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NGD - Filling that Tele-shaped hole in my life

Dr. Faustus

Inspired
I don't make enough money to buy a sports car, so for my 50th birthday next week I've bought a Sports Tele.

After years and years of being pretty much a Super-strat guy I bought a MIM Tele back in 2016 and around Thanksgiving 2019 I traded it to my Father for the guitar in my AV. Since then I have missed that simple, heavy, shiny sunburst Tele (modded with the tone knob wah trick).

In the meantime I have my new FX3 and I am dying to play a Tele through it.

I just took delivery of the thing: a brand spanking new Fender Richie Kotzen Telecaster. Wow. Out of the box I had to tighten the truss-rod 1/8th-turn, and boom the action is superb. I can lower the high E to 1 mm and it's the same at frets 12 and 22 without fret-outs or buzz. I could go a little lower if I needed to.
The neck is like a baseball bat but for some reason I've never been put off by a thick neck before. It's round fretboards and little frets that I don't like. This thing has jumbo frets and a 22" radius. It has a rib-cage cut and a shallow forearm contour. I am taking all the stock electronics out as well as installing replacement hardware for the Fender gold bridge, knobs, and control plate; as their gold plate tends to rub off way too quickly for a guitar at this price point. Even the machined brass switch tip for the selector, because my God I hate plastic Tele switch tips. Ugh. Gonna store all the stock parts away.

The stock pickups are great for a Rock-n-roll Tele, but I wanted Fralin Stock Teles with the 2/5% overwind on the neck/bridge. My last set went to Dad in the MIM Tele. I usually do my own electronics but I have so much new gear to play with I paid a guy on eBay to build me a reversed harness with CTS pots, the Stew-Mac treble bleed mod, and a 4-way O-G switch. Going to put a gold pearl pickguard on it but if it isn't quite right I'll put the original cream back on. I got all the little bits I want for a Tele that plays like a modern machine but sounds vintage. First thing I want to do is run it through a 5F1 preset and see if I can get Joe Walsh's tone from Funk 49. I read he played a blackface Champ on that album. Early 60's?
I wonder if I need to get creative with the speakers. I always thought that recording sounded like big closed-back cab. Maybe it is?

Anyway, she's a certified keeper. And I am about to gut her right now. Picture time!
 

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Rick

Axe-Master
Sweet! Teles are versatile guitars, in so many styles of music. It’s never been my #1, but I’ve always got one on the wall. And it sneaks down regularly. You won’t regret it!

And happy birthday!!
 

Joe Bfstplk

Axe-Master
Nice! I have a few Teles with different pickups/electronics. They definitely all sound unique from each other, but all still sound like Teles, somehow. I guess it's partly due to the number of different modifications various famous Tele users have done over the years. The neck humbucker mod is pretty common, actually - Albert Collins, Keef, Andy Summers, Terry Kath. Various other neck pickup subs are out there too, like P90, mini humbuckers of the Deluxe or Firebird stripe, even Charlie Christian pickups once in a while....
 

Dr. Faustus

Inspired
Here are the after pics. I suppose there's nothing wrong with the DiMarzios that came in this guitar, but compared to the Fralin Stock Teles they sound like garbage. These pickups on this body make all the right noises. Playing it through a bunch of stock presets (Bassguy, 5F8, Dr. Z, Super Verb, Deluxe) it's just disgustingly awesome. Then I loaded up The Brown Sound and... forget it. I could pound out power chords for days and be in bliss.

I could go on but for once I won't. I need to get some sleep.
 

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la szum

Fractal Fanatic
Love it! Those Kotzen Teles are legit. Fattest and flattest neck I have ever felt on an electric guitar.

I had one for about 3 years and sold it early in the Pandemic. I didn't destroy mine like you have yours, though. ;)

Kidding! :)

Congrats and Happy B'day! 🍻
🍻
 

Chewie5150

Power User
been reading up a bit on this model. Seems to have a real beefy neck which would be good for my massive mitts. It's been described as a hot rodded Tele , I assume for the Dimarzio's in them. Some cool features on this guitar for sure. If i ever come across one will definitely check it out.
 

la szum

Fractal Fanatic
been reading up a bit on this model. Seems to have a real beefy neck which would be good for my massive mitts. It's been described as a hot rodded Tele , I assume for the Dimarzio's in them. Some cool features on this guitar for sure. If i ever come across one will definitely check it out.

The beefiest. :)

I have a 50's Traditional Les Paul and the Kotzen Tele is just as chunky,
but with a flatter radius. Definitely on the hot-rodded side of Tele with
the stock Dimarzios.
 

shredmechanic

Inspired
Oof. That's nice. I almost got one of those when one was sitting at a GC in LA but I wanted more of a traditional tele sound. I should have gone this route...
 

