Quite a bit to tell you about regarding this 1975 Fender Tele – On looks alone, it possess that played in character, thanks to plenty of regular work, it has carried out, over the last 45 years or so – When I first acquired this Tele, I knew it was not all original, regarding hardware + wiring loom + pick-ups – So time to explore various options in order to get the best out of it – It was one of those guitars that looked cool with some played in mojo – It played very well, thanks to the benefits of an earlier re-fret with medium jumbo frets – But the tone was seriously below par – Far to thin, weedy, ice pick attack, scratchy etc – I felt it deserved a far better tone than what I was hearing – So to leave it as it was became an instant no no – I’m not against the idea of a ‘players grade’ Tele but in such circumstances I want it have a superior playing experience, certainly compared to an all original example from the same year – Bottom line is that in my opinion this is now a very good 70’s Tele
- At over 9lbs it ain’t a light weight guitar, but hardly any surprise taking into account it is a 70’s model
- Original blonde finish – it shows no shortage of ‘vintage mojo’ – Look under the scratchplate and you can see the original colour, which indicates how much it has faded/aged – No shortage of nicks, wear + checking, yet nowhere near what the Custom Shop team would consider a heavy relic
- Original finish on the neck/fingerboard – Lightly cut back for more of a satin played in feel – Not sure if this is all through natural playing wear, or a quick rub down – Either way, it does not possess that glossy, sticky feel – Sometime in the past it has received a new set of medium jumbo frets – This has certainly enriched the playability – More of a slick action that allows for easier string bending
- Re-strung + set-up with 10/46 gauge strings and a slick action
- C neck profile with comfortable depth – Touch more depth at the top nut end at .875″ with more of a classic 60’s depth at the 12th fret of .929″
- Overall a nice playing experience awaits – Certainly more slick and less stiff/tight than a conventional 70’s model, thanks to the chunkier frets
- Neck date info – see web pic – I can’t make out all the faded letters – 1303??5 75 – 13 indicates a Tele neck 03 indicates maple neck 75 indicates date of birth
- Original scratchplate, tuners, switch tip + control knobs, tuners with F logo
Now to the changes :-
- When I acquired this Tele, the wiring loom and pick-ups were not all original – Bit of a mixed bag really, plus a noisy pot and a scratchy/noisy switch – So to a vintage purist it was never going to be all original again – With this in mind I decided to undertake the following – Fit a whole new wiring loom – Included 250K CTS pots with TVT true vintage taper – CRL USA switch – Treble bleed cap on the volume pot – .047 paper in oil tone cap – So far more of a vintage spec from the golden era – Note that it still retains the original control knobs + control plate – Oil City Honky Tonk Angel vintage spec’d pick-ups (hand wound in the UK and well worth checking out) – Flat pole pieces on the bridge pick-up as per those from the early 50’s black guard era – Neck measures 7.34K whilst the bridge kicks out a healthy 9.95K – So far more influenced by the tone of a Tele from the black guard era
- Gotoh GTC201 bridge assembly – solid brass plate + solid brass saddles – all chrome plated – Individual saddle adjustment for string height + intonation – Granted it does not look like a vintage assembly, but it is so much more solid – Note it still utilises the original fixing screws, so easy to change to a retro-vintage style Tele bridge assembly if required
- Such changes have seriously enhanced the guitars appeal to a player – At the time of writing this evaluation I had a 1971 Tele in stock, so I compared the two guitars side by side – On a blind fold test, I would be amazed if any/many players would pick the older model over this 75 Tele – It wasn’t one particular part of the guitar that was ‘better’ – It was the whole guitar – Feel, tonal character and playability – Certainly the tone was far superior – More on this below
Tonal character :- There is a tendency for 70’s models to be a touch thin and weedy, with to much of a sharp fierce and brittle attack with ice pick highs – I was aware of this before I made any changes, as listed above, so this is what I was hoping to avoid – It is one thing hoping you’ll get an improvement, after such changes have taken place, but whilst the guitar is on the bench you never know for sure how it will turn out – So that first test drive, as I plugged it in to the amp, was such a positive moment – It sounded good when played acoustically, but plugged in and the improvements are instantly audible – The bridge pick-up was tight, with plenty of body and energy – You’ll experience all the twang, bite, body and balls, that you’d expect to hear from a good Tele – So far less brittle than a regular 70’s Tele – The neck pick-up is lush, smooth, warm with sparkling highs/clarity – I initially played this Tele through the clean channel of the amp, whilst checking out both pick-ups – No need to quickly move away from this setting as the Tele offered plenty of character – Chilled + laid back for jazz/blues or twang for country pickin’ – But moving on to the overdriven amp setting, I need to check out the volume pot, to ensure if it would offer subtle gain/tone variations, as I roll it off a touch – Yes it does – This gives you access to so much more emotion and expression – You can roll off the volume pot a touch, for more of the ‘BB King The Thrill Has Gone’ vibe that is so laid back – Yet as you wind the volume pot back towards 10, this Tele possesses more of that ‘punk’ attack, with musical bite and no shortage of attitude – So plenty of tonal variations as required, with a host of options in between – The same approach works on a hi-gain amp setting but tends to offer more gain variation – Harder to totally clean up such a hi-gain amp setting – With such gain and now on the neck pick-up, you can almost achieve the Gary Moore Still Got The Blues lush sustain
It would be harsh and unfair to say I’ve transferred a 70’s Tele into a pre’ CBS 50’s classic – But I have seriously enhanced a non-original 70’s Tele into a far superior guitar regarding the playing performance and tonal character – So a ‘vintage guitar’ at a far more affordable price, that has so much ‘mojo’
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