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TELECASTER BUILD: Matching the right neck to the right body - how to?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by WilburBufferson, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. WilburBufferson

    WilburBufferson Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 11, 2009
    Canada
    This thread is a result of another one that I started about a guitar I put together a few years back. The short story is that despite several pickup and component changes, the guitar is not producing the magic that I had hoped it would. I realize that one cannot predict in advance how the sum of the parts will sound until it's all put together, but I was wondering whether there are some general rules for selecting a neck and body that will work well together? Apparently Danocaster spends a lot of time doing this - finding the right combination of components (that are not necessarily the most expensive) that produce a good final result.

    I am contemplating another build, but may back off totally if there is no clear path forward. I know dry/cured wood is good. I know a tight neck pocket/fit is good. That's the extent of my formula, at least at this point.
     
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  2. rich815

    rich815 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Age:
    54
    Aug 22, 2016
    San Francisco Bay Area
    In my (limited) experience its often a crap shoot. I had a tele (Highway 1 body partscaster) I was thinking of selling as it just was not giving me that “magic”. I switched necks not to try to improve it but to try it’s neck on another tele body (an MJT I bought) and on a whim slapped on another neck I had laying around into the Highway 1, and darned if all of a sudden the thing now has the twang, sparkle and beautiful tone I was wanting all along! But honestly there’s nothing special about that neck. It just happen to “click” with that body.
     

  3. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    I would look for a classic one piece rock/hard maple neck with an old school truss rod and an alder or swamp ash body. I would avoid other timbers and necks with different truss rods, mystery maple species, and fretboards. Other than age and maybe lacquer...I would think that should get you pretty close when used with decent electronics. Pickups with alnico magnets and typical Fender winds along with an Allparts neck would be my first pick. Getting the right weight body (around 4 lb) from a reputable source would be advised too. A Fender or Wilkinson bridge with compensated saddles can't hurt either.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  4. WilburBufferson

    WilburBufferson Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 11, 2009
    Canada
    Truss rod. I wouldn't have thought this to be a factor, but I also remember Boris talking about this at great length in another thread recently. What is the idea? Single action=less metal, more wood=classic tele tone (as they were initially constructed)?
     

  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    Everything makes a difference from a physics angle. It would seem to me that the closer you can get to the original formula, the happier you may be with the resulting sound, which is quite possibly a psychological angle. :).
     
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  6. WilburBufferson

    WilburBufferson Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 11, 2009
    Canada
    Back to trial and error it is then (within the aforementioned recommended confidence intervals)!
     

  7. Torren61

    Torren61 Tele-Meister

    412
    Mar 12, 2013
    Humboldt County, CA
    Have you played a guitar that had the “magic” you’re trying to replicate?
    I ask this because, as a mediocre player, I know I’ve had difficulty achieving some of the tones that are in my head but my more talented friends seem to have more success making my guitars sound good.
     

  8. WilburBufferson

    WilburBufferson Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 11, 2009
    Canada
    I did, and it wasn’t anything special: it was one of those black paisley MIM teles from a few years ago. I also played a nice 76 Tele that had a pretty special tone. They’re out there!
     

  9. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

    Mar 27, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta
    This isn't another "tonewood" question is it??? :) As Marty said you can't go wrong with the original recipe - swamp ash or alder and maple. I use double action truss rods in mine and they still sound like a Tele so I'm not totally sure how that would affect it as I don't have an off the shelf Tele.
     
    ndeli55 likes this.

  10. WilburBufferson

    WilburBufferson Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 11, 2009
    Canada
    Absolutely NOT a tonewood Q!

    I have seen a couple videos, however, where folks smack the body and the neck with a hard object, and if they make roughly the same sound, they claim they will sound better together. I’m not sure I buy that logic, but that’s the sort of info I am curious about.
     

  11. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    71
    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Yeah . .

    rule #1 use tried and true materials ... that gives ya a fighting chance, and a darn good one at that...

    if you choose quality "stuff" it's actually hard to make a guitar that sucks.... as far as tone... if you can play well, it doesn't matter... your talent will eclipse any deficiency the guitar may be encumbered by, and if you cannot play, it also doesn't matter, your inability to elicit the optimum from a guitar will eclipse any sorry sound the guitar is capable of. . However most within ear-shot will be wanting you to stop making the noise.

    the quality of the sound from the guitar is in direct proportion to the quality of the talent applied while playing it.

    Just concentrate on quality components, then make sure the setup is equal to the performance you expect from the guitar.

    rk
     

  12. WilburBufferson

    WilburBufferson Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 11, 2009
    Canada
    Mr. Kirn, I respect your opinion, as a member of this forum for several years. I think you would say there are no hard and fast rules, but what might be on your short list of "tried and true materials" to consider? I will do my best to step up to raise good sounds from the guitar :), but what would be on your short list, all other things being equal?

