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NGD - MIJ Rosewood Tele, Update: Back from refin/overhaul

sbrollins76

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
548
Edit: Tele is back from its refresh/overhaul. Pics and details here.

I happened to check the website for a local shop I don’t get to very often at work Tuesday, and saw this MIJ rosewood Tele that had just been added. They had it listed as a 1985 for about half the going rate on Reverb. I could tell from the photos on the website that it had some dings and wear, and obviously someone had decided to turn it into an Esquire at some point. The listing did mention the original pickups and guard were in the case. I’ve always wanted one of these since it’s a Beatles guitar and thought this might be my best chance to afford one, so I called to confirm it was still there and decided to head down on my lunch hour.

They had posted these on their website and Instagram:





When I got to the shop, they pulled out the case (non-Fender, looks like it might be an older TKL) and showed me a couple of Lindy Fralin boxes with different pickups and parts. There were also 6 different pickguards in various colors, some for single pickups, a couple for a neck pickup, and one for a neck and middle. Based on the pickup boxes, it turned out the pickup that’s installed now is a Fralin split steel pole. The original pickups were in one of the boxes, along with what looks to be a Duncan Jerry Donahue bridge pickup. I took a couple of photos while I was trying it out in the shop and sent them to my band mates. The finish is pretty beat up and there’s some buckle rash on the back. You can see a pretty good gouge on the edge that goes through the finish and into the wood.



It played really well and sounded great through the AC30 they let me try at the shop, so I decided to go for it. I took these after I got home from work and had a chance to play it some more. The finish along the bottom is really hazy, and there are several white/yellow spots where it looks like it bubbled maybe?



Last night I took the Esquire pickguard off and discovered the body was routed for a middle pickup at some point. That explains the w/b/w Nashville Tele pickguard that was in the case.


I also pulled the original guard out of the case, and found 2 more of the original screws in one of the boxes of parts. I’m short 1 pickguard screw, but I think it looks better with the black guard on.


I’m looking forward to playing it at band practice this weekend. Next Tuesday I’m planning to take it into my favorite repair shop to look at options for neck pickups and to get it set up as a Tele again. Right now I’m thinking I’ll go with a 4-way switch. I emailed Fralin today to ask for a recommendation on a neck pickup, but I’d love to hear suggestions. I’m also planning to get some advice at the repair shop on the finish issues. I don’t mind the dings, but the haze/cloudiness has me slightly concerned. I’m toying with the idea of having them strip it and refinish it in satin like the original, but don’t want to damage the rosewood. All in all, I’m pretty stoked on this guitar and excited I was finally able to get one!
 
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Benz2112

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,931
I love that so much, the George Tele is my favorite of all time. The blackguard is the proper look.
 

zztomato

Member
Messages
11,407
The cloudy finish is just what happens to some poly finished guitars over time. There's nothing to be done about. However, since it is clearly a "player", I'd be tempted to remove the poly and have it finished in clear lacquer. A tele body is one of the easiest to do a refinish on.
Good score!
 

Wino67

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
873
Wow, congrats on a great find. I hope you make great music together. As far as your mods to the guitar, I dropped a set of Cavalier pickups into my Tele about 6 months back. Really a great set. I went with the Huge Lion bridge and Fat Lion neck. High output but very articulate. I also recently installed one of the Emerson 4-way wiring harnesses which really reduced microphonic issues I had been experiencing. Plus the added pickup dimension is pretty fun.

http://www.frettech.com

https://emersoncustom.com
 

sbrollins76

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
548
I'd be tempted to remove the poly and have it finished in clear lacquer.
That's exactly what I'm thinking too. I'm going to take it into the Repair Zone, my favorite shop here in San Diego, and see who/what they recommend locally for a refin.

Wow, congrats on a great find. I hope you make great music together. As far as your mods to the guitar, I dropped a set of Cavalier pickups into my Tele about 6 months back. Really a great set. I went with the Huge Lion bridge and Fat Lion neck. High output but very articulate. I also recently installed one of the Emerson 4-way wiring harnesses which really reduced microphonic issues I had been experiencing. Plus the added pickup dimension is pretty fun.
I'll check out the Cavalier pickups. I went down the rabbit hole a bit last night on pickups and my head is spinning with all the options. Fralin got back to me this morning and recommended one of their vintage output split blade neck pickups to pair with the split steel pole bridge. If I stick with a Tele-style pickup, I'm definitely doing the 4-way switch.

I'm also starting to think that since the body has already been modified for the middle pickup rout, that maybe I'll have the neck position routed out for a humbucker to give me more options. I'm thinking a Firebird or Charlie Christian could be cool. The bridge p/u that's in there now is described by Fralin as P90-like, so it's already a departure from a standard tele bridge.
 

zztomato

Member
Messages
11,407
That's exactly what I'm thinking too. I'm going to take it into the Repair Zone, my favorite shop here in San Diego, and see who/what they recommend locally for a refin.


