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First Tele, first real build, need a little advice

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Mr_Q, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. Mr_Q

    Mr_Q TDPRI Member

    13
    Dec 21, 2018
    Iowa
    I'm an experienced woodworker and I'm about to build my first real build.

    Guitar #1 was a finished LP body that I bought from Guitar Fetish. I hung some great quality bits on it, did a fret job, and I'm thrilled with the results. I know y'all like pics, so here's it. (BTW, I made the case from scratch. That's genuine faux crocodile.)


    Next up is a T-type with a non-traditional body. But I want to start with a good plan. I've downloaded the D-size blueprint at the top of this thread as a starter. (Should I be looking at anything else?)

    My challenges are twofold:

    1) Source a really good neck without selling a kidney to get it. My goal is a very good playable instrument and I'm not confident in my abilities to build a neck yet. (Next time, baby steps.) I've looked a Warmoth and a couple of others and those look lovely but quite pricey. Are there other neck sources that you've had good luck with?

    2) Pickups. My first thought was the EMG Tele active pup kit. Then I was looking at the Guitar Fetish Fatbody models with the over-sized pole pieces. Yesterday I read here about the Bootstrap pickups and was intrigued by their home-grown, made in the USA options. Has anyone had experience with the Fatbody pups? How you you feel about the Bootstraps? (Think rock, beach country and a little surf, no shredding here.)

    This is a long term project since I'm presently only designing, and I'm about 1100 miles from my workshop at the moment. I'll post photos of my progress.

    I'm thrilled that I found this community and look forward to reading and sharing.

    Cheers,
    Q
     
    double_a likes this.
  2. double_a

    double_a TDPRI Member

    Age:
    51
    59
    May 16, 2017
    Toronto
    Don’t go cheap on the neck or the pickups. Whenever I went cheap on either i wound up disappointed and buying the expensive alternative anyways.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    Mr_Q likes this.
  3. edvard

    edvard Tele-Holic

    894
    May 15, 2016
    Bremerton, WA
    Best Guitar Parts has a custom neck building form, and as long as you keep to standard features there's no extra costs, and they are somewhat cheaper than Warmoth. Look at Allparts' offerings, some basic Tele necks start at around 180 bucks. If you don't want to spend that much, you can always dig up Squire necks on eBay or Reverb, though they may be used or have defects. I have bought and used a cheap Asian neck that works just fine (I must have gotten lucky), but there are definitely things I don't like about it. Basically, you're going to pay around $200 USD for a good quality neck, and spending less will be a crapshoot at best.

    I'm no pickup aficionado, so I'll leave that to others...
     
    Mr_Q likes this.
  4. RiversQC

    RiversQC TDPRI Member

    Age:
    39
    7
    Nov 9, 2018
    Quebec
    Good luck with the build! Strictly IMO, I'd look for a licensed neck - Allparts or Mighty Mite, if not splurging relatively on Warmoth. I am, shall we say... economical... about sourcing parts, because frankly there's a lot I'd like to be able to buy for different builds, plus being in Canada the exchange and shipping from many suppliers can double prices. Not sure where to get the best US prices, but I would encourage you to live it up on my behalf :)

    Meanwhile, I've found lots of solid pickups from the likes of GFS, EY, etc. I don't have extensive experience with Bootstrap, but did buy their hot P90, plus a strat neck pickup I haven't yet installed. Sounds great to me. I really like the idea that you can get a good product from a small North American company at a fantastic price (plus even great shipping prices to Canada!) Customer service seems top notch too.
     
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  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    It's hard to beat the Allparts necks on ebay for around 110 dollars. The Tdowns drawing is the one that most people use for bodies. There used to be a build challenge here for a number of years and most newcomers were encouraged to read through them. Most of those folks are long gone so it doesn't get mentioned as much. They are in an archive at the top of the HD page. They are a wealth of information and you'll find many ways to do operations that end up with the same result. You'll see the common mistakes that people make too. Actually you'll see those in the current threads to, so reading is a good option.
     
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  6. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Welcome to the TDPRI dude. Depending on what you're going for as in user-bility of your project - listen to what the guys said about quality necks. I've done about 4 projects with Asian necks, and feel I've scored lucky on a couple of them. To me they feel and play really well, but I'm not a serious muso anymore, so mainly build as a hobby to try different things. I'm about to get into making my own - but if you want quality - then I guess you gotta pay for it.

