So, our guinea pig guitar in the so-called “Great Tele Relic Experiment of 2008” has finally arrived, and this afternoon I managed to get in some decent BEFORE pictures… in the interest of fully documenting this project I am posting them here for all to see.
I’m happy to say that this guitar plays beautifully, and is in really incredible shape save for the few nasty dings on the back. Even if I hadn’t been attempting this relic project I still wouldn’t have passed this deal up.
Being a Classic Player’s Baja Telecaster, the guitar is outfitted with Fender’s S1 Switching system, which basically allows you to get a number of new pickup combinations out of the instrument (in series, in parallel, and in and out of phase.)
With a 4-way pickup switch that adds up to eight different pickup combinations, and while I always thought of myself as a bit of a Tele purist, the reality is that I just LOVE this setup. in Position one, with the S1 switch up, you get a really gorgeous humbucker tone, albeit with a shimmery Telecaster twang.
Really cool. Not sure yet about the out-of-phase combos, but I suppose time will tell.
The guitar also sports a really mean sheen (poly finish at play,) and I can already tell it’s going to take some serious sanding to get that down to something more manageable.
Unfortunately, the finish is also a bit too yellow for what I’m ultimately after, so this is going to turn into quite a process––first sand the poly down some, then add a somewhat transparent coat of Olympic White nitro (until we get the color we’re aiming for,) then add a clear topcoat, and then finally sand that back down a bit to remove the brand new shine.
Whew! Should be a good workout anyway. Of course, there’s little hope of removing all of the poly, so I won’t even be attempting that, but if I can get some of it off, and get a few nice nitro coats on top, I’ll be more than satisfied.
I’ve also picked up a few other extras that will be needed for the project––a cheap rock tumbler, for aging the hardware, a whole bunch of wet/dry 3M brand sandpaper, and a nice mint green 5-hole Tele pickguard (not easy to find!) that I finally managed to order from Callaham Guitars.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot––the upside of that yellow coat is that while the body of this Telecaster is a bit too lemony for my taste, the neck is already decked out in a nice vintage-style amber tint.
Sure, it still needs to be aged, but I’m relieved that we won’t have to tint it as well… that’s just one less step. And besides, Fender’s got that vintage amber color down far better than I ever will, I’m sure.
So next step: take this bad boy apart, take lots of photos of the inside cavity just in case I can’t figure out how the S1 Switching goes back together, and divide up all of the hardware into separate bowls in order to keep everything organized.
First things first… I guess it’s time to get sanding.
Oh yeah, and please keep in mind: THIS IS NOT A “HOW-TO” KIND OF POST. I’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE, AND I MAY WELL DESTROY THIS INSTRUMENT. I AM DOCUMENTING THE PROCESS FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT, BUT I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY IF YOU ATTEMPT TO MODIFY YOUR GUITAR IN ANY WAY!