Rescuing a Fender Guitar From The Dump

How Bock found a telecaster in a skip.

You know all about rescue dogs, rescue cats and rescue horses, but did you ever hear of a rescue guitar?

Here’s one.



It’s a Fender Squier Telecaster.

How did I get hold of it?  Well, I was clearing out some unwanted old stuff and I took a trip to the recycling centre with my old plastic dustbins and the legs of the  gazebo that the storm wrecked last year, my heaps of old newspapers and a ton of assorted non-functioning electronic gizmos.  Stacks of cardboard.  Half-used paint tins.  You know yourself.

Now, the thing I like about the recycling centre is that you can take stuff away as well as leave what you don’t want.  You could paint your house for nothing, or pick up a decent stereo.   Maybe a computer case or a monitor.  That’s real recycling.

But it’s not often you’ll find an electric guitar sitting in one of those bins looking up at you.  Take me home, please, it twanged tunelessly.

And I did.  I took it home.  I’m looking at it now, hatching plans.

Who throws out a perfectly good guitar?  I want to know the back story to this.  Was it a disgruntled parent?  A jilted lover?  A disillusioned musician despondent at his lack of talent?

According to several working musicians I consulted, although the Squier is from the cheaper end of the Fender range, it’s not a bad instrument at all, and this one looks to be in reasonable condition.  So here’s my plan.  We’ll restore it to first-class condition and we’ll get two or three musicians with very different styles to play a full gig using it.  We’ll record some of those gigs and put all the videos together on a post with some high-quality pictures of the instrument.

Then, I’ll put it up for auction with all proceeds going to support Cancer Research.

I don’t know how much work it needs yet.  It might not need any, but I’d like to make sure it turns out as valuable as possible in a good cause.  What do you think? Musical geeks out there?  Who’d like to help turning this into the best guitar around?  Have you got spare pickups?  Pots?  Machine heads?  Suggestions?

Let’s give it a shot.










22 thoughts on “Rescuing a Fender Guitar From The Dump

  1. Squier Telecaster copy. Nice find. Not worth a huge amount. I remember restoring a Ibanez Gibson SG copy a few yrs ago .
    Didn’t cost a huge amount to do so. Stripped and re-varnished main body, replaced fret board, stuck in a new pick-up , bought second hand in Crowleys. Guitar was a new beast after spending about 60 punts or so. Good Luck !

  2. I’m starting to think we could raise more money by using the guitar in gigs. Turn it into a celebrity in its own right.

  3. What a find! Kind of disappointed it’s a copy though — how are you able to tell, Swe.Ge?

  4. The clue was in the fact that I said so in the post.

    Actually, it’s not technically a copy though. It is a Fender-brand guitar and probably a lot better than anything they made in the Sixties.

  5. No you didn’t, you said it was at the cheaper end of the Fender range.

    (Apologies if I’m missing something, I don’t know a lot about electric guitars.)

  6. The Esquire Telecasters are a genuine Fender solid body. They are manufactured in Mexico but have the same quality control procedures as US manufacturing centres. It’s probably a pretty decent machine.

    Looking at the photo, the only issue visible is the absence of the plastic cover on the pick-up selector switch. You will get one for a couple of yo-yos no bother.

    It should cost next to nothing to get that guitar into good working order.

    I’d offer to do it for you myself but I’m Dublin based.

    First thing to do is to check the straightness of the neck (can be done by eye by looking directly down the line of the neck). If it has a concave bend on it then the truss rod can be tightened using an allen key. (you’ll need to remove the scratch plate to gain access) This will straighten it.

    Get somebody with a good ear to check the intonation on each string (done by checking any variation between the pitch of the string when fretted at the 12th fret and compare with the harmonic at the same position. Where the intonation is out, then the screws at the base of the bridge can be adjusted to fix the problem.

    After that, do a full clean of the body, neck and head, put a dab of WD-40 on the machineheads and fire on a new set of strings – bob’s your uncle.

    Best of luck with it Bock.

  7. Do you know any artistic types who might give it a custom paint-job? A bit of original artwork might help increase the value if you auction it.

  8. You lucky devil, a really nice find.
    As it happens my first fiddle came out of a skip and proved to be a perfectly adequate learning instrument. I wonder where it is now.
    With all due respect to Niall, guitar necks are required to be very slightly concave along the neck, so a fretted string will not buzz on any higher (in pitch) fretwires. To some extent the height of the action is a personal choice, high if you’re gonna use a slide, lower for the fancy fingerwork.
    I look forward to hearing your Telecaster sing.

  9. Fender were making entry level Strats and Teles in the early 80’s, they couldn’t compete with the cheaper Jap made copies, so as far as I know, they brought the Squire company (which I think only made strings and pick ups) to Japan to build guitars and compete with them. I have a Squire Strat for the last twenty years and is as good as any ordinary Strat. It is still essentially a Fender.

  10. Bock, I’m not so sure about them being better than what they made in the sixties but that is open to anyones interpretation of what “better” is. Generally speaking the hardware and hardwood are probably of poorer quality. I don’t think that it applies to the squires but some cheap guitars have bodies made of plywood. If this one does, you could replace it with Alder or Basswood fairly easily. The Tele bodies are very easy to make. From previous reading of thie website, I think that you have all the tools to do it.
    One other thing that you could do it make one or both of the pick up to make the guitar a bit more unique.

  11. I can’t believe you found a Telecaster in the bloody dump. As a long time sound engineer I’m flabbergasted how lucky you are to have found it at all, never mind being thrown in the trash heap.

    Sheeesh, some have all the luck.

    One thing. Along with the other fine pieces of advice from others about restoring the thing, make sure to pick up a spray can of “tuner cleaner” (electronic parts cleaner–whatever they call it over there).

    Unscrew the pot/switch assembly from the guitar body (check all wires are still firmly soldered to controls) and squirt a bit of the cleaner into the pot “cans” (there should be small openings in each “can”). Work the pots back and forth their full range a few times to clean the dirt off the windings and then give ’em another squirt and work them again. Then give the switch body a squirt as well, work it back and forth and repeat. Wipe up the excess cleaner and screw the assembly back onto the body.

    With any luck you won’t have to replace the pots or the switch but even if you do, they aren’t that expensive.

  12. Very nice axe for the money. Why would anyone throw it away? John Conway or Marcus could make this into a little gem.
    I’d gladly volunteer to play it at a gig! I don’t have any spare parts lying around, but can donate cheesy guitar solos………

  13. The plan has evolved into something that could raise good money for the cause, but first we need somebody willing to check out all the electrics and fix them if necessary. This needs to happen fairly quickly.

  14. Bloody hell, well done you. It’s a nice feeling when you have a find like that. Should be relatively easy to get it checked out and singing again. Looking forward to hearing it running throu’ the styles.

    I found a left handed 1968 Suzuki Brazen Picker Professional in a garage sale a few years back. Got it for $50. Turns out I’m left handed too. Still can’t play it but hopefully this side of death I’ll get to it.

  15. Marcus down in Steamboat would be your quickest bet to get it all set up. If not, John Conway out past Ballyneety is a genius….

  16. I think we have the people to do the job anyway, but after a closer look, it might not need any work at all. A first-class guitarist is trying it out tonight in a local gig, so we’ll know tomorrow what needs to be done.

  17. cool, can we get an update on where the guitar is gigging, as opposed to the band!!! :)


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