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Posts: 22
Reply with quote  #1 
  I was curious - on my copy of Chord Chemistry (a 70s edition I believe) there is a pic of Ted with a bunch of guitars behind him and most have many mods.
    For example there are extra pickups and many tiny slider switches (such as on the 335).  
   My question is: were these mods done by Ted? If so he must have had a great degree of electronics and wood working knowledge (which would not surprise me at all considering who we are talking about). 
    Just a guitar nerd question!  Thanks.   

Posts: 23
Reply with quote  #2 
Great question. I had a copy from the 70's, but lost it. My new version is different (I think)
Cuban ethnomusicology

Posts: 1,769
Reply with quote  #3 
This is a good question for Leon White.  (Hello Leon???) He will probably have enough stories about that to fill a book.

But I believe that Ted did a lot of his own electronic work, and he liked to experiment with different pots and capacitors to see how they affected the tone and response.
If you hunt of the TedGreeneArchives page you can find this which shows some of Ted's wiring ideas:

and this:


Posts: 22
Reply with quote  #4 
  I think that I saw later copies of the book where Ted was clean shaven. My book has him with a heavy beard and long hair.
   That's great. I"ll have a look at those wiring diagrams.  Thanks.

Posts: 454
Reply with quote  #5 
This is a longish post.  I thought I'd try to put most of the relevant info in one place.  Sorry for the length.
Ted did ALL his own electrical mods to his guitars.  If you can imagine the same intelligence and focus that he applied to music applied to guitar electronics (pickups, tone switches, coil combos, and pickup location) you'll have Ted.  The 335-ish guitar is a 355 that had PAFs on it originally.  Each guitar had a different config that was part of his overall hunt for the sounds he wanted.  It was a 12-15 year hunt and ended with "Banana Cream"  aka Bananas - his main giging Tele at the end of his life.

What did the switches do?  Well here's an interesting story.  He sold the 355 decades ago, and then got it back a few years before he passed away.  Having it back, some students/friends asked what all the switches did.  He opened the back (it had a tortoise shell back plate).  Inside was a nest of cloth covered fender type pickup wiring.  He looked at it and said "I don't know anymore.  I'm gonna have to pull all this out and clean it up."  I mention the 355 because the three humbucker (plus one coil) config was really the 'grandfather' set up (in my opinion only) sonically to Bananas.  From that config came the neck and middle humbucker with the tele bridge.  Where did the extra coil go? 
On a telecaster he could get the neck pickup where he wanted it relative to the scale of the guitar, and to the fingerboard.

What did the switches do?  On the 355 I could tell you if I could look inside. I played it acoustically but not plugged in. Given his thoughts and interests in varitone, and various incarnations of capacitors on pup circuits I could guess and be pretty close I think.

Remember the Gibson guitars had scales  24 9/16ths to 24 11/16ths or so (not really the 24 3/4 they're labeled) at that time, while fenders were 25 1/2".  The position of the pickups was related to tone when tuned down, and harp harmonics and the scale length.  While we all are probably familiar with the lenny breau style harp harmonics, Ted occasionally stuck a harmonic inside a chord using various combinations of fingers. So, the pups had to sound good, be in the right place, and NOT be in the way.

Back in the day Ted was also chasing tuned UP guitars to get the harpsichord effect (Up a third or even a 4th for one brief period).  Part of that search was to apply capacitors to cut OUT bass on some coils in some configurations.

The switches on bananas did the following:
Add a coil in or out of phase
Apply a tone capacitor to the circuit in some unusual way.  He basically decided to have the 5 way switch (with no click . . . think about it) and three switches.  that would give him the sounds he 'used most' and couldn't live without.

The last part of the puzzle was to use a device called a "choke."  It could cut lows like a cap could cut highs.  It gets complicated.

I'm sure others can correct or add to this.  I have two pickguards off teles of his with pups and switches partially completed. That was a big help in learning about this.

I should add that he cut pickguards himself, but ultimately had various folks at one time or another cut them for him too. He never wound a coil as far as I know, so others may have done that too. 

When I opened the case and found the 355 after he died, it was strung with something like 14-56 gauge strings, was in-tune, and played great (well hard, but great).  He was quite a guy with his soldering gun and fender and Gibson amp and guitar wiring plans out. (He did work on his amps too, but closer to tinkering then maintenance or customizing). 


Posts: 22
Reply with quote  #6 
  That was remarkable! Thanks so much. The more I learn about Ted the more confused I get regarding how he possibly got so much done.    -    Rob

Posts: 333
Reply with quote  #7 
Also, (and this may or may not be obvious), he adjusted the height of the pickups to get them the right volume, the right balance between them, and the right tone.  For the latter, he might angle the pickup.  So if he wanted more treble he'd make the bass side of the pickup lower and/or the the treble side higher.

I remember he wanted to angle one of the pickups on my guitar because he felt he couldn't hear the sopranos of the chords enough.  I can't remember if I let him do this or not.  But my tone didn't sound great through his amp and with his settings.  I had to keep the guitar volume control set low like he did.  Otherwise I would have blasted the room too loud.  Whereas, I always play with my guitar volumes up full and set my amp accordingly.

Posts: 454
Reply with quote  #8 
I just looked at the two diagrams posted via the links in the message above.  Good info, but probably part of his "let me write this down while I'm thinking about it"  personal studies.  These wouldn't represent guitars like bananas, but they're good reference if you're doing your investigations.
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