Tele/Esquire modding for dummies, what parts do I need??

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by ToneRanger, Mar 5, 2006.

  1. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

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    Hello,

    I'm planning to mod my recently acquired MIM 50's classic Esquire to a Tele. Please dont give me any "keep it as an Esquire" or "why didn't you buy a Tele in the first place" :). This opportunity just came up and the Esquire sounds GREAT! It is really light weight and rings like a bell, what a resonance. Even the fretwork is good.. The only thing I'm not that crazy about is the grain and the two tone sunburst, but I think I'm getting used to it.

    Anyway, no it's time to make it a Tele.

    The guitar already has a Fralin Broadcaster pickup in the bridge. The first thing to think about is the neck pickup. A Fralin vintage tele pickup would be the obvious choice.. I'm also thinkin about a SD antiquity for the neck, it's a bit cheaper and I'm on a budget here. How do you reckon the SD would couple with the Fralin? The Fralins ought to work together pretty well in any case, the bridge pickup sounds fantastic.

    I'm leaving the hardware as is for now, the tuners seem to keep the guitar in tune. I'll get compensated brass saddles from Glendale, but it will take month or so..

    So here's the part I don't know anything about: the pots, switches and capacitors. I was checking the guitarpartsresource website out and noticed that I dont know anything about this stuff. I think my tech has all the parts, but I just don't trust him, he always charges like 20 €:s for a 5 € pot.. (and he's the only good one in the area) So that's why I want to get all the parts and just give them to him to put it together.

    What do I need? I want to upgrade the pots (is the volume pot different from the tone pot? how do they differ or is just the wiring? :eek: ), isn't 250k the standard? Is there a capacitor in the Tele circuitry?

    Am I happier with a higher quality 3 way switch?

    Do I need new wire? Does clotch wire "sound" better than plastic? Or is it just the cooler looks? :)

    Oh, and I'm getting a new pickguard as well, thinking about parchment. Does parchment somehow feel and look different from the standard plastic?

    So if someone could some this up and educate me a bit I'd be really happy.. Sort of make up a list that I need to get to get my Tele finished, I'll start:

    1 neck pickup (SD Antiquity/Fralin)
    1 5 hole single ply white pickguard
    1 set of Glendale compensated Brass saddles for 10-52 strings

    Thanks!
     
  2. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

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    Just to add, I did some further examining and checked out the acmeguitarworks pre-wired Tele assemblies, they look pretty damn professional.. Anyone have any experience with these? Or should I pick up all the parts myself and use the guitar tech?
     
  3. pbradt

    pbradt Senior Member

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    Why not just pickup the parts and a soldering iron and do it yourself? It's VERY easy.
     
  4. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

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    You don't want to see me with a soldering iron, I mean that could be really dangerous.. I guess it's easy, perhaps my buddy could do it who's a bit more of a handyman than I.

    So pbradt, what parts do I need for the task?
     
  5. mainsale

    mainsale Member

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    I used an Acme 4-way switch assembly in a Tele conversion. The quality of their assemblies is second to none!
     
  6. big mike

    big mike Moderator - EL34 Emeritas Staff Member

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    Acme is a fantastic way to go if you're not comfortable soldering. Heck, I can solder, and do anything I need and i STILL get stuff from Acme because I'm lazy!

    Now, there's nothing WRONG with your stock pots and such, but they are lower quality. An Acme would improve that. (I'd go the 4 way) I also would stick with the fralin, but that's just me. I like their single coils quite a bit.
     
  7. Crazyquilt

    Crazyquilt Guitar Dad Silver Supporting Member

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    I'd like to second Big Mike, especially. Acme are great to deal with, and, if you're not willing to solder, it's a good way to go. If you are interested, at some point, in learning to solder, a Tele is the place to start -- it's about as simple a circuit & layout as you could want, and having everything on the control plate makes it really easy to work with. Terry Downs has a very easy to follow DVD on basic soldering techniques that shows you how to wire up a Tele.

    I'm extremely fond of the the Fralin vintage neck pickup. I've had them in a couple of guitars, and they never sound muddy -- always clear and warm and very, very musical. I haven't used a SD Antiquity, but I have had an Antiquity II set, and the neck was horrible -- muddy, bassy, inarticulate, etc. I liked a Fender Texas Special neck better, if that tells you anything.

