rating inevitably vary from batch to batch. They all function within their specified tolerance from batch to batch but when you’re dealing with something so subjective as tone you will get a variation from one component to the next. Its usually a very subtle difference but as a fellow Tele enthusiast sometimes that makes all the difference. My biggest recommendation is to try many different components you will find tones you like although often its not the tone you set out to find in the first place I find it can inspire you to grow as a player. As far as the 80s bridge PU it could be anything pretty much the same comments I made about capacitors applies to PUPs as well. Mix and match until you find a desirable result.

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 8:53 am
  13. john says:

    if you have to mod your tele something is not right to begin with

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 9:17 am
  14. Franc Robert says:

    The only mod that I’ve done to my ‘83 telly is a SD Broadcaster bridge pickup-plenty of bite and roar in this pickup, and just sounds “right” to my ears, especially in this guitar. If you’re into the Jeff Buckley “sound” his telly was an un-modded ‘83 (which he played mostly on the neck pickup), which have some of the best neck pickups ever made-my original neck pickup is still in mine, and I can dial up that JB sound in a heartbeat (except mine is Sienna Sunburst, and JB’s was creme-can the color affect sound? lol)

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 9:30 am
  15. Matheus says:

    I own 3 teles now.
    One is Fender Select series with the chambered ash body with maple top and stock pickups. This guitar sounds just great. Fantastic snap and body. Don’t plan to mod this one.
    The second is a 96’ American Standard with alder body and maple neck and fingerboard. Always loved it, but now I find the sound is a bit thin and cold, so maybe I’ll change pickups. Any suggestion?
    The third is custom built from scratch. It’s a thinline with purpleheart wood semi hollow body, quilted maple top and maple neck and fretboard. The neck pickup is a TV Jones Magnatron and the bridge pickup is a Fender custom 51 Nocaster. Callaham vintage bridge with brass saddles. So this one was born modded. Fantastic!

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 9:43 am
  16. Stringbender53 says:

    I wasn’t really into Tele’s until the mid 90’s, preferring Gibsons in my youth, then moving to Strat’s as my primary guitar of choice in later life. After working on several as a guitar tech and modding a few, I kinda got the itch to add a nice one to my collection somewhere along the line. Initially I wanted a “Nashville” three pickup style, but in 2008 I had a chance to score a REALLY nice Fender “Lite Ash” version in transparent amber with a top-end C.&G. Tweed hardshell for only $350.00 and took the plunge. While it IS a Korean produced unit, I loved the “No-Caster” vintage look along with it having a 22 fret neck, and this particular one has a strikingly nice birds-eye maple fretboard and neck and a nicely figured ash body. As it has stock Seymour “Alnico II Pros” I’m not planning on changing pickups, but may re-wire the controls with C.T.S. Pots, an upgraded switch, and a better tone cap in the near future as well as replacing the bridge with a better quality vintage brass 3 saddle unit. As it is, it’s a great guitar for the money and I’m really pleased with it. Now I’m looking for that nice “Nashville” Tele I wanted originally as a companion piece. Consider me a convert!

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 11:03 am
  17. joe says:

    No talk of modding (wiring) is complete—even begun, actually—without a reference to this great site:
    https://sites.google.com/site/phostenixwiringdiagrams/

    Plenty of Esquire mods here, too.

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm
  18. Keoni says:

    I forgot to say that my 52 Telecaster was a reissue, but the lightest reissue I have ever lifted.  5 lbs. at the most and I’m not kidding.  Several people who own guitar shops here in Hawaii couldn’t believe how light it was.  Now my rosewood was a standard reissue from Japan that I got at the Guitar Center on Sunset blvd. in 1994.  It looked like the George Harrison / Let it Be guitar.  That is one reason why I bought it.  After playing it for a few years it had a “chocolate” sound to it that I loved.  And now they’re both gone.

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm
  19. Sune Lykke says:

    I took a chance and bought a partscaster tele off ebay a couple of years ago. The guy who hads assembled it has done an impressive relic job. The guitar sounded really dull and uninspiring though so I decided to give it an electronic makeover. I didn’t want to spend a lot on pickups so I went with a set of Vintage Plus from Tonerider which I found really good for the small price tag. I also upgraded the pots to 280k, got new wiring and a four way switch. These simple mods really brought the guitar to life and it went from being a good looker/bad player to a good looker/really great player.

