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Modding a tele knockoff, some tech Q's

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by MSquier, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    Hi. I have a First Act tele fake. Before you tell me its not worth fussing with, I'm having fun with it. It had a perfectly good top loading 6 saddle bridge which I replaced with a Wilkinson 3 saddle thru the body tele bridge. This bridge puts the strings a wee bit wider at the bridge. How much space should there be from the edge of the fretboard and the string? I know my nut is not as low as it could be, but I don't have the right files so I am going to leave it for now, but what would be a good string height at the 12 fret when fretted at the 1st? My plan at the moment is to get it to play decent, them maybe upgrade the pickups to some better cheap ones, maybe the type they have a guitar fetish? Thanks for the help and not making to much fun of my FA Tele. And hope I don't get booted for putting Tele in the same sentence as First Act. (Its not really that bad, it just gets a lot of harassing on the net).
     
  2. alscort93

    alscort93 Tele-Meister

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    Look at fender's website for setup specs under manuals or documents, archives, something along those lines. It's a good place to start then make adjustments. An FA guitar is a great way to get started modding. Inexpensive and you can't make them any worse short of smashing them.
     
  3. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    Ha smashing it, I knew there was an FA joke coming soon. Thanks for the tip though. By the way the bridge I have is the cheap asian licenced Wilkinson not the real thing and I see the spacing is different on these also. Only fitting for a cheap asian guitar. ($35 brand new in box, couldn't pass it up)
     
  4. alscort93

    alscort93 Tele-Meister

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    I'm all for cheap guitars, I like cheapos as long as they play decent and don't sound like crap. I've got a Tele style guitar from eBay, a Starcaster by fender strat, a Rogue that I picked up a little over a year ago when I decided to start learning to play again, and an AXL 1216 Badwater. I've modded each one except for the AXL, only had it a few months :) I picked up a no name strat style, I think it was a kit guitar, at a pawn shop about a year ago for $35, it was home 15 minutes before it was disassembled and the horrid paint job sanded off. It's still a work in progress, black and white EVH style paint :cool:
     
  5. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    I like cheap too, does not always mean bad. I also have a FA Strat that is not at all bad to play, no mods just set it up a bit and I like it. I figured i should start out on the defensive because the FA's seem to get a lot of abuse on the net, but this site seems a bit more mature. If I had the extra money i would probably have a room full of no name guitars.
     
  6. OpenG Capo4

    OpenG Capo4 Friend of Leo's

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    I modded my ME-302. Bought it at a yard sale for $5 and replaced a missing string saddle and made a new nut for it. Changed the tuners to die cast, the neck pickup to a P90, and replaced the cap, pots, and jack with better quality stuff. Its a great axe now and I've only got $50 or so in it. The little ceramic single coil "Tele" pickup in the bridge position rocks to my ears, changing the pots from the 500k ones they come with to 250k made a world of difference. Thinking about drilling string-thru holes in the bridge and the body.

    Paul Westerberg likes First Act too:

    [​IMG]
     
  7. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    Hey I just added some pics of my First Act with the new bridge, check them out.
    I got it set up OK now but I have a slight buzz from the bridge on the G string. It buzz's open and all the way down to the 12 fret. I don't have the strings thru the body yet but I'm hoping the extra angle may stop the buzz here.
    Paul, as you can see I removed the neck pickup, I did not want to cut the pick guard till I had a better pickup, but the bridge pickup is kind of cool. I may have to change the pot as you mentioned. Mine is a bit scratchy when you use it anyway. Glad to see I'm not the only FA owner.
    I really think the early First Acts, the 301 and 302 were decent products, the new stuff I see in the stores looks much cheaper in quality.
     
  8. pbenn

    pbenn Tele-Afflicted

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    String spacing at Nut

    Interesting situation. Just my experience, but 1-5/8" Tele necks are touchy about just exactly where the two E string slots should be cut. One hair too wide and you're bound to have fall-off-the-neck problems, one hair too safe and your strings are too close together.

    The recommendation to access factory specs is right on. In addition your neck has to be exactly 90 degrees to your bridge, and hopefully to both your body and bridge.

    You want both your E's to have equal room to fretboard's edge. If one E has space at the nut but not at the 12th, and the other E is the reverse, your neck is skewed in the pocket a little bit, an easy fix.

    However, if *both* E's have space at the nut and not at the 12th, and they're equal, you actually are fine. Your bridge may be too wide as you mentioned, but unless you're having problems going over the edge it should work for you.

