The Duo - Not Really a Telecaster Build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by John Nicholas, Dec 12, 2018.

  1. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Don’t get me wrong, I love the designs of the classic guitars. They are fabulous and iconic.

    The problem is me. I don’t want to build clones of existing guitars. Why? A couple of reasons, but I show my guitars to many non players. When you say it’s a Telecaster or Stratocaster, they think you bought it.

    Besides, I’m a “rebel” of sorts. I believe that while those designs are amazing, there are still some improvements to be made, even if they are small or only specific to me. Besides in changing the design, even slightly it becomes more mine.

    I’m also not the kind of guy to totally draw out the design and then build from the plans made from the drawing. I like to experiment along the way. First at the drawing stage, I print the drawings out full size and get a “feel” for it. If I like it I make templates, then live with it for a while. Make changes as I see fit and when I’m happy with the templates I cut out the first body.

    When I get it to this point I can really feel how it feels and sits and work out the details. I find this process enlightening and creative.

    This particular design is of course based on the Telecaster. In fact the first “prototype” of this guitar was a Telecaster with humbucking pickups and Les Paul style controls. The first one was a gift for my nephews college graduation quite a few years ago.

    It was finished just before the guitar was brought to him, so I only got to play it for a few moments. When I delivered it, he and his guitar playing buddies talked about how nice the guitar played and I got to play it a bit more myself. It’s a really nice playing guitar.

    When I got home, I set out to build another for myself. When it was completed, I brought it to my buddy to try out and give feedback. He took it home and called the next day to ask how much I wanted and he bought it from me!!

    It’s been a while and I wanted to build one for myself, but wanted to address some of what I perceived to be issues with the standard Telecaster. I had a very strong desire to make the design more my own. At around the same time, I got into the band Muse. The guitar that Matt Bellamy plays is a Manson which is very much a Telecaster style guitar.

    Keeping that in mind, I went about changing the design to suit me.

    I started with the body shape first. While from a quick glance it looks similar to the Telecaster, there are some subtle differences. First the waist is slightly narrower. The lower bout is a big more rounded. The upper horn is extended out and up slightly as a nod to the Manson and the lower horn is redesigned.

    Slimmer-Waist.jpg

    For those who have attempted to design their own guitars, it can be really difficult to design a horn that does not look like something…. Um… well something unmentionable. :)

    Another issue is the square edge of the body against the players body. It just cries out for a belly cut. Again this needs to be subtle, but enough to be comfy.

    These changes are very subtle and I know this isn’t a “redesign” of the guitar, but at the same time I didn’t want to just clone other guitars.

    One of the issues I have with some more “radical” designs, is that they somehow look strange or off in some way that is jarring or disturbing in some way. My goal was to make subtle changes. Enough to make it more comfortable, usable and “modern”, but not so much that the guitar looks “weird” or “off”. Hopefully I’ve accomplished that goal.

    Another area of design that is often copied is the iconic Fender headstock. For those who have attempted to design their own, it’s not an easy job to make something totally unique and still have it look good. I’ve seen some interesting designs. Some look fabulous and others, well…. I wonder what they were thinking. To each their own.

    I decided it would be great to keep the new design within the boundaries of the Classic Telecaster shape, but to make it my own. What’s interesting is that in a way, my design sort of has echoes of the Stratocaster as well! Funny, considering I was trying to design my own!

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    Once I came up with the shape, the idea of string trees was out. I didn’t want to use them. One way to avoid string trees is to angle the headstock back. I don’t like the idea of a scarf joint, to me it seemed better to use a single blank thick enough to fit the angled back headstock.

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    Since we all know how delicate the Les Paul headstock is, some changes were made. First the neck blank would be laminated. The idea was to align the grain to make the neck as strong as possible in that area that is usually the thinnest. A 10 degree headstock angle was settled on, no scientific inquiry, just experimentation!. And because of Helmut’s influence, the neck was designed with a volute.