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm
  20. Roger Moss says:

    Back in the early ‘80s I bought one of the first Tokai Teles from the lead vocalist in my long-term country-band and started modding immediately. This was before the Nashville Teles, but I wanted to keep some of the tones I have from my Strats, so replaced the neck PU with a Strat one, then put another in the middle position, where it would be on a Strat.
    Next came the fun bit: I fitted a mini-toggle centre-off switch between the Vol and Tone knobs to control the middle PU. Centre-off gives middle PU off, so the Tele sounds are still there; switching up or down, however, switches it in with whatever else is selected, up phased one way, and down the other. It’s all passive, but gives a lot of usable variations. Still sounds great.
    Next up:
    A year or so back I saw lots of good reports about Squier CV50s BSB Teles, so bought one - a truly amazing instrument, with the classic ‘52 feel, apart from the Strat-dimensioned maple neck. PUs are pretty good, so no changes planned there for now (although I’m tempted to try some Fender Nocasters..) but the nut was pretty poor, with not enough slot depth to stop the 1st string jumping out in mid-solo. Graphtech solved that. The strap button screws were really under-specced, too, so changed those while adding security buttons. Pots are, surprisingly, full—sized units, so I’m only planning to replace the PU switch: 3- or 4-way? Hmmm…
    Love teles!

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 5:46 pm
  21. marcus says:

    +1 John

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 6:08 pm
  22. HugoKrauser says:

    I modded a ‘83 Japanese Squier with a Lollar Special T in the bridge and a Dimarzio AirClassic in the neck position, splittable

    now I just bought a Squier ClassicVibe’50 and the plan is:
    Wilkinson bridge with brass saddles
    DiMarzio ToneZone in bridge position
    SeymourDuncan SM2 in neck position
    we’ll see what to do with splitting or 4 way switch or something else…

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 8:21 pm
  23. Roylomm says:

    Swapped out the neck pickup foe a H/B sized Charlie Christian by Vintage Vibe. Also a 5 way switch mod, the same as the 4 way but the extra position has a low value cap to remove bass frequencies from the neck pickup.

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 8:21 pm
  24. Brazilgrass says:

    To me the single coil bridge pickup is really what makes a tele what it is.
    Dare I say, if you’re goin’ to put a humbuckin’ pu there you might as well install a damn locking tremolo.
    I like teles with humbuckers, but in the neck position. Or a mini-HB, P90 or “Charlie Christian”, for that matter.
    I think the article fails in not mentioning this kind of mod.
    Otherwise, nice read as usual.

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm
  25. JonnyD9 says:

    I’m in the process of modifying my Fender American Tele.  Looking at putting in a Seymour Duncan Hot Tele STL-2.  Does anyone have some experience with this pickup?  There aren’t that many testimonials out there so any feedback would be great appreciated.

    posted on October 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm
  26. Blackie James says:

    Mods are great and I have a 1992 Jeff Beck Strat that I have done several mods on and is a valuable tone machine for both stage and studio work but my workhorse is a 1952 Tele and the only thing that was done was the removal of the neck pickup mud capacitor other that it is the best guitar I own.. Keep your fancy pants Gibsons, PRS pansy models and whatnot and I’ll take Leo’s first baby of “52 and rock through my Twin Reverb all day and night. Blues, country,  jazz, pop, funk whatever you want this baby delivers every time . It is the world’s greatest guitar !

    posted on October 3, 2013 at 12:19 am
  27. imreoir giotar says:

    If I had to mod my Tele then I just be getting some non-stock-Tele sound and what’s the point? Might as well buy a Strat.

    posted on October 3, 2013 at 12:28 am
  28. Telepath says:

    Tele’s ... how can anyone not love ‘em.

    Tele is all I have now (and an Esquire awaitng some work).
    I have my Tele wired with a 5 way.
    5,4,and 3 are the regular Tele Neck/both/Bridge positions.
    Pos 2 is a stratty quacky notch and 1 is just the neck again, but with a lot of bottom end rolled back. I use that bright neck position a hell of a lot more than I even imagined I would.

    The only thing I ocasionally miss is the ability to make convincing , middy, rich PAF Angus-esque sounds,
    No biggie. I wouldnt swap the Tele snap and versatility for that one sound.

    posted on October 3, 2013 at 4:58 am
  29. Steve S. says:

    If you’re looking for series / parallel, 4-way switching and custom shop pups…look at the Baja Tele.

