Modern Player Thinline Deluxe, upgrades?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Ape Factory, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. Ape Factory

    Ape Factory TDPRI Member

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    Snagged a pretty much mint Fender Modern Player Thinline Deluxe (can the come up with a longer name?) with P90's. It's my first telecaster.

    I'd been considering a T-style for some time, specifically a Logan and I really thought I knew what I wanted in a Telecaster style guitar. I kept going back and forth and I finally decided to try something with P90's just to see if I'd like it. I'd debated a hum bucker in the neck and and even went full circle back to "Telecaster" pickups in both positions.

    So there are some things I do like about the MPTD Telecaster. Seems to be well made, very inexpensive, looks good, etc...now some have raved about them and I'm not 100% sold yet.

    The guitar needs a good setup. I plan on having this done sometime in the very near future and then re-evaluate things at that point. It's decently fun to play now but perhaps setting it up with 10's and optimizing it will really bring it alive. Hoping anyway.

    -The pickups are not a good match with my H&K amp although there are a few patches through my Eleven Rack (ER) which do sound good.

    -Pickups lack definition when chording. Is this a P90 thing? Something that may change with the stock pickups and a good setup?

    -Things get muddy when you roll the volume down. I don't know a thing about wiring P90's. It's a "Gibson" style layout, two tone, two volume, with a three way. Assuming I could just go with some caps and do things the Gibson way? I really don't want to drop $300 on this guitar (yet).

    -I was hoping the frets would have been larger. My PRS Bernie has pretty small frets too and I wanted to try something with larger fret wire.

    -Since I'm not stoked with the stock P90's, I've debated on swapping them out if a good setup and a bit of playing time doesn't sort things. I did a bit of research and really liked the Bare Knuckle P90's (Blue Note) but hell, I'm going off of sound clips on the internet and it probably has as much to do with the song being played as the pickup. What I'm not willing to do is put a $200-$300 set of pickups in this guitar. Has anyone ever swapped out pickups with success in one of these puppies? Is it even worth it? What about pole spacing? I see a lot of P90's with Gibson spacing but not many with Fender spacing. Is that a concern?

    -The bridge...I know a few make cut off three saddle bridges. Not sure if they'd work due to the specs on the MPTD being different from most. I believe I've read most of the aftermarket necks will not work?

    Anyway, thanks for your time and it's my first post! I'll post a photo or two this evening.
     
  2. xtrajerry

    xtrajerry Doctor of Teleocity

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    The few I looked at had the pups replaced. I have a set of Lollar Omnis in a Fano and they are fantastic. Fralin P90's are also highly regarded. Not sure about the rest of the electronics in your guitar but would look at completely rewiring and replacing all the switches & POTs. You're headed in the right direction going for a setup first, while the tech has it I'd ask about dressing the frets. The couple of MIM's I've owned all had room for improvement.
     
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  3. Ape Factory

    Ape Factory TDPRI Member

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    Good advice, thanks. He apparently used to work at Fender and my local GC just hired him as their tech. Going to take advantage of him for as long as he chooses to stay there. I do not have a very good GC unfortunately.

    I always hear everyone rave about the Lollars but you're looking at $200 for two P90's which seems rather over the top given the price of the guitar was under $300! I was thinking GFS or something in between that and the Lollars in terms of price.
     
  4. JohnK24

    JohnK24 Friend of Leo's

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    Lollar's 50s Wind (Costello) P90s...clarity and a true treasure to the ears. I tried a MP thinline this weekend at Guitar Center. To me the pups were harsh and too in your face (and I like P90s), I didn't spend more than 5 minutes with it as I was not impressed.
     
  5. waparker4

    waparker4 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    By all means get a setup, but if you don't like the frets or pickups, I would think about selling or trading before investing another $200 in the guitar but after trying some simple $0 mods (50s wiring, pup adjustments). Normally I'm all for pup swaps but you don't sound like you're absolutely convinced you want the P90s or the frets.

    If you want bigger frets than that you'll need jumbos.. according to the spec sheet.

    When you go in for the setup:

    Measure the DC resistance of the pickups. These might just be too hot.

    Consider the 50's wiring scheme. If you're getting mud when you roll back the volume I'll bet you have the modern wiring scheme. Check the pots and caps values too. I opened up my Epiphone 2x P90 guitar and found 500k pots and .022 mfd caps. The guitar doesn't get muddy too bad.

    Pickups lack definition when chording -- I've found that on the neck pickup I never want to go above 75% volume on the neck pickup unless I'm taking a solo with that pickup. With the neck at 50% volume and the bridge at 80% volume the middle position has a nice sound for rhythm like the bridge pickup but slightly thicker & with more bass. If your mud problem is solved by the 50's wiring maybe these interactions change... my guitar has modern wiring.

    Also, try adjusting the overall pickup height and the polepieces of the P90 with a screwdriver - put the bass strings polepieces lower, or have the polepieces follow the radius of the strings as a starting point before fine tuning.

    Ymmv!
     
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  6. Ape Factory

    Ape Factory TDPRI Member

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    Being new to both P90's and Teles, I can't say one way or the other. But I do want to give both a fair shake with the understanding that things can get much better with higher grade equipment and/or guitars. I don't want a bad set of pickups to ruin my P90 experience.

    waparker4, thanks for the feedback. I'll open her up tonight and see how it's wired and what they have for pots and caps. Will report back.

    I'm not overly disappointed in the fret size, but after playing a few others models at GC, I remembered them having larger frets. They didn't have any MPTD's in stock at the time. I've heard a few other telecasters with P90's and really liked what I heard. This one in particular:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_Zja-6hjro Seems like a really fun guitar.

