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off-centre bridge and ferrules

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by hemingway, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. hemingway

    hemingway Friend of Leo's

    Mar 14, 2012
    London, UK
    Okay, I'm new to this forum, so Hi, fellow tele-heads

    Anyway, about 6 weeks ago I bought my first real tele, a Baja Classic Player. I love it, it sounds fantastic, and if I didn't have damned RSI I'd play it non-stop.

    However, I'm pretty sure the ferrules are drilled about 3 mm off centre. I know that sounds like a lot, but I'm not joking. The bridge has been fitted to line up with the holes, so that it's off centre, too.

    The problem is that, when the strings line up "naturally" with the saddles, they're off to one side, and the bottom E can slip off the fretboard when you hit it.

    To compensate for this I attacked the bridge saddles (they're the 3 brass kind) with a little rat-tail file, to get the strings to sit where they need to. After some trial and error they are all filed to hell, but I can replace them cheaply enough.

    Which is fine - except now it just looks plain wrong. The strings come up through the holes and then have to lie at an ugly angle in order to sit on the bridge saddles in the right place.

    What I'd like to know is, is this a standard thing with teles, and you just have to work with it and get used to it, or is my guitar a factory runt that I need to take back to the shop and get exchanged?

    If lots of teles are like this then I can live with it, but if I ever want to sell it, I can imagine that people won't want something that's so off-centre.

    Thanks in advance for any replies.
     
  2. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    Welcome to the forum!

    Are you sure it's the bridge and ferrules that are off, and not the neck?

    Fender's bolt-on necks are designed so they can be adjusted a little. The neck screws should pass freely through the body holes and only engage in the threads in the neck. So, if you slacken the strings a little, and loosen the neck screws, you should be able to move the neck in its pocket just a little to line up the two E strings with the edges of the fretboard. Then you just tighten up the 4 screws.

    Search the forum for "neck chiropractic trick" for more info!
     
  3. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    41
    Feb 7, 2009
    Reading, Massachusetts
    Welcome!

    We've all got out own notions about how perfect our guitars must be; if I owned your Tele, I'd be very puzzled by the off-center bridge... but it wouldn't bother me. I'd be VERY bothered, though, if the little E slid off the neck. I'd try to fix that by doing the following:

    With the strings at pitch, loosen the neck bolts somewhat. If God's on your side, the strings themselves will pull the neck to where they want them, usually with a pronounced "pop." Then, just tighten the neck bolts; hopefully, the strings will at that point be centered over the neck

    If that doesn't work, I'd loosen the strings, then wrench the neck myself in the direction I'd like it to go. Then tighten the bolts back up, tune to pitch, and see what happens.

    Don't be afraid to mess with your neck alignment; it's a bolt-on guitar for a reason. You're unlikely to break it.

    As for centering the ferrule holes... well, short of plugging, redrilling, and refinishing, PLUS those neck alignments I mentioned, I can't think of what you should do.

    EDIT: KevinB is a faster typist than I am...
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
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  5. hemingway

    hemingway Friend of Leo's

    Mar 14, 2012
    London, UK
    Thanks Kevin and Picton, I'll give the neck adjustment a try. It makes sense.
     
  6. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    Picton - And I thought it was always me who posted 10 seconds after someone had already given the answer to a question :(

    To add just a little to the neck alignment info...If the neck screws are binding in the body holes, clear the holes out. An 11/64" drill bit is the weapon of choice.

    When reassembling - assuming you have totally removed the neck screws - you really don't want these screws to cut new threads in the maple neck, so start off turning them by hand counter clockwise. While doing this you'll feel them "drop" into the existing threads. You can then turn then clockwise and tighten them....but not super tight as you'll risk deforming the neck plate.

    And before you put the screws back in, lubricate them with a little candle wax on the threads.
     
  7. hemingway

    hemingway Friend of Leo's

    Mar 14, 2012
    London, UK
    I didn't totally remove the neck, but I did remove 2 of the screws completely, as it was taking more brute force than I was comfortable with to move the neck. I could then move it into place pretty easily.