    If you're on a budget, you can get compensated saddles from StewMac that will go right into your existing ashtray bridge. I don't buy Callahams cryogenic voodoo, and I've heard very mixed reviews of the thicker bridge plate. Some people love it, some really hate it. To my mind, you'd be better served spending the money on a good pickup than a new bridge at this point. If, at some point, you decide you want to get the Callaham (or a Glendale, or AllParts, or...) then go for it. To my mind, the pickup is just a better investment, while the fancier bridgeplate is more of a, "I wonder if this works?" sort of thing. I've used Glendale saddles on a stock Fender bridge, and they sounded, and intonated, great. I've also used an AllParts bridge & saddles, which I'm also happy with. Any of those solutions is less expensive than a full Callaham bridge assembly. (And I'll admit right up front that the cryogenic business has always put me off ordering from Callaham. If I want snake oil, I'll get strings.)
     
  8. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

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    Thanks for all the great answers, dudes, much appreciated!

    Acme really seems like a high quality no nonsense business. I think I "go Acme".

    About the 4-way switch: I had a not-so-great experience with trying series configurations with my strat earlier. I ordered a Deaf-Eddie system, which was nice but did not work for me at all, meaning that I didnt dig the sounds at all. I found the series sounds to be really muddy and lacking the strat magic. What about the Tele, is it really a useful sound? How and where do you use the series sound and how much does it differ from the parallel sound?

    What extra wire is needed with the 4-way switch? I remember reading something about this at the Acme site.

    I guess that Fralin seems the way to go then.. It's the same price from Acme actually than the SD from guitarpartsresource.

    I'm not planning to replace any of the hardware actually, other than the saddles for now, so replacing the ashtray bridge is not my plan. What are the claimed benefits of replacing the bridge?

    Acme sells Callaham saddles, 30 $ for the set. I didnt know about the cryogenic voodoo :). I suppose they fit to the standard Tele bridge? I was checking out Glendales, 'cause they have saddles for 10-52 strings and I'm always very worried about intonation..

    So it's gonna be the neck pickup (as I already have the Fralin bridge pickup), the whole control plate electronic assembly and the saddles. I guess I'm fine with those.. Then there's the tuners and the bridge left still. Any real benefits of upgrading those?
     
  9. Crazyquilt

    Crazyquilt Guitar Dad Silver Supporting Member

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    If the tuners work, then I don't see an advantage there.

    The bridge itself is a judgement call. The thicker plates do lend a little more sustain & warmth. I don't find it to be a night & day sort of thing, but I suspect different bridges and different guitars make a lot of difference. Some people think it makes the guitar sound less "Tele-like," while others swear by them. I didn't find the difference to me major, and it looked nicer than my stock bridge (which came rusted...yay eBay) so I kept it.

    I forgot that Acme sold Callaham saddles. And, yes, they fit a standard ashtray bridge.
     
  10. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

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    Was just wondering, what is the main difference between the Ping and Gotoh vintage tuners? Are ping "real metal"? :)

    If I decide to replace the tuners (they seem to be only 35 $) will it be easy, I guess they fit to the same holes so it's a no-brainer, or is it? But I guess it might be a bit meaningless since the tuners seem to work just fine. It's just something that "tickles the nutsack" if you know what I mean ;)

    I guess I'll stick to the standard ashtray bridge, and take it from there. I'm gettin really enthusiastic about this guitar. The bridge pickup itself sounds marvellous, but when I get the neck pickup and the in between tone I guess I'll be in rock'n'roll heaven. It just works so well and fits to the band mix. I guess I'll go with the 4 way switch too, anybody wanna chime in about the 4-way a bit more?
     
  11. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    I'm no tech myself but wiring a Tele is probably the easiest guitar wiring job you'll come across. I will say I don't have a clue about the four way system I hear about here.

    I have an old book titled "Customising Your Electric Guitar" by Adrian Legg that has diagrams for a whole host of different guitars. It's dated 1981 and I don't know if it's still in print but if you can find it he explains things so well that even an electronics bufoon like me can wire a Tele. If you can turn a screw driver, you can make this work.

    I've had this book for several years and only used it a couple times but was glad I had it when I needed it.
     

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