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Need Advice on a Dull Sounding Tele Build

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

  1. radguitars

    radguitars TDPRI Member

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    Not sure what you’ve replaced at this point but tap tone and resonant frequency is huge and is different in all woods no matter the species. Tap the body to see if it sounds dead and thuddy. A ping would be the goal. Short of replacing the body, threaded steel saddles in a .06”-.065” thick steel ashtray bridge baseplate. Top loading the strings will decouple the body from the bridge and be much brighter. Check out Jim Campilongo as his teles are set up like this.

    Ernie Ball slinkies are brighter strings IME as are stainless. You want as much steel in the strings for greater magnetism.
    9’s would be brighter than 10’s but I like 10’s.

    The Gotoh baseplate was brass so steel is much brighter and the direction you want to go.

    My summation is wood resonance is everything! Next, using steel hardware (baseplate and saddles) and high steel content strings and only use brass to tweak the eq desired. Decouple the bridge from the body by top loading the strings for more string energy from the bridge. Lastly, low output pickups should be fine for more highs and twang. Good luck!
     
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  2. davenumber2

    davenumber2 Friend of Leo's

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    I just used a $25 ebay hardware store pine body for my last build and it sounds great. IMO the "right" piece of wood is overrated for a solidbody electric.
     
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  3. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    Lots of things are responsible for a guitar's sound.

    Is the wood resonant?
    Bridge/saddles
    Nut
    Strings
    String height
    Pickups
    Pickup heights
    Electronics
    How it's all wired
    Guitar Cord
    Amp/Amp settings
    Room Acoustics

    Lots of people discount certain parts, but it all comes together for the tone. Some bodies sound great and some are just duds. No pickup will sound the same in every body it's put in. Always some variables at play. I have some cheap guitars that sound awesome. I've had some cheap guitars that sounded like a** no matter what I did to help it. Pickups have ability to help a guitar sound better, but they have to have a good base to start with or it's all in vain.
     
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  4. TommyGunz

    TommyGunz Tele-Meister

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    I'm in Elgin...about 25 min east of Austin.
     
  5. preactor

    preactor Tele-Holic

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    I would take this guitar to a local music store and try some additional amps or find a friend who has different amps.
     
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  6. Galibier_Un

    Galibier_Un Tele-Meister

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    First off, inspirational color choice on the body. I'm late to the party here and worked through only about half of the posts, so if I'm covering something that's already been said, then ignore me.

    I agree with all of the comments on the bridges, and I ended up using "original" Fender ashtray bridges on all of my builds.

    About Wilkinson ...

    I once had a Suhr "T" and he was using the adjustable saddle version of the Wilkinson - the one with the pivot/locking screws at the center of each brass saddle. That guitar had plenty of twang, but I'm not so sure about that Wilkinson bridge with the top load feature and the "stepped" saddles. They might be fine, and as a couple have mentioned, maybe a top loading experiment will tell you something.

    String change: U-bet. You have this covered.

    Pickup Height: lower = less output, upward tilted frequency balance.

    Wood ...

    I'm in the camp that from a wood perspective only, the neck accounts for 70% or so (the body contributes 30%). IOW, the body is the last thing I'd look ad swapping.

    Necks ...

    You have a Strat build, right? Why don't you swap necks to see how much sound transfers with the neck. I would only do this after a swap to a real, vintage (thin) ashtray bridge, and possibly steel saddles.

    You can mount a Strat neck on a Tele, but not the other way around. I'm sure you knew that.

    I just sold a beautiful neck that was tormenting me for some 7 years. I had the opposite problem - not being able to tame the brightness of this maple/pau ferro neck from USACG. I had a maple/maple neck (also from USACG) and mounted it over the weekend. Problem solved. You always find something the last place you look. :rolleyes:

    I tried multiple pickup swaps, went from steel to brass saddles, nickel strings, tone cap swaps. Every change nudged me in the right direction, but I was frustratingly close and not quite there.

    About tone caps (fine tuning - after you deal with the major issue). I've generally gone to .015 tone caps. It shaves much less off the top and even at "10" you'll hear a slight difference between cap values (the reason some folks love no-load pots). When I was trying to tame that bright neck, I went the opposite direction - from .015 to .033. I found .047 shaved the upper treble, but there was still something wrong and .033 was the best compromise.

    As far as rosewood vs. maple fingerboards, I have a slightly different take from what most folks post, and I once saw a post by John Suhr address this (@Husky - over on TheGearPage). His observations match mine.

    John says that rosewood is more extended at the upper frequencies, but attenuates the upper midrange a bit. Maple, OTOH rolls off earlier at the extreme top, but is brighter in the area where rosewood is attenuated. They have a different EQ curve. So, we need to be careful about use of the term "bright". Obviously, this doesn't change the fact that you want to match the neck to your build.

    I think you have a Warmoth "modern" with dual action truss rod? That, along with s-s frets should move you toward the bright side of the spectrum, but the neck may still be on the dull side and there's only one way to find out.

    ... Thom
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
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  7. aadvark

    aadvark Tele-Meister

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    nice typo!

    (fwiw, my thoughts are neck, maybe you are after a maple tone, and body (swamp ash = traditional) but you probably dont want to hear that. Failing that, try pup height, neck fit and bridge).
     
