rebuilt tele -- bridge installed off-center?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by jc77, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. jc77

    jc77 TDPRI Member

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    In January I picked up a tele from CL -- restored USA 88 (I think) body with a 2000's MIM Joe Strummer neck. I found a photo album on the FB of the luthier who did the work:

    https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheWiza...um&album_id=629181223895323&ref=page_internal

    I love this guitar and really want to make it work, but it has issues: intonation, tuning stability, audible fret buzz (or the high action you need to clear it).

    (I've had the nut replaced and frets leveled, and I've installed compensated saddles.)

    A few observations that, to me, suggest trouble:

    when you look at the bottom of the bridge, notice that the string-through holes are more visible on the low E side
    IMG_6714.JPG

    top view: different size crescent moons of the body visible through the string-through holes in the bridge
    IMG_6709.JPG
    traces of history
    from impressions in the paint, you can see where the string-through holes originally were
    part of the remarriage of 80s body and 60s repro neck I'd guess
    this picture is upside down, not sure how to flip -- so the old holes were closer to the neck.

    IMG_6710.JPG
    i had a hard time capturing this in a photo, but it's very visible in real life --
    if you look at the gap between the pickguard and the top of the bridge,
    the lines aren't parallel, they're converging, and closer on the low E side

    IMG_6716.JPG

    Where to go from here.

    I wouldn't be worried if these were abstract or aesthetic problems of asymmetry -- but I think that they may be a factor in what feels off about this guitar. I've sometimes said it sounds like the strings are out of tune with themselves -- like, the parabola is messed up, and the tuner can go wild trying to get a read on it.

    I was thinking the least invasive thing to do would be to install a top-loader bridge -- it would still be set at the wrong angle with respect to the neck, but the string wouldn't be trying to go in a second direction after the barrel. If the string-through holes in the body and the bridge aren't lined up, I think this would put some torque into the break angle, and (in my imagination at least) could cause the string to vibrate in unhappy ways.

    Here's a question -- I'm thinking about compensated saddles vs. round barrels. I can't quite picture all the geometry and physics involved. If the break angle is compromised, would it be better to have standard barrel saddles? Like, there would be a more forgiving range of points of contact, rather than a narrow edge?

    Perspectives, advice, hard lessons? Thank you.
     

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  2. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

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    When I built my #1 last year, what I found most difficult was getting the placement of the bridge in relation to the neck (or vice versa) exactly correct. The body I used had pickup routes, but no bridge screw holes to go by.....I really had to do it by measurements and "eye-balling" alignment. I used a top-load bridge, so string-through holes weren't a factor.
    I suspect that a "less than expert" person did your "jigsaw puzzle", and just didn't get everything placed quite right. You might need to take everything apart and "sort of" start all over......and put everything where it SHOULD be, and NOT where existing screw holes are.
    Good luck! ;)
     
  3. tubegeek

    tubegeek Tele-Afflicted

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    How well do the strings align with the neck: do they follow the edge of the fretboard equally on each E string?

    That's a way to verify whether the bridge was placed left to right correctly.

    The small angle difference would annoy me too BUT I'd say that the intonation adjustments may make it a non-issue.

    You'd have saddle slots that don't line up exactly parallel with the string pull but by how much? Not sure if it'd give you any problems.
     
  4. Gardo

    Gardo Tele-Holic

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    I did one a different way. I used the string through holes as my reference point. I pinned the bridge in place with drill bits pressed through the plate into the holes and screwed it down . Then clamped the neck in place and strung dental floss through the high and low E strings. Shifted the neck a bit to get equal spacing on each side then marked the location for holes on the neck and drilled it.
    You could try something like this, press in small wood dowels or toothpicks with glue to fill the existing holes.
    redneck repairs 101
     
  5. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Try this:

    Loosen the strings and loosen those four bridge mount screws. Turn the bridge assembly anti-clockwise until the through holes align and the top of the plate aligns with the pick guard. Retighten the screws BY HAND and then set the guitar up again.

    And report back to us, what result you get.

    When (someone) uses a powered driver, the bridge has a way of rotating clockwise. This had been a problem for FMIC assemblers, now and again.
     
  6. Gardo

    Gardo Tele-Holic

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    Good point
     
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  7. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    First, your saddles are out of position for correct intonation IF everything else....bridge radius in particular...is correct. How close are the pickups to the strings? If the magnets are too close, it is impossible to intonate a guitar, ime.

    As for the bridge placement and since it obviously is not in its original position, one would wonder why the bridge has been repositioned? if the body is actually a 1988 USA Tele, the bridge would have been placed where it should be and not needed to be moved. The bridge has been moved forward more than an 1/8” from its original position? Why????? I am suspicious that you have bought something other than what you thought you were buying.i also do not like the refin job.
    The orange peel indicates a refin that was not up to most standards, imho. If I had looked at this one as a potential buy, I would have quickly walked away....unless of course the price was way low AND I could have ascertained by a quick intonation check that the guitar could actually make music.
     
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  8. dazzaman

    dazzaman Tele-Afflicted

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    I am a bit confused why the old holes in the back are closer to the neck, and yet the holes in the top can be seen at the end of the bridge plate. Can I suggest you run a straight edge along the side of the bridge plate along the length of the neck on each side and see if the bridge is actually wrongly aligned in relation to the neck itself. It could be that the pickguard isn't parallel because some work had to be done on it to fit the changed control plate or something.
     
  9. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Looks like a metric body with an American spaced bridge.

    Try two things.