    From what I've gleaned in this thread (thank-you to those who have responded) and elsewhere: ash body, dried/cured neck (with single action truss), and period-correct hardware and reasonable facsimile pickups. Not sure if you would recommend nitro over poly, but, from reading your posts over the years, I think the old/resin body/neck connection supersedes the final coat of finish, but correct me if I am wrong?

    I am a scientist in my working life, so I appreciate there are parameters that may be beyond the pale, but it is the attention to detail, the "tried and true" recipe, that has captured my attention at the moment.
     

  13. PARCO

    PARCO TDPRI Member

    82
    Mar 5, 2008
    VA
    I do think that there is an element of luck when mating a body and a neck unless you have many necks and bodies to choose from. That said, I think that a lot of "tone" comes from they way a player frets the neck and from pick "attack" or from fingers on the strings. It took me awhile to figure this out but I am to the point now where I can make just about any guitar sound like me and I'm OK with that sound. I do however, think that the way a guitar sounds when unamplified contributes to it's overall tone.
     
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  14. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    71
    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    I appreciate that but... it's just one more that might be of some use when making a decision...

    making a guitar is an art form, and just like any art, there are many ways to ply the "trade" and arrive at a quality representation of your art...

    From various comments you've made, such as, "Not sure if you would recommend nitro over poly" seems t suggest there is a prevalent "quest for tome" mentality that leads you to buy into that each part has a singular effect on tone... nothing could be further from the truth...

    a parts contribution is much like adding one more singer to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir... If that voice DID transcend all the others, the director would remove it, or use it for a singular purpose..

    a guitar is a cacophony of many things coming together, and there is no way to predict what will lead to what sound... ya gotta string her up to find out..

    as for what do I do... what any artist does, rely on instincts.... primarily, I listen to the sound of the wood as it's being worked.. the router bits, the sanding, they all have specific sounds... after 50 years, ya just get to ya plain know as ya work if is it's gonna be worth a hoot.

    the first thing to do is to get over the necessity to predetermine anything.. Just go make the guitar... that alone is gonna change your mind about a lotta the bunk you read... get to the shop and just do it... go make sawdust..

    rk
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018

  15. ndeli55

    ndeli55 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    34
    May 12, 2008
    oklahoma
    I couldn’t agree with MR Kirn more. Wood of the same species varies to wildly from one board to the next to be able to predict what species will do what where.

    Dried/stable will be best, sure, especially for a solid neck. When I’m in the lumber store I tap the wood I consider, if it rings like a xylophone key, I usually feel pretty good about using it. It’s a stupid test, and probably doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in the end, but it makes me feel More gooder.

    There is definitely a difference in machining sounds and after you’ve been around it a bit you can kind of get a feel for what is going to be a quality piece. But In the end, it’s not till you string it up and bang on a chord ‘til you know how it all came out. I kind of like that, the moment of intense anticipation.

    In the end, it’s a crap shoot. Look for quality construction, that means more than materials used in my opinion and you’ll more than likely be pleased.
     

  16. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

    Feb 7, 2011
    Lewes De.
    I have 2 Strat bodys one Alder , one Ash. Ash had a Maple FB neck, Alder a Rosewood. The sounded ok and good as they were. I switched necks and now they sound really good and great. So... I think theres no hard and fast rule, just trial and error. Get as many bodys, necks as you can afford and mix and match to find the best; sell the rest. I did that w 6 Spirits (basically headless Strats) and now have a fantastic sounding guitar. You can always sell the losers and chalk up your resale lose as the price of a great guitar.
     

  17. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

    Feb 7, 2011
    Lewes De.
    BTW I ve found necks w lots of grain layers always sound at least good and usually great; necks w less layers can sound anyway from crappy to excellent.
     

  18. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    Think of what a factory is like. QC removes the visual defective parts and the rest of them get assembled. You buy it...if you like it...great.... If not you sell it and get another. There's not a lot of "magic" happening in a factory made product. It's a random thing. This is why not every 59 Les Paul is the be- all, end- all. You want more magic?.....you pay for it by having one custom made by their Custom Shop or by some guy down the road. Fender guitars are factory made. Some were better playing and sounding than others. The same holds true today. What I love you may hate.
     
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  19. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Friend of Leo's

    Oct 9, 2008
    S. CA
    One mans mediocre tone might be another’s great tone.

    Focus on the tonal strengths not the tonal weaknesses. If you’re only ever trying to improve weaknesses then there is a tendency for neutrality (raise weaknesses to the par line with the strengths), but if you focus on the strengths and even try to improve them you might find great individuality. Also, sometimes it’s the inherent weaknesses that give it uniqueness.
     

  20. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Friend of Leo's

    Oct 9, 2008
    S. CA
    You said you’re a scientist by day. That’s great, but is that planting your feet too firmly on one side of nature vs nurture?
     

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