NGD: My First Tele– a little help, please…

drewg

Tele-Afflicted
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Feb 8, 2020
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West of the mountains...
Bought my first official ticket to TDPRI, a 2017 MIM Classic Series White Blonde Lacquer. (Somehow I snuck in before without a tele.)

I was looking for a fairly light weight, ash tele, and the semi transparent lacquer appeals to me because I’m primarily an acoustic player who loves nice wood grain and the feel of a nitro finish.

This one checks all the boxes at 7 lbs 2 ounces.

It arrived yesterday evening and felt good in my hands right away. Nice weight, the finish, and the neck felt slicker than I thought. (I read some here don’t like the tinted neck, but this one looks less orange than the pics appear, and I’m fine with it.)

First impressions all positive. 😀

However, I have run into a couple issues I hope you can help me out with:

– First off, holding it at a certain angle towards the light, I could suddenly see a bunch of scratch marks along the base of the lower bout and outside the control plate (see pics, hard to photograph). These are not pick marks– I was expecting a few of those and they wouldn’t bother me. These look like string-change scars, or buffing scars? These were not evident in the seller’s photos and he didn’t mention them in the description on reverb.

I should say I had a very positive impression of the seller who quickly answered my questions about the neck (dirt and sweat but no pits in the finger board) and disclosed a small paint chip near the input jack. During our correspondence, he came back $50 lower than my $100 less offer, so all told $150 less than the asking price. With shipping I got it for $1000. Not cheap but seems to be the going rate for these models. (I normally wouldn’t mention the price, but it seems pertinent to the discussion.) So again, I sense good will from the seller.

I do expect little scars and imperfections on a used guitar but I must say, though it’s lacquer, these bug me a bit. (I don’t suppose these can be polished out, can they?)

– Also , I realize I know less about electric guitars than I thought as I can’t even tune this thing! As I said, I’m an acoustic player not used to such thin strings. I think the high e, b and g strings might be a whole octave low, but I’m afraid to tighten them because I don’t want to break them and wonder if it’s an intonation issue (see below). So I haven’t been able to strum a proper chord yet!

Questions:
–Are the strings wound around the poles correctly? Should the strings come off the inside of the poles, like an acoustic?

–The strings around the 3-barrel saddles look wonky, don’t they? I need to get a small screwdriver to adjust them.

– Also, the string holes of the bridge don’t seem to match up perfectly with the holes drilled in the body (see photos). Doesn’t look too bad, but should I be concerned?

– Oh yeah, the pick guard is puffing out but not too worried about that.

I still love the look and feel of this guitar, but am a little concerned.

Any thoughts, impressions or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
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Last edited:

skradlee

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tempe
The strings are wound in the wrong direction. The coil of the string on the post should run along the treble side of the tuner, not the bass side. That appears to be the issue with the string alignment as well. The marks don't look like string changes to me, but they are quite noticeable. Can't speak on whether buffing them out is possible, but that would likely be your best bet.
 

TunedupFlat

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Those almost look like marks from it being pulled out against a zipper from a gig bag repeatedly.

A proper setup with new strings put on properly should dial in anything that is wonky with the rest of the guitar.

Those saddles are all out of wack. Height adjustment is pretty extreme from one side to the other forcing the strings to ride over places they are not meant to. They should be alot closer to level. Whether a board has a 7.25 or a 9.5 or 12, there is no need to have such extreme height differences on the same saddle.
 

Benny Mack

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Hey, congrats on the new tele! My first Fender tele was also a Classic 50s Lacquer in blonde, 2015 model, and I absolutely love it! Switched my pickguard to black and have changed pickups a couple times, but it's always been a joy to play. I love the neck profile and it was my first 7 1/4 radius board, which I didn't know would feel so great until I tried it. I hope after a proper setup you enjoy this new guitar -- it's a cool vintage-style entry into the tele world.

