Guitar :: Fixing the Telecaster Jack
For me, the Telecaster might just be the best designed anything, ever – the two-pickup configuration, the slab body, inline-6 tuners on the headstock, three-way switch, and a pair of pots on the control plate have remained constant for more than six decades. It’s simple, it’s functional, and it’s beautiful, and that ticks all of the boxes I care about when it comes to products that I want to use every day. The Stratocaster comes close, but it’s just too fancy; as an instrument and as a product, the Tele is number one. With that in mind, I present the following alterations to the Telecaster not necessarily as ‘improvements’, but as ‘customisations’ that make a great instrument – for me, at least – better.
The Jack Solution
A problem I’ve found with the Telecaster is the loosening over time of the jack socket, probably one of the most annoying things that can happen to your guitar. This started happening to my white Tele a few years ago, and is an issue which has more recently afflicted my butterscotch US deluxe – as an aside, the fit and finish on the US deluxe instruments is clearly superior, in my experience, to the US standard, so I was a bit surprised to see it succumb to the loose jack problem.
When this problem first appeared on the white Tele, I devised an ingenious, Gibson SG inspired solution: a top-mounted jack.
I’ve been rocking this ‘version 1.0’ solution for quite a few years now, and it’s kind of mean + ugly if you ask me – definitely room for improvement.
For the deluxe Tele, I decided to ‘do things properly’ – as in, not modifying the control plate with a drill this time! Time for a fresh new Fender plate.
The first step is to lift up the existing control plate.
With the control plate up, you can get at the problematic jack socket in its little tunnel. Pliers are useful for removing it from the inverse-dome metal recess on the lower edge. It isn’t glued in or anything, which is possibly why it’s possible for it to work loose so easily.
Whereas in the past I drilled an extra hole to fit the jack, my version 2.0 of this mod replaces the tone control. Personally, I never seem to use it – the volume pot and p’up selector are enough for me – so it isn’t a big deal for me to do without it. The jack socket fits perfectly in the hole left where the pot once was!
And here’s the finished product. The connection is way, way more secure than the original fitting, and I feel like there’s less stress on the cable this way, too. Additionally, you can play it sitting down without screwing up the jack itself!
I also took the opportunity to update the white Tele to the same configuration. No more loose jacks for me!