I own a Fender MIM (Made in Mexico) Telecaster guitar, which I believe I bought in 1992-3. I'd always loved the "twangy" country sound of a Tele, as well as knowing that Bruce Springsteen favored it. The fact that everybody and their brother was buying Stratocasters only made it more unique to me. Of course, I'm a pretty crappy player, but that's beside the point.
One thing that always bothered me about the Tele was it had a "hum/crackle" that went away if you touched the volume or tone controls. This is somewhat endemic to the Telecaster, but can be corrected with proper grounding and shielding. I recently decided to get back into playing, but the noise and my previous complete maladjustment of the action (how high the strings are) turned me off to the Tele.
So I borrowed my dad's Gibson Les Paul Studio. Now, this is a damn fine guitar. Probably about ten years old, an actual Gibson instead of the cheaper Epiphone model. A real class axe. Man, do I dislike playing it. It feels like I'm always fighting the guitar. The strings were a mile high, even when I lowered the bridge all the way. My hand sticks to the neck instead of sliding, and my fingers buzz on the strings. It's hard to play sitting down, it's really heavy and an odd shape. I do love the tone and sustain it has, but it was really discouraging to play. So I decided to fix the Tele.
I also wanted to branch out my sound a little. Like I said, I'm a fan of country guitar-pickin', but I wanted something that approached the LP tone, so I researched replacing the pickups. Turns out there were a lot of options out there, but they were also kind of expensive. Further research, however, turned up Bill Lawrence
and his signature Keystone pickups
. I found nothing but praise (Dimebag Darrell was a very satisfied customer) and it was only $62 to replace both! They arrived about ten days after ordering and I started the project.
My original guitar, strung Keith Richards Open-G, 5-string style
Yeah, I'm a Deadhead. Also, when you see it, you will shit bricks.
The original pickups and hardware removed
The new pickups roughly in their cavities
Such sloppy work, lazy Mexican laborers, I'll have to sand down the interior
I line the cavities with copper tape
I glue aluminum foil to the back of the pickguard
The pickups and hardware correctly wired, finally (I had real trouble understanding the schematic, especially with the modifications I was making)
The finished guitar, with Wrangler leather strap I found for $1 at Wal-Mart
No cover on the neck pickup
I swapped the volume and tone controls, replaced the tone with a no-load pot, and put a 4-way pickup selector switch to the rear
The Les Paul, which is de facto
mine now, I guess.
The new pickups sound fantastic, and the 4-way switch has an interesting out-of-phase setting. I'm much happier with the switch out of the way. I'm very glad I made the repair and I'm proud I managed to do it myself.