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. tfarny

    tfarny Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Nice post. I have learned this lesson and forgot it a few times now!
    I am gathering parts to "upgrade" my PRS SE One right now and there is a slight worry that I won't improve it at all or might even make it less awesome than it is. I think all my mods would be reversible and I'm keeping the original parts, too, just in case.

  2. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Friend of Leo's

    Apr 3, 2015
    Winchester, VA
    Yes, really. I upgraded my Fender Classic Player's 60's Stratocaster stock Custom 69 bridge pickup with an overwound GFS strat pickup. Better tone, better pickup. Totally an upgrade.

  3. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    We have to wonder if those who prefer to buy "all original" guitars are the same guys who always mod them anyhow.
    BorderRadio likes this.

  4. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    I kind of agree in terms of modding a nice vintage original anything.

    In the '50s & '60s lots of classic cars got rear wheelwells opened up for bigger tires, stronger engine, transmission, rear end and brakes installed, plus a roll cage for drag racing.
    I would not do that to an all original car but have a '56 Chevy that got the racing treatment back in the day, and is at this point "an original Gasser".
    There are literally no original moving parts on the car aside from steering column and hinges/ latches.

    Interestingly I have a '71 LP Deluxe that also has no original parts.
    '50s Fenders got five way Strat switches and modern Tele wiring, squealy pickups potted, worn frets and tuners replaced, locking trems and HBs, new paint when they looked old and worn, overspray where finish wore off; and these were mostly just to keep them working properly for their owners current needs.

    I'm going to guess that if in 100 years nobody knows what old cars looked like when new, they will also ask what the third pedal is for.
    Unless the modding trend eventually puts an electronic paddle shift ten speed auto trans in "hot rods".

    Really a fair comparison.

    I have a computer engineered aluminum (C4) Corvette front suspension with better brakes and handling ready to go into the '56 to replace its second front suspension.
    This is a very typical old school mod, akin to the five way Strat switch.
    Not as modern as the four way Tele switch.
    El Tele Lobo and awasson like this.

  5. kennl

    kennl Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 6, 2007
    Moon Township, PA
    one player's "upgrade" is another's "trashing"
    for me, hum-cancelling pickups and compensated saddles are upgrades, while pickguard color changes and single-coil boutique pickup swaps are mods that do not add value to the instrument

  6. esetter

    esetter Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Sep 1, 2011
    You know what they say, If it aint hell, who am I kidding! Pass me the soldering iron! :D

  7. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    Overall I'm very grateful for all the upgrading going on.
    All those stock pickups that were replaced with whatever players thought was an upgrade in decades past are what I put in my current Fenders and Fender style guitars.
    I even have one early '70s Tele bridge pickup that the seller took out when the guitar was almost new, so the used pickup looked like new when I bought it, even though it was over 40 years old.
    Sounds better than any of my Duncan and boutique replacement pickups.
    I have a few vintage Fender pickups that do not sound good though, so maybe they truly needed to be "upgraded".
    And when I need parts I often buy one of those "upgraded" partscasters that are worth half of what the upgraded guitar cost before the upgrades.

    I'll admit that often the partscasters have some ugly stuff hidden under the assembly like chiseled holes, stripped screw threads, solder glopped switches, burnt wire insulation, filed down flat top frets, slathered on glue around the nut, extra broken off screw parts in the headstock next to crooked tuners, ferrules wrapped with tape to hold them in, truss rods that have been over tightened to the point where the nut sunk in to the wood, pickguards cracked from over tightening the screws, neck pockets chiseled and sanded to fit some Sears neck from the trash, finish relic sanded through with 80 grit...

    So thank you to all who buy, sell and mod Fenders.
    Or buy, mod and sell...
    I'm right there with ya!

