Updated: What's wrong with this Strat? #BestBuy

Found this at Best Buy.  Yes,  Best Buy added a musical instrument section to their stores... This is a picture of an American deluxe Strat from the princeton store on rte 1. I was just passing through when I saw it, the price seemed cheap. American deluxes now go for almost $2k list, but even on sale the American standards are more than this amber beauty.
The problem with bestbuy is their people know squat about instruments. The salesperson had no clue why this American deluxe was so much cheaper than the others on the wall (or online)... I had my suspicions, so I tried it out. I was right... It was a leftover before they did the latest redesigns and price increase. The guitar is a looker but doesn't sound or play nearly as well as the new american standards, let alone the deluxes.

The Red Tele Is Done!

Well actually it's been done for weeks, but this the first I've had a chance to take some pictures to post.  As you recall I picked up an American Standard Telecaster to be my FrankenTele....  I lucked out and found a beautiful one that played and sounded great.  I almost didn't want to toy with it, but I did.  You can see my short troubles with the first whammy bar here.  You can see the work order to my tech for all the requested mods here.  I did have a little trouble at first.  The P90 magnetics were not aligned the same as my Tele so there was nasty phase cancellation.  Lollar modified a set of P90's so that they would the rest of the pickups in my Tele and it sounds great.   So here are the pictures of the finished FrankenTele.   I took it with me to my labor day gig and couldn't be happier with how it played and sounded.  I'm really loving the Bigsby B5.  If your wondering about the weird bar attached to the Bigsby, it's a Chet Atkins Bigsby arm that I swapped in from Guitar Parts Resource.   The stock arm fell right across my volume  and tone knobs.  I found that when I installed the Chet Atkins bar and reversed the "kink" in it up instead of down, how Chet used it, the new bar felt comfortable and fell in a perfect spot.  Enjoy the pictures... Hopefully I'll get some time in the future to post some sound samples of the P90 in this configuration.

Sssibilance Sibilance!

J. Stoltzfus - Guitar Tech

Once again we return to our So You Want My Job series, in which we interview men who are employed in desirable jobs and ask them about the reality of their work and for advice on how men can live their dream.

While I read this article, I could not help but think back to the Saturday Night Live sketch with Tom Hanks. Hanks plays a roadie for Wayne's World. Doing a sound check before Aerosmith goes on. See the video here ===> http://crackle.com/c/Music/Sibilance_Sibilance_/1644896

Great timing.... from GuitarPlayer ☛ "All About … Whammy Bars"

"GUITARISTS TEND TO COME IN THREE SCHOOLS AS far as vibrato tailpieces, or “whammy bars,” are concerned: those who can’t live without them, those who can’t live with them, and those who tolerate them on their guitars, but rarely touch them—either for reasons of style, or for fear of spiraling out of tune. Love ’em or loathe ’em, vibrato tailpieces do change the sound of any guitar they’re mounted on, even when they’re not in use. If you do actually want to use one, however, and thereby indulge in the world of manual pitch-bend effects these ingenious contraptions can offer, it pays to know something about the form and function of the different types of vibrato systems that are available"

LOL-> You simply don't play Slayer on a Telecaster and expect to impress anyone.

"There are guitars, and then there are METAL guitars. Anyone who has played in a heavy metal band for any amount of time knows this. You simply don't play Slayer on a Telecaster and expect to impress anyone. Good metal guitars are robustly designed to take a beating and the best ones are pointier than a pile of broken glass. If you're new to playing, then take the bull by the horns and check out some house recommendations!"

[Sent from my iPhone 3GS]

Giving up on Stetsbar for now...

[Update 8/8/2009:  Decided to go with a Bigsby B5 for my Telecaster.  The downside is that it requires a number of holes to be drilled so there is no going back.   But that's why I bought this guitar.  I just want to say, there is nothing inherently wrong with the Stetsbar, it's just not really built to handle my unusually heavy strings and I really didn't want to switch back to 10's]

[Update - 8/3/2009: Eric Stets, the founder of Stetsbar responded within a few hours of my email yesterday and we also chatted via phone.  He talked me through is personal Stetsbar setup procedure and he's also going to forward some new springs to see if that helps.  He's been very responsive and helpful, but it does sound like 12's may be a bit too heavy.  I'll give it another try and see if I can get it working.  Otherwise I'll have to consider if I would use lighter strings or actually consider altering the guitar in order to add another whammy bar alternative (Bigsby?, Kahler?)...]

After installing and reinstalling the Stetsbar three times on my tele without it working properly, I'm giving up and call the manufacturer to find a "certified" installer. I suspect the unit just doesn't work well with heavy strings but here is some of my frustration...

1) you need to install a shim under the neck. Granted it only raises the neck about 1/8" up, but it also increases the angle off the guitar. I followed directions to the tee drilling all the proper holes in the shim and reset the neck. After I replaced the bridge with the Stetsbar unit, I had to raise the new bridge so high I questioned why I would even need the shim. But I continued to setup per the instructions. When done, the whammy bar barely had an inch of play. Also, the guitar sounded very thin. I attributed this to the fact that the bridge was as high as a NJ Tutnpike overpass.
2) next I decided to pull out the shim from the neck and use the fender patented micro-tilt neck adjustment to align the neck with the stets bar. I was able to setup the guitar with great action and it sounded much better. One problem though, no matter how I adjusted the stetsbar, the whammy was full flat against the body with no play. Basically looked like the stetsbar springs could not compensate for my heavy strings.
3) so I decided to bite the bullet and switch to a normal set of . 010's which the Stersbar should handle without problem. No dice. Same problem as before. 1AM last night I cried "Uncle"!
This morning I'm going to restore my Telecaster to it's original condition. Tomorrow I'll call the manufacturer with some hard questions.
I guess this is why having a good tech do all your work is worth the money. They can deal with all the headaches and aggravation.

[Update 8/03/2009: - PS. You know you have a wonderful and fantastic Wife when she is nothing but consoling and sympathetic as you wrestle with your guitar instead of doing all the things you're supposed to be doing over the weekend!]

[Sent from my iPhone 3GS]

Love Affair with Telecasters...

I've moved from Les Paul's to Semi-hollow body guitars (Johnny Smith and Carvin) to pointed headed super strats (Hair Metal Red Guild Aviator), custom 7 strings and finally ended up with Fenders  I first fell in love with a Strat and eventually a Tele.

The Telecaster was such a simple and straight forward guitar, but had a sound that just grabbed me.  Even though I'm a basic "classic rocker" the twang of the Tele is magnetic, and even lends an interesting flavor in a straight ahead rock environment.  Needless to say the Tele has been my main guitar for years... but every once in a while I want to try something different and move to other guitars to try new things.  I've finally decided to pickup another Tele to use as an experimentation guitar.  That new Telecaster (Transparent Crimson Red American Standard) is the one pictured here.   

I wanted to take a few pictures before I started to dig in.  I'm going to add Schaller strap locks, locking tuners and a Stetsbar  whammy bar. [Note 08/08/2009: I've opted to go with a Bigsby B5 for the Telecaster.  You can purchase springs of various tension, which will support my heavy strings (.012's).]  Then I'll take it over to The Music Box and have their tech (Mark Wybieralla) refret the guitar with jumbo stainless steel frets.   I use heavy strings and the stainless steel jumbos make bending tolerable. Mark does great fret work.  Finally I'm going to go with a modified Nashville configuration by adding a P90 as a middle pickup.  I haven't decided exactly how I'm going to wire this up, and routing out the guitar cavity is scary so I'll probably noodle this for awhile before I pull the trigger.

Let me know what you think...