The neck pickup has always been a touchy subject on the Telecaster. Often, the small chrome-cased neck pickup lacks the output level to compete with the raw, shearing energy of the one at the bridge. Faced with this problem, guitarists are divided into three camps: there are those just make do with it, those who never use the neck pickup, and those who have decided to modify their guitar.
Once that decision has been made, there is still the need to choose a replacement pickup. The Fender Custom Shop has come up with ideas as far-fetched as they are visually successful, such as a Charlie Christian pickup, or the P90. But the great classic of the genre is the humbucker, as chosen by Keith Richards, Albert Collins, or John Lennon. On this Tele from the glory days—just before the takeover by CBS—the former owner opted for the mini humbucker from an Epiphone Sheraton. In hindsight this choice is as obvious as it is appropriate, since these compact pickups found on Epiphones made in Kalamazoo in the ‘60s are brighter and sharper than the standard humbuckers, which makes them a more logical pairing with the bridge pickup. In addition, due to its reduced size, the cavity to be cut into the body is much smaller, which is also good news! Luckily, the guitar-maker who made the modification had the good taste to keep the black pickup ring, which stands out remarkably against the white pick guard.
That modification is far from being the only one. This Telecaster has all the characteristics of a “player”, an instrument on which everything has been designed for the satisfaction of the musician rather than to add value as a collector piece. The saddles are not the original ones and had to be changed to accommodate the slightly cut out bridge; a modification made so that the guitarist would to be able to play palm mute without cutting their hand. The superb Dakota Red finish is a refinish, but a refinish that was done well enough to make this Tele even sexier. Lastly, the maple fingerboard is the original one, which is all the more surprising since Fender had switched to all rosewood since 1959. That makes it one of the very first “maple cap” Telecasters, i.e. with a maple fingerboard. Historical and cool at the same time.