CS '59 Esquire Custom: Please School Me On Esquire Controls

Discussion in 'Fender Custom Shop Tele Forum' started by Ben-Zion, May 3, 2019.

  1. Ben-Zion

    Ben-Zion Tele-Meister

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    Hi All: I hope it's acceptable for me to post this here, even though it's not about a Telecaster.

    I've played Teles for years, but have always thought that Esquires are just totally Boss. A few months ago, I acquired a new CS '59 Esquire Custom Journeyman Relic model (left handed). It is an amazing guitar - the pickup in this thing is like a nuclear powered rocket compared to the bridge pickups on most of my Telecasters.

    But, here's my dilemma. I have only used the middle switch setting, which of course gives me both volume and tone control. I can get a wide range of tones on that setting BTW. The "rear" and "front" settings are awesome, if different, but as they are sort of a "straightpipe," they are simply too loud for me to use most of the time.

    Obviously, Leo put those three settings on there for a reason, but I'm not sure what to do with them, and would love to know what experienced Esquire-Heads can teach me about this. I don't do any of my own set-up work, and I know next to nothing about pickups, other than the very basics. I'm strictly a "player."

    I'm really looking forward to sponging off of the incredible body of knowledge here.

    Oh, and here's a photo of the guitar:
     

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  2. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    The front position "Preset Bass Tone", or "Mud Switch", really only comes to life if you're playing pretty loud. It will give you the Stephen Stills "Wooden Ships" lead tone. At bedroom levels it just sounds like you threw a blanket over your amp.

    Where I think it comes into its own is if you use a fuzz pedal or Oktavia. Sending a signal to the pedal that is essentially free of harmonics can really tidy things up, 'cause these pedals generate plenty of harmonics on their own.
     
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  3. Joe M

    Joe M Super Moderator Staff Member

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    The front position was also intended to be used for bass riffs before Leo came up with his bass guitar, just like the front position on Nocasters and early Teles. I don't see any real good reason for it. There is a mod, called the Eldred mod, that gives the position a more useful sound, Google it, you may like it. A lot of Esquire players have made this mod. The back position goes straight to the cord, without any tone control, which you already know. To my old ears, I can't really hear any difference between the center position with the tone rolled all the way off, and the back position. Of course, as always, YMMV.....

    EDIT TO ADD: By the way, sweet guitar....:D
     
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  4. Ben-Zion

    Ben-Zion Tele-Meister

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    Thank you. I vaguely recall seeing the words "Eldred Mod" somewhere, and will check into that.

    I also just received delivery of a Bill Nash E-63 Esquire, and am still trying to figure out the switching on it as well. It's also a really nice instrument...
     
  5. Jim622

    Jim622 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Nice axe! I built a Parts/Squire awhile back. I opted for the Eldred Mod. It's sort of a slight waa. The back is the straight pup to the out put as I understand it. I use all 3 position. I think the back position is my favorite. A lot of people think its a one trick pony because of the one pup. Far from it, I can't believed I waited so long to get one. They're great.You learn to utilize the volume knob much better.
     
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  6. tweedman2001

    tweedman2001 Tele-Afflicted

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    It's absolutely acceptable here. The Esquire is just a variation of the Telecaster and in fact it came chronologically before the Telecaster. Nice guit btw but I think you flipped the picture around. ;)

    If you do go the Eldred mod way there are some who prefer a different value cap than the standard. I'm one.
     
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  7. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    I ran through all the typical Esquire mods and found I liked the Arlo Cocked Wah mod better than the Eldred mod - "cut through the mix better".

    What you might want to do ... pull the whole loaded control plate and rewire with new pots, switch, jack to do all your mad mod experiments on. That way you can return to the factory setup if you find later the mods drifted you too far away, you miss the original setup, or you want to sell the guitar.
    This also lets you do your own soldering and if it looks like a first-timer splashed solder around only you know and you can always go back to factory.


    .
     
  8. Ben-Zion

    Ben-Zion Tele-Meister

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    Thanks all. Please keep it coming. Fantastic input. Gives me much to research.

    However, my mechanical skills are limited to the ability to check the oil and air the tires on my car...No way do I trust myself to open up the guts of a guitar...My challenge may be finding the right tech to work with on this.
     
  9. Jim622

    Jim622 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Same as me. Mine was my first build so I went this route. An easy install with minimum soldering. Though it was $30 cheaper then.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00XWQ16YS/?tag=tdpri-20
     
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  10. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Think of it in terms of switchable tone knob presets.

    Dial in your amp for position 1. Set it for the maximum amount of treble you would ever use at any point in your set. Think of this as the equivalent of running your tone knob on 10.

    Then switch to position two. Dial in your tone knob there for your warmer, "home base" sound (how warm is up to you; you have the adjustability in that position).

    In position 3, what I like to do is to do the Eldred wiring. That is, basically speaking, the equivalent of a tone knob on zero – all treble rolled off. The cap value can be selected in order to tune the frequency/character of the cutoff. Lower value caps = more midrange retention, and a more cutting cocked wah sound.

    So, what you basically have in an Eldred Esquire is a switch that simply moves you between the equivalent of three tone knob settings: 10, adjustable (anywhere from 0–10), and 0. It's that simple.

    By using resistors in addition to the cap, you can fine tune position 3 so it isn't the same basic deal as tone on 0. You could rig with the same value cap as the one on the tone knob, and the proper resistor so that position 3 becomes, for example, the equivalent of tone knob on 5. Then you can switch quickly between tone on 10, tone on 5, and tone at any point (via tone knob).
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
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  11. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    That is the front position on my Rosewood Tele . Crank up the volume and it gets a growl that will scare most P-90's into the weeds .
     
  12. Lefty Addams

    Lefty Addams Tele-Afflicted

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    There's always one isn't there.
     
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  13. Lefty Addams

    Lefty Addams Tele-Afflicted

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    That's really lovely Ben, very nice mate!! :)
     
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  14. steviemac

    steviemac TDPRI Member

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    Check with Pete Biltoft at Vintage Vibe Guitars.....he builds pickups and controls systems that are simply amazing....
     
  15. bluesjuke

    bluesjuke Tele-Afflicted

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    Wonderful Esquire! I like to pick up one of these myself.
     
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  16. stanger

    stanger Tele-Meister

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    Thought I've never owned an Esquire, I've always admired their stripped-down clean look a lot. I'm also developing a real affection for the Desert Sand color too. You have a very nice looking guitar Ben!
    regards,
    stanger
     
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  17. goatrodeo

    goatrodeo TDPRI Member

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    Great thread! Hope this isn’t too much of a tangent, but David Barnett mentioned Stephen Stills Wooden Ships tone. A key tone I have never quite nailed. Since Stills is a Strat guy (these days at least) I’ve always sought that tone on my Stat. What’s the recipe for getting it on a Tele? (Duh roll back the tone knob.) Anything else?
     
  18. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Meister

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    Congrats on your Esquire, she is stunning! I love custom Esquires, and this colour suits her really well.
    If I am not mistaking, this model should have come stock with the "full throttle" wiring, which is:
    1. pickup straight to the output
    2. pickup to the volume only (normal Esquire bridge position)
    3. pickup to volume and tone (normal Tele bridge position)
    I did not like this setting on mine neither: I had no use of the volume straight to the output, and the way it is wired, it cuts a LOT of treble as soon as you roll down your volume (so that the volume is "independent" and the sound does not cut off with the volume pot at zero when you are in position 1).
    I changed the wiring to the "Eldred mod": happy days!
     
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