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Trying to liven up my DIY tele

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by HBamps, Oct 1, 2009.

  1. HBamps

    HBamps Tele-Meister

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    I built a tele about a year ago and like it pretty well except for I have always felt the low E/A strings are kind of lifeless. They lack snap and clarity, or should I say TWANG.

    Specs are;
    HWY 1 body
    Musikraft neck
    Fender bridge plate
    Mare pup (esquire)
    2 brass saddles, 1 aluminum (home made) saddle (E/A)

    I have been struggling with it and not sure what to try to get some life in this guitar. I am thinking the body is dead or doesn't agree with the neck and considering laying down for a MJT body. I also am considering a glendale bridge plate but I have played plenty of GREAT teles with the fender plate, It's tough for me to spend $125 on a plate I can get for $14.

    I converted the guitar into an esquire because it REALLY didn't like 2 pickups. It's more lively this way but.....

    So not really sure where to go next. would any of you tele experts have any input?

    Thanks for reading.
     
  2. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

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    People will call me a liar until they try it for themselves but in my case, Budz saddles changed my guitar sound 100% for the better. Give them a try. I highly recommend them. They made more of a difference than pickups and/or bridge plate. You also might try some neck inserts, if I'm calling that the right thing.
     
  3. mellecaster

    mellecaster Former Member

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    As a "Guitar Detective"...that don't tell you anything ??
     
  4. cousinpaul

    cousinpaul Friend of Leo's

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    It could be an intonation problem. You might check out some compensated saddles. Haven't tried Budz but hear they're good.
     
  5. JBurton

    JBurton Tele-Meister

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    I thought the whole idea in alum and steel saddles was to give a more twangy sound, particularly for the bass strings?!?

    I'm doing a project as well on an existing Tele, and I'm replacing the E/A brass saddle with alum. So I guess I'll soon find out.
     
  6. HBamps

    HBamps Tele-Meister

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    OK, let me clarify. I made the saddle but I did it on a CNC lathe. I work as a manufacturing engineer and work with MUCH more complicated machine parts than a saddle. So, I figured, what the hell, may as well try it...

    And, BTW, it sounds snappier than the original wilkinson brass saddle.
     
  7. Frontier9

    Frontier9 Friend of Leo's

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    Before you start spending serious $, spend $5 on a set of Ernie Ball Stainless Steel Slinkys. I found the stainless alloy really increased the snap and articulation on the E and A strings.
     
  8. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    Since you have access to machine tools, why not thy some other materials for your E/A saddle. A harder aluminum alloy, or even steel. You could heat treat the steel or case harden it.
     
  9. mellecaster

    mellecaster Former Member

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    Well that do make a difference !...I was picturing a chunk of Reynolds, and you w/ a Hand file and Hacksaw.....;)
     
  10. HBamps

    HBamps Tele-Meister

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    I tried cold rolled steel, 416 stainless steel and aluminum liking the Al the best. Point is that I think this issue with a dull E/A pair is something other than the saddle, but what?

    Thanks for all the responses!
     
  11. JBurton

    JBurton Tele-Meister

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    Maybe it is the body. The HWY1's use alder which is not the problem, but it might matter where HWY1 alder bodies are finished. Does anyone know if they are outsourced? Maybe satin nitrocellulose lacquer can be done wrong.

    I ask because I have a '04 Lite Ash Tele (Korean made). It was my first Tele and after two years I realized I wasn't satisfied with it's tone. In particular, like your git, the low E/A were a bit dead. So I purchased a new '06 Standard Series made of alder. What a difference. The Corona model just sings beautifully.

    So now I am turning the L-A into a project. About 1-1/2 years ago I stripped and sanded the gloss clear finish off and had a friend who does custom residential painting/finishing (and a handful of guitars) put a few thin layers of a custom mix of PPG automotive lacquer on it. The coat is thin enough that the grain is still visible. After 4 weeks of drying I put the guitar together and found it to be no better and probably worse in the A/E. For at least a year I would open the case and would be greeted by the faint smell of paint. This even after letting it spend about 6 months hanging on a wall. Finaly, I let it sit in the case for the last 6 months until I decided it was time to think about buying a body from Warmoth to mount to the nice birdseye maple neck.

    EXCEPT, suddenly I find the bottom end now has tons of pop! It is totaly projecting at all strings. And mysteriously there is no more scent of paint when I open the case. Did the paint finaly set up allowing the body to resonate? That's my guess. But long story short, depending on how your body was finished this could be the culprit.
     
  12. schoolie

    schoolie Tele-Holic

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    Here's another data point: I made a tele with a Fender Highway 1 body and a musikraft neck (1", fat neck), SD broadcaster pickup, fender bridge plate, and glendale saddles ( the old version where the saddles don't touch). It has the sweetest tone that I've ever heard on a tele. What I've found is that there might be nothing wrong with the body or the neck, but maybe you should try swapping either the neck or the body. How much does the body weight and what is the neck profile?
     
  13. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

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    As far as saddles I had Glendales, Bardens and Fenders. A little difference in the brands but not so much I'd think there was much difference to be made. The Budz rock. I'm not kidding.

    Well, ok, next question, what amp do you use?
     
  14. sabby

    sabby Tele-Meister

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    This.

    Before spending $$$$$ on various parts, try swapping out a body or neck. I recently dialed in a guitar that was an absolute, miserable DOG with its first neck. No electronic or harware sub would have given it life. With a new neck, it's pretty rockin'.
     
  15. udimet720

    udimet720 Tele-Holic

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    HBamps,

    Sounds like you did some thorough testing of your saddles. Can you give us some pics?

    What didn't you like about the steel versions you tried?
     
  16. Roli

    Roli Banned

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    Could you please post some sound samples, to hear those dull sounding strings?
     
  17. HBamps

    HBamps Tele-Meister

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    what I found is that the differences are pretty subtle. My other tele has 60's style 1/4" diameter saddles and they are nice for that guitar.

    Like above, I was looking for a little more snap. The steel ones gave that but the Aluminum one seemed to have a bit more zing on the top end. Also, I am a amateur machinist and aluminum is alot easier to work with....

    I feel if the guitar is jiving with itself, brass gives the best tone. I just seems richer and has that nice mid range teles can have.

    Sorry, no pics handy.
     
  18. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I'd be tempted to try a different pickup.

    Don's pickups are great; it is just possible this pup is not a match for this guitar.

    Another approach might be a Glendale bridge plate. How about that Titanium one? Been meaning to try one, I just hadn't found the right guitar for it, yet.

    Also, you could try the Titanium saddles.
     
  19. mellecaster

    mellecaster Former Member

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    Dare I ask what type (Brand) of Strings are you using ?
     
  20. HBamps

    HBamps Tele-Meister

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    diAdario's

    but they work fine on all my other guitars... I swear
     
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