I mentioned the other day that Mike Feldman gave me a Telecaster as part of my payment for engineering his record. I thought it might be interesting to post a picture of it, as it’s got a few unique qualities about it. Sorry to anyone who’s bored by musician-speak. I’ll try to make it simple for laymen—and I mean no offense in calling you laymen! 🙂
It’s been pretty heavily modified. There are three pickups as opposed to the usual two on a standard Telecaster. Plus, they’re all single-coil, which I know means nothing to most non-guitarists…but let’s just say that’s a pretty interesting modification to a Telecaster.
The little switch you see by the volume knobs has five positions to it. Most Telecasters have a THREE position switch. This provides a greater dynamic range and pretty much just boosts your high or low end depending on where you place it. On my Strat, I’m a “middle” position guy most of the time, but so far, I’m liking this one more toward the “lower” end.
The tuning machines (at the top of the guitar, where you tune your strings) are locking machines. I keep meaning to install those on ALL of my guitars, but I never have. It’s only like a $60 upgrade, but it’s really a helpful modification. Helps add speed to changing strings and also helps promote accurate, stable tuning. Definitely have to add these to at least my Strat and my Gretsch. Just upgraded the ones on the Les Paul to custom tuners…but couldn’t find the locking ones to match the gold hardware, so that’ll have to wait.
The most significant modifications come at the bottom of the guitar. This is where the guitar gets particularly weird and interesting. You see the big, metal tailpiece at the bottom? That’s weird. I’ve only ever seen that on this guitar and on one that Marty Stuart played (plays?).
On the left of the tailpiece is a “D-Tuner” which drops the tuning of the lowest string on the guitar to play some notes you’d normally have to spend time and effort to re-tune to reach. This does it at the flip of a switch, in about 1-second. No pressure…no trouble…and it brings the tuning back up to standard in the same way. (They call it a “D” tuner because it’s most often used to drop the string that’s normally tuned to “E” to the note of “D,” but you can go lower if you want…personally, I like experimenting with a low “C” sometimes as a super-low note…but we’re getting a little nerdy here…so let’s move on…)
To the right of the tailpiece is something REALLY weird. It’s a “B-Bender,” so named because it is located on the “B” string of the guitar and it bends the note upwardly to about a “C” to “C#” tone. (I’ve currently got it set at “C#.”) Think of it as pulling upwardly on a standard whammy bar, but only on one string…and not with a typical whammy bar. The bar on this slides into a slot on the tailpiece and hangs out over the back of your guitar. You bend the note by putting pressure on the bar with your hip and physically moving the guitar neck outwardly a little (hence the brand-name—“Hipshot”—on the tailpiece). You’re pretty much using the entire guitar as a whammy bar, for just the effect of changing the tone on one string! 🙂 It’s kind of cool. Sort of creates a pedal-steel effect if you use it right, and would be really useful for someone trying to mimic that sound in a country band. I’m not sure how often I’ll use it…but as a gadget-head, I really find it fascinating, and I’m glad I’ve got this in my collection.
Otherwise, it’s a black, Mexican-made Telecaster. (American-made ones are technically “nicer”—which mostly means they just cost more—but with the changes made to this guitar, it about breaks even, if not surpasses the cost of a standard American Telecaster.) The pick-guard is custom, too…and it actually exactly matches the guitar-strap Mike gave me to go with it. I don’t mind it too much on the guitar itself, but I think the strap looks a little cheesy, so I’m probably just going to use a plain black strap with this guitar.
…so that’s the new one. I’ll try to post something a little more universally interesting next time. Mostly just wanted to toss up a picture of the newest piece of my arsenal. 🙂
In other news, I think I fixed the blog’s justification problem I was talking about yesterday…it’s an extra step every time I post, but it seems to be working…which means yesterday’s blog has a big red paragraph on it for no reason…but whatever…