Sunday, August 29, 2010

Telecaster Project

I was down at Guitar Center, the other day, to get some nylon strings for a Kay classical I repaired, and I stopped by the used guitar rack to check out what was there.  I was surprised to see a guitar I thought had been sold, back on the rack and significantly marked down.

 It is a Raines Thinline Telecaster copy.  I had looked at this guitar, when it was priced at $225.00 higher, and just couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger on buying it.  But, I wanted it prettry badly.  I have been looking for a Thinline, for a while, but the new versions at the store, whether the $300 Squire-by-Fender models, or the $800 Fenders with the humbucking pickups just don't sound as good as I remember the vintage ones sounding.

So, I pulled the Raines down and plugged it in.  Man, did it sound good!  The neck felt a bit weird, but the pickups were awesome, and the chambered body added some meat to the sound, unlike the actual Fenders I plugged in as comparison.  This guitar sounded like I expected a Thinline Tele to sound!

However, as one of the employees pointed out, there was reason the guitar had been marked down:

No wonder the neck felt a little weird!  It was as twisted as David Lynch's imagination.

Still, the sound was awesome, and I have a Squire Tele I bought a while back, with a bad switch and a horrible bridge pickup that I was planning on modifying.  I thought about it for about 20 minutes, as I bought my strings and took them out to the car.  Eventually, I went back in the store and bought the guitar (for less than the cost of the bare Thinline-style body from a guitar parts supplier), and started planning on the modifications I was going to make.

The first thing I did was pull the neck off of the Squire, and swap it onto the Raines (I have an e-mail request in to Matt Raines to see if he will sell me a replacement neck at a reasonable cost, so I can put the Squire back together).

One of the plans I had for the Squire was to remove the stock bridge/tailpiece combination and replace it with a trapeze-style tailpiece and a standard bridge.  So, I did that with the Raines.  I didn't bother making a plate to cover the pickup cavity, and hold the pickup in place, because I wanted to see if I liked the feel of this combination on the Tele as much as I do on the Harmony, the Gibson ES-125, etc.

It turns out that I do, so I will be working on a cover plate (and a higher-quality, adjustable, bridge) and I'll make it a permanent change.

So, here it is in its new form.  We'll see if Matt Raines comes through with a neck.  If not, I will probably leave this one on here (it's really a nice-feeling neck), and I'll find something else to put on the Squire.

An interesting problem has made itself apparent to me, lately.  For some reason, all of my guitars with single-coil pickups hum like mad, in my house, when plugged into my amp.  Now, I know that humbucking pickups were developed just for curing this problem, but the hum I get in my house is much more noticeable than what I get with the same guitars and amps, elsewhere.

I don't know if the wiring in my house is contributing to it, or if there is a microwave tower close by, irradiating the heck out of me, or what.  I've tried different outlets in the house, to see if it's a bad ground, but I get no difference from outlet to outlet.  Oddly, the Telecasters are the worst offenders, but the Harmony and the Gibson exhibit the same problem, just not quite as pronounced.

I have a humbucking Telecaster bridge pickup I may put in the Raines (I wouldn't change the neck pickup, since it sounds so good).  But, I'd rather find the underlying cause and fix it, so that I can play all of my guitars without all the noise, which is a real problem when I try to record something.  I find myself using the black Tele Custom with the two humbuckers to record, regardless of which guitar I think sounds best for a particular song, simply to get a clean track recorded.