I’ve considered building a guitar for a long time now. I play bass and acoustic, but I’m not much of an electric guitar player (that is to say, I can play an electric the way I play an acoustic, and that’s not very cool). My guitar teacher recently picked up a really cool American Standard Telecaster–a brand new one in Daphne Blue. From what I understand this isn’t a color that Fender produces American Standard Telecasters in (my teacher got lucky, methinks).
This particular guitar is some kind of mistake from Fender. Its a beautiful guitar… And to hear Mr. Coleman Play it, it just sounds incredible, in the twangy way that a Telecaster should sound.
To prepare for this, I’ve been watching a number of videos, reading, and looking at some of the thousands of custom/hot rodded Telecaster style guitars people make. There is a wealth of information on the Interwebs, and those who have built their own are eager to share their knowledge.
The Telecaster is to guitars what the 33 Ford is to Hot Rods. That is, it seems to be the gold standard style that people often go to when creating their custom guitar. Part of this, no doubt, has to do with the simplicity of its design. Parts are very easy to come by–and therefore can be obtained without spending a small fortune (unless one wishes to use only vintage Telecaster parts or the best that Warmoth has to offer). The bolt-on square pocket neck, with no wizardry required to mount, makes it a good choice for a first custom guitar (not to mention the fact that Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, and Prince make the Telecaster look so damn cool).
I’m no woodworker. I don’t own many power tools, nor to I have the patience to do the required cuts and routes with the required precision. So I ordered a pre-cut and drilled body from Reverb.com. In fact, I’ve ordered all of the parts (so far) from Reverb.com. With Reverb you can find anything and everything required (and then some), from a variety of sellers. Best of all, prices are negotiable. This is how I ended up with two additional sets of pickups–I didn’t suspect that my super-low offers on the pickups would be accepted. They were. Oops. (Parts for my next build, eh?)
Oh, have also gathered some things from Michael’s and Lowe’s. I don’t want to sound like some sort of Reverb promoter!
Here’s the body that I ordered. That’s a Maple veneer on top of a Mahogany body. The picture is not the exact body I’ll receive, but apparently a fair representation. I love the grain, and intend to do what I can to accentuate it.
Parts have stared to trickle in. I’m still waiting on the body to arrive (my guess is it will show up on Monday). Its getting late, so I’ll post more tomorrow.
To be clear, I don’t expect to be creating a guitar that will be of much value second-hand. Custom guitars are worth money only when made by talented luthiers or guitar companies with a name. My Telecaster (Rupertcaster) will be worth more to me personally than I could ever sell it for (not to mention the cost of parts going into it). This is something that I want to create and play, and perhaps pass along to one of my daughters. I’m sure it will be a creation with its share of blemishes, and I’m sure there will be a few missteps along the way. I’m not looking to create a perfect or even a great guitar. I want to create a good guitar. If it turns out great, that’s a plus.
As for the Squier neck pictured below… Yes, it IS a Squier neck, but at this point I figure its possibly a better option than Mighty Mite, definitely less expensive than Warmoth or Fender, and likely every bit as playable as any. The one thing I don’t like about it is the Rosewood fretboard. I’d like Maple. However, I got this neck as a steal… And hold it, I really like the way it feels. The inlays (you can’t tell from the picture) are sort of a beige color. I’ll probably sand the do something wacky with the headstock, and I’ll definitely get different machine heads (Gotoh, perhaps?).
For finishing, there are people who swear by Tru Oil, Tong Oil, Lacquer, or Nitrocellulose. All of them have their good and bad. Polyurethane is a perfectly acceptable option here. Nobody really has any negatives to say about it (just that they like the finish and or hardness of the others more). I’m sticking with Poly because it is easy to work with and I have at least some experience with it. I also have experience with Lacquer–The kind of experience where I learned that I’m not very good at working with Lacquer.
And yes, that is fabric dye that you are seeing. Google it, if you think it sounds screwy.
Question of the day: Belly Cut or No Belly Cut? (Forearm cut is out of the question–Because the body as a veneer, and I want to make the grain of the veneer stand out, a forearm cut would ruin it.)