Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Best Inexpensive Kit Tele

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by guitardedzen, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. guitardedzen

    guitardedzen Tele-Holic

    Jan 18, 2007
    Chico, CA
    Yes I know it's almost sacrilege, but at the current moment, being Tele-less....directly after a cross country move, and a baby on the way. I can't justify (let me put that as....the WIFE can't justify) going out and buying a new 50's classic. Ehhh... So what is a man to do? I've been chattin back and forth with my dad, and he is all of the time getting these cheap cheap tele's and making something of em and I figured that I'd like to get a shot at puttin one together (seeing as I don't have the tools nor the connections built in unfamiliar territory to just saw out my own two piece body etc.) and practice at working with my own paint scheme ideas on something that I wouldn't feel bad f-in up. Anywho....I've been looking around and I think that I've come up with what I'm gonna go for.

    It's the $130.00 basic Tele kit from Grizzly Industrial ( a machinery company with an owner with a luthiery passion! )

    Here's what the site description states:

    This Telecaster® style kit features a solid alder body and maple neck with completed walnut fretboard. The body is pre carved and can be finished to match your own personal style. The kit includes all hardware and components and just like its namesake, it has that time tested classic look and feel. Requires a basic skill level and basic tools for assembly. Complete instructions are included.

    Eh so it's not COMPLETLY choice, but then again it allows alot for unshamed experimentation. First thing I'd do would be changing out the Bridge and saddle pieces to a 3 Piece Brass set, and from there who knows.

    I am curious if anyone else has had any experience with these cheap kits and possibly may know a better place to go to for around a similar price. Also any problems people have ran into in the kit building (not that there could be anything simpler than throwin together a Tele in less than an afternoon) Also what do ya'll think of these?


    Hopefully Contemplating in southeastern South Dakota

  2. aznrambo481

    aznrambo481 Friend of Leo's

    Saga guitar kits may be found for about $120-150. Probably not too great though... but I've seem more of those around than the grizzly kits. has a page on customizing saga kits that you might want to check out.

    and don't buy these if you want to finish clear.

  3. guitardedzen

    guitardedzen Tele-Holic

    Jan 18, 2007
    Chico, CA
    I just checked out the Saga kit and it appears to have an upper body contour. I'm not sure if the other kits do as well. I would kinda prefer finding one that didn't possess the contour. I did find some really great information from that site on some techniques however!

  4. Jack Wells

    Jack Wells Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Oct 19, 2003
    Albuquerque, USA

  5. guitardedzen

    guitardedzen Tele-Holic

    Jan 18, 2007
    Chico, CA

  6. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member


  7. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    Virginia, USA
    I will second the idea of a used Squier. Even an Affinity! I have an Affinity Strat that people drool over... especially those who play it! It has a great tone and all it really took was some setup. I picked it up for 60 bucks! I'm sure you could find a similar deal on a Tele!

    Another nice thing about it is it really won't lose any value. The kits are impossible to sell for any really amount of money later if you wanted to upgrade.

    You could take your Squier and upgrade it without having to worry about pickups fitting or pickguards, etc., your kit? Who knows?

    If you want the kit so you can learn how to MAKE a guitar, you might look at buying parts and putting together what you want from the get-go, instead of buying the kit, then buying the parts you want. It might take longer to get all the pieces you want... but it might save money in the long run.

  8. blacklinefish

    blacklinefish Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 19, 2006
    Northwest Missouri
    Go partscaster instead.

    Hey friend! I'm a firm believer that the heart and soul of a guitar is its neck. A decent neck is the beginning of a great guitar, and I couldn't cope with any guitar with neck issues. So my recommendation is to find a neck first then build the guitar around it. If you're not picky (e.g. doesn't have to say "Fender"), there are necks on eBay that have recently sold for about 1/2 to 2/3 of the price of the kit you described. (I just read an auction for a good looking squier neck that the owner tried to "refinish" and screwed up, went for $61).

