How to Customize a Mexican Telecaster

Written by tim mcquade
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How to Customize a Mexican Telecaster
Mexican-built Fender Telecasters are practical guitars at a reasonable price. (head of fender telecaster type electric guitar image by david hughes from Fotolia.com)

Blues, rock, jazz and country guitarists play Fender Telecasters. Even though it was first made in the early 1950s, due to its efficient design the Telecaster will remain at the forefront of electric guitars for many years. The Telecaster has been made in four countries: the United States, Japan, Korea and Mexico, with the most expensive being the American version. Mexican-made Telecasters are not as expensive, but they can be customised. Upgrading the pickups, installing a whammy bar and improving the cosmetics are common ways to customise a Mexican Telecaster.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver (Phillips head)
  • Drill Bits: 3/32-inch, 7/64-inch and 23/64-inch
  • Pickup kit
  • Custom volume and tone knobs
  • Custom fretboard

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Install the Bigsby B5 Telecaster whammy bar kit. The most popular and easy to install on a Fender Telecaster is the Bigsby B5 Telecaster whammy kit. The kit includes most of the screws and tools needed as well as the instructions to install. Installation instructions require taking the bridge plate off, removing the strings and drilling the new bridge plate into place. The Bigsby B5 whammy bar looks vintage and is a useful tool for any guitarist. Installing a whammy bar is an easy and inexpensive way to customise your Mexican Telecaster.

  2. 2

    Install new pickups. The Mexican Telecaster comes with a standard neck pickup and a single coil angled pickup on the bridge. Bill Lawrence L290 and L280, Stratocaster neck pickups, P-90 soap-bar pickups or Gibson-style mini humbuckers are all great pickup choices. Installing new pickups involves unscrewing the fret board, removing the bridge and completely removing the strings. This allows you to unscrew the pickup. Installing a new pickup will take some wiring and soldering ability. Follow the manual to properly install a specific pickup; it may be best to have a guitar technician and luthier perform a pickup installation.

  3. 3

    Customise your Mexican Telecaster's appearance. Modifying how your guitar looks is an easy and fairly inexpensive way to customise your Telecaster. Change out the pick guard with a new one to make your telecaster stand out. Unscrew the current pick guard and screw a new one into place. Or replace old tone and volume knobs with custom knobs. Use a small slot-head (Phillips) screwdriver to unscrew the side of the volume or tone knobs. This allows the knobs to come free; replace with custom switches.

Tips and warnings

  • When customising your guitar, make sure it is never plugged into an amplifier as this risks electrocution and/or damage to the guitar.

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