DIY Hot Rod from Classic 50s Tele.

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by KelvinS1965, Sep 1, 2018.

  1. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    I wanted to get the Road Worn Hot Rod Tele that came out last year, but I can't get on with a 9.5" radius fingerboard and large/tall frets. As I already had a Classic 50s Tele (7.25" radius and vintage frets) I hatched a plan to buy a second one to mod.

    I found this 2008 Sunburst on a dealer's website:
    Classic 50s white pickguard.jpg

    This was what I was aiming for as the finished article:
    Road worn hot rod.jpg

    EDIT: Wasn't sure where to post as it's not a built from scratch Tele, so didn't think it belonged in the Tele home depot section.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
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  2. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    I had it about a year before I finally got round to doing the routing. As this Classic 50s was a 2008 there are some differences in the neck compared to my White Blonde Classic 50s which I think is about 2015 (I also bought it used).

    Starting on the route:
    Routed for humbucker.jpg

    Did a trial fit: I had a spare Epiphone neck humbucker taken off my Les Paul. I knew it was muddy and microphonic, but wanted a starting point. The humbucker guard I got was the wrong type as it is 3 ply and 8 hole (reverse colour scheme of the original white guard). I put a Seymour Duncan 'Lil '59 single coil sized humbucker in the bridge taken from my old Affinity Tele. It looks like someone already fitted Gotoh compensated brass saddles:

    Trial fit.jpg

    Looks like someone had already been in there as there were joins on the pickup wiring, so don't know if there were the original Classic 50s pickups:

    Wiring.jpg

    I polished the frets and got it put together, fitted my preferred 9.5 gauge strings and spent a lot of time adjusting action to get a close match for my other Classic 50s Tele, so I can change between them without having to re-adjust my playing. Still some cosmetics to do as I didn't like the Fender strap (came with my other Classic 50s Tele) or the 3 ply guard:
    Finished.jpg
     
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  3. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    The existing 250K pots for volume and tone, plus 0.047uF tone cap seemed to make it sound a little dull. I was already familiar with the 'Lil '59 in the bridge of another Tele, so my next move was to replace the pots and tone cap.

    I went for 500K CTS pots and 0.022uF tone cap. I was really surprised at the difference this made and really brightened up the sound. The 0.022uF tone cap gives a more gentle roll off and I find myself actually using the tone control, whereas normally I leave it fully up. The temporary neck humbucker still sounded dull and was very microphonic.

    Unfortunately I could only get split shaft CTS pots and the knobs I had didn't fit properly, so I ordered some suitable replacements. I went for flat top ones just for a further change from my White Blonde. I re-wired the loom using cloth covered black and white wire, but didn't take a photo, just the outside with the new knobs fitted.

    Flat top knobs close up.jpg
     
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  4. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    Last Thursday I had my third visit to a local open mic...we've gone a few times, but it's generally a higher standard than some others we go to and they seem to take themselves a bit seriously. Anyway, I took the Tele along and ended up playing the last three songs of the night with the house band, so it's now been gigged. :)

    In the meantime I had done some research and decided to try a Dimarzio DP103 36th Anniversary nickel covered pickup. It's a lower output humbucker, said to be quite bright and it is wax potted. I also received my Bakelite 1 ply guard (Esquire type so I could cut the humbucker hole myself for a fraction of the price of a hot rod one).

    Today my Dimarzio turned up, so I took the 3 ply guard and Epiphone humbucker off, just slacked the strings and wedged them up out of the way with a soft wood block. I have a further mod to do later with the bridge, so didn't want to bother restringing it today.

    I used the 3 ply guard as a guide to cut the humbucker hole out:

    Guard cutting.jpg

    Then wired in the Dimarzio humbucker. I couldn't find my black heat shrink tubing, so have done a temporary job covering up the linked wires (it's a 4 wire pickup) with tape. My OCD means I'll have to re-do it at some point.

    I also caught the guard with the hacksaw blade I was using to cut the humbucker hole. :oops: Afterwards I wet sanded the guard with P600/1000/1500/2000 grade paper, then buffed it to a semi shine with polishing compound that I usually use on my car. It's given it a nice flat finish and the scratch has gone:

    IMG_0435.JPG

    I want to cut the gloss on the body at some point, probably a similar method to the 'guard and I might try some light ageing of the chrome knobs and control plate, but otherwise very happy with it. The sound is spot on now: Brighter, but still with the warmth of a good humbucker and the levels match quite well and give a good sound in the middle switch position too. The neck on it's own into my Marshall Mini Jubilee is really good with gain, giving a really rich, creamy distortion. With extra drive it could be a bit like Santana even, with less it's just a really good classic rock tone.

    IMG_0434.JPG

    Not too far off the original aim comparing the stock photo of the Hot Rod Road Worn:
    Road worn hot rod.jpg

    As it stands today:
    IMG_0432.JPG

    Obviously very shiny compared to the road worn and different knobs, but I'm OK with that.