I think a proper setup is what you need and will fix basically all the small issues you've identified. They're all quick and easy fixes but there's a few. There's lots of helpful YouTube videos and tutorials out there about setting up a tele, but especially if you're new to electric guitars, and to the particular quirks of the tele itself (3-saddle bridge, especially), it might be helpful to invest a few bucks and have a pro set the whole thing up properly so you can start at a good baseline, and then learn to tinker with the setup yourself afterwards. As others have said above the strings are wound incorrectly and the saddles need adjusting. Can't see how the action looks but a tech can also have a look at the neck relief, pickup heights, and condition of the frets.

As for the scratches, it's hard to tell from the pictures but it wouldn't hurt to give it a try buffing them out. I bought my Classic 50s Lacquer used and it had some scratches in it, along with a couple nitro burns, and I was able to buff these out pretty quickly with some Meguiar's. If they're really deep you might have to live with them, but they'll blend in with your own ones eventually. On that note, be cautious about leaving the guitar hanging or resting on plastic stands or hooks, or leaving a clip-on tuner on, as the contact will eventually burn/stain the lacquer finish on these.

Enjoy!
 

Old Verle Miller

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Apr 7, 2022
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348
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It would be well worth finding a local shop to start developing a relationship for setups until you have the experience and tools to do it yourself. What you now have is a guitar someone not-unlike yourself has experimented with.

My suggestion, take the strings off and take it in for a new set and setup. It may take a few days for them to get it dialed in depending on the weather but it will be worth it, but the current torque on it isn't doing it any favors.
 

drewg

Tele-Afflicted
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Feb 8, 2020
Posts
1,090
Location
West of the mountains...
The strings are wound in the wrong direction. The coil of the string on the post should run along the treble side of the tuner, not the bass side. That appears to be the issue with the string alignment as well. The marks don't look like string changes to me, but they are quite noticeable. Can't speak on whether buffing them out is possible, but that would likely be your best bet.

I did suspect the string was wound opposite, but was surprised because each wind stacks so neatly on the other. Those marks are quite noticeable, especially when the light hits it from an angle.
 

drewg

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Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Posts
1,090
Location
West of the mountains...
Those almost look like marks from it being pulled out against a zipper from a gig bag repeatedly.

A proper setup with new strings put on properly should dial in anything that is wonky with the rest of the guitar.

Those saddles are all out of wack. Height adjustment is pretty extreme from one side to the other forcing the strings to ride over places they are not meant to. They should be alot closer to level. Whether a board has a 7.25 or a 9.5 or 12, there is no need to have such extreme height differences on the same saddle.

The marks are weird. It does make sense it could have been pulled in and out of a gig bag, though this one came stock with a case and was still in it when I bought it. This supposedly has a 7.25 radius. Thanks for confirming it is out of wack. A good set up seems to be the common suggestion!
 

drewg

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Posts
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West of the mountains...
You scored a very nice model. I have the poly version and it is my favorite Tele. I would suggest a professional setup so you get an idea what a nice guitar this is. Then learn to do setups yourself over time.

Thanks! I would have been very happy with the poly version, actually. It's probably less fussy than the lacquer! Is the poly version semi-transparent, too?
 

Killing Floor

Poster Extraordinaire
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Strings installed wrong direction. It’s ok, fix it when you replace them. The scratches might buff out with Meguires or something. It’s hard to tell exactly in the pic.

Cool Tele. And if you find the neck too sticky for your liking a couple swipes of very fine steel wool will fix it. Some people like that finish and some don’t. There’s no best. Just preference.
Enjoy it. Don’t be afraid to try to adjust bridge, string height, intonation. You can’t break anything.
 

Wallaby

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Feb 19, 2018
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That's a nice looking Tele, congratulations!

