Johnson (Axl) Tele

Michael A.

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jan 12, 2013
Posts
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Location
Virginia Beach, VA
I've been able to find quite a few links to this brand of Tele copy on these pages, but no actual Johnson or Axl Tele Owners thread. I don't know how many of these guitars are still in use by members, but in light of my recent acquisition, I thought it may be time to have an Owners Thread where information could be archived.

I found this guitar locally, after it was listed on OfferUp. I reached out to the seller, but had to cancel my plan to inspect it when something came up. A month later, I tried again and the seller no longer had the guitar at home, but did have it on display in a local antique/consignment mall.

It appealed to me based on the 3-color sunburst, nice wood grain and the Johnson Designed by EMG pickups. Some research led me to believe the model with those had a full thickness alder body, and that is the case, it is quite heavy. The neck has small frets, but nicely finished on the ends. The tuners are Johnson-labeled sealed type.

It plays as is, but the bridge pickup output is far less than the neck, and lowering the latter with the bridge all the way up still left a marked imbalance. The dime sized pots work fine, but I gave them a shot of Deoxit since the guitar is about 20 years old if my research is correct.

It would be cool if other owners or former owners would add some pics and comments from your experiences with these guitars. I think this model is the JT800, but I'm not 100% sure that applies to the EMG-pickup model, which I think is a step up from the standard model.


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Michael A.

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jan 12, 2013
Posts
1,360
Location
Virginia Beach, VA
I'm 73, so this isn't the first time I've had an extended conversation with myself! But hopefully, adding more content may encourage a few current or former Johnson by Axl owners to pipe in. So I'll press on and add a few more tidbits.

I'm just getting to restringing this guitar and trying to understand why the neck pickup so strongly overpowers the bridge one, even though the bridge has a slightly higher DCR. I knew from Google that these pickups were ceramics, but what I didn't realize that the bridge at least is just a cheap conventional bobbin pickup with an EMG-logo plastic cover with locating pins to conceal the actual pickup. Both pickups have big ceramic magnets on the bottom. So it seems the EMG connection was totally a marketing ploy.

Here's what is underneath the guard and control plate. The usual dime-sized pots and PCB 3-way.


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Notts77

TDPRI Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2016
Posts
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75
Location
Warwick, Western Australia
Very intersting article Michael as too have recently purchased a distressed Johnson Tele in Rose (Pink!) and as I have a number of Johnson Strat shaped guitars I fancied one with a maple neck. Easy I thought until I realised that the maple necks on the strat have one less fret than the rosewood! No problem as the bridge has plenty of play so no intonation issues and the neck socket was a perfect fit.
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I now have a better than Squier Tele which fits nicely with the strat.
 

Michael A.

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jan 12, 2013
Posts
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Location
Virginia Beach, VA
Very pleased to have another member in this "club".

Nice guitars! I like that Tele color, which I'd call Coral. I see you have the Johnson EMGs in yours, but they differ from mine, which say "Johnson designed by EMG". Do you have any issues with the neck overpowering the bridge?

I have a separate thread on my pickup issue and have just gotten the resistors to try to reduce the neck output.
https://www.tdpri.com/threads/how-to-increase-output-of-ceramic-pickup.1081426/

You may not forgive me for this, but the head stock of mine now looks like this.

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Notts77

TDPRI Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2016
Posts
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Age
75
Location
Warwick, Western Australia
Very pleased to have another member in this "club".

Nice guitars! I like that Tele color, which I'd call Coral. I see you have the Johnson EMGs in yours, but they differ from mine, which say "Johnson designed by EMG". Do you have any issues with the neck overpowering the bridge?

I have a separate thread on my pickup issue and have just gotten the resistors to try to reduce the neck output.
https://www.tdpri.com/threads/how-to-increase-output-of-ceramic-pickup.1081426/

You may not forgive me for this, but the head stock of mine now looks like this.

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I haven't experienced any problems with these pickups as they ring out 5.75k at the neck and 7.2k on the bridge, balanced and all the better for it!
It may have something to do with the model as mine has the original script logo and yours the block letters so mine would be an earlier model.
With respect to the neck, the word Johnson has different meaning dependant on where you live, I don't have a problem in Australia!
 

radiocaster

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Posts
10,006
Location
europe
With respect to the neck, the word Johnson has different meaning dependant on where you live, I don't have a problem in Australia!
If it said "Richard" on the headstock, you could call your guitar by its endearing diminutive.

But really it doesn't matter if the name can be interpreted in different ways. Too much of a waste of time to think about it, just play the thing.
 