    Next mod is to take the edges off a spare Fender bridge I bought, to give a cut away side effect. I've seen Gotah bridges sold like this, but at £50+ (including the compensated saddles I already have) then a £15 Fender one seems better value. The one I got has some defect where it is rougher between the pick up and the back edge of the bridge, so it will collect dirt more easily I guess and eventually look more aged. I'll add some photos when I get to that mod.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
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  5. capt pearl

    capt pearl Tele-Meister

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    Sweet!
     
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  6. BradL

    BradL Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Great story/pics and a top guitar at the end! Grats!
     
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  7. wahscoot

    wahscoot Tele-Meister

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    Nice job Kelvin! Great rundown of the mods. Your happy I bet!
     
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  8. Fendereedo

    Fendereedo Friend of Leo's

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    Nice work!
     
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  9. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    Thanks everyone. :) I've still got the spare bridge to mod with the sides cut down, but it's pretty much there. As it's Thursday I'll be taking it down to the open mic again tonight.
     
  10. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    Nice day today here in the UK and I'm off work, so took the opportunity to do the bridge plate mod and some other jobs.

    Started off with a spare bridge plate, an angle grinder fitted with a P80 flap wheel and some hardboard to act as a protector and guide to how far to sand the edge down.
    Bridge mod 1.jpg

    Wet and dry paper to smooth the edges after carefully filling the burrs off.
    Bridge mod 2.jpg

    Better angle:
    Bridge mod 3.jpg

    I still managed to scuff the shiny section of the bridge despite the blue tape, so I used fine grade wet and dry to dull the surface instead, which will hopefully dull further with age.
    Bridge mod 4.jpg
     
  11. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    While the bridge was off I wet sanded the whole front of the body with P2500 grade paper, then used my DA polisher with fine compound to buff out the scratches left by the paper. It has left the finish slightly less glossy than before, with a softer looking shine instead.

    Refitted the bridge, pickguard, etc and a new set of strings:
    Bridge mod 6.jpg

    A better view of the finished cut down bridge installed:
    Bridge mod 5.jpg

    The control plate and knobs are easier to see in this shot. Perhaps I over did the plate as it looks more like brushed steel and I wore through the finish slightly on the volume knob, but these were cheap repros so I may have another go if I get some more:

    Bridge mod 7.jpg

    I'm pleased with how it turned out, in particular the bridge cut away section as I no longer catch my pick on the bottom edge when I'm playing arpeggios. Odd that the top edge never bothered me, but for the sake of a matching finish I did both sides.
     
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  12. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    I had another go at the knobs and control plate today. I have a selection of 3M pads for when I wanted to dull the necks down on a few of my guitars to make them less sticky. I think it looks a bit better now having used different grades and going in a circular motion rather than straight lines. Hopefully the bridge will dull down with some use, natural dirt and hot sweaty hands too (if I go back to the same studio as this week with no aircon :eek:).

    IMG_0490.jpg

    Another angle:
    IMG_0492.jpg

    Bridge mod 9.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
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  13. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    I've done a few mods to this since my last post: Added a treble bleed kit to the volume and today I wired in a pull switch/pot on the tone position so I can change from series to parallel wiring on the Lil '59. This has worked well and gives me a brighter, slightly lower output option when in parallel, compared to how I'd wired it previously in series mode.

    It was a bit of a squeeze fitting the pot/switch in and getting the cables back in, but worth it for the extra tone. I've really settled into this guitar after nearly selling it before I committed to the mods I did last year: I use it for most open mics I go to as I don't mind if it gets knocked (seems bombproof anyway being poly). The metal work has aged a bit more now too, especially the nickel cover on the Dimarzio neck pick up.

    It's a bit busy, but all securely connected up:

    Tele pull switch.jpg

    This Tele also inspired me when I decided to wire up a spare pickguard for my Strat (while adding a mid boost kit like the Clapton models have). I like the matt Bakelite guard on my Tele, so I wet sanded the Strat guard and plastics to give a similar effect. I think they look good together too. I call them my Fender Twins. ;)
    Fender Twins 2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019
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  14. nnieman

    nnieman Tele-Meister

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    Looks great!

    Nathan
     
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  15. Manothemtns

    Manothemtns TDPRI Member

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    Impressive build. Particularly intense job on the bridge...something few people, including myself, would dare to take on. Nice work!

    Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
     
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  16. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    The bridge was a 1/2 hour job, if that. £12 for a spare B Stock one, so I could have put the original one back on if it went wrong. Trouble is that when I play my (standard) White Blonde 50s Classic I keep catching my pick on the edge of the bridge, so might have to do the same mod on it now...
     
  17. Manothemtns

    Manothemtns TDPRI Member

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    Well, you know precisely how to do it this time...probably even in less time.

    Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
     
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