Need Advice on a Dull Sounding Tele Build

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by TommyGunz, May 22, 2020.

  1. TommyGunz

    TommyGunz TDPRI Member

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    Hey ya'll! First post here :)

    I just finished my first tele build...and I'm underwhelmed with the tone. Sounds like a blanket is over the speaker. No sparkle or tele spank from either pickup both through an amp and acoustically compared to my strat. Here are the parts from the build:

    Warmoth roasted maple neck w/rosewood board, 59' profile, bone nut, stainless med jumbo frets, gotoh vintage tuners. Neck fit is a tight in the pocket.

    Musikraft pine body finished in Varathane worn navy and a thin nitro. (I tried the vinegar/brillow trick but it turned brown on the wood, not grey).

    Gotoh 'in-tune' bridge with compensated brass saddles.

    Pickups custom wound pickups by Rob Cavalier for a vintage trebly response.

    Electronics from RSGuitarworks.

    What I've done to find the issue is wire the pickups directly to the output jack to eliminate the RS parts as being a problem. No difference. Then I returned the first set of pickups. Rob was incredibly helpful and communicative...on a Saturday and Sunday no less! I just put in the new set and same thing...dull with no sparkle. I don't have any other tele pickups to swap.

    Now I'm looking at the bridge. Acoustically, it doesn't sound very bright. I've AB'd it to my strat both through an amp and acoustically and the tele has the mid honk but no top end sparkle/presence/spank like the strat (it has a gotoh 510 vintage bridge with ss block and vintage saddles).

    I read somewhere that the thicker the bridge plate on a tele, the duller the sound can be and this Gotoh has a really thick steel bridge plate...about 3mm. It feels like a slab. Not sure if there is any truth to that or not as I have never compared before and after myself. Before I decide on just replacing the saddles with SS or Titanium or replacing the bridge altogether, I could really use some of your wisdom!
    20200427_181606.jpg
     
  2. MonkeyJefferson

    MonkeyJefferson Tele-Holic

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    Buy a 60 Dollar 62 Reissue Bridge/Pickup combo (with cloth wire). Put fancy stuff in box. Play.
     
  3. TommyGunz

    TommyGunz TDPRI Member

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    Funny thing...I originally had those pickups, but returned them after I found this independent winder at reasonable prices.
     
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  4. wabashslim

    wabashslim Tele-Afflicted

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    I had a Glendale SS plate on my 52 for a while, didn't like it. Made it too bright, took away all the lows which Teles don't have that much of to begin with. Always had to run the tone control about 3/4 of the way down. Saddles didn't matter. Sounds like this might be what you need to balance things out. Too bad they cost so much.
     
  5. TommyGunz

    TommyGunz TDPRI Member

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    You're not kidding about the price! Nice looking hardware though. I'm starting to think I'm just going to have to order new pickups and a new bridge and do some swap n test.
     
  6. shadycakes

    shadycakes TDPRI Member

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    I get a lot of brightness from a Wilkinson ashtray bridge with brass compensated saddles. Noticeably more than the thick Gotoh that it replaced.

    Before buying anything, you might also try adjusting your pickup height, it can have a huge effect on tone. It's hard to tell from the pic but they look a little low to me.

    Lower is usually brighter but ymmv.
     
  7. Scotty2Hottie

    Scotty2Hottie TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    not an expert here. Really just wanted to say nice work on the guitar. Looks great. Would like to see a back profile neck included. Since I'm typing, can you bond with the guitar playing it while not plugged in?Are the pick ups pulling on the strings? Maybe try playing it with the pick ups out. Is the neck shimmed? I have a strat were I had to shim the neck to raise the headstock, the thicker part of the shim on the outside of the neck pocket instead of inside at the very end of the heel.I think I used an old credit card and cut about a quarter inch and placed it outside of the screws. Sounded so much better. Good luck.
     
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  8. Danb541

    Danb541 Tele-Holic

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    What size pots are you using? 250k? Try some 1meg or get different pickups, I see no problem with the bridge.

    Update- never mind on the pots if you tried the pickups straight to the jack already. It sounds like your problem is the pickups.
     
