Griff’s Telecaster Pics

OK, so I though I should some pics of the actual guitar rather than just some generic pics off t’interweb. What you’re looking at here is a Squire Fat Telecaster, with a Seymour Duncan HotRails in the bridge, and a 59 Model in the neck.

The strings currently fitted are 10-52 Fender Stainless “350”. But normally I sue Ernie Ball “Skinny Top Heavy Bottom” which are the same size, but a bit easier on the frets. The Fenders sound great but are a bit abbrasive on the poor fret wire. I’ve also stopped using the Fender strings on the Jag-Stang as you could actually see the wear!

Also worthy of note is the saddles. When I first started gigging with this guitar, it would break strings with regularity. It was a constant source of frustration, and often the reason why you would see my playing the Ja-Stang a the end of a gig. (and also why you would often see the Telecaster flying accross the stage).

I soon realised that the strings were snapping at the saddle, so I had them filed and grooved by a luthier. It didn’t help much, so after a bit of investigation I came accross the Graph Tech saddles. Now, not only do these things look cool (being black graphite) they self lubricate and in theory, microscopically mould to the string. The end result is that I haven’t broken a single string since I fitted them. They’re also really comfy for blocking.

Another modification I’ve made is to the switchgear. As I rarely switch pups, but regularly alter the tone and volume, I switch the plate around. It also means it’s alot harder to accidently switch pickups when you’re jumping around the stage. It’s an idea I saw and blatently robbed from the Fender Custom Classic Telecaster. Now that I’ve got better pickup balance I might well reverse the plate again…we shall see!

The final mod (which was actually the first) was to change the jack socket. It’s a real weakspot on the Telecaster. The normal/vintage jack is held in place by a flexed piece of steel which pushes against the sides of the cavity. It’s a rubbish design becuase if you stand on your guitar cable, it will sometimes pull the socket right out, and there’s no way in hell it will go back in the middle of a gig, it’s screwdrivers and pliers time! So a quick visit to Stewmac, a couple of days on a DHL plane and I had a nice new Electrosocket. This is a machine lathed piece of aluminium which is screwed in place. There’s no moving it now!

End result of all these things is a Telecaster which is a real workhorse. It’s robust, reliable and sounds better than any off the shelf Fender.

Telecaster – Replacement Bridge Pickup

Following on from my previous post, where I fitted a new Telecaster neck pickup : That’s been the setup pretty much since 2002 till now, but I’ve always been unhappy with the bridge pickup since fitting the Duncan 59 to the neck. It’s a common situation and not entirely unexpected. Many people recommened changing both pickups at once, otherwise the guitar can become unbalanced. And this is exactly what happened. Setting my sound up for the neck pup,I found that when switching over to the stock bridge pickup, the sound was thin, quiet and totally useless. Conversely, when setting up for the bridge pickup, I found that switching to the humbucker made the sound thick and wooly, and distorting in all the wrong places (mainly the bass range).

As a result, I’ve pretty much been using just the neck pickup all the time, but recently I’ve been craving some lighter tones from the bridge, so I made the decision to finally get the bridge pickup replaced.

Again, I wanted to stick with Seymour Duncan. There are many choices of direct replacement. Including stacked single coils, as well as single coil sized humbuckers. Outside of that, you can replace the bridge plate with one from somwhere like StewMac (Stewart Macdonald) which accepts a full size humbucker.

I didn’t fancy routing out the guitar, and I knew I wanted a humbucker, so this gave me two choices. The Little ’59 or the Hot Rails.

The Little 59, as the name suggests, is again based around the PAF pickup, but in a single coil sized package. It has to be said, it looks pretty damn cool! It’s attraction was that it should pair off nicely with the existing 59 in the neck, and still keep some of the original telecaster twang. It was very higly recommeneded on the Telecaster Forum and on Harmony Central.

It’s a little known fact that for a couple of years, Kurt Cobain actually played a Telecaster at most of his concerts, and his Tele was fitted with a Hotrails. So this was natrually my second option.

The reviews for the hotrails were not so favourable. Many people say it was too harsh and you loose the telecaster sound, this put me off to start with, but I soon started to think that I actually didn’t care about loosing the telecaster sound, and was it really a good idea to have a similar pickup in the neck (Lil 59)? The more I thought about it, the more I realised that keeping some dynamics in the setup would be a good idea, so I bought the hotrails.

What can I say? What a great idea what was! I have a lovely clean sound from the neck, which responds well to crunchy overdrive, and I’ve got a totally shred-tastic ceramic humbucker in the bridge. With some rectifier style overdrive, this thing sounds like death! I LOVE IT! It’s the ideal Telecaster pickup for grunge or metal.

The total unforseen bonus is the combined setting, when both the neck and bridge pups are selected, you get the most fanstastic clean sound, which turns into a Stevie Ray Vaughan type sound with a bit of overdrive. I’m absoloutly over the moon.

This cheapy Tele is fast becoming my preferred guitar !