Dr. Faustus

Inspired
It's been a few days and my appreciation for this instrument only continues to grow. I already have enough blingy guitars and would have been fine with something more traditional in look (though I am not a barrel-saddle fan, sorry!)

If you are ok with the look, you want a guitar that's easier to set up and play than a 9.5" radius but want a trad tone, this will definitely get you there. And the neck is absolutely divine (if you have large-ish hands.)
 

Dr. Faustus

Inspired
Wanna hear it?

I took Cliff's SRV preset and disabled the reverbs and cranked the gain. I rather poorly played Funk 49 over a cheesy backing track from the internets. I added a vol/pan block after the cab block and set pan to FC Pedal 1, so heel is Panned LEFT and toe is Panned RIGHT. That was just to do the little pan trick they did in the studio for the intro.

So, some things to know: I used too much gain. I like gain. Since I used too much gain, you can really enjoy the line noise from my a/c in this apartment. I still am thinking about that. I did sweeten it with a tiny bit of reverb in Reaper, which it really didn't need. After I rendered it I ran a mild normalizer on it.

Trust me, the Richie Tele does not sound like this with the stock DiMarzios. These are those Fralins. And my God I love the way this thing chews.

Lastly, I did absolutely no mastering on this. I mixed it in headphones, rendered it, and Bob's yer Uncle.

 

Jimmytwotimes

Experienced
I have had an RK tele for about 5 years and love it. I actually love the Dimarzios in it. Its sounds like a hot rodded tele. The neck is a little thick for my tastes - thats the only thing . Its not a guitar I can play all night because of that. But I can play it for a few songs here and there. It plays and sounds amazing though - congrats !
 

Dr. Faustus

Inspired
I was kinda mean when I called the stock pickups garbage. I had said either here or elsewhere that they were actually very cool pickups for a rock tone. The Chopper T sounded, I thought, like a vintage-voiced humbucker (which I suppose it is) and the Twang King is a fine neck pickup. I have one other T-Type (a reissue Indonesian Talman) and it has JBE Danny Gatton pickups in it, along with his tone-knob wah mod. So I have the old-school Tele tones covered. Now I just need another Tele to put the DiMarzios in.

O my, what am I saying?
 

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Andy Eagle

Fractal Fanatic
For true traditional Tele tone IMO it needs a three saddle bridge, single coils, no contours and preferably ash/maple wood combo. The further you go away from this the more the tone could be from a hardtail strat.
 

Dr. Faustus

Inspired
I'd love to see a double-blind listening test to see just what % of subjects could pick out the body contours from the non-contoured body more often than anyone could by guessing.

Single coils go without saying as pickups are probably ("probably") the largest part of the "true traditional Tele tone." That's why I put Fralin's "Stock Tele Set" in there.

Followed by wood choice. I'd be surprised if anyone around here doubted you need to use the same woods as the "true traditional Teles." I have one guitar that is a solid quilted maple body with a birds-eye maple neck with an ebony fingerboard. Even with a floating Floyd Rose on it, it's the loudest, brightest guitar in my collection. This Tele is that, but with an FM top on Swamp Ash.

I'm skeptical about the three-saddle bridge. I'm sure some people can hear the difference but again, what % of people could reliably discern this more often than they could by guessing? Willing to wager it is very low.

Related:
I worked for Valve Amplification Company in the 1990's, I built and repaired their Renaissance amplifiers and their preamp and their Marantz reissues while I was there. Kevin Hayes, the genius behind those products, once demonstrated he could hear the differences between two different brands of 18ga. stranded wire on the input selector switch. That's right. One of our assemblers forgot to use the right brand on that one part (the rest of the preamp unit used another brand) and he picked it out during a listening test after burn-in. He carried it into the room and we opened it up to look and he was right. That was very strong evidence some people really know what to listen for and can hear things I definitely could not.

Nothing since then has changed my mind that only a rare few can pick out something so minute with any consistency, but I do allow it happens. Doesn't really matter to me, though. Between my Ibanez with the JBE's and my new Tele, I'm more than satisfied.
 
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Joe Bfstplk

Axe-Master
I'd love to see a double-blind listening test to see just what % of subjects could pick out the body contours from the non-contoured body more often than anyone one could by guessing.

This ^^^^ right here. That carve is likely a very very very very small part of the tone....

Single coils go without saying as pickups are probably ("probably") the largest part of the "true traditional Tele tone." That's why I put Fralin's "Stock Tele Set" in there.

