My new project...

By Ethan Nobles on 12:17 AM

comments (0)

Filed Under:

Back around 1988, I got a Fender Japanese Telecaster for my birthday.

I loved the heck out of that guitar. I even replaced the stock Tele pickups with some higher-output, single-coil ones from Schaller so that I could still get that Telecaster "snap" I loved so much but still drive some fair-to-middling distortion.

My blonde Telecaster came with a white pickguard, but I swapped out that sucker for a black, very vintage one that looked great on it. That Tele was a beautiful machine, indeed.

It was a beautiful machine?

Yes, indeed. Back during those horrible days when I was practicing law, I found myself very broke at about the time my landlord wanted her rent. Amazingly, my clients seemed to operate under the notion that the bill from their good friend The Hawg could wait, but my creditors seemed to think I should pay my bills when they were due.

So I had to sell the Tele. That thing booked for $900 at the time and I got $400 from it from a music store that -- undoubtedly -- turned around and sold it for a nice, fat profit. That was around 1998 so I've been missing my Telecaster for over a decade. My Fender Deluxe Stratocaster is a darn fine guitar, but it's just not the same, you know?

Is there a point to all this rambling? Well, there's about as much of one as usual. I got the idea that I've gotten a fair amount of money through paid posting on a couple of blogs so I ought to buy myself something just for the sheer hell of it. Being a cheap bastard, I decided to take a look at some Telecaster copies.

I did the research on the SX STL50 and learned those things have great bodies and necks and are an absolute steal at $109.95 (plus shipping). If you look at the one in the photo at the top of this post, that thing looks a lot like the Telecaster I had for years (the headstock isn't the same shape as a genuine Fender, but it's close enough for me).

I did some more research and found out that those little guitars are fantastic -- provided you don't mind replacing the pickups, tuners, electronics and (possibly) the nut. I put a parts list together and discovered that some honest-to-goodness Telecaster tuners, a matched set of GFS Hot Lead "Lil Puncher" pickups (humbuckers that are coil tapable and will fit in the single coil slots on the Tele with no routing), a new three-way pickup selector switch, new tone pot and a new "push-pull" volume pot (so I can force the Tele to run the humbuckers or go for the vintage, single coil sound) will cost me around $100. By the time I throw in a little more for shipping everything to me, buying a soldering iron and taking the whole mess to a guitar shop to get it set up after I'm done modifying it -- I can have a Tele that sounds great for around $225.

Hey, the modifications will cost more than the guitar, but that's a very small amount to pay to have a great Telecaster to plink on once again.

Any advice from you guitar enthusiasts out there will be appreciated!