Roland VG-99 V-Guitar Multi Effects Processor System

Roland-vg-99 LogoModel a wide range of electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitars, synthesizers and amplifiers.

This is an all-in-one package that is impressive. At the heart of the VG-99 are two completely independent signal paths. You can Model classic guitars, basses or amplifiers, and then assign up to 11 effects, twice. You can then use those two channels independent of each other, or simultaneously. Using an optional floor-based controller, you can do all of your channel switching or blending,

The acoustic guitar modeling is not bad. While it may not sound 100% perfect, it’s close enough for most demo and home-recording projects, and beats the cost of purchasing a steel string and a nylon string guitar. I was actually pretty impressed with the bass modeling. Another impressive feature is the alternate tunings. These are synthesized tunings, so your guitar won’t be physically re-tuned, but it will sound as if it is. The upside here is that your guitar’s neck won’t need to endure the physical stress of the constantly changing string tension, and the strings will always feel the same. Some may feel that the downside is exactly that: you won’t have the added visceral dynamic of how the strings really feel in an alternate tuning.

The D BEAM and Ribbon Controllers can be assigned to any parameter in the VG-99 and provide fairly impressive real-time expression. I find them a bit odd though, because you generally need both hands when playing guitar. But you can certainly wave your guitar neck across the D BEAM controller. For example, you can play a chord, “freeze” it, and then play over the chords.

Summary

This is a product with a lot of features. The modeling alone is worth the price of admission. But the dual-channel design makes it even more dangerous. When you add in the MIDI and USB interfaces, you have a pretty serious little machine that is perfect for home-recording.

Comprehensive Demos

Tutorials

Dimarzio’s “Pickup Picker” makes choosing the right product a snap

Dimarzio Logo
Dimarzio’s “Pickup Picker” is quite useful

Instead of browsing through multi-level menus, find the right Dimarzio pickup in three easy steps.

Pickup makers such as Dimarzio and Seymour Duncan are great. They make high-quality products at a reasonable price. But sometimes, it is not easy to find the right pickup to suit your needs. Maybe you are a Telecaster player, but which Tele pickup should you buy? Vintage? Noiseless? 7-String? Ugh… there number of variables adds up quickly. Then you have to consider what kind of body wood are using, what is the problem you are trying to solve? Overall sound character? {insert migrane headache here]. Understandably, deciding which awesomely amazing guitar pickup to buy is a challenge. There is some good news though:

Dimarzio has done a nice job with their new “Pickup Picker”. This web site feature prompts you for very simple and easy-to-understand questions, and based on your answers, recommends three pickups. The whole “Step 1, step 3, step 3” approach really works. I gave it a spin today and here is a rundown of my experience:

Step # 1: Select a size. There are only two choices: “Humbucker” or “Strat”, simple enough.

Step # 1
Step # 1

Step # 2: Choose the pickup position: “Bridge”, “Middle” or “Neck”.

Step # 2
Step # 2

Step # 3: Answer several very basic questions.

Step # 3
Step # 3

View your suggestions: After clicking the “Find my pickup” button, the pickup picker shows you your suggested products, with links to each one:

Dimarzio's Pickup Picker's suggested choices
Dimarzio’s Pickup Picker’s suggested choices

Summary

Making the right choice with regards to your new guitar pickups can be an overwhelming experience. Dimarzio’s Pickup Picker is pretty cool. What impressed me most is that they made it simple, simple simple. Any time you see a 3-step approach to any consumer-related product, you know that some thought has gone into usability.

Here is a link to the Dimarzio Pickup Picker: http://www.dimarzio.com/pickup-picker

What is the Relative Major / Relative Minor?

Sheet Music
What is the Relative Major / Relative Minor?

Understanding this relationship can help improve your soloing, and lead to new sounds

Overview

In western tonality, we use the system of “Keys.” Each key has a number of associated sharps or flats that comprise the overall 7-note structure of the key. The exception is C-Major, which has no sharps or flats. An easy way to visualize C-Major is to imagine playing only the white keys on a piano. All of these white keys are in the key of C-Major. Every other key utilizes at least one of the black keys, meaning that they have at least one sharp or flat note.

In the same manner, every minor key uses one or more sharps or flats. The exception is A-Minor, which like C-Major, has no sharps or flats. If you imagine that same piano, and play only the white keys, you are playing in A-Minor. The logical question is: “Well, if I play only the white keys on a piano, am I playing in C-Major or A-Minor?” The answer is: You are playing in both keys.

