NMGD (Newly Modded Guitar Day), aka I bought a router

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by TokyoPortrait, Aug 5, 2021.

  1. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Friend of Leo's

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    Hi.

    I might do this in three parts. Cos I tend to go on.

    Here’s the short version, with photos. Because photos are, like, a rule. They go in the order things were done.

    Long version of thought process / justification to follow, for anyone interested. Then, maybe something on the tonal results.

    Anyway, someone, forget who, posted their new (used) custom shop La Cabronita Especial in black. I was quite taken by it, and then recently I stumbled across a video Rhett Shull did back in February on the ‘Filtertron sound.’ All of this moved me from thinking into action.

    So, I bought a router and stuck a TV Jones Classic neck pickup into my first Tele. And changed a few other things.

    So, from a ’62 styled MIJ Tele to faux La Cabronita.

    Happy.

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    Pax/
    Dean
    p.s. found the inspiring thread

    NGD 2009 La Cabronita Especial | Telecaster Guitar Forum

    p.p.s. here’s Rhett’s video

     
  2. Willie Johnson

    Willie Johnson Tele-Afflicted

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    Hot stuff. I've wondered about putting a Tele bridge and pickup on my Squier Cabronita for kicks, but I really like the fidelitron bridge pickup I already have in there.
     
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  3. Zoso420

    Zoso420 Tele-Meister

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    Sweet
     
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  4. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Friend of Leo's

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    That is gonna rock.
     
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  5. tele_savales

    tele_savales Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

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    Nicely done.
     
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  6. peteycaster

    peteycaster Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    That works. Good work with the router.
     
  7. Fendereedo

    Fendereedo Poster Extraordinaire

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    What's not to like? Sweet as a nut. Enjoy, looks mean as the hobs of hades.
     
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  8. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Ah!..:D... the thrill and apprehension of putting a new router bit through a perfectly good guitar finish for the first time..

    Oh yeah..:twisted:



    you, brave sir, are a modder...:cool:
     
  9. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Terrible idea!;):lol::)
     
  10. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    well done
    :cool:
     
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  11. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Friend of Leo's

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    Hi again.

    So, the backstory / justification part (I’ll try to be brief).

    My first Tele, a ‘62 styled 2017 MIJ with US made ‘American Vintage ‘62 pickups’ is / was great. Sounded really good. The neck pickup in particular (that will become ironic later).

    But, the Modern Slim C neck is a bit thin for me, and I was jonesing for a nitro finished guitar. So, about eight months ago I scored a used MIJ 50s / Blackguard styled Tele with a nitro finish and a somewhat chunky soft V neck. All of that is super to my liking.

    Opposite the 60s styled one with US pickups, the 50s styled one’s electrical ‘merit point’ is US pots, switch, etc. The pickups though were made in Japan alnicos. The bridge was fine, but the neck was too lacking in clarity. So, I swapped in a Bootstrap Extra Crispy set. Zounds! Really great now. Warmer, earthier and more of what I call a ‘rawk’ tone than the 60s style Tele, which leaned towards a thinner, slicker and more refined twang. The Extra Crispy neck in particular is a lot better than the one it replaced - warmer and with much more definition and clarity than the original.

    But (and it’s a big but), the two Teles, while being different era styled guitars, with different era styled pickups, were also really similar in some kind of essential, fundamental way. While I could clearly hear a difference, they were both most definitely ’Tele.’*

    And that was a problem, as the slightly different, warmer ’rawk’ tone and the lovely neck always led me to the 50s styled one. The 60s styled one sat languishing these last eight months.

    What to do? How to fix this? I got it really cheap, and thought I could sell it and get at least my money back, if not more. Modding it was another option, but that seemed foolish, as it was so perfect as a sonic unit. And complete and virtually pristine as a ‘thing.’

    So…, I bought a router and gutted the neck cavity and added a TV Classic neck pickup from TV Jones.

    This is kinda ironic, as the old Vintage ’62 neck pickup sounded really, really good.

    Anyway, I did this (rather than selling it) mainly due to the fact I wanted an adventure, and had been inspired by the aforementioned thread here and Shull’s video.

    And also, I had noticed the TV Jones Classic on sale on Amazon Japan, going for approx US$70 cheaper than anywhere else. So, it seemed both fortuitous and like a cosmic sign (yeah, I don’t really think like that).