    Can't help ya with pups and hardware etc., cos I'm a cheapskate! :D
     
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  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Meister

    Age:
    73
    495
    Aug 22, 2018
    Washington
    Let me recommend getting a copy of Melvyn Hiscock's book. He walks you thru three builds using the three classic neck joints - set neck, screw on neck and thru neck. He also has a great chapter on guitar geometry that should be understood before you start, and chapters on materials, tools, SAFETY, finish and electronics. Its all there and really the only reference you need (besides the D sized plans).

    My comment on necks is that you pretty much get what you pay for, but remember that a domestically made neck is going to be about three times the price of a PacRim neck. I have used Mighty Mite necks - they are fine but needed fret work (I bought the ones with unshaped heads so I could do my own). I have also used a couple of Warmoth necks - in my opinion they were considerably nicer, but that goes with the price. One advantage of Warmoth is that you can pick what you like from their inventory or have them build your dream neck to your specs.

    The other option is to bite the bullet and build your own. Neck carving is one of the real joys of guitar building and its worth taking the time to do your own. Lots of good tutorials if you decide you want to give it a go.
     
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  8. Mr_Q

    Mr_Q TDPRI Member

    13
    Dec 21, 2018
    Iowa
    Thanks for the advice, I am presently reading the Lospennato Design book, but I'll pick up Hiscock as well. The more I read the fewer screw ups I'll (hopefully) make!

    I have a line on some honest to goodness 100 year old reclaimed wood once my brother-in-law tears down that corn crib. So that may be a barncaster on which I try a neck carve.
     
  9. Mr_Q

    Mr_Q TDPRI Member

    13
    Dec 21, 2018
    Iowa
    I'll track down those build challenge threads.--thanks!
     
  10. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

    Jul 6, 2012
    North of Boston
    Welcome to the addiction... I mean forum . . .
    This is so true ^
    The Stew Mach finishing book and the Bob Flexner's Finishing Wood books are a must if you want to replicate a factory finish somewhere down the line.
    Terry Down's plans are the ones you want. There are thinline plans out there that have several versions included from the WRHB Thin to the Deluxe. Those might be worth a look too.
    I've done the Warmouth Neck and the quality it Fender Factory 95% of the time, that's why the $$$$$. I build my own necks now. I started using HD maple then once I had a few good ones I moved on to lumber yard, high quality hardwoods. It's more satisfying than building a body and the fear you have of building one is unwarranted, take it from someone whose been there. The Allparts necks are better than average, so if you go that way it's quality.
    For pickups I like the GFS but I usually go by the reviews for a product if I want to try it. That way it's not as hit or miss as just choosing something that sounds like what you want. I'm also a fan of Kerry Learned at Onamac Windery he use to be on eBay but now on Facebook, super high quality boutique pickup but not at the Lollar price (and the lollar price is so worth it if you want super high end)

    Print up several copies of that Tele drawing. Make a couple of templates, one for body shape, one for neck pocket, one for pickups. 1/2 or 3/4 MDF is best but decent ply works too.
     
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  11. GPlo

    GPlo TDPRI Member

    Age:
    32
    58
    Jul 26, 2018
    Netherlands
    Hello,

    Great looking LP! If I may be so bold, why not just go for it and attempt to build the neck yourself now? It seems like you have the skills to do it. Maybe buy a slotted and radiussed fretboard. Now shaping the neck shouldn’t be too hard if you’re careful and use a reasonably foolproof method like facetting.
     
    Mr_Q likes this.
  12. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    Another thing about the Tdowns drawing. If you have it printed out at a copy place, bring along an accurate machinist's rule and measure some of the given dimensions. People here have mentioned over the years that sometimes they print them out in a different scale than what you want.
     
  13. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Meister

    Age:
    73
    495
    Aug 22, 2018
    Washington
    Barncasters are fun. I did use some commercial necks on mine but only because I didn't have any 100 year old maple

    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/four-little-barncasters.864983/
     
    Mr_Q likes this.
  14. Mr_Q

    Mr_Q TDPRI Member

    13
    Dec 21, 2018
    Iowa
    Feel free to be bold. :)
    It's the fretboard that scares me. I do think I could carve the neck, with time and patience. Maybe I'll look into that alternative. (buying one)

    Sent from my SM-T810 using Tapatalk
     
  15. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Meister

    Age:
    73
    495
    Aug 22, 2018
    Washington
    Q, I have scratch built two dozen guitars now including the necks. I have used commercial pre slotted pre radiused fretboards on almost all of them. I simply have not taken the time to build an accurate and adjustable slot mitering jig. One of my problems it that I make everything from mandolins and short scale guitars to baritones. The slots need to be perfect - this is one place that I think a cnc mill really fits into lutherie. So I just bite the bullet and order a board from LMII each time I build something.
     
