1994-95 Japanese Fender Tele.

1994-95 Japanese Fender Tele.

About six weeks ago, just before Thanksgiving, Rob Compa of Dopapod gave me a call looking to beef up his Tele tone. His primary guitar is a PRS McCarty and he wanted to fatten up his thinner-sounding Tele a bit. He was not looking for it to sound the same as the PRS, just a little bit ballsier.

Now to say I'm a huge fan of Rob's playing and tone is an understatement. I have had the privilege to work on his guitars during the recording of Dopapod's latest studio album Redivider, that was just released. I also photograph quite a few Dopapod shows when they come around the northeast. (many, many more shows yet to post to the site).

Stock vintage-style Tele.

Stock vintage-style Tele.

Rather unique metallic blue finish on the body, with a maple neck and rosewood board.

Rather unique metallic blue finish on the body, with a maple neck and rosewood board.

Vintage-style bridge with screw saddles.

Vintage-style bridge with screw saddles.

“666” ~ mark of the beast, straight from Japan.

“666” ~ mark of the beast, straight from Japan.

2009 Warmoth Tele personal project loaded with a set of Lollar Special T’s.

2009 Warmoth Tele personal project loaded with a set of Lollar Special T’s.

I told Rob that I had a Tele with some pickups that may be what he was looking for.  A couple years ago I put together a Warmoth Tele for myself, merely as an excuse to practice some finish work.

And no, those aren't "relic'd" scratches on the left side.  Those are "oh shit I shouldn't have carried it in a gig bag to that jam session ..." scratches.  Oh well.  Character.

In that guitar I used Jason Lollar's Super T pickups, which are a fuller, rounder set of Tele pickups.  Just listen to Tim Lerch's clean neck pickup demo:

Rob had a gig at The Spot in Providence, RI so we met up and traded Tele's.  This gave him a chance to try the Lollar Special T's out and decide if he wanted to go that route.  I brought his guitar back to my shop and he gave me the go-ahead a few days later.

"Let's do it."

So here's the rundown:

1. Remove the strings and pickguard.

2. Access the control cavity.

3.  Desolder the pickups from the circuit and remove (bridge needs to come off to access bridge pickup).

4.  Install new pickups and solder them into the circuit.

5.  Reassemble, restring and setup.

:  :  :  :  :  :

Strings and pickguard are removed and the control cavity is ready to access the circuit.

Strings and pickguard are removed and the control cavity is ready to access the circuit.

The yellow and white cloth wires are the hot pickup leads on the switch (left) and the black cloth ground wires are soldered to the volume pot case (middle).

The yellow and white cloth wires are the hot pickup leads on the switch (left) and the black cloth ground wires are soldered to the volume pot case (middle).

The stock neck pickup is removed, showing the body stamp.

The stock neck pickup is removed, showing the body stamp.

The new Jason Lollar Special T pickups on the left, the old stock pickups on the right (bridge pickups on the top, neck pickups towards the bottom).

The new Jason Lollar Special T pickups on the left, the old stock pickups on the right (bridge pickups on the top, neck pickups towards the bottom).

The new pickups installed and the leads are fished through the body, ready to make their connections.  Note that I left the leads long in case Rob wanted the control plate flipped 180 degrees for easy access to volume and tone swells.

The new pickups installed and the leads are fished through the body, ready to make their connections.  Note that I left the leads long in case Rob wanted the control plate flipped 180 degrees for easy access to volume and tone swells.

The pickups are installed and the guitar is restrung.  The pickguard is left off so that the neck pickup height can be adjusted relative to the strings and balanced with the bridge pickup.  The guard goes on after those adjustments are set with no need to loosen the strings.

The pickups are installed and the guitar is restrung.  The pickguard is left off so that the neck pickup height can be adjusted relative to the strings and balanced with the bridge pickup.  The guard goes on after those adjustments are set with no need to loosen the strings.

A couple weeks after the show in Providence, I met up with Rob at his show in Wilkes-Barre, PA at the River Street Jazz Cafe to deliver his Tele.  He sound checked it and really dug the new pickups compared to the stock ones.  Backstage we decided to go with the controls flipped around (the switch towards the tail and the volume & tone closer to the bridge).  This required the blue lead running from the switch to the volume pot to be removed and a longer one wired in. This is because the volume and tone controls swap places on the control plate, so you have the volume in the front and the tone back by the switch.

Check out the "Blast" encore from Dopapod's Wilkes-Barre show to hear Rob playing around with the new pickups and control layout.  (There's a great squeal and long sustained note around 7:20).

The recording is by mkdevo.  Also check out his infamous YouTube channel for exceptional live music videos from Phish, Dopapod, etc.

Remember to check out Dopapod's new album Redivider.  If you buy a physical copy, you will see some of my photos of the recording session included in the liner notes!  The band is on break now rehearsing some new material and is gearing up to hit the road hard again at the end of the month.  Check out their tour dates here.

New pickups installed and ready for Rob to rip.

New pickups installed and ready for Rob to rip.

Rob Compa (Dopapod), 2012.11.23 River St Jazz Cafe, Wilkes-Barre, PA

Rob Compa (Dopapod), 2012.11.23 River St Jazz Cafe, Wilkes-Barre, PA

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