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Newbie here with dumb questions about pawn shop find

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by AceTrestle, Mar 1, 2021.

  1. AceTrestle

    AceTrestle TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    I bought an old Tele at a pawn shop yesterday, and while trying to figure out what I had, discovered this forum. I hoped that by joining, I might learn even more.

    The pawn shop said the guitar belonged to an old gentleman who pawned it just before he died. It appears never really to have been played, as there is essentially no fret wear, and only one small nick in the finish on the back of the neck, which likely happened at the pawn shop, where it was tossed into a rack with a bunch of other guitars.

    However, 50 years of sitting in the case with tension on the strings left the neck with some up-bow. I removed the neck and tightened the rod 3/4 of a turn, with good results. Now, there's just over a business card's worth of space between the strings and the frets when the string is fretted at the first and 21st frets, and string height at the 21st fret is around 3/16th of an inch. The intonation improved a lot, though it's not yet perfect.

    Using neck code info from this forum (thank you!) I dated the neck to Dec. 2, 1974. The F Plate serial number info on Fender's site dates the guitar itself to 1975 or 1976. Which brings me to my first question:

    Did Fender offer a neck humbucker of this vintage, other than on the Thinline? Or is the humbucker a user modification?

    I have read that Keith Richards popularized this mod around that time, but I am puzzled why it would have been done on a guitar that was never really played. The presence of Allen keys in the case might be a clue... do Teles have any Allen keys? Or do humbuckers, for that matter?

    Second question: The neck humbucker is louder than the single coil in the bridge position. Is it possible to equalize them? Someone told me to adjust the height, but I do not know how to do that.

    Third question: The headstock has two string trees, and whoever strung the guitar wound the four bottom strings "backward". Or, is there some technical advantage to setting it up this way? Is this an ancient custom among those with mid-70s teles?

    Fourth question: The black pickguard is like an Oreo, with a white layer in the middle, but the previous owner blacked it out with what appears to be shoe polish. Was this common practice?

    Fifth question: This guitar's "case candy" included an ancient packet of strings containing a single Gibson Mona (an extra E). Can anyone recommend the current Gibson Vintage Reissue strings? I know strings are a pretty personal choice, but if there's an appropriate "vintage Tele" string, I'd like to give it a try. I'd like to decide what type of strings to put on before I attempt to dial in the intonation, which is still a smidge off on the top and bottom e strings.

    Sixth question: Any suggestions on what to do/look for next? Not looking to sell or value the authenticity, etc... -- just would like to get it working the best it can. Barring any unpleasant surprises, like it turning out to be stolen, I plan on keeping it and playing it and hopefully pawning it myself when I'm very, very old and clearly about to die and much in need of one last good bender.

    Okay, here are a some photos:

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  2. Jay Jernigan

    Jay Jernigan Tele-Afflicted

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    Great photos. Shots of the neck pocket and heel would be helpful.
     
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  3. Mr Green Genes

    Mr Green Genes Tele-Afflicted

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    Welcome, and congrats on the new acquisition!
    Truss rod adjusts the relief, nut and saddle height adjust the action, and scale length (moving the saddle closer or farther from the nut) adjust intonation (you had mentioned that you adjusted the truss rod in order to correct the intonation- the truss rod will affect the intonation, but I wasn't sure if you mis-typed, wanted to be sure we're on the same page).
    Pickup height is adjustable, it's usually the very last thing I do on a setup.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
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  4. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    The strings are wound wrong. They should all be like the low E and A string. The allen wrenches are to adjust the height of the bridge saddles, to get the best action without buzzing. You can adjust the height of the pickups using the three screws on the top and bottom of the bridge pickup and on the left and right on the neck pickup. Good strings are made by Fender, Daddario, GHS, Ernie Ball, and others. Which brand and gauge is a matter of personal preference. I use Fender's 9 gauge 250Ls, but some other players may like Daddario or Ernie Ball, or other strings, and some players like 10 or 11 gauge instead of 9 gauge. It's up to you to decide what strings you prefer. As for the neck pickup, I've never seen a standard Tele from the 70s with a neck humbucker, only the Deluxe and Custom models. So, I don't think that pickup is original.
     
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  5. Mr Green Genes

    Mr Green Genes Tele-Afflicted

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    You'll see three Philips screws around each pickup. Just turn the screws.

    No, no, no. It messes up the way the strings go through the trees to the tuning pegs.


    - Check the frets by sighting down the neck, then check with a rocker.
    - Action at the nut
    - Relief (capo at the first fret, fret the 18th fret, and check the distance between the top of the eighth fret and the bottom of the string.
    - Action at the saddles
    - Intonation
    - Pickup height


    [edit: it's hard to tell from the photos, but it looks like someone leveled the frets but didn't crown them. If that's the case, it could throw off your intonation.]


    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
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  6. AceTrestle

    AceTrestle TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Thanks!

    I actually did grab a couple of snaps when I had it apart:

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  7. AceTrestle

    AceTrestle TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Much great info here, much appreciated...

    But tell me. The strings it has have a wound third (G) string. Is it safe to assume from that that they are mediums (11s)? I like them very much.

    With many electric guitars, I struggle not to accidentally bend everything out of tune. I've played EJ-17s for a long time on my acoustic.

    Cheers
     
  8. AceTrestle

    AceTrestle TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Lol, well, that's easy enough... thanks!

    Awesome, thank you... I will get myself a rocker.

    Check, seems excellent. Very light touch required to fret.

    Yep, I'm just over a business card there

    Roger that.

    Interesting idea, and I see what you mean... but I think this is a trick of the light. The frets are large, old-fashioned frets with a truncated pyramid shape. There's no evidence of machine work on them, just some grime around the edges.
     