    It gives you all of this stuff in a ‘52-style body and neck, right out of the box.  No mods required.

    posted on October 3, 2013 at 6:36 am
  30. Tom L says:

    I still own more expensive humbucker guitars, but 4 years ago i bought a “cheap” baja tele. it became my main axe in the course of a few weeks. I LOVE this guitar.

    Although i love their sound, i don’t know how they would compare to the original 52’s (i’ve never heard or played one), but still… I’m very happy with it.

    Funny thing: I compared 2 baja teles in the shop for more than an hour. The difference was really there. One was ok, the other one sounded a lot better (to my ears). Go figure… Inconsistency in the manufacturing? No idea…

    Modding: I like to mod ( i modded my humbucker guitar in ways i’m not even proud off :-) ) and always want to “upgrade my guitars as much as i can, so off course I’ve been thinking about putting in some Kent Armstrong pups, or even loosing the 4-way switch to maker it more original, but i’m really not sure if it would be worth it.

    The only thing I did, was shielding the cavity and star-grounding the electronics. And that was definitely and utterly worth it. It made a huge difference! Shielding the cavity is a no-brainer.

    just my 2 cents
    (hopefully without too many english mistakes)

    posted on October 3, 2013 at 7:27 am
  31. Alex M says:

    You sound like a man after my own heart. I’ve got a ‘72 Thinline RI with a Lollar Imperial HB in the bridge, and the Lollar Charlie Christion (HB-sized) in the neck, 4-way switch (4th being the in-series mod), and a toggle switch for a coil tap on the bridge.

    posted on October 3, 2013 at 9:29 am
  32. Bob Noxious says:

    I got a really good deal on a RoadWorn Tele; until playing it, I wouldn’t have ever bought one of those instruments, as I’m of the opinion that guitars should be allowed to age with use. Having said that, it played like no other instrument that I had owned previous to it, and I’ve had my share of guitars over the years. I did make a couple modifications early into owning it. I replaced the pickups with DiMarzio Area Ts.The original pickups didn’t sound bad, but the DiMarzios definitely were an upgrade. The bridge position has more punch and clarity, and isn’t so strident; the neck has a warm, sweet midrange, and isn’t muddy at all. I also replaced the bridge with a Bardens ashtray style bridge. It has considerably more mass than the original, and has the lower rim removed so you’re not whacking your hand on it in the event of reckless windmilling. I found a nice genuine mother-of-plastic pickguard as well that was modified to allow for truss rod adjustments without having to take the damn thing off. I also had the truss rod adjustment screw changed from a phillips head to a socket head (hex head). That makes maintenance much simpler. Finally, the first and most important mod: STRAP LOCKS. You bust one headstock, and you never make THAT mistake again. Ever. I was going to change out the tuning gears, as it comes with the old style slotted-post tuners. However, those gears are solid as a rock, and they’re cooler than my ex-wife’s demeanor, so on the guitar they remain. This is a genuine badass guitar.

    posted on October 3, 2013 at 9:33 am
  33. Abbacus says:

    Klein has a huge selection of amazing tele pu’s.

    posted on October 3, 2013 at 10:35 am
  34. Stratopastor says:

    On my Tele clone I routed out the neck p/u cavity and fitted a P90 bought for a fiver off eBay (seller said it came off an Eastwood guitar). Really made for a versatile instrument, with growl, twang or a bit of both. Also being a Strat player I like to do the reverse control plate mod (surprised that wasn’t mentioned here).

    posted on October 4, 2013 at 1:04 am
  35. Stratopastor says:

    (trivia department - would I be right in thinking that the vintage Fender ad at the top of this article originally said ‘Broadcaster’’ and was modified at the printer’s, hence the black stripe under ‘Telecaster’?)

    posted on October 4, 2013 at 1:07 am
  36. Ed says:

    I have a fender Telecaster American Vintage 52 and i change only the capacitor (Russian K40Y-9, 0,033) and DR Pure Nickel Strins and i don’t need more nothing. The great sound!!

    posted on October 4, 2013 at 1:22 am
  37. Don says:

    I’m glad to know it’s not just me, I picked up an SQUIER Affinity and the first thing I want to do is change the bridge plate

    posted on October 4, 2013 at 10:03 am
  38. Allan says:

    I’ve got a 2002 Mexican Tele. I’ve put in titanium saddles and Dimarzio area T’s. Sounds way better than it did stock. I’ve also set it up to have a coil split function with a push-pull pot when I need a slightly brighter tone.

    posted on October 5, 2013 at 9:13 am
  39. tom says:

