60s Baja Tele - Need Hardware Info. Bigtime!

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by EllenGtrGrl, Dec 13, 2018.

  1. EllenGtrGrl

    EllenGtrGrl Tele-Holic

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    I was one of the early owners of the 60s Baja (a 2014 sunburst that I bought in late 2014). That guitar guitar served me well. Jazz? No Problem! Classic Rock? Of course! Alt rock? Ditto. Modern metal? Believe it or not, a resounding yes as long as you used mega gain, and didn't get stupid with the treble settings on the amp. My old 60s Baja was the guitar I typically grabbed to play despite having other guitars that were higher priced - it was such a swiss army knife guitar, and I looved its hefty feeling C-shaped neck.

    If it was so great, why did I get rid of it? Well, in 2014 (before I bought my 60s Baja), I wound up with mega dermatitis all over my body (due to an immune system issue). The Dermatologist that diagnosed what caused it, determined that I had a major allergy to chromium (which is used in stainless steel [surprisingly though, chrome plating is not an issue for me]), and a SEVERE allergy to nickel, that almost resulted in me (who has been playing guitar since early 1979) quitting guitar playing. Luckily, I was able to keep on playing, due to being able to get my guitars refretted (which is quite expensive - typically 300-350 dollars) with Jescar Evo Gold fretwire (which is hypoallergenic), using phosphor bronze acoustic guitar strings, and (after examining well over a hundred different electric guitar string product lines - sorry I don't trust coated strings, since the coating peels off sooner or later) using Ernie Ball Cobalt strings on my electric guitars (I confirmed with Ernie Ball that they are hypoallergenic strings). So, I thought I was sitting pretty good with my 60s Baja - until I discovered to my chagrin in 2017, while casually perusing Fender's website, that some of the hardware on 60s Bajas is NICKEL PLATED!! Ugh! I didn't know that, when I bought the guitar! Maybe that's why I occasionally had low grade dermatitis flare-ups, when I spent time playing ye olde 60s Baja.

    I didn't want to give up my 60s Baja, so I got in touch with Fender, to learn what hardware on the 60s Baja was nickel plated, so I could replace it (and save money during the hardware replacement by retaining the chrome hardware the guitar already had). The problem is, Fender (even after sending multiple follow-up e-mails) never gave me an answer to my "which hardware is nickel plated?" question. The guitar languished, and when I needed the money for some other guitar work, it went bye-bye to pay for the guitar work (a refret job on a new guitar I bought at the time).

    I've been missing having a Tele, but I prefer Teles with chunkier/heftier necks. I thought I would be OK, with a 50s Baja, but I'm not a fan of V-profile necks (even if it is a relatively mild V). I thought about getting a Classic 60s Tele, but it turns out that it has your typical MIM C shaped neck (which I don't like). So, I've come to realize that only another 60s Baja will do the job for me, and have ordered a Sonic Blue one (it'll arrive next week). The only problem is, that once again, I am faced with the dilemma I had back on 2017 (with my last 60s Baja), replacing nickel plated hardware on my new 60s Baja.

    Since I can't get an answer out Fender can any TDPRIers tell me what hardware on the 60s Baja is nickel plated? If worse comes to worse, I'll do a shotgun approach to the problem, and replace all of the hardware with chrome plated hardware, but I'd prefer not to have to go to that extreme. Any info. I can learn about this issue, would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Ellen
     
  2. speedy mcfeely

    speedy mcfeely Tele-Meister

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    Order a Callaham bridge. Or a Mastery or other stainless steel bridge.
     
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  3. robt57

    robt57 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Last I checked, stainless by definition is 40% or more chromium.

    Am I missing something?
     
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  4. tarheelbob

    tarheelbob Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    The nickel and chromium in stainless steel is what's causing the problem.

    - Bob
     
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  5. GreatDaneRock

    GreatDaneRock Tele-Meister

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    Hi Ellen. Sorry you have to deal with such severe allergies, never would have thought that chromium/nickel allergies could affect playing guitar, but it makes total sense when I think about it: frets, strings, hardware, most everything that's metallic is an alloy and there's nickel in those.

    I don't have any answers for you, just best wishes in your quest. I am puzzled that Fender, in the face of a loyal customer battling severe allergies, is not capable of a timely, straight answer.

    Wilkinson bridges seem to be heavily chrome plated, like into that.

    GDR
     
  6. Brokenpick

    Brokenpick Tele-Afflicted

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    Incredible!
    Aren't surgical implements made of Stainless steel-? How does that work? Or are they something else?

    The older I get, the more stuff there seems to be to learn.
    & to be thankful for... since I apparently am not as reactive to a lotta stuff that some are.

    Is there possibly some way to prep or maintain the metal surfaces, so that the resident metals are at least temporarily neutralized or sealed? Some oxidation layers effectively seal, but you don't want oxidation build-up on strings...
    Still, other parts might be able to be coated with some poly, or lacquer-like layer?
    (Man, I sure don't know!)
    Best of luck with better answers from smarter and more knowledgeable folk!
     
