Francis Rossi Telecaster

Control knobs

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Volume and tone controls
Today we are looking at the two volume and tone control knobs. Francis’ guitar features two standard flat top control knobs both of which are held in place by a small grub screw. There are a few different styles of control knob for the Tele including various dome top versions as well as a couple of styles of flat top. Some flat tops have a bevel around the top and some have a slight step. The knobs can be metal (finished in chrome or nickel) or brass, and all have varying knurling patterns ranging from quite fine to fairly coarse.

I am fairly confident that the control knobs on the OG are standard chrome flat tops, with a medium knurl, from the late 1950s. They are quite worn these days and looking very grey with little or no shine to them. However, in the 1970s–80s they were still in fairly reasonable shape.

 

You will see from the first pic above that we are using a pair of standard flat top medium knurled control knobs which feature a slight bevel and we have lightly relic’d the knobs in order to be consistent with the period. The second pic shows the famous ‘Lego wheel’ (or ‘Lego tyre’ to be precise) and we will go into more detail about that later on in this post.

The style of control knob we are using is widely available and is really designed to be fitted to a old style solid shaft. However, our control plate is fitted with brand new parts and therefore has modern style split shafts. Old style knobs with grub screws fit perfectly well over the split shafts, but due to the design of the modern shafts (slightly smaller diameter than solid shafts) and the fact that the knobs are held on by a grub screw which is tightened from one side, they tend to be slightly off centre when rotated. However, there are other options such as push-fit knobs which will fit better and will not wobble when rotated, but they don’t look as authentic as the old style/grub screw versions. As you will see from the two pics below, the knobs have now been added to the build.

 

The ‘Lego wheel’
Of the two main Status Quo guitars it is Rick’s Tele which is most synonymous with this unusual feature. In fact, Rick still has one fitted today. The original reason for fitting a tyre from an old Lego set was to provide a chunkier, easy to grab, volume control with more grip. (just for the sake of trivia, it’s worth noting that the volume is the only control at Rick’s disposal these days as the tone pot is now permanently set to full treble and was disconnected some time ago).

In 1984 (around a year before Live Aid), a small rubber tyre suddenly appeared on Francis’ guitar and was fitted to the volume knob. This feature was still present on the cover of the Rollin’ Home UK single (one of our main references for this build) and was removed around the time of Ain’t Complaining (UK release: 13 June, 1988). Lego have been producing tyres for their building sets since the early 1960s, but they have not really changed that much over the years and they are plentiful and easy to get hold of. Of course it doesn’t have to be an actual ‘Lego’ wheel. Any wheel from any toy car or building set will suffice, so long as it fits reasonably tightly and looks right.

 

If you take a look at the two pics above you will be able to make a comparison between Francis’ guitar and our replica build. The flat top knobs and the tyre are now in place and they look pretty close to the original.

 

The first of the two pics above is a close-up from the inner sleeve (vinyl only) of the In The Army Now album (UK release: 26 August, 1986). The second pic is another still from Live Aid. Both pics clearly show the ‘Lego wheel’ on the volume control of Francis’ guitar. There is still lots more to do on this build, so please keep checking back or alternatively use the link on the front page to subscribe to email updates for new posts.

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