Re: The black '72 Costum is back on stage!
Date: October 10, 2005 23:32
> this guitar is a real custom -- its not even made
> from the same wood as the others you find from the
> same year
Sorry, that's not true. Keith bought his first Tele Custom from Gene Warner (now repair man at Krazy Kat Music) in San Antonio, TX June 2nd 1975 (the exact date is known since the local dealer made it to national press with his story). According to the dealer, he had the guitar for about half a year, meaning it most probably was a 1974 model. In all accounts, it was a regular off-the-shelf Custom, straight from the factory: a two or three piece ash body, maple neck, bridge single coil pickup and fender Wide Range Humbucker in the neck, classic three-saddle Telecaster bridge, white switch tip. Keith used this guitar during the 1975, 1976 and 1978 tour. He replaced the guitar for the 1979 tour (most probably due to a bunch of guitars being either stolen or damaged in the 1979 Redlands fire) with a late 1975/early 1976 model with the then modern 6-saddle bridge, and a black switch tip. He used this guitar for the new Barbarians tour. Somewhere before the 1981 tour (probably during the Longview Farm rehearsals), this guitar was modified: the Fender 6-saddle bridge was replaced with a Schaller modern 6-saddle bridge, the tuners were changed to Schallers, and the jack cup was replaced by a Gibson Les Paul type jack. The switch tip was changed back to white, as it was replaced by a click-less Les Paul switch. This guitar –a straight from the factory late 1975/early 1976 model- would be his main guitar for the 1981 and 1982 tours and his Hail Hail R&R guitar. The guitar returned in 1993 for the Winos, but now in 5-string modification: it was strung to 5 strings, and the low E slug of the single-coil was pulled and filled with wax, in order to get rid of unwanted noise. It was put away after the Winos tour, only to be pulled out again for the last two shows of this 2005 tour! Notice another change: the pickup selector switch has moved to the neck pickup’s tone pot. In this way, Keith won’t accidentally hit it as he plays really high on the neck when playing open G.
The white Custom Telecaster is a late 70’s one, probably 1978 or 1979. During these two years, the volume and tone knobs changed from Amp/witch hat style to smaller, true guitar knobs in black instead of black with aluminum top.
To me, the classic Keith sound I like best is him playing the Custom with both pickups on. Check out Hampton 1981: he plays like this for 75% of the time. It’s warm, fat, and still biting. Check out Just My Imagination, Shattered, Beast of Burden, Going To A Go-Go –it’s all that sound.
The only way to get this sound is with a true, vintage Wide range humbucker on an ash body. These pickups are very muddy, but there’s a trick: Fender installed 1 MEG volume pots to clean up the muddiness. The Mexican reissue of the Custom Telecaster is worthless: it’s an alder body with thick plastic coating, and the Wide Range humbucker is just a cheap Mexican humbucker installed in the bigger casing. It sounds and plays like shit. In order to get the real Keith sound you have to buy a vintage Custom, but these are expensive, and 70’s Fender’s can be really heavy and quite badly made. There is another option: the Japanese make an exact copy of the Keith Custom, including ash body, thin polyurethane coating and the big Schaller tuners. The Wide Range Humbucker is the same as the Mexican one, so you need to replace it with a vintage unit, which can be found for about $250, and the bridge pickup is terrible too, so you need to shell out for something good like a Seymour Duncan Antiquity. The guitar is far better made than American Fender’s as they are made of light ash, and the Japanese just know how to build guitars. Their craftsmanship truly is excellent. Sadly these guitars aren’t imported to Europe or the US, but you can order them straight from Japan, and will cost about $1000 including tax. So, for $1250 you have a better guitar than the US made guitar, and you will sound like Keith in 1981!