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  7. 63 vibroverb

    63 vibroverb Tele-Holic

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    I can’t help much with the metal formulas on the hardware, sorry to say. But personally, I would have used this situation as an excuse to put together a parts caster. That way, you know exactly what’s being used on the guitar and theres no guessing games. You can use wood knobs, wood/plastic keys on the tuners, stainless steel bridge, etc.
     
  8. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    I posted a response here, but now I don't see it. I could swear I saw it posted, but now it's gone.

    At any rate, chrome and nickel are easy to differentiate. Chrome is neutral looking in terms of color, and nickel is a bit warm looking in terms of color (i.e. more yellow/orange). Take an object that you *know* to be chrome plated, and put it next to the hardware in question. Shine a light into both pieces. If the light source has the same color reflection in both pieces, then they are both chrome plated. If the hardware in question has a warmer reflection than the item that you know to be chrome plated, then the hardware in question is nickel plated.

    Also, nickel plated hardware tends to develop a "haze" of tarnish over it if it is let sit. Chrome won't do that; it just collects fingerprints (or possibly rusts through with rough orange/red spots).

    You want to check your pickguard screws too, as they come all sorts of ways.

    I just found this article: https://blog.philadelphialuthiertoo...ickel-and-chrome-plating-for-guitar-hardware/
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2018
  9. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    I really hope you find a solution for this - I'm sure there is one, especially considering all the different materials builders have used in the challenge threads on this site.

    Perhaps of interest, though, I have chipped/worn the finish off a few tele bridges in places over the years. Specifically I have a Wilkinson bridge where the metal underneath the finish looks like copper.

    I'm wondering if you could strip a bridge like that - or get someone handy to make you one in a metal that doesn't cause a reaction?
     
  10. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Copper is often the bottom layer in chrome and nickel plating. What you are seeing is probably just a thin coating over the base metal.
     
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  11. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    Interesting. Well, I learned sumpn today.
     
  12. Rusty Stauffer

    Rusty Stauffer Tele-Meister

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    Same here - my post is gone. I’d asked Ellen to simply list the “Good Metals” she can live with as I’m unclear what is safe for her.
     
  13. EllenGtrGrl

    EllenGtrGrl Tele-Holic

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    Edit: In response to the "lost posts" comments - I also lost a couple of posts that were responses to other posts. In a nutshell, I can handle Chromium if it's chemically stable (Hexavalent Chromium need not apply - that stuff is notorious for causing dermatitis), but not all - for instance I cannot take multi-vitamins that have chromium in them, because they fgive me skin breakouts. Chrome plating, and some forms of stainless steel don't bother me, but other forms of stainless steel (especially those stainless steel alloys that contain nickel) can cause me some real grief. I have to wear gloves at work, when I handle stainless steel parts. Nickel is a no-go for me. Whenever I buy earrings, I have to make sure they don't have nickel posts, or my earlobes get all crusted up and scabby looking.

    On with my main post.

    I deal with nickel plated, chrome plated, and stainless steel parts at work (I'm a Quality Engineer). Good nickel plating can look very similar to some forms of chrome plating. My gut feeling is that the tuning machines, and the ashtray/bridge plate are nickel plated, but I'm not taking any chances. I contacted Fender (again) in a different/non-customer service way (I should have realized in the past, from my own personal experience with having to help provide answers to customer service reps at work, that customer service reps often have no idea how to proceed with answering technical questions - sales related questions are their thing). I also gave them suggestions as to how to find the info. (I deal with material composition & material traceability questions as a part of my job in a daily basis).

    They don't need to look for material certs, or contact the Mexican facility for material information (which is what the rep I dealt with back in 2017, tried to do). All they need to do is look at the Bill of Materials/Parts List for the 60s Baja Tele. If the description for the parts in question doesn't provide the information needed, look at the prints for the parts. Any halfway decent print (even if it's just a word document describing a plated part), will list the material the parts are made out of, and describe (oftentimes via print notes) what coating (nickel plating, zinc plating, black oxide anodizing, etc.) is on the parts. That's all I need for info. I don't need material lot #s, heat #s, etc.

    Now I'll just wait and see if Fender is able to come up with the info I need. If not, I'll have to use the shotgun approach, and change anything that I even remotely suspect has nickel in it. There is no way that I want to risk ended up with the mega dermatitis I had back in the first half of 2014 - I looked like a burn victim on a goodly portion of my body (surprisingly, I had NO dermatitis where I touched the nickel or stainless steel with my bare hands - when I mentioned this to my dermatologist, I was told that my dermatitis was mainly an immune system reaction [it went bonkers after decades of exposure to nickel and stainless steel without major issues], which makes sense to me, considering that I have the immune system from hell [I've had asthma for a long time]). It's bad enough that I have to wear gloves when I handle stainless steel, and nickel plated parts at work, I don't want to have to do that to play guitar. I've taken care of my other guitars (Gibson J35, PRS SE 7-string, Gibson ES-137) for the nickel and chromium issues, so there is no reason why I shouldn't be able to take care of these issues with the 60s Baja.