    If all else fails, you can either go back to a stock Vintage plate, or go to a wider 1/11/16 neck.

    Just some thoughts on the OP, I guess.
     
  9. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    What does going from 500k pots to 250k pots do? Sounds like an easy mod for me to do if its worth it, can you give me some more specs on type of pot and cap? Or is there a better thread (pot upgrades) on this already, I could not find one.
     
  10. alscort93

    alscort93 Tele-Meister

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    250k's darken the sound on single coils. 500k's are a little much for single coils, make them sound shrill and bright.
     
  11. rwp1993

    rwp1993 TDPRI Member

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  12. OpenG Capo4

    OpenG Capo4 Friend of Leo's

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    Oh, I'm not Paul Westerberg BTW. :lol: He was the frontman from the Replacements and now a solo artist. He's got a signature model First Act, the PW580:

    [​IMG]

    But I'm gonna go out on a limb and say, I'm sure he approves of you removing the neck pickup. ;)
     
  13. OpenG Capo4

    OpenG Capo4 Friend of Leo's

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    Yep, they are 1-5/8" necks. I measured mine the other day. I have the same model as Msquier.

    It seems to me that their frets are pretty soft too, mine has wear marks on all the frets that weren't there when I got it so I know they're mine :lol:. My other guitars which I play more than the FA don't have any marks. So you might want to check that the frets are level. Or you may have a little backbow in the neck.

    The pots just fatten up the sound a bit. The stock pickups in them aren't too bad for cheap ceramic single coils. I think the factory neck pickup I took out of mine measured 8.0k and the bridge was 7.3k - which is pretty hot for a Tele.

    I'll probably use that neck pickup on another project at some point. Maybe a Melody Maker-ish guitar. :lol:
     
  14. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    RWP1993, believe it or not I found it in the toy section at a TJ Maxx while my wife was shopping, half slid under a shelf unit. It was still in the box unopened marked down about 5 times to $36. sold.
     
  15. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    I tweaked the neck in the pocket the other day to get a bit more room on th low E side, had a little sliding off problem. This seems to help. The high e is now closer to the edge but that does not seem to bother me. Got tuned and intonated again and its fine. Also bowed the neck a little to get rid of a buzz, a bit more bow than I would like but it worked. I guess the next thing will be the pots. I was checking out schematics on semour duncans site. They have 2 for the Esquire that use the switch to change the tone with one pickup. I may try one of these setups, any suggestion on which one to use?
    http://www.seymourduncan.com/support/wiring-diagrams/schematics.php?schematic=esquire_alternate
    http://www.seymourduncan.com/support/wiring-diagrams/schematics.php?schematic=esquire
     
  16. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    Update on my FA Tele. I did a quickie fret leveling today and am very happy with the results. I used some 320 sandpaper on a piece of hardened aluminum. Then steel wooled them shiny. I wold have used some finer paper but I only had the 320 and was to lazy to go out and get more. I have no buzz down the whole neck, yay. It seemed only 1 fret was a bit high, but it had more than one buzz before the operation. Next step, lowering the action at the nut.
     
  17. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Just curious, why didn't you post your pics here where we could all enjoy them? By the way, we do have a First Act owners club here LINK. Me, I have an 501 modded with an EMG humbucker. In my case, the 500K pots sounded just fine :). With a single coil, 250K pots and .47pf capacitors (you can get 'em at Radio Shack) are the way to go. On my Esquire build, I'm using a 250K no-load pot and forgoing the switch. That way I have tone control, or no tone control. Never had much use for the famous "cocked-wah" sound :lol:. Keep us updated,

    Dave
     
  18. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    Dave, I already joined the FARG, first act club, thanks. There are pics on my home page, but here is one for you.
    [​IMG]

    An addition to the above post on my fret leveling/dressing. I did not crown the frets, they were and still are a little flat on top but it seems to play fine, better than before. : )

    And i did try the Esquire wiring but the 3 way switch on the FA is different from the schematics so I ended up eliminating it from the wiring for now and just have tone and volume. I also turned the control plate around so the tone is at the front, then the volume then empty switch hole.

    Also lowered the pickup a bunch (bridge). I had it set really high because I thought that was a good thing. I think it was too close to the strings and causing playing problems, Its very low now and sounds better to me.
     
  19. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Didn't see a url :)
     
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