No-drill tremolo arm options for an American Standard Fender Telecaster

I’ve got a hankering for some surf twang from my Tele. As it’s quite a nice guitar, I’d prefer not to drill it. After not much luck asking on, I had to do some digging myself.

There are a bunch of options for Vintage-style telecaster bridges. Those are the ones with the familiar “ashtray” bridge, three saddles for a bridge and four screws securing them to the body. One of these is the Vibramate; their V5-TEAS for the Standard is coming out later in the year.

But the Standard bridge is different; it has six blocks, three screws, and is a different length from the Vintage bridge:

Options for these are fewer:

  • The ZZGuitarworks Bigsby EZ-Mount System W/B3R Bridge looks promising. (The B3R is for right-handed Standards; B3L for lefty Standards. Similarly, B4R is for Vintage 4-screw ashtrays.)
  • The Stetsbar fits both Standard and Vintage. It does require neck shimming, though.

bo the spider

We have quite the colony of largish, leggy spiders in our basement. They pretty much keep to themselves, as they have plenty of work thinning the woodlouse herds.

I was improvising a barre-chord hambone beat on the tele, when I noticed one of the spiders walking towards me. I stopped; it stopped. I started again; so did it. I switched to the 12-string acoustic and started bashing out the same rhythm; spider was like “meh” and stayed put.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a spider with the soul the late Mr Diddley in our basement …

am I good, or what?

Presenting the Stewart C. Russell not-patent pick holder:

stewart's pick holder

Yes, it’s just a plastic eraser with knife cuts in it cable-tied to the guitar stand. It works, and both items were in my kitchen drawer. Now I’ll always be able to take my pick …

who are you calling a tube?

cheapo 12ax7 valve/tube as removed from my Fender Champion 600

Actually, where I’m from, we call ’em valves.

I was getting a lot of noise (that is, unwanted noise) from my guitar amp, so on Nichol’s advice, I retubed it. How convenient that Encore had some Electro-Harmonix valves in stock (though I’m told that The Tube Store turns around orders quickly and cheaply). The Champion 600 only takes two tubes, a 12AX7 and a 6V6. They’re a bit like changing a fiddly lightbulb; the hardest parts were working out how to open the 6V6’s retainer (push down on the wings), how to open the 12AX7’s shield (push and twist – it’s a bayonet a bit like UK light bulbs), and how to seat the 12AX7 when the holder obscures most of the pins (the gap faces the middle of the amp on mine).

Result? Nice. Less noise (though a Tele’s bridge pickup at full volume into a valve amp won’t ever be clean). More fun. $25 well spent. Strange to think that I’m installing components which were getting a bit old hat when my dad first started in electronics.

you’re a tube, Leo …

I caved to the tone craving, and ended up buying a Fender Champion 600 all-tube combo amp. It’s nice; just the right volume level for the basement, and even dimed (or duodimed, since it goes up to 12) it’s unlikely to raise too many complaints.

But filling in the registration card was a problem. Tell me what’s wrong with this question:


Hint: it’s not the content …

Robyn’s stolen guitar(s)

Robyn Hitchcock had his blue Fender Telecaster stolen in Toronto on Tuesday. For last night’s show he managed to borrow Barenaked Lady Stephen Paige’s black Tele.

I also suspect that his Fylde acoustic was stolen too. He was playing a small-bodied acoustic last night.

Mean people suck.

a serious omission

Yeah, so I got to age 38 before I ever heard Neil Young’s Harvest. Sue me. And all because Nichol is teaching me The Needle & The Damage Done on guitar.

And I can add Old Man to my list of “Songs I thought were recent originals, but are in fact old covers”. Thought it was a Wailin’ Jennies original (I know, I should read liner notes). I thought the same of Disguises (original: The Who; cover: Of Montreal) and Waterloo Sunset (original: The Kinks; cover: Robyn Hitchcock).

take your …

picks, various

Just a few of the guitar picks I’ve tried (though the one at the top is a felt uke pick). I got a bunch of Fender celluloid picks at The 12th Fret today, and they could be good. The huge one at the bottom is indeed homemade, made from two sheets of wood veneer laminated together with the grain offset 90°.

There’s a tale about the Kinky Friedman one.

strings = strings + 10

Perhaps somewhat rashly, I bought a Godin SD XT from Encore Music Exchange. It seems to be a lot of guitar for the money (others agree). Still no amp for it, so it’s sounding like a very quiet bee when I play it. A tonally rich bee,of course.

I do have to make special mention of Encore. It’s a very friendly store, and the owner has it set out like a living room. I’m sure I’ll be back.

So why ‘strings + 10’? Even more rashly, I bought a wee bit of Canadiana on eBay: a Northern Doane-style concert ukulele. Hey, it was cheap …