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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Baja Tele, what to expect?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Vladimir, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. Vladimir

    Vladimir Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Zagreb, Croatia
    I've been eyeing a Baja Tele in the classifieds for a reasonable price. While I've read here numerous times how great a guitar it is, I'm concerned with the neck and fret specifics, which are supposedly different from other MIM guitars.
    What can I expect regarding the playability? Is there a noticable difference with the frets? I don't mind a chunkier neck, but I've never been a fan of large frets, not to mention scalloped necks. It makes me press out of tune easily. Is the Baja along the same lines?

  2. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 30, 2011
    They are bigger frets than the old-school skinny Fender frets. They are pretty similar to, if not exactly the same as, the frets on U.S.A. Standards, or the modern standard Gibson frets (but dressed differently than the ones on Gibsons). For me, it's the biggest drawback of the Bajas, as I prefer skinnier frets. That being said, it is not a major issue IMO. They still play just fine, and they don't have the huge fret/scalloped feel. High frets can always be dressed to taste too; it's better than frets that are too low for you.

  3. Vladimir

    Vladimir Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Zagreb, Croatia
    If it's Gibson style frets, I can handle it. It's the huge frets on my sons Ibanez RG that make it difficult.

  4. paratus

    paratus Friend of Leo's Ad Free + Supporter

    Dec 2, 2010
    The frets are medium jumbo, fairly typical. The neck is chunky compared to the modern "C" profile, in my opinion the Baja is much more comfortable. Not as big as a Nocaster though.

    With the 4 way switch it is capable of a bit more juice with the pups in series. Some people don't like the S1, I find it useful.

  5. hemingway

    hemingway Friend of Leo's

    Mar 14, 2012
    London, UK
    Yes, I'm really surprised at the number of people who go to so much trouble to ditch the S1. Okay, position 4 is strictly surf, but position 2 is a nice fat out-of-phase tone. It's not quite Albert King, but through a crisp-sounding amp with a little gain it buzzes beautifully.

    And if you don't like the S1, why go to the trouble of rewiring? Just don't use it.

  6. BoogerRooger

    BoogerRooger Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 3, 2009
    Suffolk Coast
    Why would you just not use it, if you can mod it? :p

  7. johnnyrotten

    johnnyrotten Tele-Meister

    May 12, 2010
    I wish I could find one at what I consider a reasonable price. Man, I miss my 50's classic.

  8. Telepi

    Telepi Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 22, 2009
    I have a Baja, Gibson LP, and a 52 AVRI. Here's my comparison:

    The Baja's are the widest frets of all three, but not the tallest. They are more rounded and feel real good as you move up and down the neck.

    The Les Paul's are the tallest of the three. They are not as wide as the Baja. However, they are wider than the 52. The shape is more square-ish.

    The 52's frets seem taller than the Baja, but definitely not as wide. They are more square feeling too. They feel like a smaller version of my LP. Not as wide and not as tall, yet they are shaped very similar.

    All three are very playable and it's easy to jump around from one to the other. I like the variety. But, for some reason, the Baja frets and neck just feels smoother than the other two. It's a very easy playing guitar.

  9. Twang Tone

    Twang Tone Friend of Leo's

    Apr 15, 2005
    Expect having trouble putting it down!


  10. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

    The Baja just has normal medium-jumbo frets and there is nothing even remotely scalloped about it.

  11. variantboy

    variantboy Tele-Meister

    Jul 4, 2008

    yeah.. i was reading this and i thought to myself... "scalloped" ??? that's not been my expereience.

    i bought one exactly 2 weeks ago and have not been able to put it down. I'm a little guy (5'7") and i don't have big hands (yeah.. yeah.. i know) and i have not found it to be uncomfortable.

    I have been a fan of the Made-in-Mexico vintage necks for a long time - i love a "deeper" neck for sure, but i've always preferred a 7.25 radius, so i was unsure whether this was going to be an exact match for me. I really liked how it felt in the store, so i took it home. For the first couple days, it was a little foreign, but i grew to really like it. I've taken pains to go back and forth between my main guitar (a MIM '69 Thinline RI) and the baja and it's not a difficult transition at all. The frets DO NOT feel super huge to me - and i'm used to the teeny tiny skinny vintage ones. They're actually pretty comfy. I don't see or feel any scalloping at all. Actually the neck feels pretty good to me. I don't think it would be a huge step away from a vintage style neck.

    as for the pickups. they are cool, no doubt. But i'm just a serial-modder and needed to hear a different bunch of pickups in this guitar - and i DID in fact remove the pickups AND the entire plate/pots/switch assembly and built my own from scratch. My logic was - why muck up the original with my less-than-expert soldering skills, when i can put an entire assembly together for .. what.. like 20 or 30 bucks. Also - i have a long fickle history with guitars, and have learned my lesson about trying to resell a non-stock instrument... so that was another inspiration. I did opt out of the s1 and the 4-way switch in the new assembly... just not my thing.

    in the end.. the damn thing is beautiful. has good weight to it without being super heavy, craptons of sustain, and even for a small guy like me, it's really comfortable. i think it'd be hard to hate a baja.

    your milleage of course may vary - so if you're going to try one, get one from a vendor that has a return policy.

  12. Vladimir

    Vladimir Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Zagreb, Croatia
    I never implied the Baja had a scalloped neck, just mentioned it as one of the neck/fret styles I can't tolerate because of my gorilla grip. I'll definitely give it a try first but, so far it seems the frets shouldn't be that big of a deal.

  13. xMercury69x

    xMercury69x Friend of Leo's

    Nov 9, 2012
    Most people like the Baja and say it's undervalued. The 4 way switching and the S1 add some toneage that normal Teles don't have. If it's still available for a good price, i would suggest arranging a play date with the intention of grabbing it if it feels and plays nice.

    It might be the best bang for the buck under $1K as far as Teles goes, but I don't really know all that much about the Nashvilles, which seem quite nice.

    Try looking on YouTube for some demos.

  14. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    Really, really large tall frets (like those on the American Special and Highway Ones) are pretty much a fast substitute for a scalloped neck. Or is it the other way around, that a scalloped neck is a substitute for big and tall frets when all you have is vintage ones? Either way, I figured that was where you might be coming from, and the Baja neck and frets aren't IMO about that at all.

    Either way, the word "jumbo" just means non vintage. The critical word in "medium jumbo" is Medium. Just a single step or stage above 6230 or what we now refer to as "vintage" fretwire. Not a difficult step at all.

    I think more likely you'll be forced to change (and perhaps to relax) by the far larger neck girth. Each guy's hand is different here, but normally we're going from a tight clench of the thin shredder or Ibanez style neck, to a more relaxed one where the fingers can make the right amount of contact with the Baja fretboard without any clamping down to speak of at all. Once you're no longer clamping down, I suspect the worst of the pulling notes sharp will subside.

  15. Vladimir

    Vladimir Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Boris, that was exactly my point.

  16. Camplain

    Camplain Tele-Holic

    Aug 2, 2011
    Hamburg, Arkansas
    I don't think you'll have any trouble with the Baja's frets, they feel fine to me and my favorite size wire is vintage... When I play my Gibson I tend to pull strings out of tune a little till I adjust my touch, never had that trouble with the Baja.... it's the super tall frets I steer clear of, don't mind wide ones at all... I guess the Baja's frets are wider than vintage, but really can't tell it when I play.

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