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return to guitar/new to telecaster/frankentele with issues

Discussion in 'Welcome Wagon' started by jc77, Jun 14, 2020.

  1. jc77

    jc77 TDPRI Member

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    Hey there crew,

    I joined the forum because I picked up kind of an oddball Telecaster with some unsolved problems & am hoping for some directions/strategies -- more about that below.

    I played a lot of guitar in junior high & high school (90's), but gave up serious study when I got to college & found that the real cats were on a whole other level of musicianship-- 25 years later I'm starting to practice jazz again and having a blast.

    My other guitars: 80s MIJ Squier strat -- magical guitar, frets nearly gone; 90s Epiphone Sorrento (Peerless), also pretty lucky, as a student instrument picked almost at random.

    I wanted a Tele as a solid body for jazz & bit for a craigslist find... the shell pink (pale, almost lavender) color put me over the edge. (Amps... 70s Champ & Princeton I've had forever -- recently picked up an 80s JC77 for solid-state tones, to tide me over until I can finally find my polytone...)

    The guitar is a luthier rebuild -- 80s (88?) USA body, restored (= un-relic'd) 2000's Joe Strummer MIM neck (rosewood, narrow frets, vintage tuners). It has 80s electronics I think (tbx tone pot, which I kind of like) but a vintage ashtray bridge.

    I'm playing D'Addario flatwounds -- the light ones (like whatever gauge comes with 10's -- but I've substituted an 11 for the E string)

    The big issues are action and intonation (& I'm planning to post more about this, but I'll put it in my Welcome Wagon).

    I had a luthier replace the nut (the distances on the old one were pretty random) and level the frets. I've replaced the barrels (weirdly grooved, like a bolt) with Gotoh compensated saddles.

    Action: has to be pretty high, or the D and (especially) G strings buzz. Not in an annoying unplugged way, but in an audible, sitar buzz through-the-amp, way (not at the nut -- in the 4th to 8th fret range). I've had it set up twice, once at Buckdancers (non-chain local shop) and once by a luthier, but both times I've had to frig with it myself.

    Intonation: if you get it just right at the 12th fret, the guitar plays sharp in the 1st-to-6th fret range.
    It would be fine for rock, but jazz voicings really bring out the intonation problems. I know that intonation problems go with the territory (music, guitar, telecasters) -- but I think I can do better.

    I feel like there are weird phantom overtones, too

    Next steps I'm thinking about (before going back for another set-up/diagnostic, but maybe I do need a third opinion)

    --switch to 6 saddles for better intonation (but again -- the biggest problem isn't string-to-string, but WITHIN the individual string) -- plus I feel like the contact point on the Gotoh's may be causing a little extra buzz at the bridge

    (I'm not trying to have a vintagey or period guitar, so losing the ashtray's not a thing for me)

    --switch to toploader bridge? Another Frankenstein fact about this guitar -- the string-through holes appear to have been redrilled (you can see dents where old ones were filled) -- maybe this was part of the project to replace the 80s bridge with an ashtray? My question is whether the greater distance the strings have to go introduces extra tension -- maybe the angle break of toploading would make it slinkier?

    Maybe the neck just has an unfixable warp...

    There's so many things that can go wrong with a guitar, & once you start mixing necks and bodies all bets are off. I get that now -- still, I want to make this guitar work. Maybe it's part vanity -- like, I want a guitar that looks just like this! But I also like Telecaster culture & history & philosophy... I've lurked on a few guitar boards, and really respect the tdpri crew. If I google (for example) amp questions, or even questions on other guitars, tdpri seems to deliver.

    Thanks so much for reading, if you made it this far -- & glad to be on board!!
     
  2. 68Telebass

    68Telebass Friend of Leo's

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    Welcome Aboard!
    Great post and questions- some very knowledgeable folks prowl and welcome new members, so you may get some serious answers to this post.

    I’m not one of those knowledgeable folks- just a punter with modest set-up and soldering skills...if anything is really whacked with my guitars/basses, I’ll take it into my (120 miles away) “local” independent music shop- I’m lucky, Arizona Music Pro is a great shop!

    I’m originally from Boston area, and still try to get over to Maine each or every other year! Some college buddies and I have been going up to Moosehead Lake since 1995! If our group site at Lily Bay is taken (have to call in early February) we have gone further Down East to Cobscook park near Calais/Lubec.
    Here is a shot of our group site on Moosehead- 3836A104-FE8C-44B1-A004-E0E90347E930.jpeg FAD2D99D-43D5-4B5C-9160-C7E605CDD6D9.jpeg
     
  3. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    welcome to the forum.

    nut too high, nut slots too small for big flatwounds? somehow I doubt that the guitar the frets were in the wrong spots? And what does a ruler and or caliper tell you about the location of the neck on the guitar?

    the guitar does intonate at the 12 fret with the harmonic right.

    It also sounds like you might have a couple of saddles which have some sort of issue?

    as far as wierd buzzes/harmonics go, it could be many different things with the guitar or the amps. I think @Buckocaster51 posted a great link about buzz hunting.

    Has anybody evaluated your neck and relief with a straight edge and told you the neck was warped or not? It's either is or isn't and can be seen after all. is the bridge in the wrong place?


    How are your other guitars btw?
     
    nojazzhere likes this.
  4. FrankJames

    FrankJames Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Welcome to TDPRI !!
     
