#1
Hey all,

New to the forums here, so forgive me if I missed an answer to my question(s) somewhere, as I have searched the board. Also forgive me for what will inevitably be a long-winded post, as I'm used to (and enjoy ) writing long texts. So before I get into my description, if you're at all interested in helping me out/discussing/telling me to use google, please keep in mind that though I have been doing research, reading forums, modding websites, watching YT videos for the past three weeks, and while having at least a little understanding of what I need, I am still a beginner at this, and would like to avoid ordering something and have it come 2-4 weeks later only to discover that I'm not able to use it.

I'm not crazy about the metal crunch or buttery smooth overdriven guitar leads etc, and I don't worship famous guitarists like I used to. Nowadays my approach towards guitar and music in general is, in my eyes, fairly unconventional. I mostly use solid state for durability and volume control (I gig a lot), and I experiment with my pedal chain constantly, hence why I'm looking for an uncommon but versatile guitar setup.

----------GETTING-TO-THE-POINT----------

I recently bought an 07/08 MIM Telecaster off of craigslist. I was originally gonna snag a 72 deluxe reissue, but on the other hand I'd always wanted to start a modding project, and I figured a standard Tele would be a nice place to start. This is a description of my process to date and what questions I have specific to my project.


Here were my initial plans:

- Replace stock neck with a custom one. The original neck was warped, in generally bad shape, and I want a custom neck for my alien hands anyway.

- Repaint the body. I normally wouldn't mind, but this Tele had a custom paint job in this hideous purplish sepia color, unfinished, bumpy, and unevenly painted. Considering either chartreuse/lime or pure white color.

- Replace the stock pickguard. I LOVE the Tele body shape, but I'm not a huge fan of the standard Tele pickguard. I much prefer the shape of the larger Deluxe/Thinline pickguards. To accommodate the the plate with the pickup selector and knobs, I would measure the space out on the new pickguard and saw the space out for the hardware to pop through.

- Add a neck pickup. The pickguard on this Tele did not include a space for a neck pickup, so I'd just buy a stock Tele neck pickup and stick it in with the new pickguard.

I was considering a new bridge with a tremolo, but I'd like to avoid doing any routing and minimize the cost, since I'm already planning on dropping quite a bit on the neck.

And thus, last weekend I removed the hardware so I could begin stripping the paint. I noticed something peculiar (to me, anyway) when I removed the pickguard: the neck pickup position was routed for a humbucker. I'm not sure if this is the standard on new Tele bodies, but I guess I was expecting a single coil route. So either the Tele came with a humbucker/P-90 or it didn't and you had the option to do so. There are labels and a barcode/serial stickered on the bottom of the route which makes me lean towards the former, but then again I'm no expert.

This opens up more options to me. Now I'm thinking I can stick something meatier in there for more girth, like a P-90 or a humbucker. I'd prefer a humbucker in the bridge, but I'm not about to route this tele body for a bridge humbucker, and I quite like the bright jangly tonality of Tele bridge pups.

After careful consideration I realize I don't really know much of anything about the stock pickup that was already in there. Can someone give me some more info on my bridge pup? Serial no. is MZ7XXXXX.

As far as the neck pickup goes, I'm thinking either a P-90, a SD SH2N, or a Lace Sensor Dually Visionary (I love Lace Sensors and the bling on that one in particular is great).

I was looking at the SD P-Rails but that seems too complicated when you get into push/pull or three-way switching. I'm confident in my ability to solder, but I'm not quite sure exactly what the benefits of these different switching methods are and how I would be able to utilize them.

There are many nuances on the topic of humbuckers in Tele neck positions that I can't seem to grasp despite heavy reading on the topic. Pot resistance values, how the pickup is wound, what its height is, etc. One thing in particular, wiring in series vs. in parallel in this case. I understand that wiring in series has considerably less signal impedance and higher output, but I do not want a higher output in my neck than my bridge, correct? Is there even a way to wire a bucker and a single coil in series? If so, is it even desirable? Would I have to make mods elsewhere if I did that? Should I even look into alternate wiring/three-way switching/push-pull? Could someone shed some light on this for a beginner?

