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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Putting a steel baseplate on a Tele bridge pickup (DIY)

I was absolutely fed up with the quality of Telecaster bridge pickup baseplates from Allparts … they were either misshapen, or had the wrong size holes drilled, or were thin and tinny. A good steel baseplate makes all the difference to a Telecaster bridge pickup … and with Squier/Fender only supplying useless (except for shielding) brass baseplates on many of their otherwise okay pickups … it makes sense for Tele owners to put good quality aftermarket baseplates on their less expensive Fender pickups. 

Sadly Allparts are the only suppliers of baseplates we could find in the UK, and we didn’t fancy importing them! We also didn’t want to fit crappy sub-standard baseplates to our Oil city pickups … so we got our own baseplates precision laser cut. We are now making those baseplates available to all Tele owners in a kit with attached ‘bypass earth’ modification.  This mod more easily allows ‘phase’ switches to be used on Teles. They even have the funky ‘gun-blued’ finish our Oil City pickups sport!

The first step is to remove the standard Squier brass baseplate (if fitted).

You need to clip the short earth tag to the baseplate here:

Then remove the screws holding the baseplate on:

There will be some claggy wax hanging about on the pickup base that will stop Copydex glue, double sided tape or silicone sealant sticking … Cue a standard household iron and some kitchen paper …. don’t do this if the bobbin is one of the plastic sort however. Holy melted gloop batman!

I decided to use a little double sided tape to attach the baseplate and then pot the pickup in wax afterwards. It’s not really necessary to pot if your pickup already has been (and that's most these days),

Here’s the final result fresh from the wax potting bath … I string wound the coil to get a little of that old fifties mojo … it doesn’t really do anything on top of the tape that was there already, but it looks nice!

'Scuse me Esquire....'

I Just wired up an Esquire project for a customer.  It’s seriously whetted my appetite, and I can’t wait to finish our own EEC ‘Esquire’ now.  The customer has one of our Oil City 'Diesel Tap' tapped 6k/9k bridge pickups, and of course six separate sounds available with the push/pull on the volume for the tap … mind you I’m not personally that keen on the Esquire’s pre-set bass sound.
Hell of a lot of wires in that tiny compartment … compounded by the two outputs from the pickup and the connections into and out of the push pull. Oh, the customer liked the control plate reversed so the wires had to be run back that little bit extra too.  Sounds brilliant though: Vintage and twangy in the 6k position … with a great big mid boost to kick the amp into overdrive when you pull the pot out. The Esquire tone pot ‘bypass’ really allows the 9k output to punt derrière!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Sure I’m opinionated!

I am always getting myself into trouble on internet music forums… probably because I don’t have a tendency to take the party line. I don’t accept that just because something has always been done that way ‘thus must it be - for ever.’ I question, I experiment … I try to innovate.
Take PAF pickups for example.  Accepted wisdom holds up the PAF as the holy grail of humbucker tone. Pundits cite Clapton’s tone on the ‘Beno’ album as nirvana. What they don't know is that in 30+ years of guitar repair I have junked quite a few dodgy fifties PAFs. Quality control was so lax in the early days that no two PAFs I’ve tried have sounded the same.  Added to this, Clapton used a ‘treble boost’ on those recordings, and the alnico speakers of the JTM45 combo he used also coloured that sound.  So how much was really the pickup?
A whole pickup industry has grown up around the ‘magic’ of the PAF, but have that magic comes from lovely, warm analogue recordings and the stuff he plugged into. Not to mention that Clapton himself was ‘on fire’ for that album.
I see claims made by several manufacturers that because they had Seth Lover whisper in their ear, or that because they use the same automatic winding machines Gibson used their pickups will be touched by godliness. Hokum most of it. A moderate output humbucker using the correct grade of alnico magnets, the correct gauge of wire, with isometric wound coils assembled properly will sound like a pretty much exactly like a vintage PAF.  
If that’s what you want.
The secret is to produce something that sounds better!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Thank you

Been getting some nice things said about Oil City pickups lately … from the people who really matter … the customers. I’d like to say a big thank you to those of you who have ‘had a punt’ and tried something different. There are more designs in the pipeline, and it looks like 2012 may be a good year after all! Now all we need is a little less rain.
On a different note, I’m going to indulge my long term whim and buy a cheap resonator guitar at some point soon … with a view to upgrading it … so look out for twanging review time.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Stop da press again! Oh for goodness sake ...

Another new product ... lordy I've got the bit between my teeth! For all those Stratophiles with wimpy, thin squeaky, bridge pickups ... this will preternaturally combust your nether garments! Clear and defined like all our single coils, this one packs the punch of a humbucker without sacrificing the look or  'ring' of a standard Strat pickup.