My 1952 Telecaster
Monday, 28 February 2022 22:46
It’s Mary’s 70th Birthday
It was April 1978 I was visiting a drummer friend of mine….his phone rang, he answered it and said it was for me ! how strange...
“Paul I've bought you a guitar…"
It was my friend Phil Taylor -
Hi Phil, where are you
“I’m in my van on my way back from Norwich "
In your Van ! what you have a phone in your van ?
Yes just had it installed so the band can keep in contact
I am on my way back, I went there to check out a guitar for David's collection, it wasn’t quite up to scratch for David but thought I would buy it anyway.”
Phil Taylor was Pink Floyd's backline technician, Guitar Tec and in charge of all their musical needs. David Gilmour (known at that time as Dave) wanted to build up his guitar collection and wanted a 52 Tele to add to his collection.
‘what is it ?’
“A 52 Tele - it needs a bit of work but it’s worth sorting out
Wow ! ‘How much?
Blimey that's good - when can i come over to see it -
come over the weekend I'll take it home…bye…
I was a bass player for the early part of my music career, but had recently been asked to become a member of a band called The Baby’s as second guitarist.
I already had a mid 60s tele, it was ok just a standard banana coloured American factory tele probably about 66 - I had paid £150 for that - and in a way a 60s tele wasn’t really collectors item then, it was just a ten year old tele …I was quite happy with it but the thought of a real early one appealed to me, so I went along with Phil’s suggestion even though I had to borrow the money to pay for it, so i put my one on the market for the same price.
Over to Phil’s to check out my new - old guitar ….mmmm I must admit I was not very impressed - although I was pre-warned that it needed a bit of work ‘A bit of Work really was an understament ! - the body had been painted with some really thick yacht varnish, the neck had been shaved, so when you played either of the e strings they would slide off the neck, one of the machine heads was fucked and was really difficult to turn - she was in a bad way ! Of course these were all of the reasons Phil got it for just £150 ….
Phil suggested we take it straight to Dick Knight...
I was unaware of who Dick Knight was - but found out he was ‘The Man’ he worked on the guitars for most of the well know UK players of the time.
So a trip to Dick’s and he gave us a rundown of what he would do - and to try and be as sympathetic to the original as possible without trying to make it look like a restoration.
First things was to strip all the varnish off the body, and a re varnish rather than simulate the original banana colour - that varnish that has aged beautify.
Shave a little off the front of the neck and give it a re-fret
I seem to remember Dick suggested putting wider frets on it as it would stop the E’s sliding off the neck - so I went along with that .
Phil gave me a Seymour Duncan vintage bridge pick-up.
We left the original neck pick-up in place -
Fixed the machine head - sort of - (I think in later years I picked up a replacement in New York whilst on tour in the early 80s.
I think the cost for all of Dick's work was about £300 ….so it left me poor for a while .
It was with Dick for about three weeks - when I went over to pick her up it was the most amazing Tele I had ever played - and for me it sounded brilliant. This was my new lifelong friend - the action and set up was superb, and still is - I don’t think I have had to change it in the 42 years that I have owned her, maybe just a few tweaks when I changed the size of strings I use a few years back.
Dick told me that written on the end of the neck in pencil was ‘Mary Feb’ I have since done some research and yes there was a Mary that worked at the Fender factory - and she was one of the neck shaping specialists ….how cool - so that is why I call her Mary -
From that time my playing had really started to improve - I started playing more lead guitar and I became a bit of a pain in the arse to be living with, as it seemed I had Mary around my neck all the time, I also had one of the original Rockman headphone amps, so I was plugged in most of the time .
I was writing more and more, so invested in some recording gear, started to send some of my demo’s to recording to production music publishers - Wooohooo I got a request from a company to record an album of instrumentals - some of those tracks are still being used today.
She has been used on countless recordings, one of them quite a hit in the US a few years back when I wrote and played the theme for ‘The Four Horseman Wrestling’ team https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrBvwzMyQu0&t=65s and I think there is a bit of my twang on an episode of Buffy the Vampire (I have never seen it but a get a small royaltu from time to time.
She has been with me for many gigs, I recently started to feel that it was a little unsafe to take her to gigs because of her value so I bought myself a Graham Coxon Tele, which is very nice also - the Coxon Tele has a humbucker neck pick- up.
My Graham Coxon Tele with humbucker
I have recently for Mary's Birthday had the original pick-ups rewound by a fantastic company who specialise in hand wound pick-ups https://www.bareknucklepickups.co.uk/ Tim Mills did a fantastic job.She now has so much tone variation, hey just like a real Tele !
- Tim enjoyed sorting my Tele out .
She is now ready for another 70 years - with whom I don’t know as I am 2 years older than her ? ….
Well It's her birthday this Month so thought I would share her story -
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY - I love ya ! And thank you for being such a reliable friend Xx
Oh and a big Thank You to my dear friend Phil Taylor .
Serial number 4082
Photo of the original wiring