    I'm not sure I followed all your instructions properly, but it seems to have done the trick - so, many thanks, guys.

    The end result is looking really promising. Tele bridges are relics, they're never going to be perfect looking. But I can look at it now without wondering whether I've bought a turkey. I just need to buy new saddles now to replace the ones I vandalised.

    Everyone seems to recommend the compensated ones, but as I'm not an intonation expert and the guitar sounds fine to me, I might leave that for a while. Maybe I'll buy the Tele Haynes manual and see what it says.

    That vintage bridge - if someone invented it today they would be laughed out onto the street. It looks as though it was made from old bicycle parts. But it sounds great, so what do you do?

    I suspect, though, that guitarists are just a nostalgic, "we-fear-change" bunch, and Fender would never sell another if they changed it for anything logical.

    Anyway, many thanks once again.
     
  8. Arbiter

    Arbiter Banned

    Jan 24, 2012
    self-banned
    I said this almost 30 years ago, after a bandmate who did not like my new axe christened my Steinberger "the AIDS bass". I had no idea how right I was. When it comes to guitars (not politics) you'll not find a more conservative bunch of people on the planet. And in fairness, how are you going to improve a Strat or Tele? Incrementally at best.

    Basses, on the other hand...
     
  9. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    Have you looked at the bridge on the American Standards, or the MIM Standards? A lot more "logical" and they seem to sell a lot of them. :eek:

    Many - if not most - people "swear" by Leo Fender's old "ashtray" bridge though.
     
  10. flyingbanana

    flyingbanana Poster Extraordinaire

    You're going to need to post pics.
     
  11. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    I too had a droop-snoot Baja.

    I adjusted the neck pretty much as described above.
    In the end to get the neck aligned with the strings and the strings aligned with the pickups, I had to move the bridge plate over. I toothpicked the screw holes and piloted new ones just to the side, and I used a countersink very lightly on them (wood pulls up when you insert and tighten a screw, lifting the tail of the plate). I did not move the ferrules but broached the holes a trifle wider under the plate. The bridge pickup rout now shows evenly on either side of the plate. Alignment perfect.
     
  12. hemingway

    hemingway Friend of Leo's

    Mar 14, 2012
    London, UK
    I too have suffered from Steinberger prejudice. I have a Hohner G3T that, apart from the pick-ups, which I've never got round to changing (since the 80s), is a magnificent machine that plays beautifully. But people say "it doesn't look like a guitar". Well, when you think about it, 80% of electric guitars don't really look like guitars. They look like planks of wood with guitar necks.

    I just don't think the Steinberger is macho enough for most guitarists. But break a string mid-gig and it's the best guitar in the world. Similarly for dragging on and off trains, in and out of taxis, etc.

    I dread breaking a string on the Baja. Those vintage tuners are a nightmare.
     
  13. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    Oh come on now, split-post vintage tuners are the easiest on the planet to use. Just cut the string a little longer than the distance to the tuner, pop it in the hole and wind it neatly down the tuner shaft. No muss, no fuss, and no sharp string end to poke you in the eye :eek:
     
  14. teleamp

    teleamp Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    57
    Oct 17, 2006
    Central TX
    You'll be amazed how much you like them after you get accustomed to them, I can change strings on a tele with the vintage tuners in a little over a minute if I have to...
     
  15. Break the nightmare and study in person how to prepare and load each string into the split shaft tuner. Once you understand how they're meant to work, you will see there's nothing better.
     
  16. superbadj

    superbadj Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    42
    Mar 26, 2008
    roanoke, va
    Agreed. Split-shafts are my favorite type. Clean. Simple. Work beautifully. Easy to string. I dig'em.
     
  17. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    41
    Feb 7, 2009
    Reading, Massachusetts
    +1. There's no better bang for your buck in the world of Tele upgrades, IMHO. I love it when the best part for the job is also the cheapest part for the job, just about.
     
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