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1996 (Probably) American Standard - What’s Good vs Could Be Better

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by patzer, Feb 28, 2021.

  1. patzer

    patzer TDPRI Member

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    Hi folks — I’m getting back into playing electric guitar after spending a good amount of time with my Breedlove acoustic and other pursuits.

    Several years back I bought a MIA Telecaster with S/N N6+6 (133...), which I think dates it to 1996 based on Fender’s article and various used listings. It’s a sunburst finish with a rosewood fretboard. I’m pretty sure it’s stock other than Schaller Strap Locks.

    I really love it, and the more I play the more it rewards. It stays in rock-solid tune, seems to have good intonation and action, and works with a lot of genres. I’m currently playing through a Yamaha THR-10C.

    As the thread title says, what can folks tell me about the good and could be better about 1996 American Standard Telecasters (pickups, electronics, hardware, etc.)? Any setup tips?

    Some minor things I’ve noticed:
    • The pickup switch cap falls off easily, even though I’ve replaced it with a new Fender replacement. I’ll try the masking tape fix. [Update: added a small bit of duct tape over the blade and it seems much more secure.]
    • The tone knob seems weird. I don’t know what the center detent is telling me, and further adjustment doesn’t sound good to me. Is this the TBX pot? Is it good for anything? (I’m trying to digest this thread.)
    Many thanks, Tele heads!
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
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  2. Milspec

    Milspec Poster Extraordinaire

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    Are you sure it isn't a "Tele Plus" version? That detent on the tone knob sounds like the pot used on the "plus" guitars.
     
  3. patzer

    patzer TDPRI Member

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    Well, it definitely doesn't have the mini-toggle switch.

     
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  4. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    These are stock too.

    These are great guitars apart from the mediocre bridge pickup that isn't even a real tele bridge pickup....since it lacks a baseplate.
    Adding a baseplate or,even better,replacing it with a vintage style medium/low output pickup with a baseplate will do wonders for your sound.

    Your guitar has the tbx pot.It was stock on all AS teles and strats in 96

    https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/The_Fender_TBX_Tone_Control_Part_1

    Although some late 1996 ones have the no load tone pot that took the place of the tbx in 1997.

    You can easily see which one you have just by looking at it
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
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  5. Telecaster88

    Telecaster88 Tele-Afflicted

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    My '88 is still my #1 guitar, bone stock. Never felt the need to modify anything about it.
     
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  6. slauson slim

    slauson slim Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Likely a TBX pot, easily replaced with a regular 500 k pot if you don’t bond with it.

    Other than that that, resist making further changes. New strings, perhaps a change in string gauge, a good setup, plus knob twiddling on the instrument and amp and you will be pleased.

    American Standards are fine guitars, a modern take on the tele and lots of good sounds. Not ultimate twang machines or vintage sounding teles and no amount of mods will change that. If you want a classic tele buy one or build one.

    I have a ‘95 and changed bridge saddles, and put Muy Grande, Barden, OV, Broadcaster and TK pickups. All were unsatisfactory, the mod rat hole. It now has stock pickups and a 500 k tone pot, and changed the white pick guard for black. It is my go to gig tele and does what it is supposed to.
     
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  7. Jakedog

    Jakedog Telefied Ad Free Member

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    The tone pot is stock. It’s a TBX. Short for “Treble/Bass Expander”. The dentent is like a regular tone pot on ten. From the detent point to wide open, it allows more treble through. From the detent point to rolled all the way off it allows more bass through.

    I like them a lot. Some folks don’t.

    Your guitar should have come stock with Schaller strap lock buttons, but not the locks. Weird huh? Welcome to the American Standard.

    That mid 90’s time period is one of my favorites for the standard models. I freakin love those guitars. I generally wouldn’t change a thing about those strats and teles. They’re pretty much perfect.

    The only thing I can wish was different, is the finish. I wish they were nitro, cause it feels better when I’m sweaty. But that’s really nitpicking an otherwise great guitar.
     
