Time for some Telecaster upgrades?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by 1973Marshall, May 18, 2008.

  1. 1973Marshall

    1973Marshall Member

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    Soooooo....

    I have a USA 52 Tele RI that I ADORE! It's the most amazing guitar, though like any Amer RI it has that sticky kinda finish (can be difficult on hot summer nights lol), and the pickups that feedback microphonic under high gain, it has the 60 cycle hum, it's a fight to play it etc etc.

    I LOVE THE GUITAR, and I FEAR losing its sound BUT the aforementioned negatives drive me nuts at times (NOT all the time). Then there is the big problem - the guitar sometimes just sounds OUT OF TUNE to me. Certain chords, positions, etc. Quite the opposite of a PRS or guitar of that nature.

    1) Time to look at Dimarzio Area T pups? or something noiseless?
    2) Time to get a new bridge or compensated saddles?
    3) Do I want to change caps or wiring for a fatter sound?
    4) Buzz Feiten system?
    5) Anything else?

    Just askin' the experts. I want a Tele that I can get really fat teles sounds for LIVE and studio. Also - ummmm I AM BUDGET CONSCIOUS.
     
  2. wingwalker

    wingwalker Fuzzy Guitars

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    My 2 cents...

    1) Time to look at Dimarzio Area T pups? or something noiseless?
    2) Time to get a new bridge or compensated saddles?
    3) Do I want to change caps or wiring for a fatter sound?
    4) Buzz Feiten system?
    5) Anything else?

    1) You'll loose that magical tone
    2) The bridge is fine, compensated saddles will help with intonation issue...some are better than others.
    3) What kind of wiring do you use now? It's not likely you'll be able to get a fatter sound just by changing caps
    4) A Feiten system ouly works correctly if first you can set the intonation of each string seperatly, which you can't do on a 3 saddle bridge plus it's only gonna work in the end if all your guitars have it and everyone you play with has it...

    If you want to keep Tele tone in tact, gain the ability go get fat and loose the noise Bardens are really your option...love them or hate them I have not found another noiseless Tele pickup that sounds nearly as close to a true Tele...

    On the saddle front I have, use and like the plain old Stew-Mac saddles...I have them on 2 Tele's right now and have had them there for several years and have no real tuning issues...

    If you end up staying with true singles there are a few tapped bridge pickups that I've used in the past that with a little special wiring can get you some very classic tele tones as well as killer fat overdriven tones as well...if you go new pickups you can get RW/RP in the neck and kill the hum in the multi pickup positions...that might help enough...
     
  3. DoobieK

    DoobieK Member

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    I have Kinman Broadcaster pickups in my ash Tele and they sound like old Tele pickups without the hum.

    A set of Callaham compensated saddles would be a good upgrade for intonation.

    Sticky finish? Maybe clean the guitar once in a while... :D Seriously though. I have had sticky finish issues with new nitro finished guitars, but that has gone away with time. You don't say how old your Tele is, so I don't know what could help.
     
  4. GregoryL

    GregoryL Supporting Member

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    Similar set-up ...

    After a lot of internal debate, I did the steel wool thing to the back of my '52 RI's neck. Sooooo much better now - should have done it long ago.

    My '52 RI is a Wildwood thin skin model, so it came with CS pups that I really like.

    I did put Lollar Vintage Tele pups in an older 80's MIJ tele that just brought it back to life for me.

    I am planning on replacing the saddles on both with compensated. You can dial in standard barrel saddles pretty well, but I do notice the intonation issues sometimes, especially after I play another guitar with no inherent intonation issues.

    I have the SCN noiseless pups on an Am Dlx strat, which I like, but I haven't been as impressed with the SCN's on teles. I like a bit of a rawer sound for teles, whereas the SCN's are a bit more tame.

    I say go for it - keep your parts and you can always change them back if it doesn't work out the way you like. That's the beauty of a tele for me - simple guitar, but lots of options to make yours your own.

    All the best.
     
  5. RadackGuitars

    RadackGuitars Supporting Member

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    No reason at all to not get compensated saddles, Callaham, or Allparts sells the Bardens. I personally prefer the Bardens.
    Using Restoration polish on the body is almost like a wax, it'll get the finish to feel slick and help with the stickiness.
    You may want to consider a humbucker in the neck position only, you could then wire it so 2 of the 3 positions are humcancelling.
     
