Upgrade from a Baja?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Plan9, Apr 12, 2016.

  1. Plan9

    Plan9 Tele-Meister

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    I've got a 50s Baja (in BSB). I really like its sound - pickups, switching, and resonance. I like the neck OK (it's somehow not as comfortable as some to me - perhaps it could be a little thinner, or rolled, or even 7.25 radius). I prefer maple, but rosewood could work. I would prefer it were lighter (it's 8 lbs) and it'd be nice if it had a belly cut. I really want it to have a thinner finish - not for "breathing" but just so it didn't look and feel so plastic-y. BSB is good; so are solid color finishes.

    What fits those criteria (actually, I suspect Am Std might be close)? How high up the price ladder do you have to go to get all that? I'm not looking to replace it right now, but I'm curious about what to be on the watch for.

    And I'm not dumping on the Baja - it's a terrific guitar, esp at its price. I don't want to give up its considerable good qualities, just looking for some refinements. Thanks!
     
  2. Aaron1061

    Aaron1061 Tele-Holic

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    You could always sand the body down a bit and roll the fretboard. The Baja is a great guitar. I wouldn't get an American standard bc it's pretty much the same pickups.
     
  3. 10thoufirst

    10thoufirst Tele-Holic

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    The Baja is a hard act to follow and I think you'll find that it will cost a bit to "better" it. As you said, the American Standard seems to be close to your desired axe, but as I've never played one I can't really comment on them. The other option is the AV range which I have had some experience with (I have two) and they are, to me, faultless Teles but no body contouring.
    Of course, there is the Custom Shop but then you are talking mega-bucks. Anyway, I wish you luck in your search.
     
  4. tizianod

    tizianod Tele-Meister

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    I also own a 50s Baja (desert sand with maple neck) I did some minor upgrades on the sadles, wiring, pots,... I'm not a big fan of the s-1 switch, so I removed that, but kept the 4th position. I don't like the finish either. it's too thick and under a specific angle I can see stripes where the wood was glued together (I guess). But it's fantastic workhorse! I would also love to get my hands on a AV.
     
  5. ricardo1912

    ricardo1912 Tele-Afflicted

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    How about buying a lightweight aftermarket body with the finish of your choice? Then bolt on all the Baja bits. It's something I've been tempted to do with mine.
     
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  6. Sofaplayer

    Sofaplayer Tele-Meister

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  7. overlock

    overlock Tele-Afflicted

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    Looks like the only thing you like about th Baja is its tone, but that's all good. Having such a clear idead of what you want is an excellent start, so get out there and start trying out other guitars. Happy hunting!
     
  8. Plan9

    Plan9 Tele-Meister

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    Interesting - it seems that nothing quite matches, but I'll have to try out the American Standard (which could use a four-way switch) or the AV. I thought about the 50s Lacquer, but that probably needs a major electronics upgrade.

    Hmm, start saving for an AV I guess. Or I could upgrade the body. Don't think I'm going to try to sand through all that poly - I think it would kill my belt sander. :)
     
  9. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    The poly on my Baja is really thin. All you'd need to do to de-plastic the finish is give is a rub with some 400 grit or Scothchbrite pad, or whatever they're called. it won't sand the finish off, just take off the shine.
     
  10. engineer

    engineer Tele-Meister

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    I have seen a few threads here on re-finishing Bajas.
    Otherwise look at the American Vintage series or maybe the Elite range?
    They should offer you more refinement.
     
  11. Clarkj734

    Clarkj734 Tele-Meister

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    I own a 50's Classic Lacquer - and personally I don't believe that it needs any electronic upgrades. In my opinion it's the biggest bang for your buck of any tele that Fender makes currently. It seems to check most of your boxes with the exception of the belly cut, which I actually don't like personally.

    The tone is very vintage, which is exactly what it's meant to be. I quite like the pickups, particularly the neck pickup. Many seem to find the bridge PU a touch shrill, but I actually think it blends very well with the neck pickup. When playing on the bridge only position I just need to back the tone off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way.

