The Fender American Standard Telecaster is a great guitar (pre-belly cut 2012 models, anyway!) but it has a bridge that is not compatible with vintage bridge plates. It has narrower string spacing and therefore different through hole locations. The changed string spacing can be attributed to a more modern playing style I guess – less finger pickers, less need for wider spacing. The thick six saddle plate can also be attributed to modern tastes – fewer country players wanting the Tele twang and more rock players wanting sustain and a bit more low end.
So today we have the situation where the American Standard comes with a variety of great finishes and body woods, but only the one bridge. There are a few after-market manufacturers of vintage style plates for American Standards – Glendale, Callaham, Joe Barden – but all of them are either very expensive or they elongate the bridge plate to match the original plate length, which looks, quite frankly, wrong.
So here’s a home-brew conversion for your American Standard or American Series Telecaster to take a vintage style bridge plate. It will require drilling new mounting holes in the body, so please think about it carefully before proceeding. The original mount holes will be totally covered by the bridge plate.
I started off tracing a US Std bridge plate and a vintage bridge plate and scanning the images into my pc. I took both scans into Photoshop and lined up the pickup holes. From this combined image I made a new image with the desired holes marked – original vintage mount and string through, US Std string through and pickup and screw holes. Print out to scale, cut out and stick to a Fender vintage bridge plate with Pritt Stick. Check that the holes on the template match the bridge plate, then drill the new string through holes.
I used a step bit in a drill press, but the plate is so thin that you can easily get by with a hand drill, centre punch and a good metal drill bit.
Two of the holes were not dead centre, but not so far out to cause issues.
I then cleaned up the holes with a selection of files and some fine sandpaper.
I haven’t mounted this plate because I don’t actually want a vintage bridge on this guitar. You can plainly see that it is a good fit and all that is needed is new mounting holes to be drilled.
The break angle of the strings is going to be more pronounced with the vintage saddles. I don’t think it’s an issue (wraparound bridges have acute break angles) but take it into account.
If you want to give it a go yourself, bear in mind that drilling the new mount holes in the body may devalue your guitar if you sell it in the future. I take no responsibility for the results for anyone who may choose to perform this modification and this article is provided for entertainment/information purposes only.