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

Novice First Build: The Jawbone

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Slowtwitch, Jan 1, 2019.

  1. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    Hello 2019!

    Like most of you, it's been a journey to get to the point of deciding to build a guitar. Mine was wanting a humbucker guitar to use for worship at church as I've been on my MIA Strat for years and was looking for something else. What started out with buying a Epi Les Paul which I do like, but there's things that I don't like of my LP, transitioned to planning to buy and upgrading a cheap Tele like a SX, which transitioned to buying a kit build. Overcoming the headache to import a full guitar from the US transitioned to... why not just build one?!

    I would rate my woodwork experience as Advanced Novice. I've built basic stuff esp. MDF children's furniture, but nothing beyond basic joints and finishing.

    My tools are quite basic:
    handheld router
    router table
    hand drill
    2 long clamps and G clamps
    Will have access to a spray booth

    But with the knowledge base from this forum and the net, I'm sure to find all the info needed and I'm confident I can learn to build it.

    Inspiration for the guitar type comes from the popularity of Fender Tele's in modern worship, mixed with the Veritas Portlander (a huge influence in my design choices and is largely based on a HH Bigsby Tele).

    The Goal:
    - A high as possible quality (dare I say professional) instrument with great intonation, tone, playability and ergonomics. Not to hang on a wall, but a guitar I "connect" with and want to play much.

    - 2 PAF Humbuckers (3 way switch), Rosewood fingerboard, jumbo frets, Bigsby trem but low bridge (strings close to the body), Tele style body with bolt on neck, 6-in-a-row tuning pegs.

    - Do it low cost, as much as possible without compromising quality. I'm busy overcoming my hangups around guitar brand names

    - Poly gloss finished (gulp!!!!). I'm currently thinking British Racing Green

    - Not rush things, rather take my time to plan the design, look, hardware choices, next step and make sure it is what I want (remember I need to really like playing this thing for a long time)

    - Grow in confidence in woodwork and enjoy building my own guitar.

    - Don't build a neck at this stage, leave that for later, so source a neck along with hardware and electronics.

    Jawbone: When Samson faced the Philistines (Judges 15), he picked up a fresh Donkey Jawbone and defeated a whole army with it. But unlike the inclination to keep the awesome jawbone as a souvenir, he tossed it away afterwards because he recognised it was not the jawbone that was the secret, it was just a tool.

    Same for me, I keep reminding myself not to get too attached to things, even a great guitar, it's just a tool. Keep the main thing the main thing ;)

    So here goes my first guitar build. 2019....
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
    nojazzhere and Area51 like this.
  2. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    A router and a good meter of rigid extruded aluminum to run it along will get you pretty far, but you might want to borrow a jigsaw at least. ;)
  3. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    I live in South Africa, and trying to get all the great goodies the guys in the US has is mostly not an option.

    So first off make Templates since I can't source them cheap and easily. I found it's actually more rewarding making things yourself if you can (as most of you already discovered :))

    Greatful to Mr. T Downs


    Our local hardware store has a table saw, which means cut-offs, which mean I can source small pieces of MDF for free, and they can cut them for me to size!

    Body template by hand, sanding and free router to get the edge 90deg

    Pick guard design old school style.



    Sourcing a cheap by good neck, I considered importing from US (Solo guitars in Canada seamed like a very attractive option, Allparts, Womoth...), but not my first choice.

    It was one of the main issues stalling this project, until...

    I know the guy at the local guitar shop had a rosewood strat neck for a future project, so I tried my chances yesterday and asked if he'd be willing to sell. To my surprise he said sure. $20!!!! (in SA all I could find was Allpart necks going for at least $180)

    Stoked with my purchase, this project just shifted in gear

    I wanted to shape the headstock a bit, so used the table router to maintain 90deg then sanded. I'm stoked with the result
    IMG_20190101_092320.jpeg IMG_20190101_092429.jpeg
    grooveht, Barncaster and ukepicker like this.
  4. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    Sorry, yes I do have a basic jigsaw also:)
    R. Stratenstein and Jupiter like this.
  5. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    Is this a problem?????:confused::confused::confused:

    Some Chinese guitar factories clearly didn't learn the MEASURE, MEASURE, CUT rule yet.

    O yes, and I'm trying to learn how to use an Imperial ruler and work with imperial dimensions. Trying to convert everything to Metric is a pain and not accurate enough when it comes to things like neck bolts and neck pockets

    I'm thankful they are so far off because I was concerned the correct placement would be too close to the existing holes. Busy plugging these holes in any case
  6. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    Sanding, sanding, sanding. Although the finish of the neck was smooth and had a great feel,I've removed the existing varnish because I'd like to stain the wood darker, more vintage looking. I don't want the look of my strat neck.

    Sanding by hand being careful not to overdo it took an hour or 2 using 230 & 600 grit. But I'm happy I didn't damage the neck.

    The fret job looks very good, and the board quite smooth, but since I'm at it, I sanded the fret edges and the fretboard with 1000 then 2000 grit. One or 2 dots were not 100% flat. Now they are and the fretboard feels super smooth (for Rosewood) and the neck edge feels like is well played in.

