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Thread: Any guitar players? I need advice...

  1. #1
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    Any guitar players? I need advice...

    Ok, so I've been playing guitar for about 5 years now but I've never been into the whole technical aspect of the guitar. Mostly I play acoustic but I got a Fender telecaster a few years ago for Christmas. This is just the standard Fender tele (mexican). I've recently been getting heavy into the blues and now I want to play that tele more and I want to fix it up to make it a nicer guitar.

    So I need some advice on what to do. Here's some of the things I was considering.
    -A new bridge and saddle--the fender vintage bridge assembly.
    -New tuners--probably the locking tuners.
    -A new nut--don't know if this is necessary.
    -New pickups

    Now some questions:
    -Are all these upgrades going to be necessary in order to have a better guitar?
    -What kind of pickups should I get? I was looking at the Fender vintage noiseless tele pickups but they make others too and I'm not totally sure which would be best.
    -Can I do these things myself or will I have to take it to a repair shop? I assume that I wont be able to do the pickups myself but the other stuff I'm not sure of.
    -Any idea approximately the cost for a professional to do this stuff (not including the cost of all the parts)?

    Any help that anyone can pass along I'd appreciate it. Like I said I want to play the blues and some blues-rock stuff. Thanks if you can help me in any way.

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  3. #2
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    Locking tuners are a pain. Very difficult to change strings and to change tunings (to dropped-D or open G, for example). Unless you use the tremolo a lot, I'd say avoid locking tuners.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

  4. #3
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool
    Locking tuners are a pain. Very difficult to change strings and to change tunings (to dropped-D or open G, for example). Unless you use the tremolo a lot, I'd say avoid locking tuners.
    I say ditto on the locking tuners. a pain.

    As for the bridge, if you are looking to put on a vintage bridge, you're looking at some major work. If your current telecaster is pretty modern, it probably has the modern 6 section bridge (one saddle for each individual string), whereas the vintage is a 3-section (one saddle for every two strings). The forseeable problem with this change is that you are going to have major difficulties setting a decent intonation because you have to gauge each saddle based on the intonation for 2 strings instead of each individual string with the modern bridge. May not be worth the hassle, and definitely is something a licensed Fender tech should take care of if you seriously think about getting it done. The unknown change in intonation would be a big problem for me if I were considering this change. If you do change the bridge yourself, make sure the plate is COMPLETELY flat. You may think they are, but it's always better to check. Use a hammer with flat pieces of 2x4, sandwich the bridge plate between pieces of wood and hammer the wood. Then file or sand if needed to get it flat. Be wary with any bridge and saddle choices, they can severly alter the over tone of the telecaster. Not that it's a bad thing, but you may not like what you get, you may like it better.

    back to the tuners, I personally stay away from locking tuners. They just don't give you the range to do lots of alternate tunings. If you're staying basic, and never leave standard tuning, then there's the bonus of not constantly checking your tuning, but for me, I prefer dealing with tuning after each song as opposed to needing a different guitar for each alternate tuning. replacing tuners can tend to be a big deal too. if your problem is that the guitar is falling out of tune erratically or too often, I'd have a tech go over the string slots on the nut with a nut file and also where the strings contact and break over the bridge. That will do wonders for any tuning problems.

    For the nut, it's an unnecessary change, unless you've done a lot of filing to the string slots and you're getting crazy fret buzz.

    Pickups would be the way to go, if I were you. The quickest and easiest way to get a better sound out of your guitar. If you're looking for a deep, fat, bluesy tone, I'd go with Duncan Broadcasters. If you're looking for something a little thinner, on the higher end of the spectrum, Duncan Vintage '54's. I'm not generally a duncan man, because i play gibson, and i love their 57's, but duncan is the way to go on single coiled guitars.

    In all honesty, if you don't feel comfortable changing out the pickups and doing some soldering, I'd shy away from doing anything relating to the nut and bridge on your own. Have a tech do it. I do most of my own work to my guitars, but on the more delicate procedures, I'll take it to the shop

    As for the price on all this, it really depends on who you go to. Shop around, and make sure the guy is a licensed fender tech.

    let us know how it goes.
    "It is much easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them." - Alfred Adler

  5. #4
    Member RedsFan75's Avatar
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    Chiming in here, avoid the locking tuners.

    Good pickups will change your sound more than you think and would be the biggest bang for the buck I'd think.

    One minor point with what Brutus said about the nut,
    For the nut, it's an unnecessary change, unless you've done a lot of filing to the string slots and you're getting crazy fret buzz.
    If it's a plastic nut they can wear fast and you might want to think about a sturdier material. I don't know what material the Mexican Tele's nut was made of.