    I had a mahogany chambered tele and it was utterly worthless. Super woody, dull sound, and ice pick highs (from the bridge). It was either totally muddy or completely ear splitting. The wood in a tele and with single coils, IMO, is incredibly important, more so than with hum buckers. Chambered… that totally did not help.

    posted on October 8, 2013 at 12:54 am
  40. Jay says:

    well just recently (this past weekend) I took mine almost completely apart (it’s a squier standard tele, first time I try to mod it) and I just discovered how much I suck at soldering, though connections do work the way they were meant to so I’m quite happy with it for now, and will have a friend of mine re-solder it all again

    posted on October 8, 2013 at 10:33 am
  41. Dave says:

    I have 3 Tele-style guitars.

    My #1 is a 1988 MIJ top-loader. It came with a black body, chrome hardware and a white MOTS pickguard. I have black knobs, black plate, black cup, black bridge plate and black neck pickup cover, with a BWB pickguard. I reversed the switch plate to get vol-tone-switch instead of standard, and put in a no-load tone pot and a four-way switch. Love the serial setting for the pickups. Not so much the no-load, which hinders the Jeff-Beck-style tone swells.

    My second is an inexpensive Rondo SX Tele-style, which came with a neck with a Strat-ish headstock and thick orange finish, meant to look like aged but actually looking more like bozo’s hair. Stripped it, cut down the headstock to a more Tele look, replaced the melted nut with a bone one and the melted black dots with abalone, then got Bill Kirchen to sign the headstock.

    My third is a HH Bullet Squier I got for humbucking and weight. It’s still stock, but I’m considering getting a maple neck so it looks more like my #1.

    posted on October 9, 2013 at 3:44 am
  42. Seth says:

    I have a ‘99 American Standard. The only mod I’ve done so far is replace the stock pickups with a set of Vintage Noiseless. I like the sound, but it does lack some girth sometimes. I’ve thought about swapping the pickups again, but I don’t want to lose that Tele character. It’s absolutely the nicest sounding clean guitar I’ve ever owned or played with. It sounds great dirty, too, as long as I tame the shrill highs. I’ve thought about doing the 4 way switch mod, as I’d really like to see how it sounds with the pickups wired in series. I also thought about putting in a set of Duncan Quarter Pounders with the tappable output. I’ve got several other guitars, but I always end up reaching for the Tele. It’s definitely my #1. It just oozes class.

    posted on October 11, 2013 at 6:18 am
  43. doug says:

    Always like the mod of bridging the vol pot leads to prevent rolling off highs. I think it is particularly useful now that so many amps/digital recording devices will so easily save settings for tone. This mod makes the vol knob a bigger factor and means you never have to mess with the vol settings on the other equipment - much. As someone said somewhere, it is amazing that a company will charge $1000-$2000 or more for a guitar that has poorer electrical shielding than a $20 toaster. It is inexcusable. Shielding not only cleans up the signal on all types of pups, quiets 60 cycle hum on single coils, but it is a safety mod as well that grounds the electronics correctly and along with the very simple mod of putting a resistor in between the hot lead of the jack and the controls so it will blow if there is a surge, every guitar should be shielded correctly - IMHO.

    posted on October 12, 2013 at 6:58 am
  44. Joe Coyle says:

    I have read endlessley about mod this mod that Put this pickup in take that pickup out, blah bla blah.

    Ask yourself this. If Eric Clapton is given a $50 guitar and a Tukey has a $!500 guitar. Erics will sing like an angel and the Turkey’s will moan.
    The bottom line is you can either play, or you cant. Changing and modding makes no difference to a doped out or drunk Crowd

    Imagination IS far more important than education

    posted on October 2, 2014 at 7:52 pm
  45. STEVEN C DALLMAN says:

    But, playing a guitar that has had an excellent setup, with pickups that sound great, that does what the player wants and needs it to do, enhances the playing experience for the player, and makes it that much more enjoyable to play. The audience, who doesn’t know jack about guitars still reaps the reward of a happy, satisfied player. Playing is not black and white. The statemement “You can either play, or you can’t” is simplistic and incorrect. I enjoy a whole range of players, from those who are skilled beyond the vast majority of players to those who are pretty basic and mediocre, but still play with taste and skill. Joe Bonamassa or Steve Morse are nearly superhuman, while BB King or Albert Collins, or Jimmy Vaughn are pretty basic players. I love them all equally and enjoy all they play.

    posted on October 3, 2014 at 3:19 am

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