  5. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Some good replies here. It could be a number of things. Welcome.
     
  6. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Welcome to the fold! First things first. We need guitar pics of the said guitar to validate your membership!
     
    Nelg and Toadtele like this.
  7. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Howdy!
     
  8. tery

    tery Doctor of Teleocity

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    Welcome to TDPRI :)
     
  9. Toadtele

    Toadtele Tele-Afflicted

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    Welcome. Show us pics!
     
  10. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

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    Welcome aboard.

    I second the motion: pics would be really helpful.

    How are the frets? Sometimes [badly surfaced] frets can produce some of the weird sitar-like tones and funky intonation problems on the high(er) strings if they're really bad.

    Check the height adjusting screws in the saddles. Sometimes, if there is a rough surface between the bottom of the screw on the bridge plate, it is possible to get some weird sounding buzzes/rattles like you describe. Just a loose fit of those screws can produce similar effects too. I would also reexamine the nut. It could very well be part of the problem too.
    And, check to make sure the bridge is screwed down nice and snug/flush on the body top.

    Jazz is cool:cool:
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  11. jc77

    jc77 TDPRI Member

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    Thank you all. Frets are good, I think -- just leveled. Bridge... I haven't checked yet. Nut -- just cut by luthier but could get 2nd opinion. 12th fret -- can intonate at 12th -- but I do find the guitar generally hard to tune (may be the feel of the vintagey tuners). Saddle screws... these are new (with gotoh replacement) but hmm there may be some roughness on the plate underneath, it's definitely had saddle screws dragged back and forth.

    PICS -- yes! I can do that. Forthcoming.
     
  12. jc77

    jc77 TDPRI Member

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    the whole guitar
    IMG_6696.JPG
    string-through holes -- you can see impressions in the paint where the previous ferrules were (old ones closer to the neck -- mod to accommodate switch from modern to vintage? or ????)

    IMG_6694 (1).JPG

    new bone nut cut by luthier. he also set it up with these strings, so i'm guessing he cut it for this gauge of flats

    IMG_6689.JPG

    headstock -- this and the neck were restored (un-relic'd) -- filled & laquered. i presume the decal is one of those $1.50 ebay jobs

    IMG_6688.JPG

    ashtray & compensated gotohs. not in love with these -- i think about switching to 6 saddles (not a purist) or top-loader (or 6 saddle top-loader, if that exists!)

    IMG_6693.JPG
     
    PhredE likes this.
  13. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

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    Disclaimer: there are a lot of folks here way more experienced in dealing with these issues than I, so please understand the relative humble comment I offer below..

    I've had to work through a very similar set of problems with a Tele copy before. Based on the looks of things in the pics (thanks, for those BTW..), if it were my guitar, I would check:

    * Nut [string slots] -- make sure the strings aren't binding in each respective slot. The fact that you are observing weird buzzing and tuning instability.. it might not hurt to smooth the sides of those slots a bit with some fine abrasive ('sandpaper' -- something like 800, 1000 gr) and see if that helps at all. They'll be less prone to binding in the string slots that way. It's a bit difficult to see based on the pics, but that high E and maybe the B strings appear to have fairly deep slots -- probably unnecessarily so.

    Also, sort of related to the nut -- the break angle (above the nut) of the E and B strings is fairly flat. Sometimes, this has been a problem for certain guitars. The travel of those strings through nut appears pretty flat (parallel to the fretboard). Ideally, each string should not 'ride' through the slot perfectly flat -- rather, each slot should be angled downward slightly (toward headstock).

    * I would keep checking saddles, adjustment screws, etc. to see if there is any weirdness there too. I can't really tell from the photos, and they *seem* to be ok at first glance. Things to check here are be sure the adjustment screws are flush/even where they sit on the bridgeplate and also be sure the surface of the grooves in the saddles are smooth with no burrs nor roughness. Sometimes, loose fitting screws in the saddles can be a problem.

    *Oh, and re: frets -- you say they were 'leveled' -- crowned and polished too? Frets having flat tops (non-curved; not properly crowned) can produce sounds like you describe when fretted on the unwound strings especially. Are those the conditions where you noticed the weirdness most (fretted on unwound strings)?
    (I know this based on experience :( )

    Jazz and flatwounds! :)

    Wait for the more experienced folks to chime in here too..
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  14. jc77

    jc77 TDPRI Member

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    68Telebass -- I haven't done nearly enough camping in Maine, but I HAVE been to Cobscook Bay, couple summers ago -- wow -- amazing private waterfront sites (at a state park??) -- 1st time I had been Down East since I was a kid. Sounds like you & your buddies are doing it right!

    I found a great thread about neck shims that has me wondering about angle -- one thing I've noticed is if you view the joint from the front, where you can see that sliver of the truss rod, the neck is not even neck to right. (That may be a problem, but it's not a big problem -- probably from my own truss/shim experiments, post-setups.)

    Also -- I've noticed some wonkiness between the angle of the pickguard, the bridge, and the string-through holes. (Switching to a top-loader would address one of these mismatches at least.)
     
  15. jc77

    jc77 TDPRI Member

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    I put on DR Pure Blues (nickle) 10's -- this is a different guitar. It's musically, mechanically sound -- the strings were the thing. Not my tone though, so there's still work to do.
     
    teletimetx likes this.
  16. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

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    Welcome! Congrats on the Tele!
     
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