Thursday, July 21, 2011

Xavier's 1955 1958 Humbucker Keith Telecaster


This was an interesting project. Xavier brought me a Tele body from '55 and an Esquire neck from '58. He also provided a '66 Tele bridge pickup and a 60's Gibson Humbucker. He asked me to put together sort of a "Keith" Tele for him, using mostly vintage parts. I supplied a '58 neck plate, '58 knobs, and '58 control plate. I installed brand new switch, pots, and jack. Tuners are repros. This Tele is quite heavy, at over 9 lbs., due to the body... but it sounds absolutely killer. Both pickups are wonderful in this guitar and they work well together. And honestly, despite the preference for vintage pots and switch, the brand new electronics work much better than expired vintage stuff and make this Tele sound as good as the pickups will deliver.

Xavier wanted a deep Butterscotch finish, which I normally object to, and it took two tries to get it right for him. I first delivered a finish that was right on in terms of looking just like original finishes in the Black Guard Book, but this is not what Xavier wanted. Also, the old frets in the neck were worn and Xavier couldn't play the thing. I asked him to bring me a guitar he liked so I could analyze the frets and neck. He's accustomed to Jumbo's, so I did a fret job with medium Jumbos for him.

This project made me rethink my own preferences in the interest of addressing Xavier's particular needs. A good challenge for both of us, but the end result speaks for itself. This is a killer vintage/player Tele.