My buddy Jim brought me his 1985 Fender Squire Tele, one of his prized guitars. From the moment I put my hands on her, I could tell she was something special. Great feel, very responsive, resonant wood… She was in decent shape overall, but the innards were shot. The body, neck, fingerboard, and pups were fine. But both pots and the switch were cutting out. If you held the switch just right, she’d play for ya, albeit noisily. As long as you had the jack in the right position too. There was clearly promise here, but only after a complete re-wiring job.
Because this guitar was based on the 50s model Teles, the wiring was like them, too. That included the largely unpopular “dark circuit wiring.” Knowing what I did about Jim and his playing, I decided to remove the dark circuit and go with modern wiring (post-1967). I upgraded her with CTS pots (250k), CRL 3-way switch, and a Switchcraft jack, and a Vishay/Sprague Orange Drop 0.022 µF tone cap. Strangely enough, this guitar wasn’t grounded so I added a ground wire from the volume pot to the back of the bridge.
While I had his guitar, I talked Jim into a few other upgrades. Compensated brass saddles. Vintage button-style string retainers, new chrome knobs. She has nice wear and a good patina, so I didn’t want to change too much. But I knew I could probably make this guitar better-than-new tone-wise.
Besides, Jim told me to “do whatever upgrades you’d do if she was yours.” So I did.
Anyway, she came through the surgery and exceeded my expectations as well as Jim’s. This ’85 Squire is one fantastic guitar with a great story. Jim’s a helluva writer and he was inspired enough to write an article for my blog. It fits perfectly with my philosophy. I love to fix guitars because of what they mean to people. They’re not just hunks of wood and steel. They’re charged with the emotions & experiences poured & pounded into them. They’ve got stories to tell.