I would not feel right having a blog called the "Telecaster Fanatic" without actually being one. I am, indeed a tele-fanatic. I recently finished a rather rewarding Telecaster modification project, which launched me beyond the bounds of just another Tele owner and player to a new realm of fanaticism.
The project began with a Mexican-made Fender Standard Telecaster. I have owned this guitar for several years, and considered replacing it with a Nashville B-Bender model. However, I chose to create my own concoction, and ended up spending about what a U.S. made Nashville B-Bender would cost. I'm glad I wasn't trying to save money with this project.
I began by swapping out the stock pickups for a set of Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Telecaster models, which I bought here. I wired them to Fender's 4-way Tele mod switch to achieve both series and parallel tones.
Then I sent the guitar to Charlie McVay in Pennsylvania to have a B-Bender installed. Charlie installs benders similar to those of Joe Glaser, with a strap actuated lever. Very cool unit. (See blog entry "best bender on the market" for more information and a rant from me on how great they are!)
While the guitar was being worked on by Charlie, I ordered a custom replacement neck from Warmoth. It is flamed maple, with stainless steel frets. It has Warmoth's patented compound radius, which helps keep the string action low. I had it drilled for Schaller locking tuners, and ordered them with the neck. The neck has a 1 11-16 inch nut width (identical to my favorite Strat) and plays like butter.
I had the guitar back with the bender for two days, and then I bolted the neck on, with the help of a very talented friend of mine. So now I have a Mexican telecaster body, with original volume and tone knobs. Everything else has been modified. It turned out really well. Plays great, killer tone, flawless intonation, and one-of-a-kind looks.
Oh, and I replaced the stock white pickguare with a black one, for style points. To further inspire confusion from those wondering what I am playing, I left the headstock blank. It looks fairly normal from a distance. I like that.