Re-painting My Sunburst Tele to Natural

Sometimes I just can’t leave well enough alone… my mates think I am mad, but what the hey, when money is tight and you got a itch for a new guitar sometimes you gotta scratch it with what you got.

The idea for this project started when I first saw Tommy Emanuel play his Tele in the following vid…

Fender One-of-a-Kind Kirsten Easthope Hand-Painted Tele & Pro Jr

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Tele Neck Pickup Options from Seymour Duncan

There’s a great post worth checking out on Tele Neck Pickup Options over at the Seymour Duncan Blog.

The post covers a multitude of options available for your Telecaster, including…

  • Hot Tele Neck Pickups
  • Mini Humbuckers
  • P-90’s
  • Full-Sized Humbuckers
  • and P-Rails

My obvious favorite is the P-Rails, only because that’s what I have in my Tele, you can check out some videos of all the different Pick-ups on the Seymour Duncan post, but here’s some video’s of how my P-Rails sound in the neck position of my 99 US Telecaster through a Peavey delta blues.

The bridge pup is the Quarter Pounder for Tele, just in case your wondering.

Here’s how they sound through a Marshall JCM-800.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster

Yesterday was the day, I installed the neck position humbucker into my 99 US Fender Telecaster.

This is the finished result…

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster with Humbucker Installed

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster with Humbucker Installed


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I must admit that I am extremely pleased with how it turned out. So if this is something you are considering doing to your Tele, then following pics will walk you through the process of how to install a humbucker in a telecaster.

The first step was to remove the original pickguard.

Removing the Pick Guard from my 1999 USA made Fender Telecaster

Removing the Pick Guard from my 1999 USA made Fender Telecaster

The next thing we did before de-soldering the original pickup wiring, was make sure the new guard was going to fit the neck heel, and all the screw holes would line up, which they did. Otherwise, if the guard wasn’t going to fit and we went ahead and de-soldered the pickup before checking, we would have just wasted a whole heap of time by having the re-solder everything up again while we sourced a new pick guard.

Testing New Pick Guard Size on my Telecaster

Testing New Pick Guard Size on my Telecaster


Fender Melamine Stratocaster/Telecaster String Nut Blanks - 0994920000

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Once we were confident everything would fit, it was time to remove the neck. I love Fender’s, just four screws and the neck is off!

Installing a Humbucker - Removing the neck

Installing a Humbucker – Removing the neck

Next step was to remove the old pick-up by de-soldering the wires attached to the selector switch and volume and tone controls.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Removing the Old Pickup

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Removing the Old Pickup


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With the pick guard off completely, it’s time to start marking out the routing.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Removing the Old Pick Guard

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Removing the Old Pick Guard

To make sure the routing was going in the right spot, we positioned the pick guard on the body where it should be. Positioning the pick guard in the exact spot allowed us to get a precise positioning for the routing.

Routing a Humbucker In a Fender Telecaster

Routing a Humbucker In a Fender Telecaster


Fender Standard Telecaster - Maple Fingerboard - Butterscotch Blonde

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Next step was to scribe the pickup position onto the body so we knew where to cut. Using a sharp scribe and the pick guard as a template, we scratched out the line we would follow when routing the hole.

Scribing the Humbucker Position

Scribing the Humbucker Position

Once we had our lines scribed onto the body we added some masking tape on the outer side of the hole we were going to cut. This helps to protect the body from scratches that may occur during routing.

Protecting the Body From Scratches Using Masking Tape

Protecting the Body From Scratches Using Masking Tape


1959 GIBSON EDS-1275 VINTAGE WHITE DOUBLENECK MINT w TAGS VERY RARE HOLLOWBODY

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Protecting the Body From Scratches Using Masking Tape

Protecting the Body From Scratches Using Masking Tape

Next step was to start routing out the bigger hole to allow for the larger pickup size. No turning back now!!! But, before we start cutting, we just want to make sure the routing bit wasn’t in too deep, so a couple of final checks and we’re ready to go.

How To Install A Humbucker In A Telecaster - One Last Check for Routing Bit Depth

How To Install A Humbucker In A Telecaster – One Last Check for Routing Bit Depth


1959 GIBSON EDS-1275 VINTAGE WHITE DOUBLENECK MINT w TAGS VERY RARE HOLLOWBODY

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Once we were happy with everything, it was time to make some noise and dust…

How To Install A Humbucker In A Telecaster - Started Routing

How To Install A Humbucker In A Telecaster – Started Routing

How To Install A Humbucker In A Telecaster - Routing

How To Install A Humbucker In A Telecaster – Routing

After about 10 minutes of routing, we have a nice and tidy new hole the size of a Humbucker…

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Routing Almost Done

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Routing Almost Done


1980s Westone dimension IV electra / Ibanez mij Humbucker Guitar Parts Pick-UP

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Once the majority of the routing had been done, just a quick check to see if the pickup would fit.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Checking if Humbucker Fits

