MIJ Tele Info

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by scottbdr, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. scottbdr

    scottbdr TDPRI Member

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    Hi all - first post and I'm looking for some info about this old guitar of mine. Bought it in Boulder CO in the late eighties and shortly thereafter it ended up in my bro's attic/time-machine until just recently. I'm sure I didn't pay much for it but given the time that has passed just wondering what it is before I do any mods to it. From what I can tell its an MIJ 86, based on a '54. I've read in some posts the "C" in "TLC" stands for "Custom", but there is no binding on this. No idea what the "D" in the "DTLC" means, or the red S or X in the neck pocket.

    Neck markings:
    - heel shows "DTCL-54" with the "D" in red
    - Back of neck "MADE IN JAPAN"
    - Headstock: Fender "Esquire"
    - Truss rod end shows "3-8 86"

    Body neck pocket marks:
    "TLC-" with something perhaps after that which is unreadable
    Red "S" in a circle, Red "X"

    Bridge plate has SN "A022189" - "A" being '85-86

    Pickups: active EMGs, not sure if they were stock or not. They sound horrible thru the Fender Eighty Five red knob SS amp I bought with the guitar around the same time so they have to go.

    Still trying to figure out the correct color name on this... Vintage Blonde? You can barely see the wood grain thru the paint, which fairly broad grained. Any ideas on the type of wood? Basswood?

    Planning to put in some Fender Noiseless Tele Pickups, new pots (the existing ones are really slow moving for me, probably will use SD 250k smooth-turning pots), .033uf tone cap, and maybe put some brass compensated saddles. Generally I really like the way it plays though it can probably be set up a bit better than now - intonation is just a bit off on a few strings. I'm no pro so it's plenty good for me...

    Any info or comments on this guitar would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, Scott

    IMG_5729 2.JPG IMG_0819.JPG IMG_5729.JPG IMG_0820.JPG tele front.jpg tele back.jpg tele body neck pocket.jpg tele neck end.jpg
     
  2. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Killer guitar! I am muy jealous.
     
  3. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Holic

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    It seems like a very nice guitar indeed.
    On a MIJ Fender from the 80’s, I would not change anything apart PUs and wiring.
     
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  4. dogmeat

    dogmeat Tele-Afflicted

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    what he said. exactly
     
  5. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Yeah that’s an early vintage in great shape and rarer being an Esquire.
    Mods will hurt the value and aside from pickups of your choice no mods will make it a better guitar for the loss in value.
     
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  6. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    True but The EMG is not the stock picklup. Was probably installed later.
     
  7. mowgli5555

    mowgli5555 Tele-Meister

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    That is a great looking guitar. The bridge date means nothing, but the neck heel date is a solid one to go by.
    Did someone route it for the neck pickup? The body looks like ash to me. The Fender stamped neck plate tells that it is mid 1980's.

    What is the neck shape, and size like?
     
  8. BobbyMac

    BobbyMac Tele-Meister Gold Supporter

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    That is a very nice and early MIJ Esquire.

    It is made of Basswood.

    The color was referrred to as "Blonde" in the marketing material of the time. It was also available in Candy Apple Red.

    The serial number on the bridge plate cannot be used to accurately identify the year made.

    The pencil neck date is considered the date of manufacture.

    The EMG pickup is active, meaning there should be a 9V battery packed inside the control cavity. If you haven't changed it, you should do so before deciding you don't like the pickup. The EMG pickup is actually a very nice one, when working properly.

    Edited to add: All the MIJ Esquire guitars are routed for a neck pickup.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
  9. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Afflicted

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    I've had 2 MIJ Fenders from that time period and both were excellent. It's odd that the neck wood and feel on the Japanese versions always seems distinctive to me in a way I cannot quite pin down. The ones in my experience have been meticulously crafted and I like the playability a lot. I'd ditch the aftermarket EMG and live happily ever after with that guitar. They're highly regarded.
     
  10. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Right, and any neck pickup at all is also not stock.
    I wonder if the original Esquire guard is also in the OPs attic?
     
  11. scottbdr

    scottbdr TDPRI Member

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    Neck profile is "C" shape I believe. About .75"+ depth at the first fret.

    It is routed for the neck pickup and looks stock that way from the paint.
     
  12. scottbdr

    scottbdr TDPRI Member

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    That was confusing me when I first started researching this guitar - why 2 pickups if an Esquire? I do believe the EMG pickups are a mod - can't remember if I bought it new or used... Looking at the lousy screw hole countersinks on the pick guard, the guard doesn't look original.
     
  13. scottbdr

    scottbdr TDPRI Member

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    Who's idea was it to put the SN on an easily removable part? :)

    I did replace the battery - maybe I'll give those pups a little more time to grow on me. I'm still figuring out my amp and pedal situation with this too so maybe too early to judge.

    From the paint the neck pickup routing looks original. IMG_0828.jpg
     
  14. milopera

    milopera TDPRI Member

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    I agree with just changing out the pickups, pots, and wiring and keeping the rest stock.

    If it were me, I would opt to go for a Kinman Broadcaster set with the wiring and harness (includes better pots, switch, and jack than stock) instead of Fender noiseless.
     
  15. scottbdr

    scottbdr TDPRI Member

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    Starting to have thoughts about reverting this back to a single pickup Esquire with a white single ply pick guard. I actually don't like the black guard for some reason, and frankly don't use the switch much anyways. Something like this...
     
  16. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    I’m not sure whose idea it was but the bridge serial numbers are not accurate that’s why it’s good if you have a pencil date
    They used those A serials from the mid 80’s well into the 90’s

    The x probably means it’s an export model, I’m 99% positive those emg’s are not a stock part everything else looks good to me except the switch tip and maybe the saddles?

    I have an 88 pink paisley myself and those Japanese fenders from that era are generally great
     
  17. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill Tele-Meister

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    As has been mentioned several times, I would get rid of the pickups, pots and wiring loom. A Tele shouldn't be an active guitar (in my opinion, of course - you may feel differently). Some quality pickups, switch, pots and cap will have that guitar singing.

    Oh, and I'm not at all jealous. Not at all. Not even a little bit. Really.
     
  18. scottbdr

    scottbdr TDPRI Member

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    Definitely no plans on selling - too many memories from when I originally purchased it even if I didn't play it so much before it got stashed away. Nice to know its a considered a nice guitar - always felt that way playing it.
     
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  19. BobbyMac

    BobbyMac Tele-Meister Gold Supporter

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    The original pickguard would have a been a white single ply unit with eight screws (though 5 screws would be more period correct. 8-hole guards came in around 1960).

    I, too, would change out the EMG pickup set for a high quality bridge pickup (hard to beat a Fender USA Custom shop Nocaster bridge pickup) and return the wiring to the original Esquire configuration.

    I'd put a set of Original Vintage brass barrel saddles on there in place of the original threaded steel saddles, too.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
  20. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    I would say it's a aged white finish - if it was Blonde grain would be apparent. It's painted yellowish to simulate an aged one. Basswood doesn't have any prominent grain. I played an alder Esquire bound Customa while ago that was a sweet guitar.

    All these would have been routed for two pickups. That also has the 60s wiring route.
     
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