I think I will eventually go with a P-90 to make things nice and simple. Even still, what else do I need to change elsewhere on the guitar with a higher output neck pickup?


Here are the specs I'm looking at for my neck (Warmoth, naturally):

Angled paddle headstock
24.75 inches
Jumbo frets
Boatneck back profile
11/16 nut width
Compound radius

I would've ordered the neck already, however I want to assure that the neck will fit into the body, especially since I'm not getting a Tele replacement neck (I'm not too fond of the Tele headstock). I learned that there are some disparities between neck heels and neck pockets - namely, Strat heels will fit into Tele pockets but Tele heels won't fit into Strat pockets. I'm pretty sure because I'm getting a 24.75 neck, it will be Strat heeled and will fit my Tele, I'd just like to get a confirmation on this and my other neck specs before I put my order in.

Some other things I'm considering neck-wise. Woods. I'd like to try out something other than maple/rosewood/mahogany, but I just can't stand Telecasters with anything other than all maple necks. Anyway, I was looking at canary wood. Canary looks most similar to maple in the sample, but when I look up canary necks on Google images, it seems that some canary cuts are mixed yellow and brown tones, some are mostly yellow, and most have a golden brown tone. Seems like the tone of the cut of canary is up to the luck of the draw. Can anyone with a canary neck confirm this? Are there any other wood types that have a similar color/tone/feel to maple?

Also, looking at the GraphTech TUSQ nut. Worth it or no?

Where before I was going to do custom paint on the body, because I am not confident in my ability to paint/coat evenly, I came up with an alternative. I'm going to try covering the body in a wallpaper or gift wrapping paper (with some gnarly design, of course), and paper mache the paper onto the wood. After the paper sticks/dries, I'll cut out openings for all the hardware and screwholes, then finish with some sort of primer or veneer. Only question I have here is should I prime the body with latex paint or something before I use the paper or is that not necessary?


At this point this post is getting into the realm of essays and college papers, so without further ado...

TL;DR

Modding my Telecaster. What should I consider when adding a humbucker in the neck position? What neck position humbuckers compliment the Tele bridge pickup? Will my custom Warmoth neck fit into the pocket? How do you feel about the color and tone of canary wood? GraphTech TUSQ or Corian for the nut? Any recommendations on alternate wiring methods?


P.S. Really, really sorry about the length of this post. Thanks for taking the time to even consider answering or helping out!
Last edited by thief_of_fire at Apr 11, 2015,
#2
I know guys who swear by the graphtech nut, a lot of big companies are using them for a reason. You can now get them in white too. I remember the CEO saying it took years for them to get it right.

for the neck warped necks are an epensive fix. Usually guys I know go with mighty might (mite maybe) necks which are licensed fender necks. But warmoth is my go to place for necks.

neck pickups are neck pickups so go with whatever excites you. Personally I'm a fan of hum cancelling tele pickups. I'm loving the idea of the P-rails actually. Read what is called the Seymour Duncan P-rail bible. My jackson DK2M on here in my photo album I wired up for a friend and added to my gallery had them. I'm no classic rock player so I don't know what to say about the tone but the DPDT switch option to go to just a p90 option or single coil is more than possible. You can get up to 4 sounds out of any 4 wire pickup though.

series (full power)
parallel (hum cancelling coiltap with weak output)
accentuate on the P90 portion
accentuate on the single coil portion
I used the 2 push pull option to take full advantage of this pickup

for the pickguards - you can get them custom cut. I know two contacts in my part of Canada I can go with. If you have a design in your head just remember you can buy 3 ply pearloid or solid coloroed blanks for 15-25$ american from ebay from china.

for painting I could walk you through step by step in an email if you'd like , its one of the most expensive things to do to a guitar because of the 30 day cure time for polyurethane.

neck routing for humbuckers is totally normal. Lots of strats have routing for a humbucker as well, it's just a what if option. Seymour Duncans telecaster is H/H so some guys like it. The last MIM I had I am sure it had this on it.


