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).
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.
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.
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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).
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.