Affinity Tele - Newbie to modifications/upgrades

Discussion in 'Squier Tele Forum' started by BackwaterJunction, Sep 28, 2020.

  1. BackwaterJunction

    BackwaterJunction TDPRI Member

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    First of all, hello all - I'm new to TDPRI. Been digging around for all sorts of Tele info in the past few days and trawling over old threads and you seem a great bunch, so hi from just outside of London, England!

    I've been GASing pretty hard lately and to scratch the itch, I thought I'd try and get myself something a little unusual. The idea in my head is as follows - grab an Affinity Tele, and a Seymour Duncan Little 59 (which from every demo I've seen, I really like the sound of!) and make a sort-of Esquire. In theory, I'd have the switch usable to select between series, parallel and coil split.

    Unfortunately, I'm a bit of a rookie when it comes to upgrading. Whilst I have a partscaster Tele, it's not the fruit of my own labour!

    I have booked an appointment in my local store to try a few in a couple of weeks (only way to try the guitar atm) so came here for advice. My question is thus - does anyone have any other recommendations for upgrading the affinity beyond the changing of pickup I'm planning?

    Electronics wise I'm a bit clueless coming to pots, switch, caps etc. Had been wondering about a bone nut though...

    Thanks for the feedback all!
     
  2. el cheapo

    el cheapo Tele-Afflicted

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    Playing a selection of guitars can help you figure out what you like, but if I were you I'd get the partscaster tele you already have set up correctly. Learning how to do setups (pickup adjustment, fret levelling, possibly soldering, etc.) will help tremendously when you want to start modding. While you're doing that keep an eye out for a deal on a used Affinity or Bullet tele. Good luck!
     
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  3. BackwaterJunction

    BackwaterJunction TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I do have a great setup on the partscaster Tele currently, thanks to a friend, who is going to be teaching me fully. However, electronics will be beyond us both!

    Appreciate the advice though!
     
  4. Gardo

    Gardo Tele-Afflicted

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    I did an '09 Affinity Tele and can tell you that nothing fits when you start modding it. I started with the pickups . I used Fender Vintage Noiseless . They didn't fit I had to use a Dremel to open up the bridge plate. Mine had 500k pots and I wanted 250K ,guess what they didn't fit. Off to the drill press to open up the control plate. So of course the knobs no longer fit. If you plan to upgrade the switch you discover the control cavity isn't deep enough. The plastic jack plate soon broke . But al least the new pickgaurd fit. This was my first mod and a good learning experience but probably not worth it
     
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  5. BackwaterJunction

    BackwaterJunction TDPRI Member

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    Wow, that's a surprise. I'd heard the bridges aren't standard shape but I was of the impression most parts could be modded fairly easily!
     
  6. Gardo

    Gardo Tele-Afflicted

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    Mine is an 09 , maybe there have been changes since then
     
  7. BackwaterJunction

    BackwaterJunction TDPRI Member

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    Excellent point. I'll see if I can compare a few in store, I've heard the 19-20 range are a bit of a step up but will have to check.
     
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  8. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    Hmm - I don't know about the bridge plate. I know for side-by-side single-coil size humbuckers in a Strat, I had to open up the pickup holes a bit on the pickguard to fit a Duncan Hot rails, but a Dimarzio Chopper fit right in the original pickup holes. A Dimarzio Chopper T also fit right in the bridge plate of my '83 USA Tele, though. Hard to say about the Affinity Tele and the lil '59 without trying I guess.

    I have "Esquired" my '83 Tele with the Chopper T in the bridge and no neck pickup. Mine is wired for Series/Parallel/Split and it sound great. I'm thinking the Lil '59 might be a little thin sounding in the parallel and split positions, given that it's meant to be a lower output humbucker with the normal series wiring, but I've never tried it with that pickup, so it might be just what you are looking for. I can help with the wiring when you get to that point. I'm pretty decent with setups, but I have an electronics background, so the wiring part is what I am most comfortable with.
     