    Happy about that, I snagged the pickup while still on sale and bought some other bits and bobs (including the router / trimmer & some bits) and went ahead.

    Pax/
    Dean
    * ignoring the fact here I had swapped in a new control plate, complete with pots & switch plus a mini toggle for series / parallel (but I kept the original plate and controls complete) - so it did have that extra sonic option, plus the ability to be restored to stock original
     
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  12. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Tele-Holic

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    I approve!
     
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  13. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Friend of Leo's

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    Hi (yet) again.

    So, the sonic and cosmetic details.

    I also stuck in 500K pots (with the tone being a no-load), and used 50s type wiring (no treble bleeds or anything), and I used a 0.022μf cap for the tone control and put a 470K resistor in between where the bridge pickup hot connects to the switch and ground, to fake approx 250K for it on the volume pot.

    Sonically, it’s still a work in progress. Need to fiddle with the cap and resistor (& possibly pot) values to arrive at somewhere more balanced and to my liking. Maybe.

    The tone pot’s sweep is too much ‘nothing, nothing, everything’ at the moment, and the no-load seems to have no effect. No sonic effect that is - I ran a meter across it and it’s functioning correctly.

    So, maybe I’ll change these things. Maybe not. The TV Jones can sound slightly boomy and the ‘Vintage ‘62 in the bridge, by contrast, a little thin / trebly - not harsh, but rather sharp. But, that’s just playing alone at home. Messing about with both my looper pedal and in my silly wee home recordings, it seems more that ‘in the mix’ the bridge sits about right. So, still figuring that one out. Maybe just amp tweaks / height adjustments will suffice. I’ll get there.

    Oh, and cosmetically, I used a three-way toggle switch with a faux vintage coloured tip. Turns out a toggle switch feels great to use. I really like the ergonomic result. I just drilled a hole in the control plate’s slot for the old switch. No doubt some will find that horrendously rough. But, I like horrendously rough, where appropriate.

    And then, to (mis)match, I added some Gotoh ‘Relic Aged’ 50s type knobs (mmh, relic...;)). The original ones just looked too ‘shinny chrome.’ And, I like domed ones much more, visually. There’s no need to be period correct any more on this guitar.

    Later, I added a ‘vintage’ coloured aftermarket La Cabronita pick guard I also got on Amazon, cutting it with the router to fit with the Tele control plate. Ironically, the trickier round / end routing went fine, but it moved under the clamps during the easier straight line part. So, that’s messy at the moment too (I stuck a bit of manila envelope under the gap, hoping to camouflage it, but it just looked like bare wood, so I then stuck some card stock under it. Slightly better). I cared for about ten seconds. I suspect I might re-care at some point and try that again.

    Then, some Dia de (los) Muertos stickers for thematic continuity, and a wee koi sticker too, just cos.

    Finally, I filled in that middle wiring rout with some dark, textured wood. So I could add that last screw for the pick guard, more than anything. Off course, it lines right up with the edge of the rout, so the thread didn’t take. I thought the wood would look cool, but in real life it kinda looks a bit like some rubber. Oh well.

    And, when I say finally, I mean to date. If I can find some, I might fill the other pick guard screw holes with abalone side dot fret markers or something (at the moment I just coloured in the lighter wood showing in the holes with a pencil*).

    So, faux La Cabronita. I’m digging it.

    Pax/
    Dean
    * I chipped a bit of the poly off when installing the pickup, when I used a screwdriver tip as a wedge to hold the pickup in position while screwing it in. It just seemed to chip off easily. There was no real pressure involved. I coloured the bare wood in there too with pencil, plus any bare wood showing in the various cavities. You can see this in some of the photos.
     
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  14. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Friend of Leo's

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    Doh - how does the new pickup actually sound?

    Well, it sounds quite different. It’s way fatter and warmer and deeper than a Tele neck pickup, overall, yet curiously similar. Recorded, I notice, it can sound pretty close to my Bootstrap Extra Crispy bridge pickup on my other Tele. I have no previous experience with Filtertron style pickups, but I get now, to some degree, how they differ from a more conventional PAF style humbucker (such as those on my LP).

