Fender USA Custom Tele

This came in for some work so I thought I'd run you guys through a fairly common "hot rod" that I do here. This was a completely standard Custom Tele (not Tele Custom) that the customer wanted a humbucker fitted and some electrical options.

A set of Brierley pickups and some push/pull pots were the main parts needed and a bit of routing to fit the humbucker in the neck position. Pretty straight forward.

First I take the neck and the scratchplate off, pickups and control plate out and mask up the body around where I'm going to be working. You need to mark out where the humbucker is going so it lines up with the strings.

Because the cavity is covered by a scratchplate, you can choose where you want this pick up to sit but I generally run it along the front edge of the existing Tele neck pickup.

With the cavity marked out and routed make sure you have enough depth in the new cavity to accommodate the depth of the humbucker adjustment wings and screws on each end.

The wires will run down through the existing holes and back to the control cavity. If you were routing for a new pick up entirely, you'd need to drill a hole from one cavity to the closest and so on to get the wires back to the controls.



With the scratchplate cut to take the new pickup, make sure it all lines up and leaves you room for adjustment.

This was getting some hot roded wiring mods too so the whole loom came out and the chrome control plate drilled for a mini toggle switch. The humbucker is four conductor so the volume pot is a push/pull for coil tapping giving the option of single coil on the neck. The tone pot is push/pull giving the option of the '62 capacitor mod which takes a "little" top end out of the signal to take some shrillness out and warm up the bridge pick up a little. The mini toggle is a kill switch.

With all the wiring done and the pick ups back in it was time for a set up.

I like the necks on these "early 60's" re-issues. They're pretty thin and feel great with a good fretboard radius. This one didn't really need a fret dress even with lighter (10-46) strings. The truss rod was good too but the nut needed a little work to bring the height down.

With everything back together it all looks neat and proper. The binding on these models really sets the boring shape of the Tele off quite nicely, especially in black with white binding.

I know I'm always raving about these Brierley pickups but they really are that good. All hand made here in Australia they are cheaper than most custom or "boutique" pick ups out there and I have yet to hear a set that don't sound amazing, which I can't say for other brands. I don't know what Mick does, but I hope he keeps doing it.


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