Tuesday, August 12, 2008
That is the before. My 1988 MIJ Tele, expertly relic'd over the last 15 years by yours truly. Picks jammed under the pickguard and control plate. The old Ultra-style 3-screw bridge. Plus the new bridge that was to be installed. Ordered from Guitar Fetish last week and arriving yesterday.
Speaking of expert relic jobs, I have pulled out the rear strap button screw many times. Most times, I just redrilled it. I think I filled the last time, which makes this five times. In one of Dan Erlewine's books, he shows the tail of Jeff Beck's Strat, which evidently he lets fall on stage, button first, at regular intervals, so it looks much like that.
Anyway, the first step is to remove the strings, because when you have tension on the bridge, you can't really take it off. Then you take out the bridge screws — the old one had three — and then take off the mounting bolts for the bridge pickup.
The good thing about doing a Telecaster bridge is the fact that the bridge plate is how you mount the pickup. If the pickup is in the route, you have to be close to right with the bridge placement. If I was putting on another kind of bridge, I would have been rightfully very worried, but I wasn't.
Perhaps I should've been.
This picture shows both bridges head-to-head. (OK, I took the strings off the tuners, not out of the bridge. You can see the ball ends in the shot. It's a good way to keep 'em together while you wait to reinstall.) It shows, specifically, the fact that the outer screws are the same width. I figured that I could use the same screw holes. A careful eye would notice that the pickup holes do not overlap in the center, but rather over at the bass end. Just as a guess, I would say that the screw holes go about 1/4" away from where the old ones were. When placed, you could see the old screw holes through the string-through holes on the bridge. This was OK for me, as this is not a string-through loader.
This is a bridge-setting trick I found on TDPRI. Put some thread through the outside tuners, over the nut, over the bridge, through their repective holes, then weighted off the edge to hold it tight. I thought I was being cool. And I guess I was, but I didn't get it fully. I thought it was to ensure strings going correctly over the pickups. It's also for getting the right placement on the fretboard. This I do not have. I'm within 1/'16" from the edge of the fretboard at the 21st fret. At some point, I will have to fill-and-drill (take some toothpicks, goop 'em with wood glue, stick 'em in, cut 'em off: that's the Guitar Repair Book way) then re-set the bridge to get some more space for the 1st string. But not today.
I find that you just need a little bit of help to get the screw through the finish and into the wood. Not much. So I took a tiny drill bit, put it into my Dremel (with a little bit of paper as a shim), started the holes with that. My power drill is just a bit too powerful and ungainly to really do this job.
And here it is. Set up and with picks jammed back under the pickguard. I did a good-enough-for-comfort job for string height, but one day would like to build a radius card that can go under the strings and allow me to get the 1st and 6th strings as I want them and move the others as needed. But they work for me now.
This is a three-saddle compensated bridge, so intonation is not quite as true as you can get with a six-saddle, but I'm OK with it. Surprisingly, the E and A are almost right on, and the D and G are real close. Right now, it's the B and E that are the most off, and I've split the difference.
The new bridge is noticeably lighter. I think that makes the tone more icepick, which is fun. My eldest came to see my progress at the end, and I was showing him the icepick. "Going to ten on the volume knob makes you bass-heavy, so if you roll back a little, you get more of that icepick." Then I fretted on the neck pickup. You can't do that on every guitar, can you?
The wife said, "So, none more black?" I pointed at the neck pickup cover and said "Some more black. Just not right now." I'll have to get a soldering gun and the belief I can do electronics first, because the cover is grounded. And a friend has a set of black tuners he's not using and offered a straight-up trade. I'll blog all that, too.