Monday, August 16, 2010

Trick/Retro Tele

A classic guitar with a few trick modifications

We just finished this demo Telecaster that will make its home in Gary Brawer's repair shop in downtown San Francisco.  If you would like to try this baby out, just visit Gary's shop in the back of Real Guitars, 15 Lafayette St. (at the corner of Mission).  

It was designed much like a 50's Reissue, with lightweight swamp ash body, vintage-style three saddle ashtray bridge, and a maple neck from a MIM Fender Telecaster.   The body was made completely from scratch from a nice piece of ash from Stewart Macdonald.  I wanted to forgo the pickguard and really let that beautiful wood grain show through, so I decided against the common routing in the body for the wiring that typically hides under the pickguard.  The wiring in this guitar is routed through a small hole starting at the neck pocket and ending in the control pocket. With amber stain and a thin coat of waterbased varnish this guitar is a real beaut!

Trick electronics include our hum-canceling bridge pickup to get rid of that pesky 60-cycle hum, and a 4-way switch so that you can play with the two pickups wither in paralell (standard Tele wiring) or in series (more output, fat sound).  The neck pickup is a special custom creation of mine that has the perfect balance of trademark "bell" tone, shimmering highs, and voice in the lower mids.  The electronics are topped off with a pair of vintage "chickenhead" volume and tone control knobs I found at a yard sale.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The hum-canceling Telecaster bridge pickup

single coil sound with the ability to "buck" hum!

Anyone who plays a Tele knows that they are vulnerable to interference and thus create a lot of hum through the amp.  Single coils naturally create a 60 cycle hum and there is no way around that.  Some companies offer solutions like samamium cobalt noiseless pickups, or stacked humbuckers, but usually at the cost of tone.  Some guitars with two pickups can be wired out of phase to cancel hum between the two pickups, but on a Telecaster even the middle position on the pickup selector offers no hum-canceling effect.  That's because both coils are wound counter-clockwise and the poles are charged North-up, partly because hum-canceling technology was non-existent in the 50's and partly because that middle position tone has become such a trademark of the Tele tone.

One of the best ways to combat hum and still keep the single coil tone is to have a split-single coil wired out of phase, like a P-Bass pickup.  What I have created here is essentially a P-Bass pickup that looks and sounds like a Telecaster pickup.  One coil is wound counter-clockwise and is charged North up and the other is wound clockwise and is charged South up.  They are then wired out of phase to cancel hum.  All of the normal Tele characteristics like a copper-plated steel baseplate, cloth-covered leads, and vintage-style flatwork are included.  I don't want to give the impression that I was the first one to do this, but this is not something you can just walk into Guitar Center and buy.  They are wound to 7k and are available for Teles for $125 each.  Contact me here to order yours.