I bet it will straighten out nicely with a little attention, new strings and a setup.
 

drewg

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Posts
1,090
Location
West of the mountains...
Hey, congrats on the new tele! My first Fender tele was also a Classic 50s Lacquer in blonde, 2015 model, and I absolutely love it! Switched my pickguard to black and have changed pickups a couple times, but it's always been a joy to play. I love the neck profile and it was my first 7 1/4 radius board, which I didn't know would feel so great until I tried it. I hope after a proper setup you enjoy this new guitar -- it's a cool vintage-style entry into the tele world.
Thanks! :D It's nice to hear positive opinions about this model! I gotta say I was a little nervous about the 7/14 radius since I've been playing a 12 on my acoustic for years, but the neck and radius seemed very comfortable. I was pleasantly surprised.

I think a proper setup is what you need and will fix basically all the small issues you've identified. They're all quick and easy fixes but there's a few. There's lots of helpful YouTube videos and tutorials out there about setting up a tele, but especially if you're new to electric guitars, and to the particular quirks of the tele itself (3-saddle bridge, especially), it might be helpful to invest a few bucks and have a pro set the whole thing up properly so you can start at a good baseline, and then learn to tinker with the setup yourself afterwards. As others have said above the strings are wound incorrectly and the saddles need adjusting. Can't see how the action looks but a tech can also have a look at the neck relief, pickup heights, and condition of the frets.
I'm pretty handy with wood and tools, but I'm going to take everyone's advice and get a good set-up first. And I don't have the right tools yet, anyway. I have looked at a few videos before. I have to tinker with it myself, though, before I get it. But yeah, it seems like this one is so out of wack it would be good to have it set up someone good, to start off with.

As for the scratches, it's hard to tell from the pictures but it wouldn't hurt to give it a try buffing them out. I bought my Classic 50s Lacquer used and it had some scratches in it, along with a couple nitro burns, and I was able to buff these out pretty quickly with some Meguiar's. If they're really deep you might have to live with them, but they'll blend in with your own ones eventually. On that note, be cautious about leaving the guitar hanging or resting on plastic stands or hooks, or leaving a clip-on tuner on, as the contact will eventually burn/stain the lacquer finish on these.
Which Meguiar's product do you use? I've never heard the term 'nitro burn' but I noticed a slight discoloration where the right arm would rest. I don't have to have a mirror perfect shine all the time, but I would like to get those scratches mostly off, if possible.

Will do!
 

drewg

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Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Posts
1,090
Location
West of the mountains...
It would be well worth finding a local shop to start developing a relationship for setups until you have the experience and tools to do it yourself. What you now have is a guitar someone not-unlike yourself has experimented with.

My suggestion, take the strings off and take it in for a new set and setup. It may take a few days for them to get it dialed in depending on the weather but it will be worth it, but the current torque on it isn't doing it any favors.

Anyone know a good set-up guy in the Eugene/ Springfield area, Oregon?

I've got an excellent acoustic luthier who has a guitar guy help him out, some. They did say they do electric set-ups, but they're always so busy and I get the feeling electrics aren't their specialty.
 

drewg

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Posts
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Location
West of the mountains...
That's a nice looking Tele, congratulations!

I bet it will straighten out nicely with a little attention, new strings and a setup.

Thank you very much! :) It doesn't seem like there aren't any major red flags beyond what a good set-up would cure. (The action looked pretty good to me.)
 

drewg

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Posts
1,090
Location
West of the mountains...
Hey, congrats on the new tele! My first Fender tele was also a Classic 50s Lacquer in blonde, 2015 model, and I absolutely love it! Switched my pickguard to black and have changed pickups a couple times, but it's always been a joy to play.

I was going to ask what kind of pickups you wound up with? I'll probably play it with these for awhile, but curious to hear your perspective...
 

drewg

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Posts
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Location
West of the mountains...
Thank you all, for your replies! I'm feeling better and better about the purchase.

A couple unsolved mysteries:

– I know I could just swap out the pick-guard. I was thinking about just heating it a little, maybe with an iron. Would that work to flatten it? If the 1-ply is just naturally puffed out like that, I might look for a 3-ply.


– And...
 




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