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  9. BackwaterJunction

    BackwaterJunction TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the detailed reply. I'll have a look at some samples/reviews of the Chopper T as well, in case that'll do a better job.

    For a single coil sized humbucker, do you tend to go with 250k pots or 500k pots? I figure the pots on the Affinity will be cheap, and think I've read they're the mini 500ks rather than full sized.
     
  10. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    Well - a lot of guys will buy an Affinity guitar and swap out almost everything but the neck and body ;) They are great guitars that you can customize yourself easily to be what you want. However, I tend to leave a lot of the parts stock, unless I have a preference to change it or it fails to function properly.

    For example, a lot of guys just automatically swap out the tuners for locking tuners or Kluson style because they believe the stock ones are crap. It's fine to put on Klusons because that's what you want, but if you are only changing them for the sake of changing them, there is probably no need. Even the tuners on the Squier Bullets are quite decent. I've had a number of low-end Squiers an none of them had tuners that did not stay in tune. On top of that, I prefer the modern hole-through tuners anyway, so I leave the stock ones there.

    I will often leave stock neck and middle pickups on Affinity Squier Strats because they do what I want, but I change the bridge pickup because I like something hotter and warmer than stock. In the neck of a tele, I prefer something brighter than the stock pickup, so I change it.

    On a Vintage, three-barrel Tele bridge, I change the brass saddles to threaded steel, because that's a personal preference. But if the bridge plate is solid, I keep it.

    So to answer your question on the wiring. A lot of guys replace the pots and switch because they think the mini pots are crappy - and they are certainly not top notch CTS pots, for sure. But the reality is that the good manufacturers make good full-size and good mini pots. There are crappy full-size ones out there - trust me on that! ;) I tend to leave the pots as long as they have a good tension/feel to them and change the volume/tone evenly across the travel of the pot. If I'm doing any rewiring of my own guitars, I'll swap 500K pots in place of 250K pots, regardless of the pickups. But I like lots of high end "edge" and can always dial the tone control down it it's too bright :) Again - that's just me. I would definitely go with 500K for a Chopper, though, as you would for a modern full size humbucker. If 500K is too bright for your liking with something like a '59, you could try a 300K pot, like Gibson uses for some of their vintage spec stuff. I always replace the cheaper switches because I don't like how they feel.

    Seeing a trend here? ;) Find the Tele that feels right to you and that you have a connection with. Make the changes you know you want to make, like the bridge pickup and removing the neck pickup, but spend some time with the rest of it stock (a couple of weeks) and then change the stuff that either does not work for you, or that you simply decide that you want to change for YOUR personal preference.
     
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  11. BackwaterJunction

    BackwaterJunction TDPRI Member

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    Again, excellent detail, thanks so much for the time and insight for a forum newbie such as myself!

    I think your advice of keeping things stock unless they turn out not to be up to scratch/not to preference is probably a good idea. Very sensible in truth!

    My initial thought is I'll have the changes I want done - changing the bridge pup and esquiring it - and I'll see what I think of the stock pots. That being said, I'm tempted by 500k pots and adjusting with the tone knob as necessary as I've come to like a fairly bright tone myself.

    Seems the shop I'd be buying from is happy to hand cut a bone nut through their on site tech, which I think is a worthwhile job to be done as my experience with their techs has always been positive.

    More likely to stick with stock tuners and switch for the time being as there's no point dumping money into something that I don't need to change. And I'll ensure it's set up properly! As you say, I can always change up later.
     
  12. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    One last note about the nut. Have your tech check it out - it may need to be re-done, but it may be perfect as is. Some people don't realize that the newer Affinity series come stock with synthetic bone nuts, not plastic like the Bullet series or the older Affinities. It's perfectly good nut material as long as it's properly cut.
     
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  13. BackwaterJunction

    BackwaterJunction TDPRI Member

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    Thanks. I'll see what they suggest; it was the tech's idea to change in the first place but I'm sure each guitar will vary as they often do. Thanks again for the help!
     
