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

"upgrading" a guitar that didn't need to be upgraded!

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by warthog, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. warthog

    warthog Tele-Meister

    Aug 5, 2011

    I'm a dummy. I got a MIM Tele that I had planned to upgrade with new pickups and a rosewood neck because the neck that came on the tele had some light damage... still playable.

    I took the guitar to my practice before modding it and was blown away by how nice it played and sounded. Do you think I thought to myself, "hey, this sounds great, I'm not going to change a thing!"


    I went ahead and spent money on a neck and pickups and then (after trying myself) paid to have it set up.

    I took the guitar to a few practices, fiddling with the amp and pedal settings... why? Because I really don't like the sound of the guitar now... not only that.. I can't stand the neck!!!

    The neck is also a MIM neck which I thought would be similar to the original, but I don't like the feel of the rosewood... it's a great neck, but not for me.

    Bottom line.. I spent more money and effort to fix something that didn't need to be fixed. I could have spent less to just get the frets on the original neck touched up. I had it stuck in my head that a Mexican Tele needed new pups and I ignored the fact that the guitar already sounded great.

    I know some of you know this and and are chuckling to yourself cause you've been there before... but for those who are getting a new guitar and are planning to make changes before you've even gotten it because it's a Squier or it's a MIM or whatever your preconception is... PLAY THE GUITAR FIRST!

    I know I've learned my lesson... at least I hope I have. :)

    Now I am going to put the guitar back to the way it was when I originally got it ... myself... Sigh... ;)
    Gibson, Thin69, El Tele Lobo and 13 others like this.
  2. tintag27

    tintag27 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Jan 18, 2010
    Old England
    The trick of making mistakes is to learn from the experience... that way you can always remember what you did wrong...
    so you can make exactly the same mistakes all over again
    El Tele Lobo, Deeve, Crobbins and 5 others like this.
  3. Lonn

    Lonn Friend of Leo's

    Dec 13, 2007
    The word "upgrade" in the guitar world is a total misnomer. I see guys list guitars all the time saying they've "upgraded" the stock Fender pickups with GFS. Really? Or they upgraded to s different color pickguard. Change is simply that, change.
    Gibson, ROADMAN, Durtdog and 7 others like this.
  4. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Tele-Holic

    Sometimes it seems the mission of these online forums is to whip up excitement about [insert product or purchase here] to generate commerce and consumption. About 90%, yea about 90% of all $$ spent on equipment is unnecessary. But we are programmed to consume, and our merchants thank us for it!
  5. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Poster Extraordinaire

    Oct 22, 2006
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    I talked to Bruce Collins at Mission Amps when I bought my 5E3 kit. He had an array of enticing mods available, and I asked his advice. He said that since I had no experience with the original, I should start by getting to know it as designed, then address specific concerns with mods. One of the all time great amps, still popular after almost 50 years.

    That was great advice. Now, ten years later, I still love that amp the way Leo designed it.
    Jimmy Owen and telemnemonics like this.
  6. el cheapo

    el cheapo Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 13, 2011
    Southcentral Pa
    If it sounds good it IS good. That being said, some changes do result in significant improvement. A proper setup would be at the top of my list.
    Nope and Piggy Stu like this.
  7. Wrighty

    Wrighty Tele-Holic

    Aug 17, 2013
    Essex UK
    Been there, done that. Brand new American Standard Strat Sounded great but neeeeeeeeded Texas Specials. Tried to convince myself they were an upgrade. Hated them, now in the cupboard under the stairs!
  8. tonyv77

    tonyv77 Tele-Meister

    Mar 24, 2009
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Learnt that lesson too. Sometimes ceramic pickups (even single coils) can sound good. Just depends on the application and the player. A poorly setup or constructed guitar is just that, but different or not the norm isn’t always bad.
  9. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Yep nothing wrong with screwing up IF ya learn from the experience... ya know.. the old, "If it doesn't kill ya, it makes ya stronger" Axiom..

    But.. for ANYONE contemplating modding their guitar... keep this in mind.

    1. Nothing guarantees a measurable improvement. All it can do is guarantee a change. You have to like that change for it to be an "up-grade", otherwise it's a screwup... that's true of a 2.00 part or a 2000.00 part.

    2. Making changes, more than one at a time, is a great way to enjoy the benefits of screwing up... make a few changes, and if you don't like the results, how will you know what is doing what? Make changes ONE at a TIME.. then live with it for a few weeks so the "new" wears off and you can make a judgement through something other than "starry eyes"..

    3. Dollars spent guarantee nothing .. a 30.00 bridge can sound better (to you) than a 200.00 bridge.. again, you have to like the sound you hear.

    4. If you don't have the patience and discipline to do the above, don't mod anything, you WILL screw it up.

    Ron Kirn
    Gibson, ROADMAN, Owenmoney and 9 others like this.
  10. JL_LI

    JL_LI Tele-Afflicted

    May 20, 2017
    Long Island, NY
    Been there. Done that. I think most of us have made mistakes like that. I've learned a few things is 67 years. Don't fix what's not broke. If it's broke, fix it; don't replace it. And don't replace it, period. Save up and get another one. I wish I still had my '67 Jazzmaster , '69 LP gold top with P-90's, and Ampeg Gemini VI.
  11. ricardo1912

    ricardo1912 Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 26, 2011
    Kent, UK
    I did the same thing recently. I bought a 1996 Squier Affinity Strat because I thought I should have the other style F guitar, they're pretty cheap and they have rather nice 22 fret necks. I gave it a good clean and set up, played it for a bit then went online and ordered some Pribora pickups. The Strat actually sounded very stratty and clear but I assumed that, because the standard pups came from a budget Squier and were old, they would be a bit rubbish.