    Your partscaster could start out as a one-pickup guitar to save money, and slowly add and change. Over time, you could always swap out tuners, pickups, electronics, bridge, etc. But if you never fell in love with the neck in the first place, then it wouldn't be worth it.

    My Rx: decent neck, 1-pickup wired straight to the output jack (no controls!), no pickguard, no control plate. Just the body, bridge, and tuners to get the thing playing). Then, spend the rest of the decade modifying and experimenting. There's a good chance that it will eventually become your favorite.


  9. ToeCutter66

    ToeCutter66 Tele-Meister

    Jan 3, 2007
    Sterling Virginia
    Grizzly Kit

    The body in my Grizzly Kit is the wrong shape, there is no reveal under the lower side of the pick guard, you will need to reshape it.

    You are better off going with a Rondo tele copy, a squire from elderly instruments or keeping an eye out for a used squire at local pawnshops or guitar center.

  10. gtech

    gtech Friend of Leo's

    Jan 4, 2007
    Quebec, Canada
    Another detail about the Saga kit is it only comes with a rosewood neck. If you want a maple neck, you would be better with another option.

  11. elkym

    elkym TDPRI Member

    Oct 15, 2007
    I totally agree. The neck makes or breaks a guitar...

    I bought a neck for 22.50 on ebay a few weeks ago. It was a steal. My tele is in process. :( it's taking too long.

    Good Luck!

  12. guitardedzen

    guitardedzen Tele-Holic

    Jan 18, 2007
    Chico, CA
    I really think I agree with you guys, but man...a neck in the with specs in the ballpark that I want...well I don't know how much it'd cost, and I think I'd have to go through Warmoth or someone to even get one. If I where going to go for ideal, it'd be a big ole fat Louisville Slugger of a '53 Maple neck. Anyone ever see one go for under a hundred?

  13. chas9225

    chas9225 NEW MEMBER!

    Jan 25, 2010
    Grizzly Telecaster kit


    Regarding: Grizzly Telecaster kit

    I am an engineer who happens to be fascinated by electric guitars, and on a couple of occasions I have been tempted to take apart my ES-335 copy. It then occurred to me that building a guitar from a kit might be a better idea. And though I’m not a musician, I’ve wanted a Telecaster ever since the Bruce Springsteen “Born to Run” album cover, so I’m actually thinking about buying the kit and killing two birds with one stone (so to speak).

    I agree with those that said the kits, unlike “real” guitars, don’t appreciate in value, so from an investment standpoint, a kit is simply not a good idea. But I want the experience (and I need to learn how to pronounce “luthier”). Plus I was thinking I could build it (no finishing, no gluing the nut) – play with it – then disassemble it and sell the kit so some other nerd engineer can mess with it. It’s not exactly Legos, but because of the bolt-on neck, I’m assuming the instrument can be disassembled fairly easily (the soldering being an exception – idea: connectors). I suppose I would throw in new strings to whoever buys it from me. :)

    And regardless of whether or not I keep it or not, I was wondering what cool things you could do to a homemade guitar? Any of you folks have ideas?

    I was thinking maybe:
    Install a micro pre-amp to drive a miniature tuner, with the LED’s on the back
    Install a micro pre-amp and headphone jack so you don’t drive the wife crazy
    Somehow add a mini-speaker and/or metronome/drum unit
    Somehow add a USB port – then you could just plug a USB cable into your computer and record/jam
    Somehow add a <a href=""> Web Server</a> and RJ-45 Ethernet connector
    Add a small GPS unit, have a guitarist in each town play something, then pass the Telecaster to a friend in a different town and track its movement on Google maps
    Add some kind of effect – I have no idea how – fuzz, echo, delay…
    Add a wireless unit
    Mess with people’s minds – put a “Stratocaster” logo somewhere on the body and/or neck
    Modify the neck (and this would be really hard) with pressure sensors and LED’s that illuminate when that fret is being played – it would be a cool effect in the dark and a good tool for teachers
    Modify the headstock to look like a Tele

  14. kenfolk

    kenfolk Tele-Holic

    Apr 29, 2009
    plattsburg mo

  15. fatboymjt

    fatboymjt Former Member

    ..I'm with the boys can buy a good guitar,...(ready to play)....cheaper than the kit...unless you have a desire to build it..good luck..