    When I bought my Classic 50's I went into the shop expecting to come out with an AV52, but I couldn't justify the cost difference in my mind. My 50's Lacquer plays and feels every bit as solidly as every AV52 I've played. The pickups on the 52 are a bit better, but the feel is very comparable.

    I personally don't like the Twisted Tele neck pickup in the 50's Baja.... If I want a "Straty" sounding neck tone, I pick up my strat.
     
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  12. Plan9

    Plan9 Tele-Meister

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    Good to know about the 50s lacquer - thanks!
     
  13. howlin

    howlin Tele-Afflicted

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    Huh, and just when I thought I'd made peace with my Baja, this thread comes along and gets me to start thinking again about ditching the heavy, contourless body for something more ergonomic & friendly to play. :-/
     
  14. pondcaster

    pondcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not sure if it's considered an "upgrade" to a baja but I had an '06 DS baja that was nice & when I got my '08 blonde 50s road worn, that baja's days were numbered!

    Imo, much nicer finish, mine was one of those thick poly jobs. Neck was tiny bit slimmer than baja but its negligible and with the neck wear, just blew the baja away. Pups are slightly nicer on baja maybe? Personal pref on that. Add that to my baja was a little over 9 lbs and my rw50s is almost 7. No contest.

    Great guitars, both.
     
  15. RatherBeFishing

    RatherBeFishing Tele-Afflicted

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    Rather than thinking "Upgrade"; "different" may be all that is necessary and much easier on the wallet.

    In my opinion, taking the neck off a Baja and putting it on a loaded CV50s body offers a real sonic upgrade. You don't like the neck though, so maybe just take a look at the CV50s? It has a slimmer/faster neck than the Baja.

    I have 2 Baja Teles, one is a middleweight and the other is a lunker like yours. The Classic Vibe 50s sounds better to me than either. You can find relatively light CVs although I wish mine was lighter. I jumped on that bandwagon early and didn't shop around much. For my needs, the Baja's neck is by far the best part.
     
  16. Plan9

    Plan9 Tele-Meister

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    Interest idea. The few CVs I've seen in a store were pretty heavy, if I look on Sweetwater today I see most of theirs are near 9 lbs. But still, I should give them a try.

    The other guitar I've wondered about is the G&L ASAT.
     
  17. Ed Boyd

    Ed Boyd Tele-Afflicted

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    Upgrade Idea: Install a bender.
     
  18. RatherBeFishing

    RatherBeFishing Tele-Afflicted

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    Hmm, it is too bad to see that even the pine CVs tend to be on the heavy side. My alder CV50s strat is very light. A while back, there was a butterscotch CV50s Tele on craigslist that the seller claimed was in the 6lb range. Many of the necks use at least partially quartersawn maple as well. I think that is a plus but not everyone does.

    In my opinion, the fastest neck that fender makes on a "non-shred" guitar is the modern C shaped, 9.5 radius, 43mm nut width neck found on things like the American Standard guitars. The Highway One and American Special necks are probably similar if not the same in feel. I am not so familiar with the newest American lineup but those guitars had very smooth rolled fingerboard edges and awesome fretwork in the 00's. It is a really nice feeling neck.

    If you do not mind satin finishes, alder or shopping used; finding a light to med-light weight Highway One guitar is VERY doable. I consider those to have some of the finest alder bodies that fender produced outside of the custom shop. They were supposedly made of "premium alder" according to Fender and I believe it. I've built a couple Teles and a few Strats out of the bodies with consistently good results. What is Alder if not consistent? :)
    Highway One bodies quickly became my first choice for an alder bodied parts build when I was doing that. The guitars should only run you ~$500 used.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
  19. Plan9

    Plan9 Tele-Meister

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    I'm deeply sorry to have inflicted GAS on another human being. OTOH, good to know I'm not suffering alone :)
     
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  20. Plan9

    Plan9 Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, that sounds like an interesting option - I'll be watching for one of those.
     
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