**edit**
if you go with any pickup that has 4 wires you know what the color code is (guitarelectronics.com can help) this is an amazing idea for some custom wiring diagrams with p-rails to get the most of them or any other 4 wire pickup.
http://www.seymourduncan.com/blog/the-tone-garage/the-p-rails-wiring-bible-part-3/

hope I could help.
Last edited by Tallwood13 at Jan 28, 2015,
#3
I know guys who swear by the graphtech nut, a lot of big companies are using them for a reason. You can now get them in white too. I remember the CEO saying it took years for them to get it right.

GraphTech it is, then. Probably a good idea since every guitar I've had, the stock nut on the neck ended up getting loose or chipped, aside from my Explorer when I still had it.
I used the 2 push pull option to take full advantage of this pickup

So you used this wiring then? In my case, I can wire them this way without doing anything special to my plate, right? So that means I just need to get two push-pull pots. If that's the deal then I think I've made my decision on my neck pickup!
for the pickguards - you can get them custom cut. I know two contacts in my part of Canada I can go with. If you have a design in your head just remember you can buy 3 ply pearloid or solid coloroed blanks for 15-25$ american from ebay from china.

for painting I could walk you through step by step in an email if you'd like , its one of the most expensive things to do to a guitar because of the 30 day cure time for polyurethane.


For the pickguard, I'm going for something like this but with bucker neck space of course, and since the toggle switch is on the plate as opposed to at the top, and there will only be two pots, I think I'm going to get the pickguard custom from Warmoth, without any holes for volume/tone pots or for the three-way switch, and cut the space for the plate out myself.

Unless you would recommend going a different route for what I'm trying to accomplish?

For painting I think I'm gonna go the paper route. I have a friend who did something very similar to a Strat body that I sold him, with Batman newspaper comic clippings as a papier mache thing, and it lasted him 4-5 years before the paper started wearing off in certain places and you could see the wood (which I think I like, actually).


Thank you so much for your help and advice, Tallwood! Many kudos to you!

EDIT: If anyone is interested in my progress on this project, I'll be posting pictures every so often to show the status.
~GEAR~

'93 Fender Duo Sonic Reissue

'84 ProCo Smallbox RAT->Fulltone OCD->Akai E2 Headrush->Acoustic Model 470/Acoustic 105 4x12
#4
yeah the 2 push pulls you'll be fine. That is the diagram I went with. Just ensure with a supplier or shop that your potentiometers shaft diameter will work with the plate. Say for example import ones will slide. Tips wiring, use 60/40 solder and tin everything.

one other tip other than use lots of shrink tubing is if you have trouble grounding a push pull pot you can use the metal from a capacitor to ground to the sides of pots. I need to take a photo but it saves you a lot of headaches.

very cool about the pickguard idea. For the amount of pots and all it's preference. Some will go out of their way for CTS or bounes volume push pull pots so they last and higher end components but I've had guitars in from 20-30 years ago with the cheap green / red mylar capacitors you buy 10 cents each and they did me well. Size wise for humbuckers it's 0.047uf for humbuckers. Or perhaps 0.033uf would be idealistic because you're going to also be using single coil sounds out of those pickups.

With capacitors the bigger the value the larger the difference
0.047 is bigger than 0.033 or 0.022
the largest in guitars is 0.1uf

with potentiometers I'd go with two B500k push pulls. "linear" pots have a smoother 10-1 where the guitar doesn't go dark rolling the volume back past 7. This is why the tone knob is so much smoother to the ears.
#5
Tin everything? Or just tin the tip of the solder? I usually do when I'm using my iron.