    Something that's funny is that maybe 15-20 years ago when I asked shops if they had used parts they would often pull out relics from The Brass Age.
    Cheap and sometimes free, I didn't really want them but found it hard to resist.
    These days some of that stuff pulls a good price, like over $100 for a vintage brass Strat or Tele bridge.
    So take heart! Whatever we do, eventually somebody will want it!
    Some of the builders of vintage style parts even make "Franky" parts!
    Building a better mouse trap eventually pays!

  8. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Nov 18, 2010
    My Jazz Bass is stock and so is the 80’s BC Rich Warlock that I don’t play but recently I’ve been looking at it with some ideas to get it into rotation.

    My Ibanez AS100 has been mine since it was brand new in 1981 and I played it for at least 10 years before any mods. The pickups and wiring mods were an improvement, both times I upgraded it. It’ll go back to stock if necessary. I prefer the improved sparkle from the aftermarket pickups. Everything else is stock. It could do with a new nut but it’s not imperative.

    The 1981 AR100 came to me with a DiMarzio in the bridge and the OEM neck pickup with the cover removed... I didn’t particularly like the way they worked so eventually after a good 5 years or so, I changed/upgraded them. It’s a huge improvement.

    My Tele is a home build and gets upgrades as often as it gets new strings.

    I bought my MIM Strat for the purpose of being a modding platform. I played it with the OEM pickups, bridge, tuners, etc... and I’ve kept the OEM parts but it is significantly better than it was when it arrived in OEM condition. I’ve changed everything but wood and frets on it but I changed each part after playing it and assessing the before/after affects. I even recorded the pickups before and after so I would have something more than memory to go on when assessing the success or failure of the changes. It is currently my #1 and I don’t see any more changes on the horizon for it.
    telemnemonics likes this.

  9. Frontman

    Frontman Tele-Holic

    Jul 10, 2014
    Take a $10,000 car, add another $10,000 in paint and accessories, and what is the car worth? About $10,000.

    Fixing things that ain't broke is not only a waste of time and money, you often cause more problems than you were trying to solve.
    warthog likes this.

  10. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Great example.... and consider.... take a 30,000.00 1950 unmolested Broadcaster change the pickup and/or bridge and it's now worth 6,000.00 :eek:

    Owenmoney and beagle like this.

  11. Lobomov

    Lobomov Friend of Leo's

    Jul 15, 2013

    Hehe .. yeah, but I'm not waiting 50 years for my 2008 tele to reach five digit value. :D (Tho it is is nice that you can get a huge discount on a 50s tele due to parts or a refin)

    As already stated all it takes is a relaxed and playful mindset instead of an upgrade mentality. It's all about personal taste and satisfaction.

    Pulling out a set of '57s in a Gibson will never be an upgrade, but I prefer something with more mids, so a change makes me happy even if it doesn't improve the value of the guitar :)

  12. warthog

    warthog Tele-Meister

    Aug 5, 2011
    When I got the guitar, I thought I had to change the neck so it got me in the Modding mood. I'll admit that I've fallen into the trap of listening to others saying that anything else than an American Tele needs to be upgraded. I read that the pups were ceramic and not Alnico... I thought to myself, well, they can't be ceramic, those are too "cheap".

    The thing is that I was so blown away by how good the Tele sounded through my rig, stock... I really don't know how I thought it could get better!

    I'm not a serial modder as I have an 1989 Les Paul that has never been modded over the 27 years I've owned it. I also have a Fender Modern Player Jag that I wouldn't change a thing on.

    Some one mentioned that the ease that a Tele (or Strat) can be modded may have led me to the modding frenzy. I'll see if I get the sound back when I go back to the original set up.

    Should be fun! WhooHoo!
    telemnemonics likes this.

  13. Strato50

    Strato50 Tele-Holic

    Mar 30, 2017
    Port Arthur TX
    Build a parts caster...get what you want to start...:)
    Owenmoney and awasson like this.

