"This project took quite a while - but was just recently finished - the re-imagining of my Fender Squire Vintage Modern Telecaster bass, pictured above. Pat Wilkins put a highly figured saeple top on the bass for me, and I changed all the hardware over to black. I also mounted an ETS Piezo bridge from Germany, and a matching Richter preamp. The upgrades suit me fine and this bass is old school - no fingerboard - with the frets driven right into the neck."


One of the most interesting parts of re-working this instrument - is what was discovered after stripping it down to the bare wood. In all the sales hype, Fender states that the body is basswood, but mine felt way too heavy to be basswood, so I was skeptical. Pat Wilkens stripped my body and found that the body was actually made of Eastern European alder. I don't know how to account for the discrepancy, but here is what he says about it verbatim:

"Yeah, I was surprised at the quality of the wood myself. It's alder, not ash but it's very white alder. It looks like the same alder that I buy from time to time. It's Eastern European alder and usually sounds very good. It's a little bit more pricey than standard alder but I like it because it sounds good and is just a bit lighter than standard American alder too."

Here is what the body looks like after stripping it to the bare wood:

I will leave the back as it is and Pat will do a dark brown transparent finish - I think the knots add some personality to the wood, so I don't mind them. Pat is creating a top for the bass using this piece of quilted saeple.

Here is what the front of the body looks like with the new top:

Pat finished the body and this is the preliminary photo he took for me.

Whenever I get a new or used neck, I send it off to my good friend John Ingram for the royal treatment. When the neck arrives, they go over it completely, checking it for any warpage, checking the truss rod, examining the fret pressing and adjust as necessary. They sometimes need to dress the frets, and even level them once in a while - even on a brand new neck. Then I have them strip off the gloss finish, spray a mild vintage amber tint and then hit the neck with a new application of satin finish.

I have decided to go with all black hardware on this bass, including the telecaster control plate.

I am also using an ETS piezo bridge from Germany along with the Richter pre amp which they recommend. I got so used to the piezos on my Roscoe basses that I am really in love with the "closeness" they provide. I will play with the piezo tone until I get it where I like it - and then lock it down. I will then simply use a volume pot on the piezos to blend them in with the single coil as desired. I have already drilled out the control plate and added the volume pot - so when I get the bass back, I can start the re-assembly process. I have both a white and a black pick guard for the bass, but I have a feeling I won't want to cover up that special top with plastic!


i think you can say that this is really a Vintage Modified Telecaster on steroids. The electronics are standard Duncan designed, with the added clarity and closeness of an ETS piezo system and Richter preamp both from Germany. The third pot is the volume control to mix the piezos in with the magnetic pickup as you desire. There is a stereo output jack on the bass so that you can control the piezo and magnetic pickups on separate channels when recording or playing "live". This bass weighs in at a substantial 8.8 lbs and the width of the neck at the nut is 44mm. The bass is outfitted with DR Black Beauty round wound strings. It is interesting to be playing this bass and the 1954 P-Bass which both have full size bodies but medium scale necks. The neck is old style with the frets driven into the neck, no fingerboard.


Builder/Manufacturer: Fender/Squier

Year: 2013

Body: 5A Quilted Saeple laminated over European Alder

Finish: Tiger Eye custom finish by Pat Wilkens

Neck: Maple with skunk stripe and black dot inlays

Neck Material: Maple

Neck Shape: ā€œCā€ Shape with 9.5ā€ Radium (241mm)

Neck Finish: Vintage tint satin lacquer refinished by John Ingram

Scale Length: 32ā€ (813mm)

Fingerboard: None

Number of Frets: 20

Nut Width: 44mm

Electronics: Seymour Duncan Designed Vintage Single Coil Pickup and piezo pickups in the bridge, feed a Richter preamp from Germany

Bridge: Modified ETS Piezo Bridge with tail stop, made in Germany

Hardware Finish: Chrome, original Fender Machine Heads

Strings: DR Black Beauty Roundwounds

Unique Features: Use of an active preamp with the Piezos really sets this Tele apart from the crowd


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