2/05/2016

2011/2016 Hot-Rodded Squier VM Thinline Telecaster Electric Guitar




I bought this guitar off of a fellow who was hanging around outside our shop on New Year's Eve. We were closed-up and he was waiting around in his truck, coming up to the door, lightly knocking, and then returning to his vehicle. I finally popped out and asked, "Need some help?" Well, long story short I felt bad for him so I paid him for the guitar and off he went.

I took it inside and a couple weeks later I got around to fixing the problems with it -- missing knobs all around, broken original tuners, a missing jack and jack-plate, much-needed cleaning, and a good setup. The guitar is surprisingly well-built and I liked the feel (especially the odd, Gibson short-scale 24 3/4" neck) but couldn't stand the pickups. The stock Seymour Duncan-issued pups were icy and thin and lacked the charm of a "real" Tele twang. So, considering the Gibson-y features (semihollow, short scale) I decided to do the right thing and "did it over."


The new pickups are a Guitar Fetish dogear P90 that I mounted (sans-cover) at the neck -- direct to the body -- and an eBay-sourced Alnico 5 double-blade humbucker for the bridge. Between the two you get a sort of jazzy, bluesy old-school vibe from the P90 and a Gretschy-twangy "lead" voice from the bucker. The mid-position has a sort of Fendery sound going on which suits a thinner chord-strumming or fingerpicking sound. Overall? Success.

While swapping-in the pickups I also drilled-out a cavity under the pickguard to reduce weight even further. In the hands and on a strap (I'll be playing this tonight for an electric gig) this feels a lot like playing a true semi-hollow. It's not an anchor.

For a Chinese-made guitar that sold new at $300, this thing was built quite well and handles very well after a good setup. I paid $150 and shelled another $80-100 in parts into it because I figured it was worthwhile to make it into a fun guitar -- and I was right. The new VM Thinlines are selling at $450, now, from big box shops.


The Squier decal had been steel-wooled off but the serial remained on the back. I wrote that in the neck pocket before rubbing-off the serial as well. Why not have it match? I applied a thin clearcoat to polish up the rubbed-off areas.

Note the new 6-on-a-strip "Kluson" units -- and also the oversize ferrules. These are much better tuners than the original (broken) tuners. The cast housings on two of the original 6 had split. Strings are D'Addario EXL110T "balanced tension" nickels.


The neck is a modern fast C shape with a 1 11/16" nut width. The frets are sort-of "vintage medium" and are well-set and nicely-crowned. The neck is remarkably straight and stable.


I like the non-cover P90 look.


The 60s-style 6-saddle Tele bridge intonates and adjusts easily. It can do string-through or top-load.


I replaced the missing knobs with some hex-adjusted chrome ones from my bins. The 3-way switch got a new one as well, too.

Interestingly, the electronics are all good-quality, full-size components. I was surprised not to find typical mini pots and junky wiring.



The back doesn't have gunk on it -- that's just a reflection.

As far as I can tell, construction features a laminate top mated to a 3 or 4-piece solid wood (basswood?) body.

There are numerous scratches and small dings (some touched-up with black paint) on the guitar but overall the look is player-worthy.




I replaced the missing jackplate with some pickguard scraps and a new Switchcraft-style jack.


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