Seven Pick-up Esquire

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by Gary in NJ, Feb 18, 2020.

  1. Gary in NJ

    Gary in NJ Tele-Meister

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    I figured the title would get your attention...even make some mad. But I did in a way build an Esquire with 7 pick-ups. What I built is an Esquire with the traditional bridge pickup, and I also included GraphTech Ghost Saddles, each having a piezo transducer. That's seven pickups, and many unique sounds and tone. I came up with a great way to hide the wires from the transducer saddles and installing the electronics, so I figured I'd share my build. This will be a few posts since I have to attach each photo separately.

    The reason for the build…

    I’ve owned a MIM tele for the last 20 years. I put a Seymour-Duncan Jerry Donahue bridge pickup in that guitar as well as a 4-way switch and that guitar just sounded great. But I only used it at one gig. The reason; that guitar weighed 8.6 pounds. I never thought about the weight when I purchased the guitar, but after just one gig that guitar sat in my rehearsal space for practice purposes (seated) and over time got played less and less. Eventually it got put away and I just forgot about it.

    I play in a 90’s alt/pop rock band and I swap back and forth quite a bit between an electric (usually my pawn shop tele) and an acoustic-electric (Eastman AC422 with LR Baggs). My lead guitar player was pushing me to get a Fender Acoustisonic (he plays a Taylor T5z) to reduce instrument changes, but I just couldn’t get past the $2,000 price tag – or the looks. I was looking for an alternative to the Acoustisonic and had gotten to the point where I Googled “how to make an acoustic sound like a tele”. Embedded in the search results was info on the Ghost Saddles as well as similar systems by Fishman and others. I had no idea that piezo bridges & saddles were a thing as an aftermarket part. I started searching ways to integrate the parts into a tele, and I really didn’t find any info. Lots of sound/tone reviews…but no howto’s. And the guitars I saw online were not well integrated – I could see the wires from the saddles and that was a non-starter for me.

    I ordered the Ghost Saddles (I had a bridge with 2-3/16 spacing and they had saddles for that) and their Acousti-Phonic electronics kit with pickup select switch and acoustic pot with push-pull volume/tone and figured that I would find a way to integrate it all.

    What follows is my tale of how I integrated the Ghost system in a tele body.
     
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  2. Gary in NJ

    Gary in NJ Tele-Meister

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    My plan was to hide all wires. So rather than run the wires from the saddle towards the pickup cavity (as suggested), I went the other way. I drilled a central hole between the bridge mounting screws, ahead of the through-string holes. I located the bridge on the 4 attach screw locations and then used my central wire holes as a pilot hole on the guitar body.
     

    Attached Files:

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  3. Gary in NJ

    Gary in NJ Tele-Meister

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    With the pilot hole drilled in the body I then routed a channel from below the bridge to the bridge pickup location, and then continued that channel to the forward pickup location (on this build the forward pickup hole will house the electronics and battery).

    IMG_0376.jpg IMG_0378.jpg
     
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  4. Gary in NJ

    Gary in NJ Tele-Meister

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    Once routed I was able to rough in the wires to ensure that all of the holes that connected the original routings were large enough. The hole between the forward pickup location and the control panel had to be enlarged to 3/8”.

    With the wires in place I temporarily fitted the Acousti-Phonic control board and the battery. Plenty of room.


    IMG_0379.jpg IMG_0380.jpg
     
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  5. Gary in NJ

    Gary in NJ Tele-Meister

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    Here is a photo of the guitar finished (next to my home-made pawn shop special), but not complete. I’m waiting for a control panel blank so I can drill the holes that I need. I discovered that there is a world-wide shortage on blank chrome control panels, so I have a black one coming and it should arrive in a few days.

    This guitar was made from Paulownia wood. The body was pre-finished from Eden guitars. I’ve heard both good and bad things about Paulownia and I was concerned about using it. After drilling and fitting this guitar body, I would use it again without hesitation. This guitar weighs in at 6.1 pounds. That’s a full 2.5 pounds lighter than the MIM it started life as.

    I like the Eden body but wasn’t happy about the chipping at the drill locations. I used tape and new bits so I don’t know if that was a result of the prep or something else. The finish seems to be otherwise durable (it got smacked around a few times during the build).

    IMG_0398.jpg
    Finally, and most important, it sounds fantastic. The Jerry Donahue sounds as you would expect. The Ghost system on it’s own sounds very much like an acoustic guitar. In fact, just for fun I did my trial fit with acoustic guitar strings and it sounded exactly like an acoustic guitar. But the real surprise was how the guitar sounds with blended pickups. There are so many tone options, especially with the “dark-mode” engaged in the saddle pickups. I'm really enjoying the tone I get with a 60:40 mag/piezo blend with dark-mode engaged. It’s very unique and voiced perfectly for a lot of 90’s songs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
  6. Mincer

    Mincer Tele-Holic

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    This looks like a great project! I am a fan of the JD as well, and I have used the Graph-Techs on other guitars.
     
  7. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Holic

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    Not something I would build for myself, but I applaud your ingenuity and clean installation/assembly skills. Very nice.
     
  8. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

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    Nice!...and most intriguing.
    My latest build, and currently #1 gigging Tele, has a Paulownia body. Like you, my previous #1 is 8 lbs exactly, and was getting too heavy to be comfortable. With the unfinished Paulownia body (from GFS, and I Tru Oiled it) my new one is a shade over 5 lbs. The Paulownia IS soft, and marks easily, but I'm not rough on my guitars, and can live with any honest wear. I'd love to hear yours with the saddle transducers. Congratulations......;)
     
  9. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Nice build.

    I've put a channel in the wood below the bridge and mounted an acoustic 'under saddle' style 'wire' piezo pickup so it was under compression when the strung up. That worked pretty well.

    .
     
  10. Gary in NJ

    Gary in NJ Tele-Meister

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    Here she is all done. I'm really enjoying this guitar more than I should. This weekend I'm gonna try some different PB acoustic strings (10-47's) to see if I can bring out more of the acoustic tones with the goal of not destroying the tele tone. It's sounds great with the Elixir 10-46 nano's I've been playing for the last few days.

    IMG_0402.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
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