Short Answer

Every major key has a “Relative Minor” key that uses the exact same 7 notes. Conversely, every minor key has a “Relative Major” key that uses the exact same 7 notes.

So, the next question might be: “Should I even care about this?”

The answer is: “Definitely”

Digging Deeper

Don’t worry, I have good news, and better news. First the good news: It is insanely easy to determine the relative major or minor key on a guitar. Can you count to “Three”? If so, great. If you need to know the relative minor key of a major key, just pick a note on the fretboard that represents the root note of your major key. I always envision the low-E string as it is simplest to view in your mind. Ok, so if you are in the key of A-Major, picture the “A” note on the 5th fret of the low-E string.  Now count down three frets. Three frets down from the 5th fret is the 2nd fret. The 2nd fret on the low-E string is “F#”. So, “F#-Minor” is the “Relative Minor Key” of A-Major. This means that if your band is playing in F#-Minor, you can play any note in A-Major. Conversely, if your band is playing in A-Major, you can play any note in F#-Minor.

New Sounds

The better news is that once you internalize this relationship, you have a tool that really allows you to broaden your palate a bit. For example, in my mind, when a band is playing in a major key and I ahve to solo, I always feel that it is a bit boring to solo in a major scale against the same major key. So I immediately think “relative minor” and solo in F#-Minor. Not every single note sounds perfect all the time, but with a little practice, you can really develop a libraby scales and patterns based on a relative-minor key. In my opinion, when you use the relative minor scale to solo against a major groove, it immediatey takes on a bit more of a “modal” sound. Once you can really switch back and forth between the major scale and the relative minor scale when you solo, you will really notice a difference in many different “moods” you can create using this approach.

Improved Chord Vocabulary

Even better news: This technique can really open up doors with regards to your chord work. Imagine again that the band is playing a goove in A-Major. If they are grooving on a A-Major chord, they are gooving on “The One” or “The Tonic”. This can get very boring very fast is you are only playing an A-Major chord over the groove. So, play the relative minor chord! Against that A-Major groove, an F# minor can sound very cool when voiced right. Imagine that you are playing an A-Major root-position cord as follows: D-string: 7th fret, -D-string: 6th fret, B-string: 5th fret. Add the G# on the high E-string (4th fret). You now have an F#-m9 chord. Tell me that does not sound much much cooler than just playing an A-Major chord. The best voicing for this chord would be to eliminate the A note (D-string, 7th fret). So, now you are playing only C#, E, G#. This is not only the top portion of an F#-m9 chord, but it is also a root position C#-Monor chord.

Summary

What I hope is becoming apparent at this point, is that when you start to examine the relationship between the relative major and relative minor keys, you will realize that there are all kinds of relationships between different chords that enables to you quickly develop alternate chord voicings that will not only help to liven up a boring groove, but also allow to you develop a broad range of sounds that you can use in solos or chords that become your tool-set.

Should I Upgrade My Telecaster Bridge Pickup?

Telecaster Bridge Pickup
Should I upgrade my bridge pickup?

Thinking about upgrading your Telecaster bridge pickup? Here are a few things to consider

Telecasters are great, probably my favorite guitar of all. But when your Tele is stock, chances are that it came loaded with vintage style pickups. Depending on your rig and your style of playing, this may translate to noise (i.e. the dreaded 60-cycle hum), or in the case of the bridge pickup: a somewhat brittle tone, and few options. Here is a list of areas to think-through before you make your final decision on which Telecaster bridge pickup to choose.

Should I install a noiseless bridge pickup?

This may be the most important decision you make. The reason is that true vintage-style pickups tend to do one thing and do it really well. Noiseless pickups give you more options, but some  guitarists (and I mean serious tone snobs) feel that you lose a bit of that “vintage” charm. I think this is mostly a lot of baloney. I can tell the difference, but I’ve been playing for over 30 years, ad I can’t always tell the difference. It’s just not that big of a deal. If noise is a consideration, get a noiseless pickup. If noise is not a problem, and you really want to stay faithful to that vintage Fender Telecaster sound, then get a vintage-style model. End of conversation. Once you have spent more than 20 minutes thinking about this, you have over-thought it.

