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Old December 16th, 2009, 07:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Can't get desired tone out of my tele...

I bought my MIM Standard Ash Fender Telecaster just over two years ago. I currently play it through a subpar Fender Frontman 25R amplifier, which doesn't help much.

Here's the deal. It's fairly complicated to explain, but I just don't get the overall desired tone with my tele. I like the sort of jazzy, mellow tone you get when you select the neck pickup or have the pickup selector in the middle position. I'm not really a fan of the extremely twangy sound.

Due to that, I usually have the tone knob turned to zero (or at a low number) to keep the mellow sound. The only problem is, I get little to no treble out of my tele. When I have this tone, the top three strings are incredibly quieter than the lower strings. Even when adjusting the EQ on my amp, I can't get a good treble sound (or any sound out of the higher strings) out of the guitar.

I know that this is quite possibly due to the nature of the tone I want (which is mellow, and not selecting the lead, bridge pickup). I would like to know if there is any way to get more treble, or a louder volume out of the higher strings at this tone, because it's frustrating to not hear the high strings during a solo, etc. I'm not sure if it is the amp, the factory installed pickups, if I need an EQ pedal, or if it's simply because of the tone setting I am using.

Sorry for that excessively lengthy post, but hopefully someone can help me if I explained well enough. Thank you in advance.

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Old December 16th, 2009, 08:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Try raising the treble end of the pickup (closer to the strings).


Don't turn the guitar volume down, leave it on 10 and use vol. on the amp. Turning the guitar down cuts highs.

Is it the guitar tone your turning down ? If you do want to do that, it may be taking too much out as well. Try the amp mid and treble instead.


You could change the cap to a .01 µF in the guitar if you like to control it there. That will not make it so muddy, too fast when you tighten the tone contr.

>subpar Fender Frontman 25R amplifier<

I have a 25R amp too and they are pretty dang nice for the money I M H O !
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Old December 17th, 2009, 12:30 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Try raising the treble end of the pickup (closer to the strings).


Don't turn the guitar volume down, leave it on 10 and use vol. on the amp. Turning the guitar down cuts highs.

Is it the guitar tone your turning down ? If you do want to do that, it may be taking too much out as well. Try the amp mid and treble instead.


You could change the cap to a .01 µF in the guitar if you like to control it there. That will not make it so muddy, too fast when you tighten the tone contr.

>subpar Fender Frontman 25R amplifier<

I have a 25R amp too and they are pretty dang nice for the money I M H O !
All good sensible advice...IMO
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Old December 17th, 2009, 02:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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" The only problem is, I get little to no treble out of my tele. When I have this tone, the top three strings are incredibly quieter than the lower strings."

Raise the pick-up on the treble side, and adjust your tone accordingly.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 02:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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^ Totally agree ^

If you don't mind a wound G, why not try some flatwound strings? They darken/warm up the tone nicely. I think they work really well on Tele's.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 04:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Having the tone all the way down on the neck pup, must be like playing under a Duvet, with a pillow taped to each ear. No wonder you seem to lack treble. I'd start by putting the tone to max and slowly reducing it, to find an acceptable sound. Remember that where you hit the strings (towards bridge or neck) significantly affects the output tone.

Sorry if that's all suck eggs stuff.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 05:59 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Er, to get the mellow jazz sound, roll off the tone knob but not to zero, maybe '3', roll off the vol knob too to cut the high treble a bit. You do need to use both knobs for jazz. Set the amp up, set the TMB on about '3' i.e. wind down the controls, you want a flat response if possible.

Select the neck pickup and adjust its height, I suggest it wants to be lower because you have been rolling the tone down to zero. Lowering the pickup gives it a more mellow tone, but there is also a sweet spot, you have to find it. With the pickup lower, you should be able to bring the tone knob up off zero. Don't forget to adjust the bridge pickup to match output or desired tone in the middle setting.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 07:52 AM   #8 (permalink)
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You have the wrong guitar. It's that simple. It's the equivelant of trying to play death metal on an L5. It just doesn't work. Sell it and buy a jazz box.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 10:28 AM   #9 (permalink)
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You have the wrong guitar. It's that simple. It's the equivelant of trying to play death metal on an L5. It just doesn't work. Sell it and buy a jazz box.

That's not true.

A Tele is a perfect Jazz Guitar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxPBvDYVX2w


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Old December 17th, 2009, 11:10 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I had the same problem. Do the pick up adjustment as suggested, raising the pick up under the e, b and g strings. also as suggested do not turn back the volume too much.
But, I never got the mellow tone I wanted until I ditched the pick ups. The stock MIM pick ups just don't hear the overtones needed to get a mellow but bright tone. My friend Nunley Wade at Nunley Custom fixed me up. But there are lots of good pups, my experience is that the MIM are inferior to most.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 12:06 PM   #11 (permalink)
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That's not true.

A Tele is a perfect Jazz Guitar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxPBvDYVX2w


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But it is true for some, like the guy who started this thread.

He has the controls dialed so far away from what a Telecaster truly is, that it's obvious he wants to hear a sound vastly different than what he's getting from a Telecaster.

Why suffer with the wrong gear? Just get something that sounds the way you want it to with the controls set somewhere in the optimum range for a good sound quality.

