Hi Guys , what tricks do you have for balancing the string to string output on a tele ? I hear the just dropping the pickups lower can help ? Its a bit embarrasing as a luthier , and its my personal gig guitar , so I thought i'd ask , it is a USA 52 RI with stock pickups and 10-46 plain g nickel plated steel strings .
Hi Len, hope yr keeping well.
We use the Danny Gatton bridges on our occasional clones and they have a notched section removed from the saddles under the outer E strings to help alleviate the "loud" outer E strings (particularly the high E which seems to be the biggest nuisance). However, this is with Gatton pickups which have curved blades rather than pole pieces. Google "Lollar Pickups -flat poles vs staggered poles" for another take on this subject - Lollar has got tons of cred and has definite views on the subject.
But, from personal experience I know two things: light swamp ash bodies can cause problems with string balance due to accentuation of some particular frequencies and tonal centers and any new Tele with brass saddles takes a while to settle down while the strings bed into the saddles and the saddles bed into the bridge plate. New 52 RI's can sound like a train wreck straight out of the box.
I like the Glendale compensated saddles for this bridge type (tip courtesy of a customer). They offer saddles of both aluminum and brass. The effect is subtle but there definitely is a difference. Swapped them on my lightweight ash MIM Tele (tip of the hat to Russell) with my own Hot Hybrid Anico 5 pickup set (Tele Bridge/Strat Neck) and it is one of my favorite working guitars.
Dropping the pickup height a bit helps too. I have a MIM Tele with cast individual saddles and Rio Muy Grande pickups that used to "boom" on the low E string (with 9-42 strings). Dropped the bridge a 1/4 turn at a time until it tamed the E string, then set the treble side for best balance. Adjusted neck to match bridge output.
One other place to check is the height adjustment screws. First, ideally, they should have round tips for consistent mating to the bridge plate. You can do this on a lathe or with them chucked in a hand drill and a belt sander with fine grit paper. BTW - the Glendale saddles come with ball tipped screws). Second, make sure the saddle screws aren't resting on one of the bridge plate mounting screws as this tends to mute the related string due to inconsistent contact.
I do not mean this to be an advertisement for the Glendale parts - I have no relationship with them except as a user. I have three customers who swear by them and based on experience with their gear and mine - I think they are a solid upgrade part that provides good intonation for the 3 screw vintage bridge.
Thanks Rusty and J.R. I'm pretty sure this is a pickup problem , while they both have awesome tone without ice-pick tone , the low E booms and the high E is weak , I think I need adjustable poles . I have been busy gigging on weekend and so sorry for late reply , I am yet to research the saddles and bridges you both refer to , Rusty I still have the old style saddles but have bent the screw so they intonate quite well , I often replace them with the angled Wilkinson type on customers guitars , I will come back when i have news .