There were three choices when it came to producing steel baseplates for our Telecaster™ bridge pickups: buying from Allparts (which we’d done before) or importing them from the states. The first solution wasn’t really very satisfactory, not only were Allparts often out of stock of this item, but the quality varied enormously. We had a batch of nice solid, heavy plates … that were slightly the wrong shape, and didn’t have the mounting holes tapped (how was some poor Joe without the tools supposed to do this?) Yet another batch were thin and horribly bendy, with the wrong size and thread of mounting hole completely! By the way, this has put me off using Allparts for anything much … their humbucker ‘keeper bars’ are quite badly made too! Importing is silly-expensive, and would have put the price of our pickups up.
Obviously as a manufacturer we couldn’t keep apologising to our customers for crappy parts (that we’d actually paid over four quid each for) so we bit the bullet, and after a bit of CAD design we took the third way ... we got the friendly guys over at Essex Laser to cut us several hundred! We deliberately had them made without mounting holes … because I know of at least three ‘standards’ between different ages and countries of manufacture for the Tele™. Now we have a jig that allows me to bore the usual size and spacing very quickly … but also allows us to offer the customer other options too.
We are sending some of the batch for nickel plating … but I have been experimenting with ‘chemical blacking’ … basically what is known as gun bluing. It looks really cool, and we are using it as standard on the Hard Man .
We now source everything for our single coil range in the UK, from magnets and wire to vulcanised fibre for flatwork , screws etc. …
…okay, okay, we have a massive box of humbucker bobbins we bought from San Dimas California … because they were high quality, at the right price, and just what we needed … nobodies perfect!
Oh, if anybody has a Fender™ or Squier™ pickup without a baseplate … or with horrible brass baseplates attached with screws (they do nothing for the sound) … we are selling our steel blued baseplates separately … and can supply pukka US thread mounting hardware to go with them.
I may do a ‘how to upgrade your Squier alnico pickup’ article at some point.