I'll check out the Cavalier pickups. I went down the rabbit hole a bit last night on pickups and my head is spinning with all the options. Fralin got back to me this morning and recommended one of their vintage output split blade neck pickups to pair with the split steel pole bridge. If I stick with a Tele-style pickup, I'm definitely doing the 4-way switch.

I'm also starting to think that since the body has already been modified for the middle pickup rout, that maybe I'll have the neck position routed out for a humbucker to give me more options. I'm thinking a Firebird or Charlie Christian could be cool. The bridge p/u that's in there now is described by Fralin as P90-like, so it's already a departure from a standard tele bridge.
Fralin pickups are great. Lindy is a very knowledgeable guy.
If you are considering a CC pickup, they are probably the worst for hum. Thay are also at their best played clean or just slightly gritty. They do provide a superb clean neck tone though. Good luck.
 

jgyn

Member
Messages
5,520
Looks awesome! Is the body hollow or solid (can't tell from pickup routes.) Is it heavy?
 

CanuckChris

Member
Messages
1,488
Looks like you're short two pickguard screws. That one on the horn looks like it's chrome, and larger than the other ones. Picky, I know, but mentioning it only because it seemed like you were trying to find all the original ones?

Great score though. Looks like the wood has been mostly spared from any damage from the dings. Definitely a candidate for a nice refin!
 

sbrollins76

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
548
Looks awesome! Is the body hollow or solid (can't tell from pickup routes.) Is it heavy?
It's definitely solid where the routs are. I had read that these are chambered, and there's a little space around the edges of the control cavity, but that looks like it. I haven't taken the neck or the bridge off yet, so I'm not sure what might be under there.

Looks like you're short two pickguard screws. That one on the horn looks like it's chrome, and larger than the other ones. Picky, I know, but mentioning it only because it seemed like you were trying to find all the original ones?

Great score though. Looks like the wood has been mostly spared from any damage from the dings. Definitely a candidate for a nice refin!
Good call on that chrome screw. I hadn't noticed until you pointed it out, but it's very clear in the photo. I'm not too concerned about having all the original parts, since I intend to keep this and play it. There's a box in the case with a couple sets of knurled control knobs, pickup screws, and some other random pieces. I thought it was funny that all of the pickguard screws were there except one.
 

Axis29

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,444
This is one guitar I will add to my herd some day. I've loved every one I've played... Just not found a deal on one yet.

Congrats! I dig the beat up look on it too!
 

wademp

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
489
Score! I love the MIJ stuff! Congrats on the very cool tele!
With the middle pickup routed, the possibility are endless!
 

ant_riv

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,357
Congratulations!

It is beautiful and great to hear it plays and sounds as good as it looks.

Maybe it’s just me, but I like the finish as-is. A real relic that you won’t need to be afraid of dinging or denting.
 

jwguitar

Member
Messages
5,881
Wow that is a real score. That is a very interesting piece. I have never seen a MIJ Rosewood tele like that before.
 

VaughnC

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
17,749
I remember when these hit the market in the 80's...my local dealer got 3 and I bought one dirt cheap...and, in retrospect, I should have bought all 3 with the way the prices took off. Loved the RW Tele but I'm a Strat guy so I moved it out like a dummy....one of those ones I wish I had back. Good luck with the refin!
 

67blackcherry

Member
Messages
11,867
C9mgrats - very cool guitar!!
Another vote for the black p/guard, it just looks so proper.
IMO nitro sounds better than poly so if you go down that path....or just keep it as is and play the snot out of it!!
 

sbrollins76

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
548
The few rosewood Teles I have played weighed a ton! Cool guitars though.
I weighed it this weekend with the bathroom scale (so not terribly scientific) and it came out to 9.8lbs. Not the lightest guitar I own, but better than the 12lb. Les Paul Deluxe I had at one point. I also routinely play a 12lb. tenor banjo for a few songs, so the Tele wasn’t too bad for a couple hours at band practice yesterday. Someone asked earlier about the construction (hollow or solid), so I tried to get a couple of photos while I had the control plate off checking the pot values. The rosewood is routed out 1-2 inches from the cavity, but appears solid beyond that.




I also looked over the dings a bit more with my bass player who’s an avid woodworker, and he pointed out that there are a couple of spots where it looks like someone tried to patch or fill the finish already. They’re quite a bit yellower than the original poly.



I’m going to take it in tomorrow for at least a setup and a neck pickup/switch install. I also discovered after playing it more yesterday that the tone knob is wired as a bass roll-off, rather than treble. It reminded me of the bass contour control on the few Reverends I’ve played. It was kind of cool, so I’m thinking of leaving that in. I’m also planning to ask about possibly doing a humbucker for the neck p/u and finish options if I decide to go down that route. I don’t like the cloudiness on the finish because it hides the grain of the wood, but the dings and other wear are growing on me. If there’s anyway to buff out some of the cloudiness and leave the rest, I may go that way with it.
 




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