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A couple of Tele builds

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by ctmullins, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. ctmullins

    ctmullins TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

    29
    Sep 9, 2018
    MS Gulf Coast
    Hi everybody!

    First, a bit of introduction: I’m really a bassist, and I’ve been building basses for the last ten years. I’m sorta getting decent at it. But I’ve joined another band as a keyboard player, and this band’s repertoire includes a few songs that don’t actually have any key parts. So rather than sit there and watch my mates bash away on their guitars, I figured I’d join them.

    I did build one guitar about five years ago, and that’s the one I’ve been practicing and rehearsing on. It’s a Les Paul Special double-cut, quilt maple over sapele for the body, three-piece rock maple neck, pau ferro fretboard, a pair of P90s, and a wraparound bridge. Plays pretty well, but I’ve improved my skills since then, so I thought I’d give the skinny strings another whirl.

    My tastes have always run to the Gibson side of the spectrum, mainly because of my dislike for the numerous shortcuts and compromises that Leo institutionalized. Granted, the man was a genius of pragmatism, but that which is beneficial for mass modular production isn’t necessarily that which is optimal for the player. Still, I’ve recently taken a shine to the Tele shape; I even built one up into a bass a few years ago. Now I’ve decided to build another, to add to my six-string collection.

    Only I got a little bit over-excited and wound up with two bodies. I’m cheating here a little bit, and using pre-made bodies. Sometimes I make everything from scratch, sometimes I use a purchased body with a home-built neck, and sometimes I make the body to fit a purchased neck. It’s all good, as long as the end result works.

    Here’s a photo of the two bodies. On the left is an inexpensive one from an eBay seller - it has a variety of woods, so I’m calling it the Butcher Block. The other came from Warmoth, a minimally-spec’ed (read: inexpensive) Black Korina beauty. Also in the photo is my LMII-slotted Mac ebony fretboard and a variety of headstock templates.

    [​IMG]

    I’ve had them now for about a month, but I keep changing my mind on exactly how to build them up. I have a few neck blanks in stock, and right now I think I’m going with this walnut/maple/walnut/maple/walnut billet:

    [​IMG]

    It’s thick enough for two necks.

    I’m not a traditionalist, so I’ll be deviating quite a bit from the canonical specifications: 25” scale length, original headstocks, humbuckers, my own preferred body contours, sculpted neck heels, perhaps even some quirky wiring. And, there’s still a chance that the Butcher Block could wind up as a medium-scale (32”) bass. Maybe even headless! (The keen eye will notice four black ABM monorail bridge/tuner assemblies in place as a bit of a mock-up)

    It’s still really really hot here, but as soon as it cools down some I’ll begin making some real progress.

    Thanks for having me, and I hope you enjoy the thread!
     

  2. Welcome and look forward to seeing more!
     

  3. ctmullins

    ctmullins TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

    29
    Sep 9, 2018
    MS Gulf Coast
    Well, I realized that the walnut/maple neck is a no go. Not for any structural reasons, but the width of the laminations means that the neck taper will cross the border between walnut and maple, and that won’t look good after carving. I’ll have to save that blank for something wider. Probably my 12-string bass. :cool:

    I’m thinking I’ll use this cherry/maple/cherry blank instead. But for which body??

    [​IMG]
     
    eallen and LPTyler like this.

  4. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Welcome. And also as a former bassist now converted guitarist and guitar maker (of sorts), I'll be watching this with interest. Pity about the walnut/maple/walnut necks. They look awesome.
     
    John Nicholas and LPTyler like this.

  5. ctmullins

    ctmullins TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

    29
    Sep 9, 2018
    MS Gulf Coast
    Earlier I mentioned how I accidentally bought two bodies. Well, actually I accidentally bought three. Two are the Tele bodies pictured above. But while I was at Warmoth's site, I checked out the "Screamin' Deals" section, and I couldn't pass up this Regal body that was listed for less than half what it would have cost if I had spec'ed it.

    [​IMG]

    Chambered, maple over mahogany, pretty standard LP-type specs.

    I decided to use an old neck blank from my stash, mahogany with maple and wenge stringers down the center. It's incredibly light weight.

    [​IMG]

    Today I bagged the day job so I could install the truss rod and taper it. I still need to fine-tune the fit into the Warmoth neck pocket, then I can glue the fingerboard on.
     
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  6. ctmullins

    ctmullins TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

    29
    Sep 9, 2018
    MS Gulf Coast
    I’m happy with the fit,

    [​IMG]

    And the alignment.

    [​IMG]
     
    John Nicholas likes this.

  7. ctmullins

    ctmullins TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

    29
    Sep 9, 2018
    MS Gulf Coast
    The neck for the Korina body is a bit unorthodox. I had a three-piece maple blank, but it was too thin, so I backed it with a slab of Mac ebony and scarfed it.

    [​IMG]

    I decided to use this headstock - one I’ve used before on a couple of basses. Here I’m using dimes to lay out guitar tuners.

    [​IMG]

    I rough-tapered the blank, and attached the headstock template for pattern routing.

    [​IMG]

    I forgot to route for the truss rod while the sides were parallel; no matter, I can clamp it and set up straightedges just the same.

    [​IMG]

    The maple and ebony (especially the ebony) make this neck a bit on the heavy side. So I decided to chamber it. One bowl bit, 7/16” depth.

    [​IMG]

    A total savings of 60g. Not spectacular, but every bit helps!

    [​IMG]

    Mac ebony fingerboard cauled and clamped.

