Will Ray's Bottom Feeder: Douglas T-Style
Could Leo have imagined the enduring popularity of his original solidbody design? This copy has a highly figured ash burl front and back.

This budget T-style sounds good and offers unusual flexibility by letting you string it up two ways.

I have to confess that the finishes on most sunburst Teles make me yawn, but I found this Douglas T-style on eBay about a year ago, and its highly figured ash burl front and back just looked cool. Week after week the seller listed it with a BIN (buy it now) price of $169 plus $35 shipping, with no takers. I kindly informed him that these sell brand new for $129.99 plus $19 shipping from an import company in California. After several weeks, I emailed again with a lowball offer, but he held firm, explaining what a great guitar it was and that he’d already spent $50 to have a tech set it up for super-easy playing.

Bottom Feeder Tip #375: Whatever you spend to set up a guitar or upgrade its parts, understand that you’ll never get your money back if you decide to sell it.


The steel ashtray bridge and old-school 3-way saddles enhance the lead pickup’s nice Tele twang.

This guitar languished on eBay until the price came down to $99. Now it was in Bottom Feeder territory, and I pulled the trigger on it. With shipping, it totaled $134—not much better than what this model goes for new—but I liked this guitar’s ash burl pattern and knew the pro setup would make my life easier.

This particular bridge allows for top or rear loading of strings, giving you the option of two different string angles going over the bridge saddles, which can result in slightly different tones and sustain.

I received it about a week later, and sure enough, it was set up great and easy to play. My other observations: The high quality sealed Schaller-type tuners are smooth and easy to turn. The bridge pickup has a nice, typical Tele twang, but the neck pickup sounds a little wooly. Down the road, I might replace it with a Seymour Duncan.


Real or photo-flame? At this price, it simply doesn’t matter.

I really dig the old-style “ashtray” bridge. All that metal does some kind of weird voodoo to the sound, and the railing surrounding the three sides of the ashtray lets me anchor my right hand comfortably for intricate hybrid picking. This particular bridge allows for top or rear loading of strings, giving you the option of two different string angles going over the bridge saddles, which can result in slightly different tones and sustain. Also, installing a Hipshot String Bender is a lot easier when you use top-loading holes as the string guides. And the 3-way chrome saddles? To my ears they’re way twangier than modern 6-way saddles.


The high-quality sealed tuners move smoothly and seem stable.

Finally, the guitar is a little heavy (8.5 pounds), but most Teles are, so that’s not a deal-breaker. I don’t know if the highly figured ash burl is real or photo-flame. It looks cool, and I can’t tell the difference, so at this price, who cares?

A bone nut being back-filed for proper string placement and correct action height.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to change your acoustic guitar’s tone and playability.

In my early days, all the guitars I played (which all happened to be pre-1950s) used bone nuts and saddles. I took this for granted, and so did my musician friends. With the exception of the ebony nuts on some turn-of-the-century parlors and the occasional use of ivory, the use of bone was a simple fact of our guitar playing lives, and alternative materials were simply uncommon to us.

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