What are the best Telecaster Bridge Pickups?

Now we are of-course getting into the really subjective stuff. No one can really say which ones are the best of the best of the best, because to a large extent, it’s a matter of taste. For starters, you can check out  an earlier post about the Best Telecaster Bridge Pickups. You can also browse this site by tag or category for “pickups”, there are plenty of helpful articles. All that said, here is a general lay of the land:

The main companies out there for Telecaster pickups are Seymour Duncan, Dimarzio, Fender, and Lindy Fralin. There are a few smaller companies out there, but I’d say these are the ones to consider by default. If you are thinking right now: “…hey, what about Lollar or Joe Barden, or EMG” etc… then you clearly do not need any advice. Go out an buy whatever you want. If you are not as experienced with buying Telecaster pickups, then I’d recommend that you at least start out with the companies I suggested. They are all a bit different. Here is the high-level:

Seymour Duncan – Probably the most varied product line and appeal to players of all types. Most of their pickups are very warm, and not overly hot.

Dimarzio – They tend to be more popular with harder-edged styles like Rock. Plenty of their products are just great for lighter styles such as Blues or pop, but they tend to make slightly more aggressive models.

Fender – They have probably the most minimal product line as they are not solely a pickup maker (they are busy making of the most amazing guitars and amplifiers of all time, so you can’t blame them), but what they do they do real well: vintage.

Lindy Fralin – A real boutique shop. Lindy is super cool and makes amazing pickups. His stuff is a bit more pricey than the bigger names, but if you really know what you are looking for, he has a product line that delivers

How do I decide which Telecaster Bridge pickup is right for me?

Again, this is really a matter of opinion. But as a rule of thumb, first consider your playing style; are you a Rock player? A Jazz player? Blues? Country? The answer to this question will help you narrow it down fastest. If you play Metal or heavy Rock, you may want to consider a noiseless model, and maybe even a blade / rails type of design. If you lean towards really heavy styles like Metal, then active pickups become very appealing. But few Tele players are Metal players, although I suppose they are out there. If you play more moderate styles such as Rock, Rock & Roll, Blues, Funk, etc.. them it’s a toss-up between vintage and noiseless. Noiseless is better if you have to cover a borader range of sounds and are likely to use a lot of gain / overdrive. Vintage is better if you do not play to play extremely loud or use a lot of gain, yet want a really old-school sound. This is particularly true of Funk, where that old-school / low-fi Telecaster bridge sound is really critical (and this is one thing that high-output Tele bridge pickups do not do as well as vintage ones).

Ok, but what about installation; are replacing Telecaster bridge pickups hard?

Nah. Not at all. This is one of the really great things about the Telecaster; the bridge pickup is a very standard shape. From old-school vintage to over-the-top high-gain models, they all have that same three-screw mounting scheme and drop into place with ease. Twist, twist twist, and you are done.

What are the down-sides to vintage Telecaster bridge pickups?

Noise. That is the big issue. Once you start to play at high volumes and / or use a lot of gain, you are gonna start pulling your hair out because there will be a lot of noise that is nearly impossible to get rid of. This cab be particularly problematic in the studio. Other than that, vintage-style tele bridge pickups tend to be one-trick ponies; you get pretty much one sound.

What are the down-sides to noiseless Telecaster bridge pickups?

There are fewer down-sides here. Tone-snobs will complain about the loss of highs or in-general, how they don’t quite do the “vintage” thing as well. For the most part, you can ignore that. You’ll know when you know enough to know the difference (nice sentence huh? : – ) The only other downside is that if you want to takte advantage of the flexibility of a noiseless pickup (as some come with a four-conductor cabe for multiple wiring options), you’ll have to be prepared to cut-up your pick guard, and you have to be fairly handy with a soldering iron (or pay someone who is). This is all worth it though; you can usually get two great sounds out of one pickup. And then you have twice as many bridge-neck sounds as well.

 Summary

There are a few things to consider when upgrading your Telecaster bridge pickup. Whether to go noiseless, which company to go with and which model to choose are just a few of the high-level decisions you’ll have to make. But just be sure to ask yourself as many questions as you can; “What is my playing style?”, “Do I tend to play loud or use a lot of gain?”, Do I need to get more than one sound out of my Telecaster bridge pickup?” and so on. The better the questions you ask yourself, the better the answers will be from web pages, repair professionals or guitar players whom you ask.

