. I've been playing for over 15 years now and I've owned my only Tele for 12 of those years,
but only began modding it this past year.
What I have here is a 1996 MIJ Deluxe Custom Anniversary Foto Flame Telecaster. If you know anything about the Foto
Flames, you'll know that the beautiful cherryburst finish on this flamed maple top isn't really a finish on maple at all - its a thin photographic film that is laminated on a basswood cap
over the alder body. If you didn't know about the Foto Flames, you would agree that it's a pretty convincing flame maple look.
Its a three-pickup model with two Strat-style pickups in the
neck and middle, a Tele bridge pickup, and a Strat-style 5-way switch. The first thing I did to my Tele was switch out the stock Japanese pickups with Seymour Duncans: a Duncan Classic Stack Plus
stacked humbucker in the neck, an Alnico II Pro reverse wound/reverse polarity (to cancel hum in 2 and 4 positions) in the middle, and a Vintage for Broadcaster in the
bridge. These pickups made a WORLD of difference compared to the stock pickups - they brought so much tone and life out of this guitar. The Classic Stack is great in the neck; real
great strat tone, but way quieter and with a bit more balls - i added a push/pull tone pot for the neck coil tap but after doing so I decided it didn't make
much tonal difference, so i changed the wiring. The Alnico II Pro is a really solid middle pickup, especially with the rw/rp option - i
never used the middle pickup alone before i put this baby in and now i love its warmth and body while keeping a true chimey Strat tone. The Vintage for Broadcaster is REALLY bright, which
i wanted because i felt the stock pickup wasn't giving me all the brightness I wanted, but now I'm rolling off my tone pot almost halfway to get a manageable tone - don't get me wrong, i like
having this infinite brightness!
When I decided not to tap the coil on the neck pickup, i used my push/pull tone pot to engage the neck pickup in positions 1
and 2, giving me a 7-tone Tele. This is a pretty common mod for the 3 pickup Teles and now I see why...having the neck/bridge option, especially after not having it for 12 years, is my new
favorite sound on this tele - the mix of the Vintage for Broadcaster and Classic Stack Plus is real nice.
You also see that the control plate is flipped with the 5-way
toward the heel of the guitar; the Foto Flames all came that way and I grew to love it. I changed the pots and switch to new USA-made parts and also put a gold Gibson speed knob on
the volume pot because its width makes it easier for me to adjust my volume live. I'll probably change the tone knob to one soon, too. Lastly I switched out the stock saddles to Graph
Tech Ferraglide saddles because I generally break strings like a maniac. Not only have they helped with string breakage, but they really helped my intonation without hindering my tone at
all. I love 'em!
The only other thing I want to do to my Tele is get a leather hand-tooled pickguard from El Dorado Guitar Accesories. You can check them out on the