Fender Telecaster - Custom Relic electric guitar

Musical Instruments & Gigs
Condition: [C] Medium Wear
     5,   5,   5
 Phoenix, AZ

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Their Wishes
$$$ or trade:
• Automatic or mechanical watch for men, preferably between 36mm to 42mm.
Jewelry & Watches (Light Wear Or Newer)
• Fender Bassman Reissue amp
Musical Instruments & Gigs (Medium Wear Or Newer)
Or anything along those lines...
• Fender Strat or Tele guitar (US, not MIM)
Musical Instruments & Gigs (Like New Condition)
I am also fond of vintage / relics.

Here was my goal” for this venture/project; Built a better sounding Tele than what’s currently on the shelf, combining lessons & tricks of old & new, no bull or fluff (tone & stability is the primary focus, not bling), and give it a nice cohesive vintage worn look.

- Body: I started with a butterscotch blonde Tele body. I sanded it down to the bone, exposing raw wood front & back. I was surprised how thick the finish was (forget about tone resonance from the factory). I left some original finish on the edges to be re-exposed later. Then I “lightly” painted it black , and re-sanded to get close to the wood. I sanded a bit more on some edges to expose the original butterscotch finish I had purposely left there for a light relic look. I then shave off some lead powder from a pen, and rubbed it in a few key spots (where a picking hand watch could rub, and a belt-buckle rash on the back. I then sealed the body with 2 hand-rubbed polyurethane coats (satin, not shiny gloss).

- Neck: I got a custom neck built by a licensed Fender source. I choose a rare piece of raw Black Korina wood which had an old aged wood vibe to it, got it carved into a vintage/modern construction (standard thin, 10-16” compound radius, dual action truss rod). I picked dark Indian rosewood as the fretboard with stainless steel frets for longer service life. I also added 1 fret (going from 21 to 22 frets) by extending the fretboard about 1/4” over the neck joint (so the scale/fret locations remains the exact same). Finally, I hand rubbed very thin coats of satin (not gloss) polyurethane over & over.

- Pickups: I sourced out vintage style cloth wrapped pickups built with Alnico magnets. I selected the neck pickup with a normal wound to have Tele & “Straty” bell tones (by omitting the chrome cover), while giving this Tele a slightly hotter bridge with a vintage brass plate. Both pickups have a “unique” feature where they use bass pickup poles instead of the usual thinner guitar poles, and are wound using vintage correct 42 gauge Formvar wires.

- Electronics: Instead of the 3-way Tele pickup switch, I used a 5-way Strat switch, and did the following…. Pos-1 is neck, Pos-2 is neck + bridge, Pos-3 is bridge only (essentially the first 3 positions of a Tele switch). Pos-4 is actually combining both single coils to function as 1 humbucker, and in Pos-5, I reversed the action of the tone-pot, meaning if you are using the neck pickup and it sounds too dark for a given tune, the tone pot will remove some low-end instead of the usual high-end (kind of like a tube-screamer pulling back the bottom end to tighten the tone).

- Copper Shielding: Since we are not dealing with humbuckers or “stacked” single coils, but vintage spec pickups, I did a full copper shielding treatment to both pickup cavities and the control cavity.

- Hardware: I ditched the old bridge (3 brass saddles) for something better for intonation (separate saddles per string), while retaining the string-through design for better wood tone vibration. I opted for a simple old trusted 6 saddle design instead (meat & potato is the theme here, not caviar). I used locking tuners and a white tusk string nut for better tuning & tune retention. I also threw some of these parts in a container filled with home-brew acid (vinegar, lemon, etc) and let it sit for a while to bring flashy new metal back to a cohesive vintage vibe. For the icing on the cake, since I love old pin-up girl designs on the side of WWII bombers, I tried to add that touch to it (neck back plate).

The outcome? Well, wow, just wow…. This Tele just made me put my favorite Roadhouse Strat & Les-Paul back in their cases. It is dripping serious tone. I love playing it unplugged, it has such a rich natural wood voice. Plug it in, and you are in for a treat. The neck position marries a Tele neck tone with the bell-like qualities from a Strat, and sounds sublime. If you like riding your tube amp on the edge of breakup, the bridge will definitely push it over the edge & make it cry; think gritty blues and not as nasally as a typical Tele, but still having that tonality to it while being richer. Combine both the mild neck & hotter bridge, and you get the sweetest meaty gnarl out of it. Going through a vintage TS-808 Tube Screamer, that combined position gives out the nicest natural “tube amp on verge of breakup” snarl that I had been chasing for years. And you remember the 4th position combining both pickups into a humbucker, well it worked pretty good for dirty blues & heavy rock…. It’s not like a vintage P.A.F. humbucker (I do have a sweet sounding Les-Paul with ’57 Classic humbuckers, so it is being compared against some pretty though competition). Actually, for sounding like a humbucker, it didn't quite make it there, but this was a pleasant surprise, as it absolutely sounds like a hot P90 pickup in a hollow body! This is a welcome tone addition in its repertoire. Talk about versatility.
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