Strange isn’t it……….As a guitarist in the late seventies it felt like a breath of fresh air when the likes of Di Marzio and Mighty Mite first started selling replacement pickups and hardware in the UK.; particularly for those of us who had dire seventies Fenders with their weak characterless pickups.
I remember getting my dad to hammer up his credit card (then new and unusual to have) for Di Marzios for my black 74 Telecaster……….and following that with a brass nut, a brass bridge, and half way decient Schaller machineheads. After the treatment it played like a dream and turned heads at gigs. We were all at it, Strats grew big chunky brass knobs and even brass scratchplates, Teles got bridges that could sport a humbucker on the back, and in fact we all got jiggy with the chisel, and even my old Hofner President was tricked out with two Super Distortion Dimarzios (yes I know I have sinned mightily and must do penance……..but I was young).
My point is it has now gone the other way: Recently I saw three grubby pots, a crappy capacitor and a few bits of wire advertised on e bay for over £300, as apparently they were a mega rare ‘untouched’ set from a 1970 Strat. Well first of all the fact that they still had the solder intact on some of the joints does not make them untouched……….the very act of ripping them out ruined their un-messed-with status, besides the fact that they were probably rubbish like most of the components on 1970s Fenders. I suppose because the prices of Pre CBS fenders bear more resemblance to 17th century violins than the mass produced items that they are has made any oldish Fender ‘collectable’ weather crap or not: however this does not explain how one dealer is attempting to sell a 1962 scratchplate for over £1000. If you put this on your Squier it will not make it play better………..in fact if you put this on a 1962 strat that one of my generation had given the ‘brass is good’ treatment it wouldn’t make that play better (It wouldn’t make it original either!)
I am a guitarist, an instrument builder and collector, and a lover of old Fenders………..but lets get real, three old crackly 1970s pots are worth very little, three new high quality modern US made pots will feel like silk by comparison. Three old seventies pickups will sound weak and cruddy compared to a set of ‘Fralins’ or even a set of mid priced Chinese or Korean alnico Wilkinsons!
We had a guitarist in our band in the late eighties who had a ‘sunburnt Malteaser’ mocha brown Strat with a black scratchplate and pickups. It had a crappy neck, a thin asthmatic sound, and looked aweful………..these now fetch mega bucks………go figure!