    [​IMG]

    That’s all for today!
     

  8. mangus

    mangus Tele-Meister

    Age:
    35
    254
    Nov 2, 2016
    Portugal
    Gosh! Is that weight relief common practice? How does the neck not snap?
     
    eallen likes this.

  9. Echo mangus. Can't say I have ever seen a chambered neck before. How does the truss rod work with the chamber or what is holding it from moving into the chambered area?

    Any idea how much meat you will have between the chambers and back once the back gets shaped?

    Eric
     

  10. ctmullins

    ctmullins TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

    29
    Sep 9, 2018
    MS Gulf Coast
    The first few basses I built turned out heavy, so I learned to try and pay attention to weight, and saving it where I could. Along the way I heard about the heavily chambered Telecasters that John Bolin has built for Billy Gibbons, including neck chambering. So no, I don’t think it’s at all common, but there is a precedent (with pedigree).

    From physics we know that a tube of a certain diameter has nearly (approximately 90%) as much stiffness as a solid bar of the same diameter, within limits. Those limits specify that the wall thickness of the tube can’t be super-small. And since a number of my three-piece maple necks either needed no tightening of the truss rod or (in one case) required inducing some relief with the double-action rod, I felt like I had some room to play with the concept.

    I’ve only ever built one other chambered neck, a three-piece maple for a 32” scale bass, and it’s held up fine. Still, I’m being conservative with the amount of material I’m removing. I like a medium asymmetrical carve, which means about 0.90” at the nut and 1.0” at the neck heel, so that should leave me somewhere around 0.25” of wood left. But it is an experiment, and if it blows up on me, well then, I get to build another neck!
     
    eallen likes this.

  11. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 26, 2014
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    WOW!! I really love it when folks venture off into non-traditional territory.

    You are so brave to go with the chambered neck. Love the idea, not sure I could do it. Although it is something to consider in the future. Thanks for sharing!

    Our backgrounds are somewhat similar, I'm a bass player who wanted to play guitar and started building guitars. One of these days I want to build a bass. But I too love the idea of non-traditional building and don't want to build a Fender clone...

    Can't wait to see what you do with your builds.
     
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  12. mgreene

    mgreene Tele-Holic

    688
    Jan 27, 2010
    south carolina
    I have to give it to youse guys who have the cojones to make a neck.

    As a wood worker, I KNOW I could do it, but I have ZERO confidence that the result would be usable or a shape that I actually liked.:rolleyes:
     
    ctmullins likes this.

  13. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 26, 2014
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    First you have to want to build one. Personally I can't see building something that you could purchase. Which is why I can't stomach the idea of building a clone of something you could buy.

    As for the building the neck, it's something that takes a great deal of patience and quite a few mis-steps. I have many un-finished necks in my workshop. It's just a part of the process. Sometimes wood warps when cut, sometime you make a serious boo-boo. And any number of issues can occur during the process.

    But I will say the satisfaction of building a neck and having it feel so very nice in your hand is beyond words. The trouble is, it takes a while to get there.

    Either way, good luck!!
     
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  14. ctmullins

    ctmullins TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

    29
    Sep 9, 2018
    MS Gulf Coast
    Agree. I was daunted at first, but I’m a dive-in-and-try-it kind of person, and I discovered that it’s not as hard as it looks. I have definitely learned a few things along the way, regarding headstock shaping, profile carving, etc. And it might be a bit more problematic for those of you who are particular about neck profile shapes.

    I build because I enjoy the process, and because my preferences are a bit left of mainstream, so off-the-shelf items are unlikely to meet all of my wishes. Ditto @John Nicholas’ comment about clone building!
     
    John Nicholas likes this.

  15. mgreene

    mgreene Tele-Holic

    688
    Jan 27, 2010
    south carolina
    Yep - I learned the lesson many years ago. Professional workmanship is LEARNED over time.

    Every time you build something from scratch, you are learning how it could be done better.

    Every project that Norm and those other TV woodworkers build is version 2 or 3 after they built a prototype.
     
    John Nicholas likes this.

  16. ctmullins

    ctmullins TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

    29
    Sep 9, 2018
    MS Gulf Coast
    Got the last of the electronics in today’s mail. The butcher block is getting a Railhammer Chisel in the bridge and a Duncan Hot Rails in the neck. I have no idea how well they’ll work together. But I’m a bit of a pickup junkie, so I always welcome new pickups!

    Gratuitous mock-up, with the chrome plate and knobs. Not pictured is the Gibson-style toggle switch that will sit between the two knobs.

    [​IMG]
     
    Mincer likes this.

  17. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2011
    Tucson
    "Don't you blaspheme in here...don't you blaspheme in HERE!"

    This is the Tele Home Depot. That's all we do is build stuff we could just buy!
    ;)
    Cheers,
    Rex
     

  18. ctmullins

    ctmullins TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

    29
    Sep 9, 2018
    MS Gulf Coast
    Got the Regal neck final tapered, fretboard radiused (14”), and headstock shaped, capped, and drilled.

    [​IMG]

    I’m pretty happy with that.

    The Regal neck was scarfed years ago, using my old jig. I measured the other day, and the old jig is 17 degrees, while the new jig is 13 degrees. You can see the difference here, between the Regal neck and the Korina neck.

    [​IMG]

    Personally, I think ten degrees is sufficient, but I can live with 13. :cool:
     
    John Nicholas likes this.

  19. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 26, 2014
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read this!!

    Thanks!
     

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