Thursday, March 28, 2024

Telecaster Mods to Make Them More Playable

The Telecaster. What some would call simple perfection or a blue collar working man’s guitar is a 74 year old design. While there have been many other iterations of it, the original standard modal has had very few changes to the design by the original company who launched it, Fender. As great as the guitar is, there are 3 major design flaws that really effect it’s playing ability and should have been modified on standards off the factory line many years ago. As much as I would like to blame “boomers” or the stubborn allergenic-to-change guitar community, truth is, most of us just want to emulate our heroes who owned the same old guitars with their flawed designs. So Fender keeps making them the same way. The good news is we can mod these changes fairly cheaply and easily. Here are three mods that should be standard on Teles to make them more playable. 


1. Replacing the Jack Plug Dish Thingy

Worst ever.

Seriously. What the hell is this thing? It doesn’t appear on any other guitar in the world for good reason. They should stop being made. You can’t fit right angled jacks into it securely. It comes loose quickly, and it’s a pain to tighten it back up. The whole thing is holding on to a janky piece of metal wedged into the body. Just toss this thing and buy a screw mounted cup type plug mount. You’ll never worry about it again.




2. Intonating the Three Saddle Bridge.

While some newer models have the 6 saddle, fully intonatable bridges, the old style bridges are made for 3 saddles. Each sharing two strings and usually at a flat angle. This makes the higher positions on the guitar neck become out of tune. I know some people say this is part of the charm of a Tele, but I’d rather play in tune. No one listens to a record and hears an out of tune guitar and says, “gee, what a great Tele.” You can buy compensated angled saddles out of a variety of materials. They’re usually spot on with a little adjusting.



3. Angling the Selector Switch like a Stratocaster

This won’t bug everyone, but if you switch pickups in the middle of a song then the Tele will have you fumbling around trying. There is a reason the Stratocaster has an angled pickup selector switch. You can use it on the fly much quicker and easily. There are replacement control plates which do this plus moving the volume knob back a bit to allow for quick switching.

24 years of corrosion under the old plate








Runner ups.

The neck pickup. I tried for years to like them. Tried many types of traditional styles. I don’t like them. Personally I think replacing them with anything is an improvement.

Top load strings on the bridge. You can bend the strings better and it seems to be less bright then the through body string option.

In Series wiring for the middle position.  Despite playing a lot of funk, I hardy ever used the stock parallel wiring.

Until next time space cadets