Help me decide what to do with my backup tele (my baja)

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by UpstateDon, Oct 24, 2021.

  1. UpstateDon

    UpstateDon TDPRI Member

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    Indulge me, if you will. My incredible fiance got me a custom shop double esquire earlier this year, and I absolutely love it. It has "loaded" nocaster pickups in it, including an uncovered neck pickup, which is really cool. The guitar is awesome and is my number one. Before that guitar, my baja was my number one, which also has a nocaster (flat pole piece) style bridge pickup. I still like the baja, but it's mainly just a backup these days.

    Because both guitars have the same "style" bridge pickup, I was thinking of changing the baja to staggered pole bridge pickup. This idea came to me after playing another custom shop 60s style tele at my local shop. After playing it, I thought "wow this is so different sounding than the flat pole piece sound." Both style guitars can twang, but my double esquire definitely has a meatier, throatier tone on the bridge. The lows on the double esquire are massive and tight...I love it. The 60s style tele I played different had a more "strident", perhaps less forgiving, sound - which I also love. I guess it had more "sizzle."

    I was thinking that putting something different in the baja would give me some more versatility in my arsenal. I've had all sorts of zaney ideas..install a b-bener, maybe a charlie christian in the neck...I don't know...all first world problems. I feel lucky to have two teles that I enjoy. I will say that the baja twisted tele neck pickup is quite enjoyable...gets me in strat territory....and I'm one of the few that does enjoy the S-1 switching. The out of phase sound is very usable if I'm playing some Dead tunes or doing some certain types of blues.

    That said, I'm thinking that a bridge pickup swap might be a nice place to dabble...specifically, installing a staggered pole piece pickup. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that could really change the sound, and add some significant "sizzle" to the baja bridge sound, which I've always found to be serviceable, but not particularly memorable. I play a lot of traditional country - chet, jimmy bryant, redd volkaert, but I genre hop quite a bit...you get the idea. If you've read this far, I commend you and apologize for my ramblings. Any suggestions are much appreciated! Happy playing!
     
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  2. Lef T

    Lef T Tele-Holic

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    I read your whole post.
    Sounds totally reasonable to me.
    You've got the number 1 and love it as is.
    Have some fun experimenting with the Baja.
    It's not like you can't put it back to original if you want.
    I'm thinking maybe the Baja needs a Bigsby.
     
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  3. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    .

    Try tipping the current pickup for more/less bass or treble, raise/lower the whole pickup. You can wipe out any stagger differences there.


    I would suggest that you pull the original Baja harness and pickups all in 'one piece' as much as possible, bag and tag it for later reuse if you miss something about it or if you ever want to sell the guitar. I have a Strat that I serially modded with many little changes that by the time only one pickup and the jack were original and I found I missed the original tone provided by the original Pots 'n Caps (they alter the tone as much as the pickups, even when dimed). So it took a lot of work to find parts to get that guitar back to where it was when I started. That's why I suggest to players who want to go experimenting on a guitar they 'mostly like except for this one small thing' that they set aside the whole original circuit.

    Then order new pickups, matching pickguard, and all new control parts. I'd say to certainly use a 4-way switch. But there are wiring mod combos with 5-way switches.

    I think the Charlie Christian pickup needs a neck pickup cavity routing outside of what a humbucker routing may provide (is the neck pocket of the Baja sized for a humbucker? Been a while since I looked). Otherwise I'd suggest testing out several different neck pickups. What's a Goldfoil or Danelectric Lipstick sound like? TV Jones or Gretsch sources of Filtertrons or Dynasonics? A regular Strat neck pickup. You can have a lot of fun plus adding to your bridge pickup quest.

    Look up Tele models of Brent Mason and Steve Morse for pickup and pickup switching control ideas.

    .
     
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  4. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Afflicted

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    I would save the Baja for alternate tunings, like open G. That's what i have my second tele for.
     
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  5. Fuggle

    Fuggle Tele-Meister

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    The Baja is such a sought after Tele, I for sure wouldn’t do any permanent mods. Never know when you might want to sell her…
     
  6. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Friend of Leo's

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    Swapping one pickup is about the least invasive mod you can think of. If you find a lone 60s bridge PU looking for a home why not? I recommend the PV 64. Or - I don't remember if they're staggered - a PV 58.... had one in the bridge of my Baja 60s and it twangs!

    or..... may I suggest you try a Baja 60s? It would complement your beautiful #1 even better and if you liked it more than your Baja, you'd still be selling a very sought-after guitar, stock.
     
  7. Tony_Wood

    Tony_Wood TDPRI Member

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    I ran into a similar situation last spring when I bought my American Pro II and it kind of knocked my road worn 50s (which has a set of '51 Nocaster pickups) out of the top Tele spot on the roster. So, I turned the RW into an Esquire for something a little different. I do miss the neck pickup, though. I don't consider pickup/pot swapping to be invasive at all; you can return it all back to stock very easily, especially if you do your own work. As a poster above also suggested, I tend to always remove the wiring harness completely and re-wire from scratch just in case I ever want to return it to stock, or if it want to drop it all into another Tele. As soon as I bought the Pro II I tossed a set of Fralin's in it and pulled the stock wiring out. If I get to missing the neck pickup on the road worn Esquire too much, I might drop all of the stock Fender stuff into it, or maybe just the pickups.

    I guess I don't have any specific suggestions other than don't be afraid to try different pickups or cap values, and pretty much anything short of routing it for a Floyd Rose can be reversed.
     
  8. JL_LI

    JL_LI Poster Extraordinaire

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    I’d go to GC or a local store and play an American Ultra Telecaster. The Ultra pickups will be different enough that it will seem like a totally different guitar. They have chime and harmonic complexity you won’t find in vintage type pickups. You’ll want a 4 way switch rather than an S1 in a Telecaster so you won’t have to hog out the control cavity.

    My #1 was a CS ‘69 Stratocaster. My other Strat didn’t see much playing time since I got the ‘69. I came across an Ultra Luxe loaded pickguard on Stratosphere. Half an hour and four solder joints and I was done. My Strat with the Ultra noiseless pickups now figures prominently in my rotation. Maybe what worked for me can work for you. See below.
    B2CAC111-7665-4CBC-B18E-C33F54A808FF.jpeg
    EC5E3C0E-1527-4A4D-AF9E-456DFBA5F6B9.jpeg
     
  9. 57joonya

    57joonya Tele-Holic

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    I would leave it as is , for what it is now- a backup . If u need to get #1 worked on , u got backup . And it plays and sounds a lot like the great one u use now. Just play it once a month to show it some love
     
  10. 57joonya

    57joonya Tele-Holic

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    Or if you do a gig , bring them both and ply a little on each , when one falls out of tune - pick up the Baja
     
  11. mimmo

    mimmo Friend of Leo's

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    That's a cool idea!
     
  12. Twang Deluxe

    Twang Deluxe Tele-Afflicted

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    The additional three sounds of the baja are great. Perhaps you can try vintage noiseless pickups. I like mine
     
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