Help! Baja Tele WAY too dark!

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by van_delay, Feb 23, 2020.

  1. van_delay

    van_delay Member

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    I have a Baja Tele that does not get a ton of use. A big reason for the lack of use was the intonation struggles with the stock 3-saddle bridge - frustrating. I had a someone put in a new compensated 3-saddle bridge, a new bone nut, and a setup for heavier gauge strings 11-54 and drop tuning (whole step down).

    Everything resulted in improved intonation, but the guitar is now very dark - not in a good way. It does not resemble that characteristic bright, twangy Tele tone at all even through my bright Vox AC15. In addition to the lack of top end brightness the low end is pretty boomy/muddy.

    I’ve tried a ton of quick fixes - re-string, pickup height adjustments - but nothing gets the brightness back or clears up the low end. I realize that tuning down a whole step might reduce brightness a small amount, but this is more than a small change. Even though all the S1 switching positions/configurations work, at this point I have to suspect that something happened to the wiring/pickups during the bridge swap.

    This issue is driving me nuts and I really want to like this guitar again.

    Does anyone have any experience with this issue or have any educated guesses as to what it could be?
     
  2. vortexxxx

    vortexxxx Supporting Member

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    I don't think anything that could be san Terror with the wiring could do what you describe. Does the tone knob work? If it didn't, there could possibly be an issue. Try putting in a set of whatever strings you previously used and tune it the way you used to to eliminate the strings as a factor. Otherwise the new saddles might be an issue.
     
  3. Guppie

    Guppie Member

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    I would say it's a electronics issue but it's really hard to tell without sound samples. What do you even mean with "really dark". The tweaks you made might only help in a subtle way so is that the context? Only "slightly warmer than you would like" or "tone knob down dark"?
     
  4. cnutjazz

    cnutjazz Supporting Member

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    Try tuning up to standard? I tune to D standard myself because it gives my tele a slightly fuller, more resonant sound but it’s not that drastic. You could always swap the brass saddles for stainless steel to get back some brightness and punch.
     
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  5. van_delay

    van_delay Member

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    Tone knob works. Turning it down rolls off top end just like you would expect, it’s just that the amount of treble that is there with Tone on 10 is MUCH less that would ever be considered normal for a Tele.

    I just can’t imagine string material or gauge or the saddle material having the ability to reduce treble by this much.
     
  6. van_delay

    van_delay Member

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    I’ll try to get some sound samples with the Tele as well as some of my other guitars to give some context. It’s definitely a “tone-knob down” sound even with the volume and tone knobs at max on the bridge pickup. If I crank the amps treble and drop the bass a bit I get close to a normal Tele tone, but plug any of my other guitars into the amp with those extreme settings and the tone is unbearably bright.
     
  7. vortexxxx

    vortexxxx Supporting Member

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    I have no clue what "San Terror" was supposed to be before auto correct changed it.
     
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  8. vortexxxx

    vortexxxx Supporting Member

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    Is it the 50s or 60s. I oiled my all rosewood neck on my St Vincent very lightly wiping it right off and it was darker sounding for at least a couple of days. It sounds normal now. That was the first time I encountered this.

    String material can make a difference. If you have a set of your old ones (if it was a different brand or material) switch a couple of strings to see if those sound different.
     
  9. twoheadedboy

    twoheadedboy Member

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    Try thinner strings. Big strings can get woofy. If that doesn't help, have a tech confirm that the electronics are working properly.
     
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  10. Guppie

    Guppie Member

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    Please check the electronics first. It's not your string size or oil on your fretboard or the material of your string ferrules.
    I'm thinking hard but I can't think of anything. Maybe check nothing is touching your tone capacitor like your main ground wire. Make sure your wiring is correct and there are no shorts.
     
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  11. vortexxxx

    vortexxxx Supporting Member

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    The tone control wouldn't be functioning by rolling down the high end if there was a problem there. There also wouldn't have been a need to mess with the electronics when installing a new nut and bridge.
     
  12. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    You could adjust your amp EQ so your volume is wide open. I find the typical volume knob, also acts as a tone knob to some degree.

    Bear in mind these Bajas have more wiring and more solder points than basically any other 6 string electric Fender makes - even Jazzmasters and Jaguars. Every one of those points could be part of the issue. But anyway, check not just the tone knob, but the vol also.
     
  13. TorzJohnson

    TorzJohnson Member

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    It's quite possible for one component to decide to fail coincidentally while you're working on something else entirely. I'm a phone tech, ask me how I know.
     
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  14. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

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    Are you sure the volume push/push isn't engaged?
     
  15. ddeand

    ddeand Supporting Member

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    If the Tele sounded “normal” before the tweaks to fix the intonation, then there must have been something done during those changes. Maybe backtrack through that process and make sure all the electricals are properly set. Perhaps take it to a different shop and see what they can find issues with the wiring.
     
  16. vortexxxx

    vortexxxx Supporting Member

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    What kind of bridge did you put on? Did you change the bridge plate too? Are the saddles brass? I have a 50's Baja and I put Rutters saddles and their bridge plate on mine. The controls wouldn't be uncovered normally for this mod. The only electronic thing I can think of is some sort of accidental damage in the shop.
     
  17. Guppie

    Guppie Member

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    Yeah, i agree but he is describing the sound as:
    That doesn't sound like a hardware/setup problem.
     
  18. van_delay

    van_delay Member

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    Thanks for the advice. My gut and ears tell me that wiring is probably the culprit. I’ve only resisted opening it up because I’m not super savvy with electronics and don’t know exactly what I am looking at. I can at least take a peek to make sure there are no bare wire components touching each other.
     
  19. van_delay

    van_delay Member

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    Both positions of the push volume knob have the intended effect. Bottom end thins out considerably when pushed in.
     
  20. van_delay

    van_delay Member

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    Yes, brass saddles and the bridge plate was swapped out (can’t remember the brand).
     

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