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  14. FortyEight

    FortyEight Tele-Meister

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    I get all kinds of ideas of what I'd like to do, but then I just mostly leave the alone. I may end up modding one of my low end strats.

    My affinitey Tele is untouched. Other than I have to put some tape on the G string above the nut to avoid the weird harmonic it gives off cuz the strike angle is not steep enough.

    Mine sounds and plays pretty darned good. Maybe not quite as good as this one mexican I had in the 90's. And probably a bit different but not enough for me to complain. It's got it's own sound. You may just like one completely stock. I would pick one up and see.

    I think the thing with the lower end guitars is you may have to do some fret work. I've learned how to do that this year and it's not rocket science. You get that fret rocker tool and a file or two that are good and just go slow. I used a sharpie to see where I was knocking down. I just got done with a Bulllet strat doing an in depth leveling of the frets and it plays pretty darn nice. I'm sure someone with a lot of experience could make it even better but I at least can have the set up as low as I want without buzzing.

    That being said, I'm sure quality pups will elevate the sound. To me it's kind of overwhelming as to how many choices and how it's going to actually sound. I prefer a lower, smoother, bassier sound overall and the stock pups have that. Gotta give the tone knob a twist when doing the middle and bridge but that's normal.

    Good luck and let us know how you make out!!!
     

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  15. BackwaterJunction

    BackwaterJunction TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to reply. I'll definitely keep an eye out on the fretwork front as I agree, that seems an obvious place that corners may be cut to keep cost down. I'm glad to hear your tele is broadly good!

    The problem with mods and upgrades is with the price of the Affinity series, I get all these ideas and start planning multiple guitars...
     
  16. BackwaterJunction

    BackwaterJunction TDPRI Member

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    mkdaws32, thanks for the help so far. You mentioned you might be able to help with electronics?

    Do you know if it is possible to wire a Little '59 for Tele (or equivalent single coil sized humbucker) in so that on the three-way switch, I have access to series/parallel/coil split as discussed, or to series(with tone bypassed)/series/parallel?

    I ask because I was advised by a guitar tech this was possible, but now a tech at a parts shop has suggested I buy some variety of different switches as he believes this cannot be done with a standard tele three way selector?
     
  17. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    For a mod project, I would consider a Bullet instead of the Affinity. Has through the body strings, which is more traditional. I feel they are a better value for a project guitar.
     
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  18. BackwaterJunction

    BackwaterJunction TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the advice. From what I've seen, the 2020 Affinity series also seem to sometimes have string-through bodies. I'd definitely check out a Bullet as well though.

    Are you able to advise on the pickup wiring issue I mentioned above at all?
     
  19. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    You would have to wire it with a 4-way switch AND a push-pull tone switch to split the coil. I personally would not recommend coil-splitting. Many people, including myself, find splitting a humbucker does not produce a humbucker and a single coil tone, but rather a normal humbucker, and a weak, crummy single coil tone. When you split the pickup, the output is essentially cut in half. So to balance the pups for single-coil balance, you have to make the humbucker position louder than the single coil so that when you split it, your volume doesn't tank. I would recommend starting out with basic 4-way wiring without the coil switch. In the meantime, find a guitar that has a coil split and see how you like it. You can always add the option later. But use a GOOD CTS push-pull switch! Frankly, I don't even like the 4-way wiring, preferring the simpler 3-way.
     
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  20. TheLondonRiots

    TheLondonRiots TDPRI Member

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    For what it's worth, I bought a new BSB Bullet Tele a couple of weeks ago and there's plenty of room in the routing for full size CTS pots and an Oak Grigsby switch.
    The stock bridge pickup mounting bolts are larger than the standard 5/32, so if you're planning on swapping the bridge pickup nake sure you have the correct bolts.
    I've swapped out all the innards, got a set of Classic Vibe pups in atm but I've bought a Bare Knuckle Stagger 55 bridge and an AVRI 52 beck to go in it.
    It was a pretty good guitar out of the box, very light and resonant, and I realise it's probably overkill, but I'm keen to see just how good a £119 Squier can actually sound
     

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