Quite a bit to tell you about regarding this 1975 Fender Tele – On looks alone, it possess that played in character, thanks to well over 40 years of regular work – When I first acquired it, I knew it was not all original, so I had to look at various options in order to get the best out of it – Option one was to leave it as it was, but I always felt this guitar could handle and deserved some improvements so in no particular order, please read below :-
- 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 – shows no shortage of ‘vintage mojo’ – Look under the scratchplate and you can see the original colour and how much it has faded – No shortage of nicks, wear + checking, yet no where near what the Custom Shop team 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 feel glossy and sticky Sometime in the past it has received a new set of medium jumbo frets – This has 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″ and 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 – So to a vintage purist it is never going to be all original again – With this in mind I decided to undertake the following Fit a whole new wiring loom – Included CTS pots with TVT true vintage taper – 250K – CRL USA switch – Treble bleed cap on the volume pot – .047 paper in oil tone cap – So far more vintage spec’d from the golden era – Note retains original control knobs + control plate Hand wound Oil City Honky Tonk Angel vintage spec’d pick-ups 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
- Gotoh GTC201 bridge assembly – solid brass plate + solid brass saddles – all chrome plated – Individual saddle adjustment for string height + intonation
- 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 picked 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 and 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 – So that first test drive, as I plugged it in to the amp, was a good moment – It sounded good acoustically, but plugged in and the improvements were instantly audible – Bridge pick-up was tight, with good body and plenty of energy – All the twang and bite you can hear on a good Tele – Far less brittle than a regular 70’s Tele – Neck pick-up is lush, smooth, warm with sparkling highs/clarity – I initially played this Tele through the clean channel on the amp on 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 look to see it the volume pot will 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 back of the volume pot for more of the BB King ‘The Thrill Has Gone’ vibe that is laid back – Yet as you wind the volume pot back towards 10 it possesses more of the ‘punk’ attack, with musical bite and attitude – So good 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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