Fender Texas Specials Stratocaster Pickups really are Special

Fender Texas Specials
Fender Texas Specials

If you want a vintage Strat pickup that is extra hot, these pickups are seriously worth considering

It’s hard to believe that these pickups just celebrated their 20th anniversary. They first made their debut in January 1992 as the stock pickups in the Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster. Not too long after, they became available as a standalone product. SInce then, they have become quite popular.

Keep in mind: these are Stratocaster pickup; they are dripping in Strat-ness. So again, not meant for situations where you need a humbucker. But if you are a Strat player, and the vintage realm is where you tend to spend your time, the Fender Texas Specials have a lot to offer.

What always impresses me so much about these pickups is the versatility. They do super-clean extremely well. But they also sound incredible with moderate amounts of gain. Granted, these are not meant for crazy amounts of distortion, so if you are a Metal player I don’t think these are the right pickups. But, if you play Blues, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Rock and Roll, Funk, etc… these pickups are quite versatile.

The clean sounds are second to none; plenty of snap, and twang, and bell-like chime. When you start to apply drive, all kinds of wonderful squeaks and squawks start to pop out of your amplifier. While they are vintage pickups (i.e. non hum-canceling). they are surprisingly quiet for vintage pickups. If you are considering upgrading your Fender Stratocaster pickups, and do not want hum-cancelling, Texas Specials are seriously worth considering. Take a listed to the videos below for a pretty good sampling of how they sound.

Fender Texas Specials Product Page

Search eBay for fender texas special

Vox Custom AC15C1

Vox Custom AC15C1
Vox Custom AC15C1

For more than 50 years, the AC-15 has been one of the most coveted tools for obtaining the “British” sound

Vox has dusted off one of their flagship models for yet another reissue that offers a great blend of classic features and modern upgrades. The 12″ Celestion G12M Greenback speakers is probably the most notable improvement. You can expect some serious mids and tons of headroom from this speaker. As has been the case for many years, the “Normal” and “Top Boost” channels offer some variety for the overall voicing of the amp. Both of these channels share the master volume and “Tone Cut” controls. This is particularly cool because it means that the Tone Cut control operates on the power-amp level, not the pre-amp. The result is a true tone shaping of the overall amp voice, not the input.

As one might expect, the power tubes are EL84, which means plenty of UK “Snarl”. The speaker resistance can be switched between 8 and 16 Ohms, which comes in handy if you plan to use an extension speaker. The built-in reverb and tremolo sound ridiculously warm and lush, and can be toggled remotely during stage time with the Vox VFS2 footswitch.

Low-wattage amplifiers are one of the most overlooked and under-utilized tools out there. For recording, it is so helpful to be able to crank a 15-watt amp, and get all of that lovely “stuff” that oozes out of a tube amplifier when it is run at near full-throttle, without driving everyone else in your band (or the engineer) crazy!

Vox Custom AC15C1 Product Page



The Fulltone OCD – In Search of the Holy Grail

Fulltone OCD
Fulltone OCD

An incredible palate of overdrive sounds in one little pedal

One of the aspects that seems to be particularly high on the list of priorities for guitarists is how to achieve the perfect driven sound. There are so many overdrive / distortion pedals out there. You could spend all day and night just trying them all out to see which one sounds best. Although guitars, amps and even pickups are often candidates for “Best of the Best” ranking among guitarists, the overdrive pedal seems to hold a special place in our hearts as a critical component to our sound and an item that we keep ourselves in constant “Search” more for.

I think the reason for this is that while 100% clean guitar is a thing of great beauty for certain styles of music, a certain amount of drive or saturation is desirable in most situations. If for no other reason, the power-tube compression, the warmth and thickness, all aspects of saturation are generally a positive thing when it comes to guitar. Keeping in mind, this all sounds best when in the hands of a qualified professional. Loud / Overdriven guitar is alot like a really fast sports car; anyone can get in and drive, but only someone who knows what they are doing can get us home alive!

Part of the mystique is also that middle-ground overdrive that is so elusive. “Alot of Overdrive” is a very easy sound to get as long as it’s a decent pedal. But that “in-Between” sound is not easy. Just a little drive, but not too much. When you think of players such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Robbie Robertson or Albert Collins, what you have is a tone that is not really distorted, but it is big, warm, and somehow a little “Pushed”. Regardless of what you may think of their technique, these guitarists, and many others, have a tone that is 100% identifiable and deceptively difficult to emulate.