    With the new pups the guitar definitely sounds nice but, if I am honest, not significantly better than before. I should have left well alone. I may even put the originals back.
  12. Doctorx33

    Doctorx33 Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 8, 2014
    Yeah, that just happened to me. I bought a cheapie Tele knockoff on a whim, and had it setup. It was a great guitar. Then I got the dumb idea to change the pickguard and put a hot pickup in it. Also replace the pots and put a 4 way in it.


    Had to fill and redrill the pickguard holes, the Fender guard wouldn't fit. Also had to dremel and sand it some.

    Ruined the neck pickup trying to add a ground to the cover for the 4 way. Had to buy another.

    Had to dremel the control cavity to make the switch and new pots fit.

    After three tries to get the wiring on the 4 way correct, I gave up and put a three way in it.

    Finally got it back together, of course it needs a setup which is beyond my ken.

    New hot pickup sounds like bupkiss, gotta try something else.

    All of this took time, I don't get much time to do hobby work.

    Note to self: Next time leave the damn thing alone.
  13. Fendereedo

    Fendereedo Friend of Leo's

    Jan 1, 2014
    I think the latest standard pickups are very good compared with standard ones from say, 5-6 years ago. They sound a lot hotter now IMO.
  14. John Owen

    John Owen Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Jan 29, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    I don't remember which forum member it was but, someone on here used to have a signature line that went something like this: "If it ain't broke, mod it until it is."

    Words to live by!
    Loco, drlucky, jvin248 and 3 others like this.
  15. Wrighty

    Wrighty Tele-Holic

    Aug 17, 2013
    Essex UK
    Yep, and 'there's not a good idea on Earth that can't be b******d up by improving it!
    Owenmoney, Fendereedo and tintag27 like this.
  16. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 7, 2016
    Smyrna georgia
    Most guitars that get modded don't need it.
    Aftermarket pickup makers laugh to the bank.
    Its kinda like craft beer.
    80% of all pickups replaced were not in fact bad.
    They sound a certain way, and you kinda bought the wrong guitar if you don't like them.
    Most of the other hardware is the same. You spend enuff, you will percieve a difference, more imagined than real.
    Jimmy Owen and Owenmoney like this.
  17. 4 Cat Slim

    4 Cat Slim Friend of Leo's

    Oct 17, 2012
    Nelson City TX
    I worked in a music store on a part-time basis for a number of years, so I saw this happen often.
    I'd always recommend that modifications and upgrades be taken on one step at a time, so that
    something could be undone if it didn't work out. This is especially true when changing two or three
    pickups. Change them one at a time, starting with the pickup you use most often.

    I had one customer who brought in a vintage Kay acoustic. He wanted the tuning machines upgraded, so
    I did that and installed a new set of strings. He brought it back a few days later, claiming that the new
    tuning machines had changed the sound of the guitar. He also wanted his money back.

    Fortunately, I had held on to his old machines (he didn't want them), so I offered to put them back on
    while he watched, and he agreed to that. The thing is that if anything had changed his sound, it was probably a
    fresh set of strings. I guess if I had it to do over again, I would've only changed his tuning machines and re-used
    the old strings. I gave him his money back and used the machines on an old Harmony I was restoring.
    I noted that the machines didn't change the sound of the Harmony arch top.
  18. crossroader

    crossroader Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 24, 2004
    Endicott, NY
    Yeah, I went through a similar learning experience with my Jimmie Vaughan Strat.

    I've had 3 or 4 different sets of pickups in it, routed it for HB's, changed the switching and volume/tone controls, etc...
    None of the changes were horrible, but nothing made me jump up and say, "That's it!!"
    So, a while back I put the original pickups back into it and re-discovered that it was pretty great just like that.

    I DID know enough not to change the neck. That JV neck is one of the best ever from Fender.

    Bottom line, sometimes change is good. Sometimes it isn't.
  19. Bob M

    Bob M Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    May 11, 2011
    North of Boston
    If it makes anyone feel better the guys on the Gretsch site are doing "upgrades" to pro-line Gretsches. Spend a couple of grand on a guitar and swap the PUPS out on $300 or $400 TV Jones PUPS. Most of the folks on the sites seem to be tinkerers by nature. I enjoy the stories!
  20. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    What if you bought the rosewood neck with the same pickups on a whole guitar in the first place? Would you know it wasn’t what you wanted? Maybe you wouldn’t bother buying it but what if it was a deal of a price, bought with intention to mod it? :) It’s a two-sided game, modding. And it is a game, because it’s surely not essential to playing well.

    Like others said, the upshot is you now know better about what you want. For now, anyways, until your mind and ears change :D
    telemnemonics and Obsessed like this.
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