    I’m never confident describing tones or talking about the various frequency ranges, but there’s definitely a top end / treble sizzle and sparkle. It can be quite chimey, which I love. And, the bass notes are quite deep and round. The upper(?) mids too seem fuller or more ‘there,’ and can also get quite growly.

    There’s a kind of twangyness too though. But more on the top / thin strings. In fact, it’s almost like two separate half pickups, one for the treble strings, giving a bright, semi-twangy and quite chimey brightness that can also have a nice sizzle, and the other giving a deep, rounded, woody, lower string thump. And there’s that sort of growl in the area in the middle where they meet. Very interesting.

    I’m not a high gain guy at all, but clean through to moderate distortion, it responds really well. Seems to like being paired with my Keeley Super Phat Mod pedal, where the nature of the pickup seems to suit both the regular and phat switching options. Good with the overdrive side of my KoT too - sounds better to me here than any of my other Tele pickups. I’ve been listening to a lot of Junior Kimbrough lately & the TV Classic is good at that grizzly, driven, rough bluesy tone, with either the KOT overdrive or the Keeley SPM. It’s just occurred to me, I haven’t tried it with the KoT’s distortion setting (mine has it switchable via the optional mini toggle add on).

    It also cleans up well with my germanium vintage style Fuzz Face clone, like my single coils do. Surprised and pleased about that too.

    It seems to record well too. Comes across a little single coil like to my ears, but not thin. I'm not saying it sounds like a single coil, exactly, just it has shades of that. It has a girth to it. You do have to be careful though, or it can get lost in the soundscape, especially the A & E strings.

    What else - oh yeah, with the 50s wiring I’m getting a fairly noticeable note bloom. More than on my LP with 50s wiring. In fact, the first time I played it, I looked at by board, cos I thought I’d left my tremolo on at its usual very low, subtle always on setting. Nope.

    On the other hand / conversely, depending on settings, one surprising thing is the quite strident attack it can have. That’s taking some getting used to.

    But overall and to date, I’m pretty content. The original intent was to arrive at something noticeably sonically distinct from my other Tele, and that's definitely been achieved. Oh, and I wanted it to look cool. I think that's worked out too.

    Here’s a couple more photos, cos, why not?


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    Pax/
    Dean
     
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  15. jmontgomery

    jmontgomery Tele-Meister

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    Great job on the install. I’ll bet it sounds as good as it looks.
     
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  16. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Friend of Leo's

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    Hi.

    Thanks. Yeah, I really like the new pickup.

    It’s completely worked out re the goal of finding something to make it sonically distinct from my other Tele.

    But more importantly I guess, it just sounds great, in of itself. Maybe it’s because this sound is new for me, I dunno, but it’s been heaps of fun so far.

    Through my Vox AC4HW1 and THR10 at home it’s great, and surprisingly interesting. So, I can’t wait to head out and run it through some bigger amps. Hoping to take it to a practice space with a Twin, AC30, Jazz Chorus 120 and a JCM800 next week, if things work out. Mmm, volume…:)

    Pax/
    Dean
     
  17. Willie Johnson

    Willie Johnson Tele-Afflicted

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    How did you get the Cab pick guard to fit in with the control plate? Did you cut it, or find one with that cutout somewhere?
     
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  18. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Friend of Leo's

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    Hi.

    I used my router on it.

    I took the chance it would line up and ordered one for two pickup Cabronita, as I figured if the neck pickup notch lined up, that would be one less problem. I was willing to return it and order a one pickup version to cut out if it didn’t. Luckily, it lined up.

    I just lined the guard up under the control plate and traced it out.

    Unfortunately, the guard moved when I was near the end on the last straight line, so the bottom left, where it lies under the control plate, was messed up. You can see it in a few of the photos.

    I could / should have taken more time and care setting the guides up, as the edges aren’t perfectly straight. The router cut the plastic very cleanly, it’s just one of those things where the eye immediately sees even fractions of a mm variations.

    But, once it is on, you don’t really notice / can’t really see. Apart from that one wonky derailing.

    Actually, here you can see it in all it’s less than perfect glory.


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    Pax/
    Dean
     
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  19. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Ad Free Member

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    came out good!

    I'd prolly tell myself I'm gonna re-do the PG later but I never would
     
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  20. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Friend of Leo's

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    Hi.

    Thanks.

    And, yep.

    Pax/
    Dean
     
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