The “Holy Grail” of overdrive pedals is alot like a surfer who seeks the perfect wave; we desperately seek it, but hope that we never find it. Bad news folks, I think I may have found it. The Fulltone OCD is one hell of a little pedal. Granted, there are other ones out there that offer an actual 12AX7 tube, and pretty serious tone-shaping (for example, the Radial Tonebone), the OCD is just an incredibly simple little pedal that sounds great anytime anywhere.

I’ve been using an OCD exclusively for three years now and this little sucker has never let me down. It plays well with all types of amps; Marshall, Fender, Boogie. In-fact, I’ve plugged this thing into a few solid-state amps and been pleasantly surprised.

My only regret is that I have not made it my business to get one of the proprietary Fulltone AC wall-warts (negative center pin, so you gotta either use theirs, or know how to convert one of the BOSS adapters). From what I understand the OCD can handle anything from 9-18 volts. And, the more voltage you use, the more headroom you get.

I think my love affair with this pedal is mostly driven by the balance of tone vs. “No fuss no muss”. The drive it gives you is about as transparent as they get, yet it’s just a little 1 pound little thang, solid as a rock, minimal controls, and it plays well with all the other kids on your pedal board. If you are looking for a really transparent overdrive that sounds great through just about any amp, give the Fulltone OCD a try. I’m very sure you will be impressed with this pedal.

What Are The Best Telecaster Bridge Pickups?

What Are The Best Telecaster Bridge Pickups?

Treat your Tele to the best bridge pickup possible

Although Telecaster bridge pickups are best known for their famous “Twang”, more and more, guitarists are looking to coax an increased array of sounds out of their instrument. If you need to extend what your Telecaster can do, you’ll need to consider upgrading your bridge and neck pickups. Even if you simply want to improve the quality of your existing sound, an upgrade is usually the best bet. Below are links for the best Telecaster Bridge pickups on the market. Which one is right for you depends mostly on your needs as well as taste.

Noiseless / Hum-Canceling

Fralin Tele Split Blade

Lindy Fralin Tele Split Blade – product page

Lindy Fralin has long been known as the go-to guy when it comes to passive / vintage replacement pickups. His reputation for craftsmanship is second to none. There was a time when he actually answered is own phone and took your order! I’m not sure if this is still the case, and if not, you can’t blame him; the guy is busy making some of the most popular replacement pickups out there!

Finally, Lindy has gone noiseless. These split blades are 100% noise-free, but come packed with all of the jaw-dropping tone that has become standard for all of his products.



FENDER N3 NOISELESS™ TELE PICKUPS

Fender’s American Deluxe Telecasters have been stocked with these pickups since 2010. These are not at all aggressive. They do a nice job of replicating vintage-style telecaster pickups and are fulling noise-cancelling.


Dimarzio Area Hot T™ Bridge DP421

This pickup offers a great blend of PAF humbucker warmth and traditional Tele Twang. This is a fairly high-output pickup, so consider this with regards to balance with your neck pickup.


Dimarzio Fast Track T™ DP381

Designed to maintain the traditional Tele bridge sound, but provide a bigger sound with more volume and of course, zero hum.


Seymour Duncan Little ‘59™ for Tele ST59-1b

Duncan set out to provide a Telecaster bridge pickup that cold duplicate the warmth and tone of the original 1959 PAF Gibson humbucker. They pretty much nail it here. This is not a super high-output screamer, you’ve got an even-tempered pickup what is warm and of course noise canceling. The two rows of flat-head screw pole-pieces allow you to really tweak the output vs string-put balance just right. It does come with a four-conductor lead, so with a mini toggle-switch, you can also get a more snappy sound out of it. For this we recommend a DPDT (double pole / double throw).


Seymour Duncan Hot Lead Stack STK-T2b

A hum-canceling Tele bridge pickup on steroids; not a drastically different tone, just seriously higher output than a vintage Tele bridge pickup. The blade design helps a lot with drop-outs. It’s not as modern-sounding as it may look. It will give you a pretty-much strait-ahead Telecaster bridge tone, but higher output and no hum.


