Roadworn - heavy ash, sounds thin

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by gavquinn, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. gavquinn

    gavquinn TDPRI Member

    Nov 5, 2008
    Hi Guys,

    I’ve got my roadworn tele, it’s heavy, 8.5lbs to be exact. It’s ash, but it sounds thin.

    I know that’s subjective, but to be clearer; it’s lacking in bottom end (bass frequencies) and it’s quite sharp on the top end.

    I’ve added brass saddles, changed all the wiring, changed to hotter pickups, but I think it’s the woods and the guitar itself. It sounds quite dry, even unplugged.

    Any suggestions for warmer, fatter, fuller sounding pickups to help slightly plump up the tone? I’m thinking a Strat pickup in the neck could do well.
  2. Wayne Alexander

    Wayne Alexander Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Mar 16, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
    In my own experience, I've found that I can't change the fundamental voice of the body/neck combination of a guitar(how bright/dark, degree of resonance, sustain, etc) with pickups. If you don't like what the guitar sounds like, I suggest selling it.
  3. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jun 2, 2003
    I agree 100% with Wayne ^. I've tried to change a guitar with pickups before. You can get maybe 5% change in what it is. Heavy ash is not likely swamp ash, and more like oak which is a bright wood.
    dan1952 likes this.
  4. Telecentric

    Telecentric Tele-Holic

    Nov 23, 2016
    Boulder Creek, Ca
    I have found that pickup height can be one of the most dynamic adjustments you can make in this regard. If you have optimized the heights already, then it might not be the guitar for you.
  5. Treadplatedual

    Treadplatedual Tele-Holic

    Oct 17, 2018
    Indianapolis, IN
    Have you tried different nut material? Worth a shot before you sell it.
  6. Mad Kiwi

    Mad Kiwi Friend of Leo's

    Nov 17, 2009
    Land of the Long White Cloud
    Or buy in a new neck (Stratosphere etc) and then onsell yours....might break even ish and resolve the problem.....

    Might not too! :)
  7. SlappyDuck

    SlappyDuck Tele-Meister

    May 13, 2015
    Following on from Telecentric's post above ... my Roadworn is around 1lb lighter than yours, but I'm a lot happier with the sound since I lowered the pickups a lot. I don't know what the height measurement is now (I can check later if you want to know), but the neck pickup is pretty much at its lowest possible setting on the bass side, and a bit higher on the treble strings side. I use relatively heavy strings (11s) by the way.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
  8. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

    May 28, 2008
    maybe check the pots and electronics first?
    maybe you have + 500Kohm volumepot and try a 250Kohm?
    do the pickups have the correct Kohm reading?
    pickup heights are mention t before
  9. Caaspizza

    Caaspizza TDPRI Member

    Jul 29, 2019
    What kind of strings do you use?
  10. Modman68

    Modman68 Tele-Holic

    Mar 27, 2011
    La mesa
    Some things to try:
    Bring pickups closer to strings.

    Use strings with more nickel as opposed to steel.

    Check your pot values and lower them.

    Eq pedal.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  11. tessting1two

    tessting1two Tele-Holic

    Apr 13, 2014
    Southern California
    First a disclaimer: sometimes the problem is the wood itself and you wind up with a neck and/or body that doesn't behave as it should. Rock & Roll history is filled with stories about famous artists dealing with this by taking the neck from guitar x and putting it on the body of guitar y with the pickups from guitar z before the guitar sounded "right." So by all means troubleshoot what you can but remember that the guitar is first and foremost an acoustic instrument and if the wood won't cooperate everything downstream suffers. But before we toss it into the wood chipper there are some things you can check...

    Since it sounds thin/dry acoustically then you first want to look at the "chassis" and see if anything is working against you in terms of the transfer of string energy.

    First, the truss rod. Generally speaking, if the truss rod is in a relaxed state while tuned to pitch, the neck resonates differently than when the truss rod is under load and the general consensus is that slack rods make necks less resonant. It's pretty rare to find a neck with this condition but it does happen and outside of using heavier strings, solutions are complicated. This state also applies to having a neck with too much relief. So before you check anything else, make sure the relief on your guitar is between .006" and .012". That's a really big range but if your frets/fingerboard aren't super-level sometimes you need more relief than what's ideal (for me, I find .006" is the right number for guitars with properly straight necks and level frets).

    Second, the nut. If you see glue on the bottom it means the nut is not pressed firmly and squarely against the bottom of the nut slot (it also means way too much glue was used). Also, the Roadworn series (at least the ones I have worked on) have plastic nuts and while this is not a cause of major tone loss, it certainly doesn't help anything. If you're keeping the stock nut for the time being, at least check the slot depths and get them down where they should be. Factory nut slots are always too high.

    Third, the neck attachment. Remove each neck screw one at a time and see if the screw slides in and out of the body or if it threads into the body. If it threads you need to drill out those holes slightly so there's just enough clearance for the screws to slide through. Otherwise the screws can't pull the neck into the body and in some cases even act like jack screws. I see this condition on many MIM guitars.

    Fourth, the bridge plate. Fender's tele bridge plates are prone to two interesting problems. First, it's easy to over-tighten the mounting screws which causes the back of the bridge to sink down into the body and the front of the bridge raises up off the body. Second, Fender's bridge plates aren't always flat on the bottom. It's just a consequence of the bending process and the resulting stresses in the relatively thin metal. Needless to say in a perfect world you would want a flat bridge plate mounting to a flat body with maximum contact. In fact, some aftermarket bridges (like Callaham) have solved both of these problems by a) using thicker steel and b) having additional mounting holes at the front of the bridge plate. The thicker steel also yields a fatter tone.

    Fifth, the saddles. I know you said you installed new brass saddles but there's on more thing you can check for: relative saddle height. If the saddles sit relatively low/close to the plate the guitar will play better (i.e. feel more slinky), but if the saddles are higher up two things happen: first, the guitar will feel a little stiffer but second, the strings will exert more downward pressure on the saddles and that means better energy transfer between the string and the saddle and the bridge plate. You can experiment with this by shimming the neck so you have to raise the saddles.

    Once you establish you have a neck with proper relief and decent tension on the truss rod, a properly seated and slotted nut, a properly attached neck, and a properly attached, flat bridge plate with properly set saddles, that pretty much covers all you can do with the acoustic "chassis."
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
    Daytona.57 likes this.
  12. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Jun 30, 2003
    I’d go the opposite way and lower the pickups. Lack of bass and too much attack sounds like they’re too high, and if the pickups are really high the magnets can even dampen the strings. You will experience that unplugged, too.

    The other factor is string gauge and action. 9s with low action can be a bit plinky. Brass saddles can actually be a bit plinkier, I find.
  13. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

    May 8, 2008
    Knoxville TN for now
    There is no mention of an amp by the OP ... ??? Most guitars sound thin with little or no amplification ...
  14. Iago

    Iago Friend of Leo's

    Sep 18, 2006
    You probably need a good setup and maybe, readjusting amp settings. A Strat neck pickup is usually even thinner sounding and more scooped than a Tele one.

    What guitar(s) you were playing before this one? What are you amps?
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