  8. Galibier_Un

    Galibier_Un Tele-Meister

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    From what he's reporting, I'm guessing that while he might prefer maple/maple, this is more of a sample to sample variation thing. The Strat neck swap ought to tell him a lot.

    ... Thom
     
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  9. Paulg

    Paulg TDPRI Member

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    Here’s a set up tip. Tune the guitar, loosten each neck screw about a quarter turn. The neck may move and the strings go flat. Tighten the screws and retune. Now the neck is set solid to the body. It can make a difference, plus its easy and free!
     
  10. thankyouguitar

    thankyouguitar Tele-Meister

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    TommyGunz! I feel your pain!! I have been following along with much interest. Thank you for bringing us along on your tone quest.

    I was excited to listen to your sound files and could hear a distinct change in acoustic sound between the two bridge types. I, like another user, heard less difference in the amplified sound between the two bridge types.

    BUT, I hear no difference between the bridge and neck pickup sound of the same bridge type! I listened to Gotoh bridge and then Gotoh neck and hear no difference. Same for bridge and neck of Wilkinson. Can we see a pic of the underside of the control plate?

    Other things I picked up as I re-read through:

    Greg Koch seems to use D'Addario NYXL strings (. 010–. 046) perhaps get a set to try.

    It wasn't clear in your previous post if you are using Kurt Mangan Nickel 11 flats or rounds. Flats will never get you there no matter the brand as another poster also said.

    In the Greg Koch video you posted as a tone inspiration, he has quite a bit of gain going perhaps from the amp, pedals, or both. In your sound sample, there appears to not be so much gain.

    Lastly, pickup height can be adjusted on each side of the pickup. I have had luck boosting treble by raising the side of the pickup under the high E string and lowering the side under the low E string. (reverse can work for boosting bass).

    Hang in there! 100 minds are better than one! Put up that pic of the underside of the control plate!! XD
     
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  11. notroHnhoJ

    notroHnhoJ Tele-Meister

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    Count me as another one to lose that damn bridge. I also learned the hard way that a heavy bridge can be a dampening effect. Also, I’ll be honest, I think its possible to have too much of a good thing, and I really believe your build here qualifies as such.
     
  12. egotrip

    egotrip TDPRI Member

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    Hi , if your Tele is a bit dull . make sure machine head screws are tight , neck screws are tight . bridge screws tight . then adjust truss rod so that neck has half a millimeter relief at 7th fret when strings are pressed down at 1st and 15th frets . try pickups a little further from string than usual then move them up slowly to see if they improve or worsen sustain . if no good firewood . just kidding .
     
  13. rocnrik

    rocnrik TDPRI Member

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    I have a idea .. I work on guitars for a living .. I have done this before and it works .. go to hardware store and get a piece of brass blank .. it does not need to be super thick maybe thickness of a thick pick .. cut it to match the neck pocket of the body .. you can round the edges with belt sander .. mark the neck screws and drill them larger than screws.. sandwich it in between body and neck and I bet you here a difference that will improve the tone .. you will have to raise saddles a bit which will also create more force into bridge... you can go this for less than a few bucks .. you will not see the shim unless you look for it .. you can call it the “tone Shim “ I’ll bet it works
     
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  14. aadvark

    aadvark Tele-Meister

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    well, a very informative, if long, thread. if a little frustrating for the OP, in that we may not have yet 'solved' the issue. I really did read every word! lots of repetition but some amazing insights and well-informed ideas!

    Ultimately, it reminds us of what a delicate balancing act it is to put together a really beautiful electric guitar, and how amazing it was that Leo 'flukes' a perfect design - form and function as one - all those years ago.

    To the the OP, Tommygunz, its a beautiful guitar.
    A good luthier, with it in hand can do a lot, maybe don't try to make it your 'Spanky axe' - but rather bring out its natural qualities- warm & rich?
    You could keep it as is, and just start making another!

    Please let us know how things go, and thanks for setting off another excellent Tele thread!
    best wishes.
     
  15. egotrip

    egotrip TDPRI Member

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    one more suggestion , raise strings a little to see if that helps . again , tighten ALL screws and check neck relief . if its a double acting truss rod it needs to be set perfectly .
     
  16. rocnrik

    rocnrik TDPRI Member

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    Had several customers bring me there dull guitars and I did the tone shim ... they could not believe the difference... the guitar rang out .. think about the body to neck contact point that is a critical part of the guitar ... when you sandwich the shim you can really hear the difference.. not that wood to wood is bad however in your case something is not right ...
     
  17. Leonardocoate

    Leonardocoate Tele-Meister

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    I usually assemble everything before finishing and hear how it sounds. There is a difference with finishes. I had a nice strat that I finished off with linseed oil and regretted it. Dull sounding...I have an alder body that has been modded chop and dropped a lot but no matter what I do to it, it still sounds lively
     
  18. czatzke

    czatzke TDPRI Member

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    Sounds like you need more neck relief. Try loosening the strings and give the truss rod a quarter turn clockwise. Re-adjust the action and intonation after you measure the scale length.
     
  19. padreraven

    padreraven Tele-Meister

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    Gotta agree with those who like how it looks. Nice work. I had a problem recently with the neck pickup (I have a double-coil there) and I raised it about as high as it would go, as some here have suggested and it sounds much better.
     
  20. drmordo

    drmordo Tele-Holic

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    Very interesting. I may have to try this one day.
     
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