Fralin makes some nice pickups. I had a Fralin in the bridge spot in this Tele, but I think I ordered the wrong curve (9.5"). I was never able to get the string-to-string balance right - either the bass strings sounded good or the treble strings, but not both at the same time, as then the middle strings sounded too loud. But, it did sound good with whichever side it was balanced to. Might have been a lot better to order the 12" radius one. :neutral:

So, I put the original Fender pickups back in for the time being (though the neck pickup moved over a bit), and they really sound quite nice with this setup, so they might actually stay:
IMG_20210925_182408.jpg
IMG_20210925_182435.jpg

The 5-way super switch gives
  1. Neck (wired parallel humbucking by default, but s/p switched on tone knob - pull for series)
  2. Neck (split) + Bridge, OOP
  3. Neck (split) + Bridge
  4. Middle + Bridge
  5. Bridge
Total Tele Tone Titan, despite the tone-sucking belly cut. ;) That said, I think it would sound better with one of these:
0000071_rutters-modern-bridge_550.jpeg

https://ruttersguitars.com/rutters-modern-bridge

Followed by wood choice. I'd be surprised if anyone around here doubted you need to use the same woods as the "true traditional Teles." I have one guitar that is a solid quilted maple body with a birds-eye maple neck with an ebony fingerboard. Even with a floating Floyd Rose on it, it's the loudest, brightest guitar in my collection. This Tele is that, but with an FM top on Swamp Ash.

The Tele above ^^^^ is swamp ash. Great tone.

This one is a tone monster. Mahogany with maple cap, mahogany neck with Tru-Oil finish, Dawgtown 5/2 pickups. Totally stock, except I swapped in Rutters brass saddles for the Barden brass ones. The strings wouldn't stay put on the Bardens.
IMG_20210925_183209.jpg

Might someday upgrade to a 5-way super switch set up for the following:
  1. Neck
  2. Neck + Bridge (series)
  3. Neck + Bridge
  4. Neck + Bridge (series, OOP)
  5. Bridge
Nothing since then has changed my mind that only a rare few can pick out something so minute with any consistency, but I do allow it happens. Doesn't really matter to me, though. Between my Ibanez with the JBE's and my new Tele, I'm more than satisfied.

This ^^^^ right here. You don't have to please anyone's ears but your own.... ;)
 

Dr. Faustus

Inspired
Now THAT is what I call the good Tele-chat! Thanks, Joe! Love those instruments and your passion for making them yours. I would advise not to give up on those Fralin stock teles. My first set went to my Dad with my MIM Tele and he only plays dark jazzy tones and hammer-claw thumb-beat type stuff. And HE loves them too, even though when I initially told him they were 2%/5% overwound with a "bass plate" on the bridge pickup his immediate response was, "O, then they aren't Telecaster pickups, then." 🙄

I am going to do some research, because until I read your post I never thought beyond the four-way wiring. I am always a fan of more options, which is why almost all of my bridge humbuckers have series/parallel switching added via push/pull pots, and many of my neck humbuckers as well. You can never have too many options, which is kinda why I'm here (finally.)
 
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Joe Bfstplk

Axe-Master
Now THAT is what I call the good Tele-chat! Thanks, Joe! Love those instruments and your passion for making them yours. I would advise not to give up on those Fralin stock teles.

Thanks!

My Fralin was their split-rail hum cancelling one. They come with 3 different radii, for vintage, medium, and modern radius necks. I think I just ordered the wrong radius. Likely no other changes on this Tele until string change time comes again, at which point the Rutters bridge may find its way onto the guitar. There is a little bit of magic in the attack on the 3-saddle bridges that is not quite the same on the modern 6-saddle bridge. TBH, I am really digging the single-coils that came with it, and will likely stay with singles, despite decades of hum-cancelling single-coil-sized pickup use. If anything, I may go to a set of Dawgtown 5/2 pickups like in the VZ Custom Tele. Those sound marvelous - tight, twangy AlNiCo V wound strings and smooth, non-icepicky plain strings courtesy of the AlNiCo II magnets on that side. Will see what happens. It's got Stringjoy strings on it (which tend to last a while), I have a bunch of guitars dividing my time, and it's generally rather dry here, so strings tend to last a long time....

My first set went to my Dad with my MIM Tele and he only plays dark jazzy tones and hammer-claw thumb-beat type stuff. And HE loves them too, even though when I initially told him the were 2%/5% overwound with a "bass plate" on the bridge pickup his immediate response was, "O, then they aren't Telecaster pickups, then." 🙄

Changed his mind, did he? :) It's hard to argue with success.... :D

I am going to do some research, because until I read your post I never thought beyond the four-way wiring. I am always a fan of more options, which is why almost all of my bridge humbuckers have series/parallel switching added via push/pull pots, and many of my neck humbuckers as well. You can never have too many options, which is kinda why I'm here (finally.)

The 4P5T switch is a great bit of fun. Both the Fender and Gecko Teles have the 5-way switch. It really opens up some options to put together useful but easy-to-operate switching for extra tones....
 
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