    I forgot to mention the neck is pretty much unplayed/ new.

    Jumbo frets!!!
    IMG_20181231_110823.jpeg IMG_20181231_110759.jpeg
    R. Stratenstein and Barncaster like this.
  7. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    Today I worked on the dreaded neck pocket template. Following on from this thread

    I decided to go for the "air tight" method.
    here's a quick run through...
    Waste plenty time lining up the template. I used 3mm Masonite for this,bit thin but it worked, if you don't mind wasting epoxy wood, rather use MDF.

    Cut slightly bigger opening. Note my rock clamp :confused: (luckily it worked)

    fill gap with epoxy wood
    smooth out newly formed edge - only the bits thats overhang - don't touch the actual riding surface with the blade - I used the roller bit for this

    Create master MDF template.

    Note I used the "masking tape super glue trick" for double sided tape here for the first time.
    Works like a dream!!! highly recommended. That pocket is as tight as can be!!!!

    Even after spending more than an hour trying to centre,line up and mark my master neck pocket template, I had no confidence in what the alignment would be way up at the nut and bridge.

    So I decided to go with Ron see Post#14 of the Cutting a neck pocket - Accurately thread.
    Cut the sides of a copy template so I can run a straight edge along either side of the neck to align it on the body accurately. then slip in the new stop end (Strat shaped). Pic below is in progress cutting the new stop end piece. Now I'm confident I can line up the neck and get a good tight neck pocket!!!

    It took half a day to figure all this out, but I'm glad it's done. this was one of my biggest challenges in the build - getting an accurate neck pocket and joint.

    Attached Files:

    Barncaster likes this.
  8. darren7

    darren7 Tele-Meister

    Jul 31, 2009
    Where are you in SA? There’s an excellent guitar designer/builder/teacher in Johannesburg named Murray Kuun. Look him up if you need any help.
  9. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    Nice a tight and now I can properly line it up to the non existent body :cool:
  10. Barncaster

    Barncaster Doctor of Teleocity

    What are the body wood types available to you there? Most fun might be scrounging up some reclaimed interesting wood from any number of sources such as discarded furniture or a building tear down. We have lots of scroungers here who can probably offer tips on what and where to look. Calling Rex, come in Rex, over.
    Newbcaster likes this.
  11. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    Hi Darren, I'm in Jeffrey's Bay EP

    I'm keen for a "spec" wood for this build, looks like I can source US Prime Ash from the city close by. Alder is bit more scares our part of the woods. :cool:

    Is there a difference between "Prime Ash" and Swamp Ash?

    Seams we can only get Prime or lower grade in SA.
  12. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

    Mar 27, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta
    Swamp ash is supposed to be lighter than regular ash - which can be very heavy. I've bought swamp ash that wasn't so light and some very light. I've never heard of prime ash and would think that it's just regular.
    Slowtwitch likes this.
  13. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    Made the Pickguard template today

    Final design:
    pups hang off pickguard (not rings or bridge),
    Angled Tele style flipped control layout with selector switch at jack side (many complain about it's original placement being in the way). I might still go Gibson style 3 way switch though. Possibly. Cavity is 10mm shorter than Tele, I moved the Vol pot 10mm closer to Tone knob to be further away from strumming hand and there should still be enough space for wiring

    Trusty MDF
    Pickguard Done!
  14. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

    Jul 6, 2012
    North of Boston
  15. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2011
    Here I am boss!
    Check the firewood piles. Does acacia grow that far south?
    Cheers and good luck,
    Slowtwitch likes this.
  16. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    So my wife wasn't happy with the pickguard, said it needed more work! lol
    Back to free hand router and sanding
    Using a cork to sand the profiled edge
    I'll do holes for caps and selector switch when I finally decided which selector I'm going for - leaning towards 3 way toggle switch.

    And then just to cut the allowance for the bridge and pups which I'll do when I have them to ensure a close cut. The neck fits nicely, loose but not too big gaps
    And pickguard screws
  17. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    Today I bought the wood! I had to buy a full length (6ft) of 50mm thick Ash. So now there will need to be a second guitar build!!!
    Not sure what Ash goes for in the US but in SA we pay $1800 pm3 (R25 000). Is that expensive compared to your prices that side?

    And I also managed to get a special little tool, not so readily available

    Now to chat-up someone with a planner/ joiner to get the wood in a usable state
  18. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Interesting looking build. Do you have a hand held router? If so you can router plane it to correct thickness.
  19. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    Yes I do, but how?
  20. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch TDPRI Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    South Africa
    On to staining the neck to a darker, more vintage tobacco type colour.

    I also designed and added the headstock logos

    So going from this
    to this

    for the logos I reverse printed using a lazer printer onto normal paper. paint a thin film of clear varnish on the wood and place the logo, rub it in to stick well and leave for an hour. then gently remove paper using water
    tintag27 and GPlo like this.
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