  14. darkwaters

    darkwaters Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 14, 2012
    I've always liked the idea of buying a good quality budget guitar and upgrading/modding it to get it just right. I've found it to be fun and educational and you end up (if all goes well) with a unique instrument that's totally yours. Some guitars have been (almost) perfect (My Jetstream 390 just needed new knobs.) when I bought them and others (Like my Squier Tele in my avatar.) went thru a number of alterations as I lived with the guitar and came to a better understanding of what I wanted. In the Tele's case, I've owned it for 8.5 years and it's only in the last several weeks that I can say that I'm done. The last and, presumably, final upgrade was a Vineham Telepaf in the neck.

    Can't say that I've done an upgrade/mod that I was unhappy with. The only down side that I've found is that when I check out a shop guitar, all I can see are deficiencies and I realize that I much prefer what I already have. Drag 'cause, hey, it's fun to buy new toys ! ;)

    Word of warning: you will never get your money back if you sell your tricked out budget guitar. Ever. Don't even think it. :rolleyes:
    awasson likes this.

  15. bluesky1963

    bluesky1963 Tele-Holic

    Apr 1, 2011
    Glendale, AZ

    That's another facet of it. Everyone's modding like crazy, then complaining about their resale values a year later when the go to flip it.

  16. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Nov 18, 2010
    I guess like anything, either you get it or you don’t and your own experience will weigh heavily on your opinion.

    I grew up in a household where if we weren’t satisfied with how things were working, you made adjustments. Our house was renovated twice that I can remember. We could have moved but we had a double lot on a corner with a view to the North, South and West and I suppose my parents liked the neighbourhood so our house got bigger and better. My dad made his own audio equipment, amps, speakers, cabinets. He also equipped some of our neighbours with fancy hifi systems. If our car broke down, my dad would be the guy fixing it (he was a lawyer). My mom’s little English car had a garbage auto transmission so my dad swapped in a 4-speed. I think he managed it over the weekend. That’s how I grew up and I had friends with the same experience where if something needed improving, there was a workshop with tools to make the improvements.

    As a result of growing up in that atmosphere, there’s not a lot that you are afraid of improving. You’re not going to pull a Stradivarius off the wall and rebrace the top but your certainly going to swap the lacklustre pickups out of a MIM Strat or change the tone stack to improve the frequency range one way or another.

    BTW, I’ve got all of the OEM parts for my MIM Strat so if someone wants to give me top dollar for a factory equipped 94 MIM Strat, I’ll put it all back to factory spec. It’s got to be worth something because it’s old now, it’s vintage :lol:

    EDIT: it’s worth mentioning that not all guitar upgrades work first time, every time but there’s value in that experience too. I must have swapped 6 different sets of pickups into my Telecaster with a range of wiring, switching and tone options before I figured out which ones suited me and why.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
    telemnemonics likes this.

  17. Georgia twang

    Georgia twang TDPRI Member

    Jun 2, 2014
    Turtletown Tennessee
    What's worse is when you have a perfectly good guitar but convince yourself you need a different one. You build It up in your head and make the trade only to realize that what you had was better . yes I'm speaking from experience LoL . at least you still have the same guitar and can put it back the way it was
    El Tele Lobo and awasson like this.

  18. Owenmoney

    Owenmoney Tele-Holic

    Oct 20, 2012
    Oley Pa
    Back in the 70’s I used to mod my teles, now they’re all stock except for Dunlop strap locks ! If I don’t like a guitar they way it is I won’t keep it !

  19. DrPepper

    DrPepper Tele-Holic

    Nov 24, 2017
    "upgrading" a guitar that didn't need to be upgraded!

    Getting ready to do that tonight.
    El Tele Lobo and awasson like this.

  20. Ira7

    Ira7 Poster Extraordinaire

    Jan 8, 2008
    Coral Springs, FL
    My wife goes to the beauty salon, exercises, and buys new clothes.

    And I can assure you that none of this results in an upgrade.

    I've applied this learning to upgrading guitars, so to satisfy that itch, to pursue that elusive dream, I build new ones.

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