Michael A.

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jan 12, 2013
Posts
1,360
Location
Virginia Beach, VA
I haven't experienced any problems with these pickups as they ring out 5.75k at the neck and 7.2k on the bridge, balanced and all the better for it!
It may have something to do with the model as mine has the original script logo and yours the block letters so mine would be an earlier model.

Yes, both of my pickups read about 8.5k so pretty different specs from your pickups! I've now cut them out of the harness and will test each again to reconfirm those readings.
 

Michael A.

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jan 12, 2013
Posts
1,360
Location
Virginia Beach, VA
I removed the original pickups since I couldn't balance them properly and have replaced them with custom-wound Bootstraps. I had a hot bridge in mind and Ryan at Bootstrap came up with a hot Strat pickup for the neck, which is what I wanted to try. The customer service from Bootstrap was extraordinary, and these pickups are as well, with amazing clarity and tone.

I added a 4-way, new Bournes pots, and adapted an Esquire guard to take the Strat pickup. Under the guard, both the neck pickup rout required enlarging for the Strat pickup, and I added some clearance around the bridge pickup rout to ease in installation.

The neck and frets on this guitar are very nice, with a very comfortable soft edge to the fret board. The body has a nicely radiused edge, which I also prefer. It is slightly heavy, but the neck balances it almost horizontally.

I think this guitar is a lot nicer than others I've seen from this manufacturer. They are well worth grabbing if you find one of these alder bodied ones.




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pope858

Tele-Meister
Joined
Aug 7, 2021
Posts
114
Location
Southern Colorado
I never owned their electrics, but I once owned a Johnson (Axl) brass bodied resonator type guitar. People would look at me funny when I told them I had been playing with my big, silver Johnson! Innuendo aside, it was a pretty nice instrument, albeit, heavy as all get out!
 

marklk

TDPRI Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2016
Posts
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Location
:)
Time for me to join. Apparently you can only purchase these things really dirty. Mine was very grubby when I bought it and I couldn't get any output from it until I cleaned the electronics but now it works great. It cleaned up nicely. It has some dings and scratches. I'm not a fan of artificial relicing but I don't mind honest character.

The neck and body are great. Very similar feeling to my MIM Fender except the Johnson is a top loader. Neck might be a tad chunkier. The hardware is seems pretty good. It was missing a knob. The only thing I had doesn't match but it will do for now.

Pick-ups are the only week point. They are very microphonic. Feedback like crazy. I was planning a song on my phone close to it and I could hear the song loud and clear through my amp. My plan original was to save up some money and put a bootstrap p90 in the neck but now I'm going to have to wait until I can afford to replace the bridge pickup too.

When I saw the deal for a tele online I jumped at it because I already have a strat so I knew it would be of good quality.
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MatthewD72

NEW MEMBER!
Joined
Aug 10, 2022
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1
Age
49
Location
United States
Hello! I just picked this up not too long ago. I’m getting ready to give it a new nut so I can string it up and see how it sounds.
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Michael A.

Tele-Afflicted
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Jan 12, 2013
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Virginia Beach, VA
Glad to have another member here!

Cool that you have the exact same one I do. I'll be interested to hear if you have any issues balancing those pickups.
 

mexicanyella

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jan 26, 2012
Posts
4,696
Location
Troy, MO
A bandmate gave me a beat up Johnson P-bass a few years ago to use as a parts bass. It had a dead pickup in it. I wired it up with an old Strat-type single coil in it and used it for a bit. I liked its aggressive mid bark so much I decided it would become my “rat bass,” the one that’s already scratched and dinged up, so why not lean it against that bare cinder block wall, or that rusty barbed wire fence?

I decided to cut a pickguard out of some oxidized, rust-stained aluminum sheet with an angled Strat-pickup-shaped hole where the usual split P pickup would go, so it’s still in the sweet spot.

Then a cutting mistake caused the pickup hole to be too big. I was so disgusted I put it aside for awhile.

I’m over it now, and a friend sent me a DiMarzio Chopper dual blade humbucking Strat pickup, so I think I’m going to take another crack at it.

Here it is in “pickguard cutting disgust dry dock”

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Imagine it as I intended, with a neatly cut hole fitting snugly around a strat-shaped pickup.

Now that the hole is jacked up, the plan is to make it a rectangle large enough to try this imitation P-90 from my junk box, just because I think it looks cool. If it sounds bad, I’ll resume working with the DiMarzio Chopper.
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