    So far real good advice from everyone, and I'll add one more obvious one, that you may or may not have already done.

    Get a good professional setup! That can do more to adjust your action and playability of your Guitar. The MIM Tele's are very good axes and should do very well for you.

  6. #5
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    Thanks everybody for your input. I'm not sure what I'm doing yet but your input has been very valuable.

  7. #6
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    Find some way to mount a Bigsby tremolo on that tele. And get some ugly super hot single-coil pickups in there. You're set.

  8. #7
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    Ok, folks here's what I did:

    The first thing I did was look up authorized Fender service repair people in the area. I was surprised to find that there is a place ran by a man named Doug called Dmara guitars that is literally 2-3 minutes from my house...basically right around the corner. So I got in contact with him and he has a shop at home and he is also the repairman at Sam Ash in Springdale so he had me take it down to Sam Ash for the repairs. So I took it down on Monday of this week and then I just picked it up today.

    I had him do a standard setup and with this I had him put on thicker strings then what I usually use. Then I had him replace the bridge. The tele originally had the 6-saddle modern style bridge and I had him put on the vintage style bridge with 3 saddles...the bridge and saddles were like 40 bucks.

    So initially when I took it out of the gig bag in the store everything looked great, especially the bridge. So I took it home and plugged it in and was amazed. I was not expecting such a HUGE change in sound for the better. I actually had to check the serial number to make sure it was MY guitar...and it was.

    Needless to say, I'm very pleased. This guy does great work and is very knowledgable and I highly recommend him. Right now changing the pickups is completely out of my mind...no need to do this at all. I'm just blown away at the difference in sound and playability. I'm very very pleased.

    Thanks to everyone for their advice.

  9. #8
    Member dman's Avatar
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    To be honest, I put a Wilkinson VS100 trem with Sperzel locking tuners on a Strat and it has been by far the best setup I've ever had. Terrific stability and beautiful vibrato effects.
    Last edited by dman; 03-03-2006 at 02:01 PM.

  10. #9
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    To be honest, I put a Wilkinson VS100 trem with Sperzel locking tuners on a Strat and it has been by far the best setup I've ever had. Terrifis stability and beautiful vibrato effects.
    For sure, the stability and sound of locking tuners is great. Unfortunately, you pay the price when you change the strings. And if a string breaks while you're on stage, you'd better have a backup guitar.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

  11. #10
    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    I'd recommend...more cowbell.
    Next Reds manager, second shooter. --Confirmed on Redszone.

  12. #11
    For a Level Playing Field RedFanAlways1966's Avatar
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool
    For sure, the stability and sound of locking tuners is great. Unfortunately, you pay the price when you change the strings. And if a string breaks while you're on stage, you'd better have a backup guitar.
    So true, Johnny. But one minor advantage to locking tuners is you can use that same broken string again (if you still have enough of the string left wrapped around your tuning peg). Non-locking tuners mean a broken string is forever broken and never again usable. But if the string broke once, it probably needed changed anyhow!

    And Johnny is probably also referring to every other string instantly going WWWWWAAAAAAYYYYY out of tune when one of the strings breaks on a locking system. It'll take you 5 minutes minimum to get the whole thing back in tune after fixing or replacing the broken string. And regardless of the type of tuners, you should always have a backup guitar on stage at all times! May not use it, but you will need it if it is not there. Like driving without a spare tire... rest assured, you'll run over something and need it when it is not there.

    I used to play only locking tuners. Now I refuse to buy one. Might be my age or the fact that the 80's are so far gone!
    Small market fan... always hoping, but never expecting.

  13. #12
    Member dman's Avatar
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    Johnny and RFA, are you guys referring to locking tuners as a Floyd Rose type locking bridge with the locking nut or to the tuners themselves? I've never experienced my guitar going way out of tune when i broke a string with just locking machine heads (tuners).

  14. #13
    For a Level Playing Field RedFanAlways1966's Avatar
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    dman... I was referring to the locking tremolo setup, ala Floyd Rose. I may have jumped to the wrong conclusion if you guys were talking about the locking machine heads.
    Small market fan... always hoping, but never expecting.

  15. #14
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    Yep, I was talking about Floyd Rose style setup, too.

    Locking machine heads are a great invention.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

  16. #15
    Member dman's Avatar
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    Re: Any guitar players? I need advice...

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool
    Yep, I was talking about Floyd Rose style setup, too.

    Locking machine heads are a great invention.
    Yeah, Floyds were great in the 80's and still great now, but if you break a string you're screwwwed. I had a 7-string and that one extra string on a Floyd was rotten to mess with when you already hated messing with 6-string Floyds


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