I have had this old Crafter electro-acoustic guitar kicking around the house for ages. It is fantastic to play, really low action, nicely spaced strings and a reasonable sound. The electronics on it have seen better days and even with a fresh battery no rock and roll will resonate from its pre amp (sad times). Rather than do the right thing and get it repaired I figured I would try something else a little more experimental. I purchased some old Telecaster pickups, pots and scratch plate. Telecaster pickups in a crafter…. a TeleCrafter… how could it go wrong? I have always wanted a Telecaster but never really been interested in playing electric guitar so this is the perfect half way house. At the time of writing this I still don’t understand the basic principles around the concept so it could produce beautiful crisp tones of sound like a paper mache banjo!
A quick google turned up some information about best positions for pickups:
The general gist is try to position the pickups as far away from each other as possible to get more variety of sound and align the pickup poles with top e because they have the weakest alteration in the magnetic field of the pickup. Sounds simple.
Some Progress photos:
I have decided to air on the side of caution as I do enjoy playing this guitar. Everything I have done so far is reversible. The metal plate that is housing the volume, tone and soon to be 3 way switch is built on the original foot print where the pre amp used to be. I have made sure the pickups sit perfectly in the sound hole even though I know that the pickup should be closer the bridge. I have kept the original piezo pickup where it is and I intend to have two sockets going out of the guitar. One for the telecaster pickups and the other for the original pickup. I can then plug the original pick up into an external pre amp and hopefully it will work as normal. This way there might also be the possibility of mixing the two signals live as well. I still have no idea how this will sound and I am almost certain it will have issues with feed back but the so far I think it looks pretty darned sassy and thats the main thing!
I Finally found some time to finish wiring up the TeleCrafter. There is another batch of development photos to come but for now here is a simple recording of the TeleCrafter in action. The recording shows the Pickup and tone combinations for the telecaster pickups without the under saddle piezo pickup blended in.
Once I have had more time to experiment with the setup I will post some more recordings.
24/07/2014 – Evening edit
All that I am waiting for now are the potentiometer knobs and then stage 1 of the TeleCrafter is complete. I have to decide whether I want to add a mixing circuit between the original under the saddle pickup and the Telecaster pickups or if its acceptable to mix the signals externally.
I am fairly pleased with how the guitar has turned out. The most fiddliest part of the build was adding a strip of copper to the receiving part of the bridge in order to recreate string ground. The majority of information online about building electric guitars suggest that a string ground is a must to reduce buzzing. There is a tiny amount of noise when the guitar is plugged in but this all stops when I touch the strings so i guess the copper bar works. The main downside is that I had to drill through the guitar so that I could solder a wire to it. Everything else was very straight forward. I have never wired up a guitar before so the whole thing was a excellent learning experience. Here are some of the resources that I read to further my understanding of how pickups work and how it all fits together.
Final pictures coming soon.
10/08/2014 – Mini Mixer
The TeleCrafter has two outputs; one connected to the original under-the-saddle pickup and the second connected to the Telecaster pickups. The main aim was to get as many different tones as possible from the setup. Originally, I intended to have a mixer circuit inside the guitar but this was abandoned for simplicity. Instead, I have built an external mixer specifically for the TeleCrafter. The mixer was built in to an old video remote “bugger box” with an awesome retro vibe. The controls consist of one 3-way switch and to potentiometers and three 1/4 inch sockets. The rest of the controls are legacy fittings from the original box. I left them in because I love the mysterious aesthetic of random dials, especially the nod to archaic media technology. The switch on top allows the user to select an individual signal or the two signals combined and pots are for altering levels. Its a very simple but effective circuit and is perfect for the purpose.
The next alteration in the evolution of the TeleCrafter might be swapping the under-the-saddle pickup for a contact mic. This might allow for amplification of more subtle sounds, like knocks on the body or scratching of the strings.