    I'll try some of your settings and tinker with the pickup pole heights.

    John, was most of the displeasure with the MPTD at GC down to the pickups?
     
  7. Ape Factory

    Ape Factory TDPRI Member

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    Forgot to ask...I can't use P90's with Gibson spacing, correct? If I find a pair on ebay at a more reasonable price used, and they're listed as Gibson P90's, they wouldn't work in the Telecaster due to pole spacing?
     
  8. JohnK24

    JohnK24 Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, I thought they sounded very one dimensional. To me, or really couldn't tell if you were in the neck or bridge position, it was just "hard" sounding. Volume roll off turned the neck into mud. Their was no sweetness in the middle position.
     
  9. Ape Factory

    Ape Factory TDPRI Member

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    Yes! I had a hard time telling between middle and bridge as well. Maybe a decent P90 will wake the guitar up.
     
  10. Ape Factory

    Ape Factory TDPRI Member

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    I just ordered a set of Kent Armstrong P90's, reverse wound in the neck, hotter in the bridge. Should be here next week and I'll report back.
     
  11. stephenyi

    stephenyi Tele-Meister

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  12. Ape Factory

    Ape Factory TDPRI Member

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    I saw your setup when doing initial research on the guitar. I'm assuming a pretty dramatic change in a positive direction, no? Any changes to the rest of the electricals?
    Thanks,
    Michel
     
  13. stephenyi

    stephenyi Tele-Meister

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    The only change to electronics was to change out the stock 500K pots for the Charlie Christian neck pickup to 250K. The CC pickup clears up the muddiness of the original neck pickup and the Lollar P90 sounds great in the bridge position.
     
  14. Chautauqua

    Chautauqua Tele-Holic

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    Lollar WRHB's... Or find some RI WRHB's and have Telenator mod them. Unless you're specifically looking for that P90 sound you'll have one HELL of an amazing variety of sounds/tones/textures available and lots of power to fill space... but maybe that's not what you're looking for.

    Fralin P90's would be my "drop in" swap choice. I really love the sound of those pups.

    Cheers

    Dave
     
  15. Ape Factory

    Ape Factory TDPRI Member

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    I took off the pick guard last night and took a peek at the pots and wiring. Strangely, I have 250K Alpha pots in mine, not 500's. Should I be sticking with 250K pots or move up to 500? I didn't check the shaft size but I'm assuming they're smaller than say a CTS shaft.

    [​IMG]

    Tone pot wiring:
    [​IMG]


    Volume pot wiring:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Cavity w/all controls:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]



    I took a hard look at the bridge tonight and it's a three screw setup. Looking at any of the three saddle half bridges, they're all four screw. So it looks like I'm stuck with the stock bridge. Not sure if there are any real upgrades for it at this point.
    [​IMG]


    Frets:
    [​IMG]


    The guitar and her companion!
    [​IMG]
     
  16. Boyd

    Boyd Tele-Afflicted

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    I also have one of these, but I like the sound of the pickups myself. But if I didn't, I don't think I would put any real money into upgrades. Just doesn't seem like it would be worth it for an inexpensive guitar. Unless you're really in love with it, seems like you could sell it for what you paid (I paid $400 new for mine) and get something else that you really like as-is.
     
  17. stephenyi

    stephenyi Tele-Meister

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    Hmmm... I could have sworn mine had the Alpha 500K pots all around. I do know that I now have 250K pots for the neck CC pickup and 500K for the bridge P90 pickup. Since yours are 250K all around, before you upgrade the pickups, you might try upgrading the pots to 500K since P90s usually sound better with them.

    I think the bridge quality is fine but if you wanted to, the Callaham bridge saddles for import strats would probably work.
     
  18. waparker4

    waparker4 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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  19. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Your PRS looks great!

    Confirmed, that the 3 barrel setup is not easy to achieve, given the existing location of your through holes. You'd have to plug and redrill those through holes IMO to get an optimal result.

    The way I see it, you have Callaham and D'Pergo type precision stuff, then the Fender AV quality stuff, American Standard, then the MIM and American Special level of quality, then the Blacktop bridges and last of all, these MP bridges. I think a set of the import spacing Callaham bent steels would work but I agree with Boyd, this guitar has so many drawbacks, I'd be nervous about where to start. You don't care for the pickups, at least he likes them. I admit I'm sorta down on this MP range but I don't think we've identified enough solid things you like. To me, it is so strange, how everything seems to have turned out for the CV line, but this one is snakebit.
     
  20. Ape Factory

    Ape Factory TDPRI Member

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    Things I like about the MPTD...the looks, weight, overall feel of the guitar, it's resonant.

    This is sort of a rolling experiment before delving into a build. I can figure out what I like in a Fender Telecaster without buying/selling several guitars. And I like to tinker so it's fun for me and not the least bit frustrating.

    The Glendale American Standard "Blackguard" bridge will work as well. A bit less expensive than the Callaham but I'd be cutting the end off. Not spending $100 on something I have to chop up! http://www.glendaleguitars.com/americanstandard.htm No saddles of course. Must be really expensive pressed steel plate. Yes, that was sarcasm.

    Going to see if I can locate a used one. I'm going to do all the electronics myself to save a few $$$ and pay a good tech to do the setup. Some of this stuff I can transfer over to the new machine as well so I'm thinking in terms of that too.

    Boris, thanks for the comment on the Bernie. It's a really fabulous guitar for the money. I need to pull out the "big" cameras to do it justice. The iPhone doesn't cut it. My family's from N.Orleans btw...quite a history we have in that town.
     
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