Posts Tagged ‘Custom Shop’

Guitar :: A Wild Telecaster Appears

photo3 5

It’s super effective, and looking great in between its new siblings.

I’ve been after a project guitar for months and months, and I’ve finally got one. On Denmark street a couple of Saturdays ago, I looked at a bunch of Squiers and entry level Mex Teles on my fairly half-arsed search for a modder, and came away uninspired. It seemed a bit dumb to buy something too ‘nice’, a USA model of some sort, and then start upgrading, but equally so to get a cheap base guitar and stuff it with expensive bits. When I wandered in to the relatively new No.Tom — which has taken the place of Vintage & Rare, has a much better *real world* selection, and much nicer staff — I saw the answer.

The Baja Telecaster is a Mexican-made model which entered production a few years ago, and is widely (apparently universally) acclaimed as being ‘one-of-those’…a great guitar that defies expectations associated with instruments of its provenance (think Squier JV). The neck has a 50s-style profile, fatter than my other pair, with a good feel; the body is a heavy piece of ash (same as the others). It’s a quality feeling instrument for sure, and comes with a pair of custom shop pickups, overall making for a great base on which to build my custom creation. (It was a weird process, buying something for its potential rather than its existing features. All that was of concern was the feel of the neck and body, and it handily ticked both of those boxes.)

Any negatives are now items on the shopping list, and good as this guitar is, there are quite a few items for attention. I have a few improvements to start with (some of which are fixes for questionable Fender Mexico QA), and then it’s going to be a test bed for all manner of ideas.

As I type, it’s in the shop having the existing nut (plastic, slightly angled, machine cut) replaced for a higher quality bone nut, and being set up for 10s. The next changes will be removing the tone pot, face-mounting the jack socket (both standard mods I have carried out on my other guitars), replacing the volume pot for a 500kΩ (for more top) or just a better quality 250kΩ, removing the S1 switching and chucking the 4-way switch for a 3- or, if I can find it, 2-way switch.

But that’s just going to be for starters. It might be sporting a Bigsby next week, and maybe an active pickup or two…or three? I’m very much looking forward to seeing where this one takes me.

Guitar :: Cable Myths, Cable Facts

This is a post I would have been very interested in reading 18 months ago when I was putting together my current rig, and is a lesson in why ‘better’ is not always ‘best’.

The rig in question is built around a Fender Deluxe Reverb amp, with a Keeley TS808+, xotic BB Preamp, Dunlop Jerry Cantrell Cry Baby, and a fancy RJM switching system, because coming from 10 years of Mesa/Boogie Mark IV I just couldn’t deal with learning to tap dance. One of the big treats that I gave myself (other than a whole new rig) was an Evidence Audio Lyric HG cable, a solid-core, very high end, and very expensive cable. Buying a high end cable is an effort to maximise the tonal bandwidth between the guitar and the amplifier by minimising the loss of signal at this crucial stage in the chain. The Lyric HG is an incredible cable, and performs this task absolutely flawlessly. The difference between the Lyric and the merely very good Van Damme that it replaced is dramatic – and if that’s what you’re after then I cannot recommend the product highly enough.

In addition to the Lyric, the RJM Effect Gizmo has a buffered input, which means that anything past that jack isn’t going to lose any signal no matter how long the cable run – what goes in the front stays true into the front end of your amp, which is nice when you’ve got pedals racked up and not necessarily right next to the amplifier. So where’s the beef? A perfect reproduction of your guitar’s tone through the Lyric, and preserved into the front end by the buffer on the RJM…can’t complain, right?

This is where too good comes into the equation. There’s so much top coming off the Telecaster, and through the Lyric it isn’t going anywhere but into the front end of the pedalboard. With so much tonal bandwidth coming from the guitar, super-high-order overtones don’t get lost like they do with a merely mortal cable, and with some distortion chucked in the mix it adds a distinct metallic ‘squink’ on the top end. Yuck.

So this week I decided so mix some stuff up, and learned a very important lesson about ‘the best’, and how doing it ‘wrong’ is sometimes the right way to go. I stuck the Cry Baby out front, and used the standard input instead of the buffer. The tone – rounded out on the top, still really pronounced in the middle…a touch less bottom, but a serious step in a very tasty direction.

Of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan had the same idea, using Radio Shack guitar cables with his mega-bucks Dumbles, vintage Vibroverbs, and Marshalls. Of course, with a dark rig and humbuckers it might be a very different story, but if you’re in the Telecaster business, you might be well advised to save your cash – and improve your tone.