I've never really considered the cap value in the guitar because I've almost always played with my tone pot on max. Here I don't necessarily believe that my cap choice will matter, but I think since I'm playing around anyway, I'll experiment with different caps. Maybe I'll get a 0.033 and a 0.047 and try 'em both. I'm leaning towards a higher value because I'm not exactly looking to cut treble, and if I need to cut treble, my amp has a graphic EQ that can probably achieve that anyway.

All of this is noted though. Now I'm ready to get underway with this! Thank you again Tallwood, you've been a tremendous help.
~GEAR~

'93 Fender Duo Sonic Reissue

'84 ProCo Smallbox RAT->Fulltone OCD->Akai E2 Headrush->Acoustic Model 470/Acoustic 105 4x12
#7
^Ah I would never have thought of that. Thanks for that, I had no idea. Not too worried about that, long as I have jumbo frets I'll be set.
~GEAR~

'93 Fender Duo Sonic Reissue

'84 ProCo Smallbox RAT->Fulltone OCD->Akai E2 Headrush->Acoustic Model 470/Acoustic 105 4x12
#8
i believe warmouth now do 24.75" conversion necks. so you wont have to move the bridge.

Never tried them though. not a fan of short scale.
My Rig:
Maverick F-1, Ibanez RG1527, Schecter Omen 8
Marshall JVM 410H,
Hand built 4x12 w/ V30s
Current board:
PXL LIVE
TU2
WHAMMY IV
MXR M132
MXR M101
TIMMY
NS2
MXR M108
XOTIC EP
TC DREAMSCAPE
DL8
#9
Quote by loki_lulamen
i believe warmouth now do 24.75" conversion necks. so you wont have to move the bridge.

Never tried them though. not a fan of short scale.

True and the Tele ones start at $250; however, TS wants an angled paddle headstock (additional $) and this may not be the Bang for the $$$ route. Or, maybe the cost isn't an issue.
#10
Quote by Ippon
True and the Tele ones start at $250; however, TS wants an angled paddle headstock (additional $) and this may not be the Bang for the $$$ route. Or, maybe the cost isn't an issue.


It's not

Ordered it exactly a week ago. 24.75 angled paddle. The neck cost me more than the original guitar.

I sanded the body down, but I still need to order the pickup and a wallpaper design for the body.
~GEAR~

'93 Fender Duo Sonic Reissue

'84 ProCo Smallbox RAT->Fulltone OCD->Akai E2 Headrush->Acoustic Model 470/Acoustic 105 4x12
#11
After months of procrastinating, I have updates! Got the body all wrapped up and the neck cut.



Would've liked to put the machine heads in the headstock, but I'm afraid of screwing anything up on the neck, so I'm going to wait till I can get access to a drill press.

Next step is to drill the body for the new pickguard, and take a dremel to the pickguard to make room for the control plate. Pics on that tomorrow next week.

Do have some questions if someone would care to answer them. I seem to be missing some screws. Could someone verify these screw lengths for me:

Pickguard screws: #4 x 1/2
Control plate screws: #4 x 1/2
Bridge pickup screws: 6-32 x 5/8

And does anyone know offhand what size the screws are that go on either side of the pickup selector on the control plate??
~GEAR~

'93 Fender Duo Sonic Reissue

'84 ProCo Smallbox RAT->Fulltone OCD->Akai E2 Headrush->Acoustic Model 470/Acoustic 105 4x12
Last edited by thief_of_fire at Apr 11, 2015,
#12
Didn't really document the process as much as I would've liked as I was mostly focused on getting it done, but here it is, (almost) done!

Stock neck in this shot, throwing the custom neck on once I'm done shaping the headstock and drilling holes for the tuners.


~GEAR~

'93 Fender Duo Sonic Reissue

'84 ProCo Smallbox RAT->Fulltone OCD->Akai E2 Headrush->Acoustic Model 470/Acoustic 105 4x12