Firefly FFTL - A cheap Tele Deluxe / LP hybrid

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Dillon
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Firefly FFTL - A cheap Tele Deluxe / LP hybrid

Post by Dillon »

Ever heard of the brand Firefly?  Nope.  Ever seen a new guitar with a roasted maple neck, stainless frets, bone nut, and locking tuners, all for $250?  Nope to that too.  Not until YouTube randomly suggested this video.  

Despite the intriguing specs and wealth of glowing reviews, I wasn't at all interested in a poorly relic'd Strat with a neck that probably won't bolt on to anything else.  I went to their website and wasn't interested in other offerings available at the time, either.  But while trying to find info on the company, of course Reverb came up, and this caught my eye.  I stupidly forgot to take pics of it when I got it, so for now here are a handful from the listing.
► Show Spoiler
Although I was curious about the neck, I wanted it mostly for the body---tummy contour, natural back, Pelham Blue-ish top, humbucker routes, and the fact that I could (seemingly) swap any 4-bolt neck on if I want.  (Spoiler: I'm not gonna, this neck is great.) 

The fit and finish on the body is lacking, and the stock pickups are trash, but I still consider it an incredible deal and a good modding platform. I've already done quite a bit, just haven't gotten around to posting it, so, more to come.
Last edited by Dillon on Fri Mar 15, 2024 12:54 am, edited 4 times in total.
Dillon
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Re: Firefly FFTL - A cheap Tele Deluxe / LP hybrid

Post by Dillon »

First things first, clearing up curiosities on the neck. I can't say whether the frets are truly stainless, or whether the nut is bone---at the very least, it's not the cheap plastic you'd typically find on a guitar at this price---but that said, I'm impressed. Fretwork is flawless, and the inlays appear to be real abalone.

One thing I immediately noticed when I got it is how angled downward it was, like at least as much as your typical LP. I suspected it had an aggressive shim in the pocket. But, no, it's cut with that angle. And it looks like the sides of the pocket were sanded after it was finished (note the lack of paint), to make sure it's a tight fit.

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I doubted whether it was truly roasted maple---figured it was tinted, or perhaps some other kind of wood. After sanding a hidden spot though, sure enough, it looks like it is (or at least, it's not just plain white maple). Maybe the finish has some kind of tint, but not enough to color it like this.

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Once I learned that, I decided the cheap-looking headstock logo had to go, so I sanded the whole face and finished it with tung oil. The result was a close enough match. Looks kinda orange in pics but it's not. I also considered reshaping the headstock, but after this, TBH I don't mind it.

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I then did the same on the back of the headstock. (Reassembled here because I once again forgot to take pics during the process.)

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Bacchus
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Re: Firefly FFTL - A cheap Tele Deluxe / LP hybrid

Post by Bacchus »

Hmm, looking at the website, it looks like they do one of everything. There's an SRV strat, a Buckethead LP, the Prince telecaster, EVH strat, EVH wolfgang thing, Jimmy Page double neck, gretsch/tele mashup thing, all sorts.

Except for bass, where they have one PJ bass which treats "generic" as an aesthetic and manages to take it to a hideous, horrifying extreme.
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sunshiner
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Re: Firefly FFTL - A cheap Tele Deluxe / LP hybrid

Post by sunshiner »

A Les Paul I wouldn't be afraid to drag around in a gig bag
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MattK
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Re: Firefly FFTL - A cheap Tele Deluxe / LP hybrid

Post by MattK »

And a very handsome guitar - the blue is perfect and the combo looks so tasteful
Dillon
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Re: Firefly FFTL - A cheap Tele Deluxe / LP hybrid

Post by Dillon »

Bacchus wrote: Fri Mar 15, 2024 12:06 pm Hmm, looking at the website, it looks like they do one of everything. There's an SRV strat, a Buckethead LP, the Prince telecaster, EVH strat, EVH wolfgang thing, Jimmy Page double neck, gretsch/tele mashup thing, all sorts.

Except for bass, where they have one PJ bass which treats "generic" as an aesthetic and manages to take it to a hideous, horrifying extreme.
One interesting thing about this company is that their stock changes pretty much every day. The listings on the website are actual pictures of what they have available.

Anyway, onto the body. This is where you start to find why these are so cheap.