Seymour Duncan Vintage Stack® Tele (lead) STK-T3b

A vintage-voiced, hum-canceling Tele bridge pickup. Classic vintage Telecaster bridge pickup tone, but no 60-cycle hum or buzz. This thing really sounds great. There is plenty of bite, but the high-end is not at all shrill or tinny. It’s pure classic Tele bridge territory, but calmer on the high-end and no hum, no buzz, no b.s.



Vintage Style (non hum-canceling)

Lindy Fralin Stock Tele® Replacement Style Bridge

These pickups come in three different configurations. The Broadcaster has flat poles, the Hybrid model’s poles are flat with a raised D magnet, or you can choose stock stagger. There is also a Steele-pole version. The output is in the neighborhood of 6.6k (8,800 turns), using 42 gauge Plain Enamel wire. You can also choose to have your pickup slightly overwound with 2% over-stock (approx 6.8k output) or 5% over-stock (approx 7.2k output).


Lindy Fralin Blues Special Tele Replacement Style Bridge Pickup

These pickups come in three different configurations. The Broadcaster has flat poles, the Hybrid model’s poles are flat with a raised D magnet, or you can choose stock stagger. There is also a Steele-pole version.  The output is in the neighborhood of 7.3k , which is 5% hotter than stock and has a slightly darker sound; wound with 42 gauge Polynylon wire.

Lindy Fralin Tele Replacement High Output Style Bridge Pickup

Wound using 43 gauge wire, these Tele bridge pickups come in three different configurations. The Broadcaster has flat poles, the Hybrid model’s poles are flat with a raised D magnet, or you can choose stock stagger. There is also a Steele-pole version.  The output is in the neighborhood of 9.5k , which is 10% hotter than stock and has a darker sound, 15% over-stock is available as well.


Lindy Fralin Steel Poled Tele® Style Bridge (42) Pickup

These are pretty special pickups. The physical construction is more like a P-90 in that a row of screws straddle two magnets. It’s great to be able to adjust the pole-pieces of a Telecaster pickup. While non-hum-canceling, these are reasonably quiet in most situations. Thy are wound to 4.5k for a 20% hotter sound, or can be wound to 10k for a 25% hotter sound.


Dimarzio Pre B-1™ DP112

A traditional Telecaster bridge pickup, but designed to flatten out the high end, and pump up the mids and lows. They didn’t go too over-the-top on this model. It’s still a general Vintage vibe, but just a lot more fatness to the sound. They did a nice job on this pickup; good stuff.

Search eBay for Dimarzio DP112


Dimarzio True Velvet™ T DP178

Vintage sound, but a bigger more dynamic output that combines the best of the Broadcaster and Telecaster bridge pickups. Also double wax potted to keep squeals to a minimum. This one is for you if you insist on a true Vintage setup, but minimum hum, and a hotter output. I have also done a BestCovery review of the neck model.

Search eBay for Dimarzio DP178


Dimarzio Twang King™ DP173

Vintage Telecaster bridge pickup sound with more attack. There is a base plate installed and it it wax potted. The base plate give you a heck of a lot more kick, without making it a super hot pickup. This one is surely a Vintage Tele bridge pickup, but a pretty hot tamale.

Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound® for Tele (lead) STL-3

This pickup offers a bizzarely high output for a vintage Telecaster bridge model. There is a surprising amount of punch and attack. It does have an odd consistent low hum at almost all times, but the ones I’ve used were older, so maybe they have upgraded it a bit. This is a really great Telecaster bridge pickup, and has almost humbucker-level output, but at the same time, does not loose it’s Tele charm. It’s an odd one, but a pretty good one. I recommend it, as long as you don’t use too much gain.


Seymour Duncan Vintage Broadcaster® Lead STL-1b

Faithful recreation of the original with a slightly higher output and edge.


Seymour Duncan Vintage ‘54 Lead STL-1

Vintage voiced, with emphasis on the high end. The pole pieces under the D and G strings are raised

Where Can I Find The Best Telecaster Guitar Parts?

Where Can I Find The Best Telecaster Guitar Parts?
Fender Telecaster

Telecaster Bodies, Telecaster Necks, Telecaster Hardware… Everything “Tele” links here

If you are embarking on a project that involves upgrading or building a Telecaster, these links might help you to find some of the parts you need. All of these companies offer some pretty good stuff at fairly reasonable prices. For bodies and necks, Warmoth is probably best and offers the most options. Of course, they are the most expensive.  In each case, be sure to explore all the options that each company offers and don’t be afraid to call them if you have any questions before you place your order.