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  16. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    I've used multiple dozens of the stewmac preslotted rosewood fretboards. They are a good bang for the buck. They used to sell them at a discount in mulitiples like 10+.

    You'll save yourself some headaches and money buying a preslotted board, but you won't get the same personal satisfaction that you get when you make the complete neck yourself. At least that's how I feel about it. Same kind of reasoning to make the truss rod yourself for 3 dollars worth of materials over the 10 dollar one from Warmoth....

    If you have the tools and skills or the desire, the neck making is quite challenging ( but not impossible) and satisfying.

    I'd have to say I've seen way more necks made here at Home Depot than before the tutorial resources became available.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019 at 1:41 PM
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  17. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    55
    Feb 16, 2014
    Sacramento, California
    I've been going nuts building for the past couple of years.

    Necks are tough. I've bought some decent ones on EBay, but it can be hit and miss; gotta be prepared for the event you get a dud. For a reliable neck that you know will be decent you can find Allparts for a little over a hundred bucks at places like The Stratosphere. I've noticed a lot of the cheap necks coming from China come with copper frets lately. You want nickel alloy. If you're a gambler and are willing to try one, make sure to ask them what the fret material is before you bid or buy. Also, you're gonna want to replace the nuts, most of them are plastic. I know GFS necks have plastic nuts (emailed them a while back and asked them).

    Pickups - you can get a set of Tonerider Tele pickups for around $75 on Amazon. I've put them in like four guitars now, and they're great. My most recent build I took advantage of the exchange rate and got a set of Iron Gear Steel Foundry from England for around $80 US. Haven't got the guitar together yet, but they're supposed to be as good sounding as SD or DiMarzio. If you're looking for a humbucker, I highly recommend the Tonerider Alnico II. It's a great PAF at any price.
     
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  18. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Meister

    Age:
    73
    495
    Aug 22, 2018
    Washington
    StewMac fretboards are great, the only reason I use LMII is that I can custom order exactly what I want (or at least, used to be able to, I'm kind of lost on what shop services are now offered). Anyway, since almost every one of my guitars is different - 24.5 parlor with 20 inch radius, 24.75 with 12 inch, 24.9 with 16, 25 flat, 25.4, 25.5, 26.5, out of rosewood or ebony or something different - its very worth while to just pay their small shop fee.

    However just last night I was reading an article in AL about building a fret slotting jig with a ball screw and a digital readout that looks pretty interesting. Then an adjustable swing sander for the radius. Maybe.....
     
    GPlo likes this.
  19. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2011
    Tucson
    Freeman, please post that article.

    To Mr_Q, the OP - I join the ranks of those encouraging you to build the neck yourself. If you are a woodworker with a woodworking shop, making a Tele neck, of any kind/configuration, with be no challenge to you. On my first build attempt I did what was probably the most challenging (but cheapest), a one piece with skunk stripe and truss rod I made myself. I wager you're a better craftsman than me, and mine turned out great.
    Think of it this way - it costs you practically nothing to try it.
    What kind of neck do you want? Forget about what you think you can or can't handle making - what configuration do you want? One piece or separate fretboard? Maple, or something else? Let's clear that up first and then I/we can send you all the support materials you need to knock it out. A traditional one-piece Tele neck won't cost you more than $20 total in materials, and that includes the truss rod and nut, and assumes you buy the maple, and don't have enough already lying around in your shop. If you get into store bought, two way truss rods and fretboards, you might be able to work your expenses all the way up to $50-60 bucks!
    (note - I left off the tuners and string tress - figure they're a fixed cost regardless of what kind of neck you buy/build)
    What do you have to lose?

    Cheers,
    Rex
     
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  20. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2011
    Tucson
    In fairness, that also assumes you have some fairly standard things a guy with a shop might have, like a tap and die set (10-32 tap and die needed to make your truss rod), a router, proper drill bits, a fine toothed crosscut backsaw or similar for cutting fret slots, files and rasps, etc.
     
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