Why try to force something into sounding different than what it is?
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Old December 17th, 2009, 12:10 PM   #12 (permalink)
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How about putting a humbucker in the neck? I believe the MIM come pre routed for one. Mine is.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 12:18 PM   #13 (permalink)
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my suggestion would need a lot of modification but aside from sticking a humbucker there you could set the middle selector to have the pickups in series. then bypass the tone knob and set the amp to get your desired tone (learned that from tuck andress). it's like a humbucker that way, a lot stronger output, less treble but still enough to get through. you can also keep the tone knob and just play around with it.

to answer a possible question, no, setting your tone knob at "0" or "10" is not the same as completely removing it from the equation.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 12:28 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Certain instruments do seem to be better suited for certain styles than others. I love my tele for texas-style blues, but when we play with horns or I'm looking for a jazzier sound, I go for my Guild Starfire IV (basically an ES-335 copy).

IMO, pedals and effects do little to help your "tone", although a wah pedal can be used to broaded the range of your tone knob if it's left in the right position.

But I'd start with the advice others have given above: adjust your pickup height, adjust your amp settings, maybe even try different capacitors to "open up" your tone knob.

But you'll never get a tele to sound like a big Gibson hollow-body. It's just not made that way.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 12:34 PM   #15 (permalink)
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isn't the greasebucket tone control supposed to combat this?
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Old December 17th, 2009, 12:41 PM   #16 (permalink)
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i actually agree with what someone else said, get another guitar. i mean, the tele is twangy, why buy a twangy guitar and then complain cause it twangs lol. sure u can modify it, but then u basically no longer have a tele, just a tele shape.

my first main guitar and still my favorite is my Fender Lead 2. i could do ANYTHING with that guitar. but i wanted that snapping popping sharpness and i just could NOT get this guitar to do it. well, i found the problem, the sound i was looking for was a TELECASTER. it NATURALLY made the sounds i was looking for, does that mean i no longer need the Fender Lead 2? no, thats still my favorite and also what i use in studio recordings. UNLESS, i need the tele snap in a song, the Fender Lead 2 is my studio guitar.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 01:45 PM   #17 (permalink)
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i actually agree with what someone else said, get another guitar. i mean, the tele is twangy, why buy a twangy guitar and then complain cause it twangs lol. sure u can modify it, but then u basically no longer have a tele, just a tele shape.

my first main guitar and still my favorite is my Fender Lead 2. i could do ANYTHING with that guitar. but i wanted that snapping popping sharpness and i just could NOT get this guitar to do it. well, i found the problem, the sound i was looking for was a TELECASTER. it NATURALLY made the sounds i was looking for, does that mean i no longer need the Fender Lead 2? no, thats still my favorite and also what i use in studio recordings. UNLESS, i need the tele snap in a song, the Fender Lead 2 is my studio guitar.
The Telecaster is much, much more than just twang. Jazz, blues, country, rock are all areas easily covered by the Tele. The tone and volume controls don't need to live at '10' and with some care a great jazz tone can be had.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 02:19 PM   #18 (permalink)
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IMHO, the Tele is extremely versatile. Would I play Metal on one? Probably not, but I see no reason it couldn't be a great Jazz guitar.

I have really two suggestions.

First, try tinkering with your rig a little at a time, using the suggestions above. Some of these guys have experience dripping off of them. Just make sure that you give yourself a few days to play on a setting as is, before modifying it at all.

If you're still unhappy, you might consider taking a look at the potentiometer values. I think Tele's come with factory 250K's (but I'm not 100% sure). Changing the value of Potentiometer will change your tone. Generally you have 250K, 500K, and 1Meg. As I remember, the higher the value, the brighter your tone. The best part is that these are fairly inexpensive to purchase. They should run just a few dollars a piece.

I lean towards the 500K potentiometers, as I feel that my pickups have more 'punch'.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 03:17 PM   #19 (permalink)
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That's not true.

A Tele is a perfect Jazz Guitar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxPBvDYVX2w


Greets
+1 !

The Tele is probably the only solid body that jazz snobs accept as a true jazz guitar.

I've suffered these fools, "you can't play jazz on that, it's got a Bigsby on it and, and, and it's a Gretsch!" But the tele got the "Ooo, it's a Telecaster! (can I play it, please)" reception...

The tele neck pickup is one of the world's best classic jazz sounds, it just needs dialling in.

I'd start with the amp - turn the tone controls down (it wants a rather flat response), turn the gain down (it wants to be dirty-clean, clean with a just little frissance like any 1947 amp that actually worked). Turn the reverb down. The Frontman should work fine for this.

Then the tele - roll off the tone to ~20% but not all the way to the bottom, - roll off the volume a little (use the knob to bring up the volume from zero).

The pickups may want height adjustment. I do this with tone and vol at '10' but the amp clean and neutral. I set the bridge pickup height to its sweet spot, then match the neck pickup to match its output. Then I fiddle with them until I get the tone I want. I probably fiddle with them as often as I change strings.

The neck pickup will sound dull with the tone at '0', if you raise the treble side now it will still sound dull. If you are having to turn the tone knob down to '0' for jazz then I suggest your neck pickup may be a smidgen too high, lower it until the cool jazz tone appears, mine is some 5mm below treble E, 6mm below bass E. This height is also ideal with the tone knob turned up a bit more for clean rhythm work and over-driven rock and blues. The neck pickup rolled down to jazz-tone is the cat's pyjamas for swing jazz/blues.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 03:37 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Thanks a lot for all your input.

First of all, a different guitar is out of the question. I absolutely love my tele and would never want anything else to replace it. I play many different styles such as jazz, blues, funk, classic rock, indie, and punk (I basically play every genre), and the tele is pretty versatile. I know that it may not be a "jazz" guitar and I know it has its signature "twang" too.

As far as adjusting the pickup height, I'm an idiot. I really have no idea how to do this, and don't want to risk screwing it up, unless it is incredibly simple. I know it would help, but I'm not too sure if I want to actually go about doing that myself.
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