  16. Bogard

    Bogard TDPRI Member

    Jan 2, 2010
    Williamsport PA
    Grizzly Kit

    I just finished a Grizzly Tele kit and ended up with a very nice guitar. I built it because I wanted to learn from the experience and I did just that. I am currently building from scratch but the Griz kit got me on my way. The kits go together nicely but are not a jigsaw puzzle with everything a perfect fit. A trim here or there and it all goes together. I learned the most from setting the guitar up and making adjustments as needed. If you are just looking for a guitar to play then I would buy a finished copy. If you enjoy a project and want to learn more about a guitars ...the Grizzly kit is a good option.
    Here is a link to my finished project:

    Good luck!!

  17. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    Ever learned bad writing technique, or learned bad skiing habits, or took up smoking while trying to make some crummy kit work the way it was supposed to? Not all "experience" is good for you.

    A Saga or Grizzly kit is chocked full of all the parts that are too crappy to use. Basically nothing from the kit can be saved, except the free downloadable instruction manual. Grizzly sells excellent lacquers and they have some usable tools. But learning to build and then assuming you have captured the essence of the Telecaster? Sorry. It never happened and now you're gonna have to unlearn all those bad habits and somehow erase all those false impressions you have - of what it is to hold and play a fine guitar when what you're holding is delusions.

    There's already millions of unused, unplayable "guitars" or guitar art out there; don't make one more. If you want "experience", help renovate a park in your neigborhood, or volunteer at the homeless shelter. Make some traction, don't spin your wheels in a Saga or Grizzly kit.

  18. Bogard

    Bogard TDPRI Member

    Jan 2, 2010
    Williamsport PA
    Although the kit build is not terribly difficult it does require some basic tools and skills. You will need to do some soldering when installing the pickups and jack. You will want to reshape the headstock. You may need to trim the pick guard and accurately drill a dozen or more holes. You will need various types and sizes of clamps and a good straight edge. Search the DIY forum for more info on kits and mods. It will take some time and patience! If you take your time you will enjoy playing it until you can move up. Good Luck

  19. 930vet

    930vet Tele-Meister

    Apr 22, 2008
    I don't get it- I don't see any reason why these can't be built into acceptable, playable guitars. If you just try to slap it together, it will be unplayable; if you plan your work and spend some time thinking about each step before you embark on it, exercise care, and approach your work as like you are trying to be a craftsman, you can build a nice guitar. I built a $90 kit into a playable guitar. It was a lot of work, some stuff didn't fit together right, holes needed to be filled and re-drilled, had to drill string through holes, and now I need to replace the switch on it because it was indeed junk. Nevertheless, I actually think it has an interesting, acoustic-like tone to it, and it gave me the "experience" to feel ready to invest more time and money in follow-on guitar projects, experience you won't get by volunteering at the homeless shelter. And the guitar recently served as the test bed for my first attempt at fret-leveling and crowning, which I think turned out pretty well.

    There is no question that an SX will almost certainly get you a cheaper and better playing guitar, and I would recommend a paint-stripped and disassembled SX as a "kit", assuming that you don't want to use a finish that requires removing the grain filler/sealer. OTOH, if you want to go through the steps of fitting the parts together, which I would recommend you do even if you are buying body and neck from one of the very best shops, you pretty much need a kit, and I can't see going through that learning curve on a $300 body and $200 neck.

  20. TommyD

    TommyD TDPRI Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    New York city
    Carvin kits?

    Carvin has some very nice pre-drilled kits. They claim that everything fits so well that you can insert the neck into the cutout and hold up the body dangling from the neck with no screws! Hmmm.
    BUT - and it's a big but - they are costly; in the range of $380, and as people say, no resale value. But on the other hand, Carvin IS a good name, and the kist look very nice.
    Anybody have any experience putting one together?

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