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  8. patzer

    patzer TDPRI Member

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    "The mod rat hole." Ha! Second cousin to Guitar Acquisition Syndrome.

    Thanks for the confirmation and good advice, all. Nothing so broken that it cries out for change. I'm going to be looking for a good guitar tech in the area to double-check setup.
     
  9. Telecaster88

    Telecaster88 Tele-Afflicted

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    I also love the TBX. I keep mine about four, under the detent. It's just a really sweet, full sound.
     
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  10. Jakedog

    Jakedog Telefied Ad Free Member

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    On a tele I run mine just past the detent. Like, just the barest hair. On a strat I generally run it right where your talking about.
     
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  11. patzer

    patzer TDPRI Member

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    Looks like I should spend more time with the TBX pot and give it a fair shake. Thanks for the motivation.
     
  12. Telecaster88

    Telecaster88 Tele-Afflicted

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    It's embarrassing, but I'll be honest... I was never a gear head, and I bought mine new in 1989 with no internet to search specs etc, and it wasn't till years later I even knew my Tele had a TBX control or how to use it. In my defense, the detent is barely detectable on mine. But once I figured it out it made a great guitar into a GREAT guitar!
     
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  13. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    Absolutely nothing wrong with a '96 US Tele. My American Fenders remain unaltered.
     
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  14. GuitarsBuicks

    GuitarsBuicks Tele-Holic

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    I also own a '96 American Standard. Playability and action wise it is a great guitar, it was better than everything else in the shop when I got it in 2019. I thought it was even better than the custom shop guitars they had there in that shop.

    My one complaint about mine is that the pickups deteriorated over the course of a year. Something happened to the bridge pickup. I have no clue what. I ended up replacing both with a set of Custom Shop '51 Nocasters. Best decision I made for that guitar. It turns out that the stock pickups in those Telecasters do not have a plate under the bridge, this makes them act more like a Strat at times than a Tele. Although that was not the problem with those pickups...they sounded great for several months, then the bridge started deteriorating. I have no clue why.

    If your tone knob has a weird feeling in the middle, it should feel like there is a small dent in the bottom of the cap, that means you have the version with what Fender called "The Delta Tone" system in 1995 & 1996. Effectively when you open that knob all the way it bypasses the tone circuit and resistors, taking them completely out of the loop. It should be a completely tinged sound. If you open it to that spot in the middle, that is a "normal" telecaster tone if you were to open it up a "normal" telecaster...meaning that it still has the resistor(s) in place but it is fully open. The further past that spot towards fully open you get the less that circuit is in the system, the further the other way you go it should act like a regular Tele with the ton control going won. This works for all positions on the switch. This specific circuit also has what basically amounts to a treble/bass bleed built into it. If you take that control plate out the tone pot should be two stacked pots. I will attach a picture from google as to what it should look like. Mine being from late '96 has the "No Load" Tone system not the TBX. That is where my explanation comes from.

    [​IMG]

    The pickup switch cap is common on all blade style switches. Nothing to worry about...the shop glued mine on when I bought it.

    You have a great guitar! I wouldn't worry about it too much. Whatever you do, don't change that circuit. It gives you much more unique things than the normal replacement.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
  15. GuitarsBuicks

    GuitarsBuicks Tele-Holic

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    Just run it wide open some time into a good overdrive into a good clean amp. You might change your mind. That's where I run mine.
     
  16. Telecaster88

    Telecaster88 Tele-Afflicted

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    Haha, yeah I ran mine on the bridge pickup wide open for the first couple decades I owned it. I only switched to middle pickup with the tone rolled back in midlife. I joke that when I'm really old I'll live on the neck pickup.
     
  17. GuitarsBuicks

    GuitarsBuicks Tele-Holic

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    Long as its loud sounds good I doubt any one will worry about that. ;):lol:
     
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  18. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    I had a 96 or 97 American Standard Tele which I bought new. It was a very fine guitar and I don’t remember any negatives to it. I don’t recall it having a center detent but I was a long time ago. Several years after I sold it the purchaser (former co-worker) told me it was one of his favorite guitars.
     
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