  6. ReddRanger

    ReddRanger Member

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    I can personally recommend the Glendale compensated saddles. I really like the set I bought.

    Also, I'll go against the flow here and recommend trying the Dimarzio Area T if you're interested in noiseless. I have had great success with it.

    Bardens are great, but they are definitely not for everyone. Brad Paisley has been using the Area T in the bridge of a couple of his teles lately, and I consider his tone to be pretty dang good.
     
  7. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    My two cents as well:

    First, +1 to the previous posts.

    1. Pickups are very subjective, but if you want your '52 to sound like a '52, then single coil pickups are a the only way to do that. I love Don Mare pickups for this purpose. If you are looking for a noise cancelling pickup, you'll lose some of the old school tele goodness but that's not necessarily a bad thing depending on what makes your ears happy. Bardens have tone for days and I'm sure there are others that sound great. Just don't expect them to sound or feel exactly like single coils.
    2. Compensated saddles are the way to go IMHO. Glendale and Callaham both make great stuff. No experience with the Stew-Mac stuff. Changing the entire bridge will have an impact on sustain and can affect the "twang" factor a bit depending on the bridge you choose. Callaham bridges are thicker so their tone is slightly less twangy with more sustain as compared to the Fender or Glendale. Search the forums for more on this topic
    3. Caps only make a difference when you roll off the tone knob so changing caps will not give you an overall tone improvement.
    4. The Buzz Feiten system is pretty effective, but there are drawbacks: first, you'll need a tuner that's programmed with the BF offsets (I'm a huge advocate of Peterson digital strobe tuners). Second, switching between BF guitars and standard guitars can be annoying as you tend to acclimate to each kind the longer you play them.

    5. Anything else: I recommend trying a 4 way switch, which gives you neck+bridge in series, which is a fatter sound than when they're wired in parallel. The sticky nitro finish on the back of the neck can be fine sanded to satin very easily. I usually end up sanding all the finish off the back of my nitro necks and using an oil finish or no finish at all. If you're going to stick with true single coil pickups, search the threads for some tips on shielding and other noise reducing techniques. I recall that Don Mare had a neat trick of twisting all the ground wires around the hot wires.

    Good luck and don't forget to update the thread as you work your way through the process.
     
  8. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

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    Sell it...All the things you describe are what I like about my Tele.
     
  9. 1973Marshall

    1973Marshall Member

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    Well, I'm kinda getting sold on the idea I need the compensated saddles.
    Hmm humbucker in the neck is tempting, but it might not be a real Tele sound anymore.

    I also wonder, how do you do the steel wool trick? Will it strip the finish and leave the wood susceptible to warping? Would it devalue the guitar? I would probably have it done by a pro.
     
  10. teleman1

    teleman1 Supporting Member

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    Remove the neck pickup, permanently. I shouldn't have to say anymore.
     
  11. straightblues

    straightblues Member

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    Take some fine steel wool and rub it on the back of the neck. It will scratch the surface slightly and eliminate the stickyness. Got easy, it doesn't take much. If you want it to be shinny again, then get some rubbing compound or scratch remover and polish it back to a shine.
     
  12. John Thigpen

    John Thigpen Member

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    I had many of the same feelings about my spruce topped 52 RI. I had already put in compensated saddles, but wanted a beefier neck with higher frets. Finally I sold it, and put together my own partscaster with an Allparts TMNF-FAT Neck, Nitro finished 4 lb body, Barden bridge and compensated saddles, Don Mare pickups, 4 way switch, and used neck inserts to mount the neck. I've got a dream Tele, and spent less than my 52 RI proceeds.

    John
     
  13. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    Very nice. Whose neck inserts did you use? I'm looking at retrofitting my tele partscaster.
     
  14. straightblues

    straightblues Member

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    I think you should get some Glendale saddles. They are great. I like the Outlaw set with the harden steel E/A and brass for the others. Yes, saddles do effect the tone. I think there cold rolled bridge plate adds a lot to the tone as well and would recommend switching when you get some extra cash.

    As far as doing Buzz Feiten system on a tele, I think it is silly. If you really need intonation that close, a guitar with a vintage tele bridge is not a guitar for you.

    Don Mare makes the best tele pickups. Once you here them you won't worry about 60 cylce hum.

    Put in a good vinatage cap as well. Yes they do add to the overall tone.
     

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