When I first saw the pictures, I loved the cream plastics and silver/gold knobs. Handsome, I agree. But, in person, not so much. All of the cream parts are different shades, and poorly fitted. And while I do like the knobs, I decided to go for a more modern look.

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The factory pickup rings are narrower than any I've ever seen, leaving a noticeable gap between the ring and the body. The goopy stuff you see on the pickup in this picture is wax that came out when I tried turning one of the screws. That didn't even work---they turn but go nowhere.

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Removing the knobs, I swear they must've been glued on. I tried every technique I know to take them off nicely and ended up having to break them. Even the piece left in this picture didn't come off easily.

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Here you can see the different shades of cream, and how poorly the back covers are cut. (Sorry it looks green-ish, it's not.)

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Not that I care, but the finish is marred under the pickguard. Similar "scratches" can be seen elsewhere if you look hard enough, and they're under the clearcoat, but those are so minor it won't show up in pictures.

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The bridge is an old school style with the wire spring. Seems to have some kind of branding machined off the bottom. I'll likely replace it in the future.

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And the electronics are about like I expected: Cheap, and hastily soldered, with the leads not even going through the lugs on the pots. And speaking of, they look to be CTS knockoffs, apparently by a company called Fleor. Saw some posts online that suggest they're also used by Squier.

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Last edited by Dillon on Sat Mar 16, 2024 7:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Dillon
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Re: Firefly FFTL - A cheap Tele Deluxe / LP hybrid

Post by Dillon »

After getting it back together and playing it plugged in, the pickups decidedly are the weakest part of the factory build. GFS was having a sale, so I ordered a set of Surf 180s (which I had always been curious about anyway).

Fits the aesthetic perfectly IMO. I might change the pickguard though...had to file out the part where it meets the pickup ring, and stupidly went too far. I hope that it's the same size as the Cabronita pickguard it copies.

Note the wheel-style truss rod adjustment at the heel. Although I think it's true that you could put any old 4-bolt neck on this body, it'd leave a hole where that bit goes.

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sunshiner
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Re: Firefly FFTL - A cheap Tele Deluxe / LP hybrid

Post by sunshiner »

It looks absolutely amazing
matte30is wrote:Someone man up and get a balloon.
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Re: Firefly FFTL - A cheap Tele Deluxe / LP hybrid

Post by Dillon »

Thanks! Even more so IMO after this latest mod. I find the Surf 180 pickups to be more versatile than the name suggests, but, they especially live up to that name if you want them to. Nice jangly cleans that sound great with copious reverb and some boost. So I did a thing.

Probably will get a roller bridge for it in the future, as you can hear the saddles moving when using the trem. And change the tuner buttons to something nicer. Think I'll call it good after that.

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Backstory: I've always been curious about the Deusenberg Les Trem, just never wanted to spend the money on one to find out if I'd like it. I was surprised to see that Guyker makes a more affordable knockoff. Reading the reviews, there are lots of seemingly valid complaints, but I decided to go for it anyway.

It bolted straight on without needing the studs it comes with and it feels well made. I love the look; reminds me of an old Cadillac or the Ford V8 emblem, and fits the aesthetic of this guitar perfectly.

Most of the negative reviews point to the spring causing tuning stability problems, and yeah, 100% it does. It came with two different springs and neither one is really up to the task. I took one from an old GFS XTrem that I had laying around and it works. (As an aside, I later found that GFS now make an XTrem which replaces a stop tail, but I much prefer the look of the Guyker, and the fact that it's more adjustable.)

The cheapo bridge didn't help things either. The bridge posts were all wobbly, so I put plumber's tape around the threads.

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The other complaint is strings busting at the tailpiece. Like coming unraveled. That happened twice for me on the high E only. I'm almost certain it's because they were old parts bin strings I used just to test, but I found a suggestion to solder the wrap and did that on fresh strings just in case. So far so good.

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sunshiner
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Re: Firefly FFTL - A cheap Tele Deluxe / LP hybrid

Post by sunshiner »

Good thing you had a spare spring that worked. I'll use that as an excuse to keep hoarding guitar related bits and pieces justifying it by the fact that I'll need them all one day.

Also I never realised that plumber's tape can be used on the bridge posts.
matte30is wrote:Someone man up and get a balloon.