VINTAGE OR MODERN? YES! BY PAUL “TFO” ALLEN
After 60 years of countless alterations, both outrageous and conservative, the
electric guitar is still basically
wood and metal held together
by glue and some more metal,
just like its vintage ancestors.
The emergence of the reissue
and the "relic" in the marketplace has put a cost-effective
twist on a buyer’s ability to
obtain retro looks and tones
without a vintage price tag.
I like vintage instruments and
appreciate their history, but I
have found modern instruments
to be far more consistent and
reliable, which is more important on tour. The biggest problem I encounter with vintage
instruments are worn-out parts.
Noisy electronics, and worn frets
and bone nuts are just a couple
of the issues that often need to
be addressed on vintage pieces.
The second you start tampering
with a vintage guitar—refretting
it or breaking a solder joint to
swap out a pot—you begin to
jeopardize its value to a collector.
An easy and cheap way around
this is to buy a new guitar that
has been relic’d.
Twang Brothers: A blonde Fender Road Worn ’50s Telecaster
and a Fender Joe Strummer
Telecaster show a vintage treatment on contemporary guitars.
Analog pedals wired with Spectraflex Original Series cables mounted on
a Pedaltrain Jr. (Top row) Mesa/Boogie Royal Atlantic footswitch, MXR
Carbon Copy Delay, MXR EVH Phase 90, Dunlop DC Brick power supply.
(Bottom row) Aqua-Puss delay, Green Rhino MkII overdrive, and Pork
Loin overdrive, all made by Way Huge Electronics.
I like vintage instru-
ments and appreciate
their history, but I
have found modern
instruments to be far
more consistent and
reliable, which is more
important on tour.
Many people buy modern
relic’d instruments for their
feel and appearance, but I like
them because they don’t have
too much finish. I’ve found
that less finish almost always
equates to a richer sound, and
this especially applies to single-
coil guitars. The guitar seems to
vibrate more freely when its not
bathed in a bunch of polyure-
thane. I bought my Fender Joe
Strummer Telecaster because it
has a minimal amount of fin-
ish. I use this guitar for darker
sounds and for big, loud over-
driven chords. I swapped out
the factory saddles with thicker
ones to beef up the sound, and
the guitar is strung with a .011
set of SIT Power Groove Pure
Nickel strings. As you’ll notice
in the photo, I also removed
the pickguard. Taking off a
Tele pickguard really seems
to change how the strings feel
when they vibrate and the tone
takes on a more raw sound.
The Strummer also has a set of
PAUL “TFO” ALLEN
is a multi-instrumentalist
who has worked with Big
& Rich, Adele, Sebastian
Bach, 112, Jake Owen,
Larry the Cable Guy, and
many others. He also
has his own project called Ten Finger
Orchestra, and can be reached at tenfin-