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  9. shadycakes

    shadycakes TDPRI Member

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    Agreed. This is what I forgot to mention. If the dullness issue is as pronounced as you say, it's doubtful swapping the bridge will fix it.

    Edit: Both will certainly make a difference in tone, but the pickups more so than the bridge.
     
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  10. TommyGunz

    TommyGunz TDPRI Member

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    Have you mentioned this before in the forums about replacing your bridge? It might have been yours that I'd read when researching. I'll look into the Wilkinson...they're pretty affordable from what I remember. I like the saddle design more on mine as there are less friction points. At the same time, that might also be what makes a softer sound too.

    I hadn't done a setup at that point in the picture. Now they are set at about 2.5mm.
     
  11. TommyGunz

    TommyGunz TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the compliment! I like the way it plays right now...no major buzzing problems or need to shim the neck. Good thinking though!
     
  12. Rigel7

    Rigel7 Tele-Meister

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    It has been my personal experience that a thinner, vintage style bridge has more "life" to it. But like Shadycakes said, take a look at your pickup height first.
     
  13. TommyGunz

    TommyGunz TDPRI Member

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    I really don't want it to be the pickups since he's been so helpful. I want to support independent builders, but i'm going to order some Fender '64 or '52 reissue pickups and see if that's the issue. If it is the pickups, I hope that he will take them back...again. I don't see why he shouldn't since he was not able to deliver what I was asking for.
     
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  14. Danb541

    Danb541 Tele-Holic

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    Sounds like those pickups might be perfect for a tele jazz player.
     
  15. baiff

    baiff Tele-Holic

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    I had one of those "better thick" bridges on one of my builds and I couldn't get it off the guitar fast enough. I put on a standard Fender bridge with brass saddles and it came to life. You could also try steel saddles to make the notes a bit more alive and twangy. Klein has some great options for reasonable prices. I doubt that the Cavalier pickups are the issue. What amp are you playing through?
     
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  16. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

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    It could be one thing, or a combination of two or more things.

    Guitar parts are a lot like effects pedals: by themselves they may sound great, but when paired with some other thing, they sound not so great.

    When building from parts, good tone simply happens. Good parts increase your chance of success, but sometimes even that doesn't work and you end up where you're at right now.

    An example of tone just happening is a neck shim. You can have a guitar that sounds fantastic, and one day you decide to add a thin shim to raise the strings a bit over the body. And the balls just fall out of the guitar with the shim in there. Likewise, you can have a guitar that sounds great, and if you remove the shim that's in the pocket, the guitar loses it's spankiness and snap. What this proves is a shim is neither good nor bad...and it can either hurt or help the tone.

    Most often it takes some experimenting to fix the issue and all is well. But sometimes there's no saving it. It's just the reality of putting together a bunch of random parts like this.

    It's happened to me more than once over the past 40 years.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  17. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    A little more info might help.
    Also that's a funny looking bridge plate with all that extra metal behind the saddles!

    IMO only the Tele bridge pickup has the typical bright Tele tone.
    The neck pickup and the two combined pickups are not really Tele bright.
    Have you wired just the bridge pickup to the jack and that is not a bright tone?
     
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  18. spauldingrules

    spauldingrules Tele-Holic

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    Raise the action? I find that makes my guitars sing more. Lighter gauge with higher action is my new preference.
     
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  19. TommyGunz

    TommyGunz TDPRI Member

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    Lol...that's exactly what I said when I returned the first set! They sounded excellent for that purpose. I wanted straight up twang.
     
  20. Sinphenom

    Sinphenom TDPRI Member

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    That’s a beautiful looking build. Great stuff. The issue really sounds like the pickups. Step one should be altering the pickup heights and checking.

    If that doesn’t work, i would suggest getting some alternative pickup combos

    1: a twisted tele neck with a broadcaster bridge(Fender)
    2: a Seymour duncan Alnico II Pro neck (APTR-1) and the Seymour Duncan Jerry Donahue bridge(APTL-3JD)

    You can’t go wrong with theses combos... I’m sure there are others... but these are my preferences.

    Oh and I would also suggest that before doing all this, please do a check up of your entire wiring and make sure the grounds are all in place... and the output jack and the its wiring.

    Hope it all sorts out.


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