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Checking if Humbucker Fits

Then, with a very sharp chisel, some minor tweaking was needed to square up the corners, where the round bit of the router couldn’t get into.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Minor Adjustments with a Chisel

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Minor Adjustments with a Chisel



So after the fine tuning with the chisel our humbucker routing is done, time for a clean-up and blow off the dust with a little compressed air.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Cleaning Off The Dust

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Cleaning Off The Dust

…and just to make sure everything is going according to plan, a little input and help from my son Luke.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Luke

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Luke


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So, with the routing done, and all of the dust cleaned up, it’s time to screw in the new pick guard, and one last comparison check.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - New Pickguard Installed

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – New Pickguard Installed

With the new pick guard on, the next step was to wire it in.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Soldering In the Pickup

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Soldering In the Pickup


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Screw in the volume and tone control plate.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Screwing in the Control Plate

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Screwing in the Control Plate

Then refit the neck. Which fits perfectly into the new pick guard.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Refitting the Neck

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Refitting the Neck


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String it up.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Re-string the Guitar

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Re-string the Guitar

And play.

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster - Testing New Humbucker

How to Install a Humbucker in a Telecaster – Testing New Humbucker


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The result speaks for itself I think.

How to Install A Humbucker - Finished

How to Install A Humbucker – Finished

How to Install A Humbucker - Finished

How to Install A Humbucker – Finished

How to Install A Humbucker - Finished

How to Install A Humbucker – Finished


2017 NAMM Fender Custom Shop Masterbuilt PrestigeTele 24K Gold - Yuriy Shishkov

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1956 Fender Telecaster Vintage Guitar Blonde One Owner 100% Stock w/ Tweed Champ

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Fender One-of-a-Kind Kirsten Easthope Hand-Painted Tele & Pro Jr

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2017 NAMM Fender Masterbuilt Custom Shop 72 Telecaster Sonic Blue - Greg Fessler

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1999 Fender American Standard Telecaster

I picked up this 1999 Fender American Standard Telecaster about four months ago for an absolute steal. I won’t tell you how much I paid, but I will say it was cheap. It’s pretty beat up, with a few chips in the three tone burst, and when I tried adjusting the action, I noticed the truss wasn’t working properly, so she was in need of some repair.

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster


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The wood grain on the body looks very cool, I can only see one join in the timber, which is matched up perfectly. The back of the body is in perfect condition with only the front being a little worse for wear.

This guitar, being an American Standard has the micro tilt adjustment in the four screw Fender Corona California neck plate.

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster Back

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster Back

Everything on this guitar was original. The three ply white pick guard had a nicely aged look about it, the pickups sounded exactly how Telecaster pickups should and the tuners still worked smoothly and kept the guitar in tune. The only thing missing was the three way switch tip.

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster Body

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster Body


Fender Modern Telecaster Plus

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After trying in vain to set the action, I had to pull out the truss rod by removing the skunk stripe from the back of the neck. I had a mate do the repair and the lacquer he used to repaint it wasn’t a perfect tint, hence the lighter color around the edges of the skunk stripe. Happy to report that she is working perfectly now!

The neck profile is a very comfortable and smooth ‘Modern C‘ shape. The repair hasn’t had any adverse effects on how she plays at all.

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster Neck Repair

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster Neck Repair

The truss rod plug had to be removed to get the nut out when we did the truss rod repair, I didn’t bother trying to replace it. I think at some stage I might try putting in a Bullet truss nut, just so you can’t see the ‘BIG‘ hole in the headstock.

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster Headstock

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster Headstock


Fender Telecaster Contemporary MIJ original Japan 84-86 vintage white w/new case

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As mentioned, the tuners are still the originals, which are chrome plated and have the Fender branding. They are still working smoothly and keeping the O’l girl in tune.

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster Tuners

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster Tuners

The frets are a nice medium jumbo which, considering the condition of this guitar, it’s remarkable that there is still a heap of fret life left in them. I would estimate there is only about 10% fret ware.

I love the rosewood fretboard, which was in desperate need of cleaning. Not too much wear in the fret board either.

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster Fretboard

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster Fretboard

So this one is definitely a keeper, I always wanted a nice MIA Fender and this one being such a good buy, apart from a couple of minor repairs, will be a part of my quiver for some time to come. She also came with the original Fender hard case.

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster

1999 USA made Fender Telecaster


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FIRST KRAMER GUITAR #1 OFF ASSEMBLY LINE RARE COLLECTOR GUITAR DOCUMENTED

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Fender One-of-a-Kind Kirsten Easthope Hand-Painted Tele & Pro Jr

$22,000.00
End Date: Monday Oct-16-2017 11:33:03 PDT
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2017 NAMM Fender Masterbuilt Custom Shop 72 Telecaster Sonic Blue - Greg Fessler

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End Date: Friday Oct-20-2017 16:26:07 PDT
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