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  9. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you plan on playing any kind of rock, blues, or country lead guitar, you'll find that lighter gauge strings are easier to bend, and most players use a plain 3rd string. You have to realize that electric guitar requires a lighter touch than acoustic. It's more likely that the strings you have are 11s or maybe even 12s, but not necessarily. Daddario makes a 10-46 set with a wound 3rd. 100190000000000-00-500x500.jpg And, unless it's been re-fretted, a 70s Fender would have skinny vintage frets, similar to those on a vintage Martin.
     
  10. Mr Green Genes

    Mr Green Genes Tele-Afflicted

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    Mm. Truncated pyramid is what you don't want.
    That's what happens when the frets are leveled (by sanding with a level beam or file across the tops of the frets until they're all the same level).

    On a non-truncated pyramid shape (should actually be rounded on the top), the point of contact for the string is the top of the pyramid.

    When the frets are leveled, the point of contact is moved forward slightly- the fretted string will be in contact with the edge of the fret closest to the bridge. It's effectively moving the fret a fraction of an inch closer to the bridge, which will make the note a little sharp.

    Crowning the leveled frets moves the point of contact back to the center line of the fret.

    You're looking for a rounded profile, not flat on top.


    .
     
  11. ScottJPatrick

    ScottJPatrick Friend of Leo's

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    Natural finish, black pickguard and serial seem to point towards 1976/77, neck stamps seem to say a bit earlier. The tele in my avatar was from the same era. If you can read it there is also a date code on the pots which should help.
     
  12. Mr Green Genes

    Mr Green Genes Tele-Afflicted

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    I agree with Doug. If you're pulling your strings sharp, it's an issue with technique, not string choice. Using higher tension strings is only masking the problem, not correcting it.

    In fact, I would almost suggest going in the opposite direction- go with some strings that are lighter than what you're used to, which will magnify the issue and force you to correct it by adjusting your playing technique.

    That way, when you ultimately switch back to a heavier string, you'll get much better results because your technique will be clean.

    Kind of like a baseball player who practices with a weighted ring on the end of the bat to make it heavier, so that when he takes the weight off, the bat feels much lighter, and he's able to react quicker at the plate, but with lighter strings, you're doing the reverse- developing a lighter touch, so you're not pulling the strings sharp.

    Keep in mind that every time you change the gauge or type of string, you'll want to do another setup. The nut slots, truss rod, and intonation will all be different depending on the strings.

    If you have an old "beater" guitar laying around, it might be better to string that one with the lighter strings and use it for practice and working on clean technique, then you can keep the heavier strings that you prefer on the tele.

    Just a thought.
     
  13. WingedWords

    WingedWords Friend of Leo's

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    Welcome - a very nice find.

    No-one's commented on the humbucker yet. I'm not an expert, so please shoot me down, but just to get the conversation started, I don't think that's a Fender humbucker. And I don't believe they used mounting rings for their humbuckers, but screwed them into the pickguard in the same way as recent single coil neck pickups. And the only mid 70s Tele with hb/single coil pickups I can find in my mid 70s catalogue is the Custom which had a long pickguard and twin vol and tone controls.

    Have you had the pickguard off? Does the neck pu rout look factory?

    Over to the experts.

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    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
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  14. ScottJPatrick

    ScottJPatrick Friend of Leo's

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    No, humbucker definely not original.
     
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  15. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    Welcome and congratulations. That Ash body is beautiful.
     
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  16. rsclosson

    rsclosson Tele-Afflicted

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    While it may not be a "collector's item" due to some non original parts, it looks like a beautiful guitar. If it sounds and plays as good as it looks, you have a real find! If you have a competent guitar tech in your area, I recommend a go over and setup to get it at its best.
     
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  17. John C

    John C Friend of Leo's

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    Congrats on a unique find! In that era it might not be that uncommon to find a late 1974 neck on a 1975-76 guitar. Unfortunately the body date is illegible (and possibly partly removed when the pocket was sanded down. The black pickguard could have been added with the neck humbucker was added - as mentioned by @WingedWords the only factory Tele in the 1970s with a neck humbucker/bridge single coil was the Telecaster Custom. It looks like the previous owner wanted it to look like an early 1950s model with the solid black pickguard but just used a late-70s black/white/black pickguard. But if the guitar is earlier than 1976 then it could have originally had a white/black/white pickguard that was changed when the humbucker was added.

    Keith Richards and Albert Collins were early adopters of adding a Gibson humbucker in the neck position of their Teles, but cosmetically it looks like the previous owner was emulating Keith. As for balancing the pickups - the humbucker is almost always going to be somewhat louder than the single coil. You would have to remove the pickups to see what models they are; if adjusting the heights doesn't help than you could always get a hotter bridge pickup.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
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  18. hawkman

    hawkman Tele-Meister

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    That's funny. I'm thinking "How did the factory wind the strings backward?" and "How did DougM notice this?!?" :)
     
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  19. Fenderdad1950

    Fenderdad1950 Tele-Afflicted

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    Congrats on the great find. Now the bad, the former owners removed the much sought after factory cunife wide-range humbucker pickup. Obviously the people didn't know the value of it. A new exact pickup is in the $300-$400 price range, beware of the newer wide range pickups that goes in Squire 70s deluxe Teles. They are definitely not the same, but do sound fair, if you want something that looks the part.
     
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  20. Telekarster

    Telekarster Tele-Afflicted

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    Nice find! And at that price, I'd have jumped on it too! Sounds like it's had some mods over the years, but what the hoo! I'd rock out on that baby all the same ;) LOL!!! Strings are strings... personal choice on that point. I use D'addario brand in 10's or 9s depending on what music I'm playing, just FYI.
     
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