With regards to the body, pay extra attention to the wood that you choose, there will be some variations in sound between different types. For example, Maple has a brighter tone where as Mahogany is a bit mellower. If you do choose Maple, consider paying the extra cost for “Quarter Sawn” Maple, it is most often a much better cut of wood. Some companies such as Warmoth also offer options for binding. While this is purely aesthetic and will have no affect either way on your tone, it can contribute to a very classy look, depending on your taste.

Another option worth considering is a Chambered body. When a body is “Chambered”, there are several cavities that are created in the body. This offers a kind of “Best of both worlds” scenario as you get the interesting qualities of a hollow body guitar, but without the headaches of feedback as the majority of the body is solid. Some Telecaster players may dream of a Tele with a vibrato arm; no problem. Warmoth offers you the option to have the Telecaster body routed for a standard Stratocaster bridge. In this case there will be the standard thru body tremolo construction complete with trem claw and springs.  There are certainly many options and you can go pretty crazy. Whatever your dream Telecaster may be, the links below should point you in the right direction.

Finished Telecaster Bodies

Warmoth

USA Custom Guitars (un-finished)

WD Music Supplies

All Parts

Stewart MacDonald

Telecaster Pickups

Here are a few links to articles I did recently for BestCovery.com, which include pretty much the best Tele Pickups out there at the moment:

Vintage Tele Bridge Pickups

Vintage Tele Neck Pickups

Noiseless Tele Bridge Pickups

Noiseless Tele Neck Pickups

Telecaster Hardware

Here are links for great places to get your hardware online:

Acme Guitar Works

Warmoth Hardware

Warmoth Telecaster Hardware

Seymour Duncan – Phat Cat Pickups

Seymour Duncan - Phat Cat Pickups
Seymour Duncan Phat Cat


If you like P-90 pickups, then you are gonna love these Phat Cat pickups… I promise

I’ve been trying out a set of the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat pickups recently, and I’ve gotta say: they really got it right on these. When I started this blog, for some reason I decided to add the links at the bottom first. When I was researching the Harmony-Central reviews, I started to read the first review. The more I read the review, I kept thinking to myself: “wow, this guy sounds like he has had the exact same experiences as me… and he seems to have the same sense of humor as me… wow, I really agree with the way this guy approaches his review on these Phat Cat pickups and the kind of feedback he is giving….this is bizzare!”

…then I realized that this guy was me.. duh!

I figured the best testimonial is a real testimonial. So, without further ado, here is my orginal Harmony-central review of the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat pickup:

I give these a 9 because the only thing I would change is maybe the Phat Cat bridge pickup could be a little hotter. The neck pickup over powers the bridge pickup a little. With that said….

These Phat Cat pickups are phenomenal. I took them outta the box only 8 hours ago and put them in my Les Paul. They are surprisingly quiet for passive non-humbucking pickups. I like to use alot of compression which can cause even more 60-Cycle hum than drive sometimes, or certainly make it worse once you add gain. My first crappy guitar had some horrible P90’s in them, and they used to squeal like hell all the time. That was almost 30 years ago, and quite honestly, I have had an aversion of P90’s since then (even my therapist couldn’t seem to rid me of this un-relenting P90 anxiety : – ) When you use them together, they are 100% hum-canceling… NICE!

What a relief! these babies are reasonable quiet (sure, when you add alot of gain, there is hum, but at low to moderate gain settings, it aint too bad!) These Phat Cat pickups are outstanding. The neck pickup has a massive sound. Great bit and clarity. The bridge pickup also has a nice bit. I am VERY happy with these pickups. Not only would I replace them if they were stolen, but I’m gonna grab another set for my Tele that is routed for humbuckers. I’m that happy with these. I will write another review after I’ve had them for a while and used them on stage, but at first glance, these are first class pickups. And, at literally half the price of Fralins, they are an incredible value. I have’t used P90’s for 20 years, so I can attest to how they compare to classic P90 pickups, but as someone who uses totally hum-canceling pickups all the time (i.e. Dimarzio Virtual Vintage and Duncan mini humbuckers, etc…) I am VERY pleased with the tone and minimal 60-cycle hum of these Phat Cat pickups. If you play Blues, you will really be impressed with these.