    1) Lower your pickups. This will reduce any warbling you might have due to the magnetic pull of the pickups being too close to the strings.

    2) Change your strings to a completely different brand than you're currently using. About 10 years ago DR Strings had made a whole bunch of product that just wouldn't tune or intonate properly. I couldn't believe it when a simple change in brands made all the difference.

    3) Do you have a fan running in the room where you play? I almost went crazy one day when my best guitar sounded out of tune and warbled horribly. It was the ceiling fan! Turned it off, problem solved.

    Other than that I don't see any real issues with your guitar that wouldn't be easily rectified with a proper set-up.
    Don't even begin to get critical of a small string misalignment like you have. It just doesn't make that big a difference. Concentrate more on playing.
     
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  10. That Cal Webway

    That Cal Webway Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Yep!!
     
  11. mefgames

    mefgames Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    If I understand the question correctly, I think the PG might be off. Look at the circled ares. By moving the PG up a tad, that gap becomes correct at all three places. As to the string thru holes, they are definitely not equally spaced. Other than re-drilling them, that might be something you have to live with, unless you do something like the second pic. Even then, making up for my original mistake, I didn't get it perfect.

    IMG_6716.jpeg IMG_5868.jpeg
     
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  12. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    The problem with trying to reposition the bridge in this manner is that the type of screws used..necessarily...will automatically place the bridge because the screw heads have angles that fit into angled recesses in the bridge plate. This means that the positioning of the holes in the body completely determine the orientation of the bridge.

    It may be that a pro could get this guitar set up. If so, then my only issue with the guitar is that it cannot be worth what a guitar with a true and unaltered 1988 USA Tele body should be worth.
     
  13. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I don't use the newfangled Fender stuff, but a 1988 would have been fitted with the modern six saddle three screw bridge which has both the screw holes and the string through holes in non vintage locations.

    So in order to fit a vintage bridge, all the old holes have to be plugged and drilled in different locations.
    Not quite perfectly though...

    Can anyone confirm or deny that the modern six saddle (not the vintage style hammer saddle) bridge has all holes in different places?

    What exactly is wrong other than the visual cues?
    How far from the 12th fret to the saddles?
    Stings stay on the fingerboard?
    Then stop worrying!

    Tuning stability isn't likely to be a body issue, and what are the "intonation problems"?
    I'm not sure moving the string through holes means the bridge is in the wrong place?
     
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  14. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Maybe so.

    I've been able to get bridges back into alignment by prioritizing the installation of some screws first, and then the rest of them are forced to deal with the position of the plate - but there's clearly a limit as to how far you can go that way. Even using toothpicks carefully placed to trick some screws into accepting a slightly new "assignment" as it were.

    It is possible, my approach will not be enough. We're looking at some funny business here, where one set of ferrule holes has been filled and a second set (offset to the first) replace them. This suggests to us, to be cautious. And this is so unnecessary. I don't think it hurts a guitar's function if the string travels a bit directionally, from ferrules to a new string through location on the front. I've re-done a number of Squier Standards this way, so they're Squier Standard on the back and AVRI on the front.

    I'm betting this body was a mess, the vendor rejected it and thought it would be OK to disguise his dirty work, and pass it off as "ready to assemble". Once the genie is out of the bottle, I'm nervous. That's why I was so fiercely protective of the reputation of Tommy Rosamond's USACG. Those guys staked their reputation on getting reference points perfect. And to me this could be the most valuable aspect of a replacement body or neck. If the reference points are compromised, throw the body or neck in the burn barrel.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2020
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  15. jc77

    jc77 TDPRI Member

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    What a haul -- thank you!!

    I tried the bridge thing -- I think it mostly went back where it was before.

    Since I was in a tinkering mood, I took the neck off and moved the shim -- it took 3 tries but I got a much better balance of playability and fret buzz. I was able to lower the action & reintonated. (Yes at this point the strings have had it.)

    Stamps in the neck pocket -- two dates, April 4, 1989 and another that was blurry, March something 1986 or 1988?

    The fan comment really gets something right -- yes, it can feel like that, like there's some sort of cancellation happening.
     
  16. mefgames

    mefgames Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Re-read the post and pics. I think I answered a question that hadn't been asked. After further inspection, I'm in agreement with Telemnemonics.
     
  17. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    a fan introduces a frequency changing element that precludes any instrument being able to produce pitch-accurate notes. A classically trained vocalist with perfect pitch could be singing and the fan would ruin everything. And...it would drive that person with perfect pitch mad trying to perform in such a situation.


    IF one were able to coerce the bridge to come to a different position, then those screws whose heads are designed to be recessed into the bridge would be forced toNOT fit into the recess and they would be protruding from those recesses.
    As for this body, it was sold as I understand it as a 1988 body. There are a lot of people selling a lot of things that are not what is advertised.....and the seller might not know this.
     
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  18. t-ray

    t-ray Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    My sense is that the fact that the bridge plate might be a bit out of perfect alignment is not something that needs to be corrected to address playability issues, as you have noted in your post #15. One of my Teles has the same issue - a Custom Shop, no less (that I bought at a great price, knowing it was a bit off). It plays like it should.
     
  19. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

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    Look closely at all Telecasters and you'll see most of them suffer from a slight misalignment of the front of the bridge plate and the pickguard.

    Check the setup (nut slots too), tweak as necessary, and play the thing.
     
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  20. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yep, don't think I've ever seen one where the bridge is dead centre with the PG.

    If you can get intonate it and the strings aren't hanging off the side, I'd play it. Teles aren't straight.
     
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