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Fender Highway 1 Texas Tele, modding ideas for Telecasters

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by ToneRanger, Feb 2, 2006.

  1. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

    Nov 16, 2005
    I'm feeling pretty bad GAS for the Highway 1 Texas Tele.. The local guitar store has one in stock, honey blonde with some major nicks (doesnt bother me at all, quite the opposite, I could get better price because of it). It had wonderful resonance and really felt good.

    Okay, if I buy it I think I'm gonna modify it quite much.. Here's what I've thought, what do you think? I'm open to all suggestions.. The idea is to keep the costs reasonable..

    1. Pickups, I think I might have to change these. Acmeguitarworks have Fender Custom Shop Nocasters for 110 $/set.. The price is quite reasonable and I think those might be good enough for me.. People have praised the Fender Vintage pickups too...

    One question about Tele pickups generally: what's the tonal difference between flat vs. staggered pole pieces?

    2. Pots, anyone have experience with the Greasebucket cirquitry of the Texas Tele? Anyway, how good quality are pots overal in Highway 1 Fenders? Need to update as in mexican Fenders?

    3. Hardware, I think I'd need compensated brass saddles. Should I change the whole bridge or just the saddles? Is the bridge material/thickness somehow inferior to the high end models?

    What about tuners. These are Pings, not Gotohs, right?

    4. Buffing & wax, I read somewhere that people buff and then somehow wax their highway 1 Fenders to make them shine. Any ideas about this?

    5. Bigsby, another idea is to put Bigbsy tremolo to the guitar, but this is something I have to think more about. Generally, how much does a Bigsby tremolo change the sound versus to the traditional 3 saddle brass bridge and how?

    Lots of questions, but I think there might be someone out there with some insight into this stuff.. Thanks!
  2. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

    May 5, 2005
    Madison WI
    my suggestions: Lollar pickups and a Callaham bridge

    getting a bone nut cut, and a pro fret level fret dress would be mandatory too...
  3. RL in Fla

    RL in Fla Member

    Feb 2, 2003
    Future Cleanup Site
    Buy it , replace the tuners , do the brass saddles , and then go from there .
    Just make sure your new brass saddles have allen screws for the height adjustments , straight-slots are a major pain . The tuner holes are 10MM so most any 6 inline tuners will work , even going back to smaller posts , since Stewmac sells 10MM bushings for the smaller posts on "vintage" sets .

    The finish is some form of nitro , I put a drop of acetone where it wouldn't show under the pickguard on mine and it melted like candle wax . Super-easy to strip and refinish later . ;)

    I wouldn't hazard a guess on pickups, wiring , or pots on here , at least not without body armor . :D
  4. Crazyquilt

    Crazyquilt Guitar Dad Silver Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2005
    The wiring's probably fine, although a complete wiring kit from Acme will run you around $40, so it's not too pricey.

    Unless the tuners don't work (which is pretty unlikely) why change 'em? It's not like they effect the sound. (Looks around. Winces.) Okay. I bet someone is going to come on and say, "Yes! You must have true Vintage Tuners or it won't ever be a Real Telecaster!"

    Get some compensated saddles. Saddles range in price; I think StewMac's are among the cheapest. How much they effect the tone, vs. the pricier Glendales or Callahams is debatable. My experience is that the nicer saddles (I have Glendales on one Tele, and AllParts on another) do seem to be better compensated, but the difference is smaller than between uncompensated and compensated.

    As far as the bridge itself, if you like the tone of the guitar now, unamplified, changing the bridge plate may alter that -- whether it's better or worse is personal preference. Some people like the changes the thicker bridges make, some like the original Fender bridges. You can always experiment, now or later.

    Definitely upgrade the pickups. That'd be my first place to spend money. Lollars or Fralins are both excellent. OC Duff is also highly regarded, although I don't have personal experience with his work. But, he regularly has eBay auctions for pickups -- basically, you get the auction, and he winds what you want (within reason) for $129 -- less than Fralin or Lollar, not much more than Nocasters, and truly hand-wound. (Well, as much as handwinding is actually done by hand, but I digress.)

    I'm really curious about Bigsby's myself. I love them on my Reverends, but I'm wary of putting one on a Tele, and radically changing the sound. I don't know how much of a difference it makes, but I'm sure there's a give & take involved. There's a direct drop in Bigsby for Teles that's supposedly pretty easy to install, but, iirc, it uses a rocker bridge like a Jazzmaster or Mustang. I'd be concerned that'd change the tone (and stability) a lot. I'm more interested in doing what I've read several folks (most notably Tele295 on the FDP & TDPRI) do -- put a Bigsby on using the standard ashtray bridge. Basically, they open up the back of the ashtray so the strings can go through it, install a Bigsby, and sometimes shim the neck to get a better breakover angle for the strings. I'm considering trying this, but I'm pretty wary of bollocksing it up.

    But, definitely -- pickups first, then saddles. Everything else is gravy, imo.
  5. tonedrip

    tonedrip Member

    Aug 24, 2003
    114th meridian
    no offence , but potential plans to change p/u's, pots/wireing , saddles, tuners, finnish + add Bigsby .... Why not find something closer to the mark ?

    just curious
  6. teddy boy

    teddy boy Member

    Oct 23, 2005
    Perhaps because they look cool, like they want to be beaten up and mistreated? Plus I expect those are long time scale plans not be undetaken immedietly after purchase...
  7. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

    Nov 16, 2005
    Thanks so much for all the replies & help guys!

    As for Tonedrips question, I have actually been GASsing for the AV52 quite long already, but I might get a good deal for the Highway 1, hopefully about half the price of the AV52RI.. And as Teddy Boy said, these are long term plans... It said actually on the Fender website that the Texas Tele has Gotoh tuners, not Ping, so I wont need to replace them.. I'm planning on maybe 200 € worth of upgrades and the Bigsby is just a "dream". Actually I might forget about it 'cause what I would like to do with this guitar is to make it as traditional soundwise as possible. I already have a Telesonic, which is a great great guitar, a twisted Telecaster..

    What do the Lollars and Fralins have over the Fender CS Nocaster pickups? I have a Fralin pickup on my strat, which I'm very fond of, but I also like the quality of my 57/62 reissue pickups just fine, the bridge just didn't have enough guts..

    Does anyone make compensated saddles for 10-52 strings? Intonation is really important for me..

    I think I wont strip the finish, I just read somewhere that someone had buffed it to make it shine, which souns like an interesting idea. I like the fact that the finish is really fragile.. I think especially Teles look really cool when totally battle scarred, and the process has already begun in the guitar store for this one.

    Ok, thanks dudes!
  8. tonedaddy

    tonedaddy Member

    Mar 13, 2002
    I am here as you are here as you are me and we are

    "The standard Intone saddles have three unique angles that achieve perfect intonation on matched sets of round wound strings such as 9's, 10's, 11's and 12's."

    NOTE: Glendale is having a closeout sale on saddles they no longer make. Not many choices left, but worth checking out:

    I'm assuming his website will soon have info on his new lines of saddles.
  9. I saw a Highway one that had the finish buffed out. Very nice!!!
  10. GDSblues

    GDSblues Member

    Jan 25, 2006
    Removed - please promote your products in the Manufacturers & Dealers Emporium. Thank you. --chiba

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