    Ellen - On Vacation Today
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2018
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  14. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    Is anodized aluminum ok? If so, Sperzel makes aluminum tuning machines.

    http://www.sperzel.com/guitar-tuners.php

    Also, the Babicz bridges (at least some of them) are chromed aluminum or chromed steel.

    For example:
    http://www.fullcontacthardware.com/fch-tele-bridge

    Glendale stuff is pricy, but they offer cold rolled steel bridges that are either uncoated or chromed. They also have aluminum or raw steel control plates, knobs, switch tips, string ferrules, and neck plates.

    https://glendaleguitars.com/plates/
     
  15. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    How are you a quality engineer for plated metal products if you are terribly allergic to many metals? That's like a vet who is allergic to cats and dogs.

    But it does mean that you can probably tell a bunch of bozos on the Internet more about platings than a bunch of bozos on the Internet can tell you about them.

    But really...use the method I explained. A neutral reflection is chrome, and a warm reflection is nickel. Works every time. The two can always be differentiated visually IME.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2018
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  16. EllenGtrGrl

    EllenGtrGrl Tele-Holic

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    This are all fine for me! Thanks for the info. It'll save me a fair amount of time searching for replacement parts. :)

    The tuning machines on the 60s Bajas are vintage Kluson-style tuners, and as a rule those are typically nickel plated, and finding chrome plated drop-in replacements (with the same dimensions) may be an issue, but you never know. If worse comes to worst, I'll keep the stock ones on, and just put a rag over the tuning buttons, whenever I need to turn them, to tune strings.
     
  17. EllenGtrGrl

    EllenGtrGrl Tele-Holic

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    I developed the allergy over time. Basically I hit an activation point where my immune system said "enough!" and the allergies reared their ugly heads up. This is actually quite common - there are stories of bakers who after decades of working in bakeries develope allergies to the flours used to make bread pastries, etc., printers who after working in the print industry for a long time, become allergic to the ink, etc. There are indications that while the chromium and nickel issues really took off for me in 2014, I may have been dealing with them for years before that time (rashes that I used to periodically get on my forearms - thought they were eczema, since a lot of asthmatics have eczema). My asthma is the same way. My mother (a retired medical clinic lab technician) and I have often discussed that I was asthmatic at times, even as a child, but that it really took off in 2003, when I suffered so severely from it, that I almost wound up in the hospital. That was when I was formally diagnosed with being an asthmatic.

    At work, handling parts is only one of my jobs. I do tons of data analysis (the number chunching for the college engineering degrees came in handy for that), and quality system work. When I do handle stainless steel, or nickel plated parts, I wear gloves.

    It's a pain, but I'm good at my job, besides, as much of a hassle as i can be, it's not as bad as the cluster headaches (which are much more painful than migraines are), I've had to deal with for the past 19 years.
     
  18. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    I am familiar with cumulative allergies. My question was rhetorical. I wasn't actually asking "how" it happened, but making the statement that "that's kind of rough/screwed up."

    Fender has used chrome and nickel for parts, and it could theoretically vary from batch to batch, even on the same model of guitar that is made over a span of years. It's likely that they have very little way of nailing down exactly what your hardware is plated with, because even if they can nail down the specs on what coating each batch of a certain piece of hardware supposedly came with, they don't know what batches of hardware were used on what guitars, and when – and they also don't know if they got exactly what they ordered from the plater, on every single piece. They probably also don't want the medical liability in the case that they give you bad info.

    My instinct, based on decades of using Teles, is that the old style bridges (and control plates) are chrome plated, not nickel. I have never had a haze develop on one of these parts. They always look and behave like chrome, not nickel. I have had haze develop on Fender tuners, screws, and strap buttons, though, and I know that the vintage style tuners used on AVRIs and other higher end Fenders are almost always nickel plated, not chrome. I have also seen chrome variants of the vintage style tuners on lower end Fender reissues, such as Squiers. Not sure about MIM Classics (e.g. your Baja and others.)

    You might try Gotohs there, which can be specifically ordered in nickel or chrome. Try a special order from Philadelphia Luthier Tools. They will order to spec straight from Gotoh, and have your tuners in a month or two.

    FWIW, I know that Hipshot is not the way to go. They discontinued chrome a couple years ago. And I know this because I was right in the middle of putting together a chrome hardware set for a bass build when it happened. In order to get the chrome tuners I wanted, I had to buy an N.O.S. set, because they told me they had just made the change to no longer plating in chrome.

    But, really: I've never not been able to tell whether a piece of guitar hardware is nickel or chrome without just looking at it. The difference is clear, using the technique and article I provided.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2018
  19. EllenGtrGrl

    EllenGtrGrl Tele-Holic

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    Good points - I didn't consider those things. Thanks for mentioning them. :)

    Ellen - who really needs to quit goofing off, and go run her errands
     
  20. jonnyfez

    jonnyfez Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Can you clear coat or powder coat the existing hardware? They can do powder coating that looks like chrome.
     
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