How to Fix a Noisy Jack in a Telecaster

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Issue 344 February 20, 2020

A 1994 Fender Telecaster came into our shop recently that plays great, but whenever a player plugs it in there is some popping and cracking noise and sometimes there is no signal at all. The retainer clip that the cup and jack are mounted to has come loose. In this video, Blake demonstrates how to easily install a new retainer clip in a telecaster using the StewMac Tele Jack Installation Tool.

Video Transcription

[on-screen text reads: StewMac tools + ideas for guitarmaking. How to Fix a Noisy Jack in a Telecaster]

A lose retainer clip

Blake: This 1994 Fender Telecaster came into our shop recently. Now it looks great and it plays great, but whenever the player plugs it in, there's some popping and cracking, and when you start to play, sometimes there's no signal at all. Now the customer tightened the nut all the way down, but the cup in the jack is still loose, and I think that's what's causing his problems. We're going to dive into it.

You might not realize how the jack is held inside on the tele. The jack isn't held by this jack cup. It's the opposite. The cup is actually held in place by the jack, it's holding the jack in there. Inside the body, the jack is mounted to a piece of metal called the retainer clip. This clip bites into the wood on either side of the cavity to hold it in place. This is what the jack is mounted to, and it's what the cup is locked against with the nut.

Stress on the jack moves this retainer clip inside the guitar and it gets loose over time. This is really common. Stress like plugging and unplugging the guitar, leaning your guitar up against the wall with the cable still plugged in, or stepping on the cable while you're playing, are always to cause stress onto this retainer clip. I'm not quite sure how Leo Fender came up with this idea. A hero of mine and an extraordinary mechanically minded person, but this doesn't seem like his best idea. It's going to for sure work it's way loose, and when it does, it's going to take wood with it, and that's just going to create an issue that we have to solve. By the way, subscribe to our YouTube channel. It really helps us keep making these videos for you.

Using the StewMac Tele Jack Installation Tool

The retainer clip comes pre-bent just like this one, it fits into the cavity, but once it's inside the cavity, you have to figure out how to flatten it out. There's no easy way to flatten that retainer clip inside the cavity, except for StewMac's Tele Jack Installation Tool, which was specifically made to flatten and bend retainer clips. It bends that flat piece of metal into shape to fit in the hole, and then bends it the other way to straighten it out inside of the guitar, driving the ends into the wood.

I'm going to pull out this clip with the installation tool, and I can reinstall it by turning it 90 degrees so it gets into some fresh wood. There, fixed, the same way the factory installed the clip in the first place.

Hot tip: I just found this extra wire laying around our shop, and I just made a little knot on one end. I just put a little ball through there, a little knot so it backs up against the back edge. And then I just run this through here. Now I'm just going to go ahead and put the cup and the nut back on [on-screen text reads: Jack Cup for Tele -] and tighten it down. Got my half inch little T handle wrench here. That's in there real tight. That's not going anywhere.

Cool. It works. Our jack's nice and tight. No wiggles, or wobbles, or other words with W's. That was one way you could have fixed this guitar.

Electro socket jack mount method

The second method is to get rid of the retainer clip completely and use the electro socket jack mount. It threads directly onto the jack, and then has two screws that go into either side of the cavity holding it in place. But the electro socket's what I have on my own guitar, I think it's easier to install and easier to use. I just trust it more than the retainer clip. But if you have a vintage telecaster or you want to keep your guitar original, the installation and removal tool is definitely the way to go.




Guitar Builder and Tech

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