Dilemma With ‘53 Esquire Pickup

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by Luca, May 16, 2019.

  1. Luca

    Luca Tele-Meister

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    I’d love to hear your advice.

    Last year I had the original pickup in my ‘53 Esquire rewound by Fralin.
    The pickup sounds good now, but lost a very tiny bit of air and sparkle.
    I don’t know if it’s caused by the wax potting, the different wire, etc. but it’s a little more “solid” and less “alive” sounding.
    Anyways, overall it sounds great and I have no big complains.

    But, I recently found a ‘52 pickup taken from a Champion lap steel, it’s supposed to be nothing less than an amazing flat polepieces Tele pickup, only with a different bobbin bottom shape.
    It reads 6.3K so it should be perfect I think, and it’s the same reading the original pickup had when it was healthy.

    Now the question is, should I leave the guitar alone, or try putting this pickup in?
    It would involve removing the bridge plate and the original pickup, and send it all to a vintage repair shop abroad, so that they can transplant the pickup baseplate and make the modifications in order to align the screws with the bridge.
    They can do that, and it’s reversible, but messing with these pieces still means a small % of risk.

    What’s the most desiderable scenario, a rewound original Esquire pickup, or an untouched healthy pickup that is basically the same as the original, adapted to fit?

    Most importantly: anyone has experience with how these Champion pickups sound?
    I remember reading here of someone who was completely amazed by one of those, saying that it was sounding just like the best old Blackguard Tele you could imagine, is it true?

    Here’s an example of a finished transplant... thanks for any advice guys!

    [​IMG]

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    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  2. Paul-T

    Paul-T Tele-Meister

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    It's a high risk considering you don't know the new pickup will actually sound better!

    WHy don't you get the lap steel pickup fitted to a repro bottom bobbin and proceed from there?
     
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  3. ScottJPatrick

    ScottJPatrick Tele-Afflicted

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    Can you reverse the wax potting? pretty sure someone here will either have done it or know how to, might just do the job.
     
  4. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    If I have a situation like yours, I make a wood cradle that I attach w double stick tape and mount it over the strings as a test. But it would be easier to talk to Rob and see which of his many fine p-ups might be good. If not he'll custom wind one for what you want

    http://www.frettech3.com/ Googles acting weird I can t copy links ! Google Cavalier pickups.
     
  5. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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  6. TwangToInfinity

    TwangToInfinity Tele-Holic

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    i would absolutely put the champsteel pickup in there!

    i would do it myself tho.

    a comment on wax potted tele pickups, i have a tele that is often exposed to full-on hot window sun and ive caught it getting way to hot many times. it seems to have become mircophonic, i can only surmise the window heat/sun was the cause
     
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  7. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Holic

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    I have a 53 champion LS pickup in my tele. It also reads 6.3k. It sounds good but not unlike a new well made pickup with the same specs (a3 6.3k). It Just needed some material removed and two holes drilled to fit. No transplant of anything, just stick a standard metal plate to the bottom (like the one in the pics)
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  8. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Holic

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    I would have the original pickup rewound again if you dont like it.
     
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  9. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Holic

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    The top plate of the bobbin also shrinks with time making the coil looser. Wax potting on these old pickups is never very deep. Often the wax only fixed the cotton string and hardly penetrated the coil.
     
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  10. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Holic

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    Another weird thing that sometimes happens in these old pickups is that the coil seems to expand slightly. Maybe it is the coil wire insulation that slightly swells with age? No idea but I have seen coils like that. The insulation had swollen and became brittle and porous.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  11. CWP0126

    CWP0126 Tele-Meister

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    I've been considering something like this too. What material needs to be removed, some of the flatwork?
    Thanks!
     
  12. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Holic

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    I myself am convinced that self oscillation and feedback at the right frequencies add character to these vintage pickups.
     
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  13. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Holic

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    Yes. Just hold a tele pickup baseplate to the bottom and you will see what part of the flatwork sticks out and needs to be removed to fit in the pickup cavity. You may also have to slightly enlarge the cutout in the metal plate for the eyelets. Sometimes the eyelets just touch the metal plate and the pickup shorts out
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
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  14. CWP0126

    CWP0126 Tele-Meister

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    Great information @Antoon, thanks! I’ve been looking for a step by step guide on how to do this type of conversion but haven’t had much luck, even searching here on TDPRI. I didn’t find anything regarding modifying the flatwork dimensions or the plate, just vague comments about minor surgery to make it work.

    This is a very timely post by @Luca, because I just ordered a ‘54 Champion pickup that has been rewound, so it’s not original and therefore I don’t have an issue converting it to a Tele bridge pickup. It will be going into an Esquire partscaster I put together as a Blackguard tribute. It should be cool and sound awesome, I hope!

    Apologies if I derailed the OP’s post; hopefully the info shared can help us both, and anyone considering this modification in the future.

    Also, to @Luca, I can’t tell you which option is better as you have a real Blackguard and I’m messing with a partscaster, but I’m wondering why you are sending this abroad to have this done. I’m not the handiest person around, but I can burn my fingers with a soldering iron as bad as the next guy. You can probably do this conversion yourself, just don’t remove the original plate from the original pickup and use an aftermarket plate instead on the replacement.

    Good luck and thanks again!
    CWP
     
  15. Major Gruber

    Major Gruber Tele-Afflicted

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    I would have the champion pickup set and see how it goes. It's a cheaper way to get back to a full original tone. It's to be tried and if it's not good enough, then you can try to have the original rewound again. And if the champion is a killer, just keep the original for the day you will sell the guitar. I have a 54 champion steel pickup on my favorite tele and I love it.
     
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  16. hamerfan

    hamerfan TDPRI Member

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    Did Fralin recharge the magnets? My guess is this the culprit.
    Recharging is a matter of seconds but does more to the overall sound than a correct done rewind. Degaussed mags make this airy less bassy sound.
    The process is to measure all mags before rewinding and see one is overly degaussed, which is bad an dysfunctional. A very even degauss is part of the overall vintage sound.
    Good thing everybody with a gaussmeter and some neodym disc mags can change this back.
     
  17. rangercaster

    rangercaster Friend of Leo's

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    A pickup is just a bunch of wire wrapped around a few magnets ... If it sounds right, it is right ... if not ...
     
  18. hamerfan

    hamerfan TDPRI Member

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    By the way: About 20 years ago i heard a customer complaining about his overhauled amp. It had a breakdown and the tech swap all the caps to new ones like speced in the schematics. This changed dramatically the lush 'vintage sound' to the 'when newly build amp' sound the customer didn't like.
    Nowadays every tech knows that, measures the caps out of the amp and chooses the new caps accordingly.
     
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  19. Luca

    Luca Tele-Meister

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    Thanks guys!

    I think I’m gonna try the Champion pickup.
    If there are no surprises, I believe it will sound better than a rewound/recharged pickup.

    But maybe it’s better to buy a new aftermarket baseplate instead of removing the original one, what do you think?
    I guess there will be no sound difference as long as it’s a steel plate with correct thickness.
     
  20. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    A pickup is a pickup, and you can get pretty close to replicating an existing pickup, but there are enough variables that you can't make one that's identical. Just talk to Fralin. They did their best, but pay them to give it another try. You'll get a lot closer, that way, instead of installing a brand new mystery in the guitar.
     
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