    Hopefully these changes are enough to avoid headstock breakages. If not, it has a replaceable neck!

    ...more to come....
     
  2. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    Sounds good. I'll be watching!

    Ps - I'm with you in the whole string trees thing. I flippin hate them, so I'm looking to do the angled hs thing as well.
     
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  3. Mat UK

    Mat UK Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Hi John. Really like where this is headed. That headstock design is very nice, you’re right about it being tricky to get right - but I think you’ve done a pretty damn good job of it!

    Looking forward to the rest of this build
     
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  4. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    The idea is to build a body made of Mahogany with a maple top. Helmut and I try to wander the short section of Condon lumber whenever we get a chance. Not sure if we were together the day I found this slab.

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    Why do we shop in the short section? The price!! This was a real deal (steal if you ask me!)

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    You certainly can't beat that price for a body blank. Okay buying a piece like this does come with a few challenges.

    First it was too thick, so it needed to be re-sawed to thickness. Then there was the tiny problem of the blank being a few inches too narrow for my body design.
     
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  5. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    So off to the bandsaw!!

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    It's so great having a bandsaw that will allow re-sawing of blanks 14 inches wide. And the unit is powerful enough to cut through all that wood, sure it could be more powerful, but in this case I just went nice and slow and it cut beautifully.

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    It did a pretty good job! Well at least I was happy with how I was able to cut it so straight!!

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  6. adirondak5

    adirondak5 Wood Hoarder Extraordinaire

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    Beautiful piece of sapele John . Those Laguna saws sure are great .
     
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  7. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    I agree on the sapele... it's a beauty!!

    Love the Laguna. Have you done any mods to yours?? Or just regular maintenance??
     
  8. adirondak5

    adirondak5 Wood Hoarder Extraordinaire

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    Haven't done any mods to mine John , I really have not seen the need for any mods , I do have the Laguna halogen light mounted on it , other than cleaning and waxing the table I have't done a thing to it .
     
  9. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    The same with me, just cleaning, waxing and adjustments. It's an amazing saw. One day I'll pop for the halogen lamp!!
     
  10. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Since the blank was a bit narrow to fit the lower bout, I cut off some material from in front of the lower horn. Then cut it into two pieces, flattened the edges on the planer. Then the fun part was doing my best to match up the grain, so the glue line will be as unobtrusive as possible.

    Then it was a matter of glueing up the blank and clamping it together.

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    Time to prepare the maple top. For some reason I can't find the photos of the beginning stages of preping the top.

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    The surface is wet in order to see what it will look like finished. And yes the center edge was planed properly before glueing!

    The two pieces of the top were glued together using a jig. I know it's from one of the forums, but I don't remember who suggested it. I would certainly give them credit for it, because it worked fabulously!!

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    Here's the top laid on top of the sapele blank...

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    Here is one of the smartest things I've ever done on a body with a top, route a wiring channel BEFORE glueing. A huge thanks to Chris (DrASTele) for suggesting it to me multiple times before I actually remembered to do it!!

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    Preparing the blank and top for glueing.

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    Never enough clamps...

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    When the glued dried, it was taken out of the clamps. Then the blank was cut out into the rough shape of the Duo body.

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    Here is a side view of the blank...

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    Next up is the routing....
     
  11. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Then there were two!!

    So, the last time I built one of these guitars, somehow it did not stay in my possession for very long. So after a bit of hunting in my own wood stash, I found an ash blank that Chris had sent me. It is certainly not the weight of swamp ash, but it looks amazing. Even better, it's one piece!

    So the template was laid out on the blank and it was cut out on the band saw.

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    Then the perimeter was routed on both bodies.

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    How amazing is the grain on this body! It almost looks book-matched!

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    Some sanding. Well alright... a lot of sanding. The downdraft table helps to keep the dust to a minimum.

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    Then the bodies were routed. Pickup routes, Neck pockets and control cavities.

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    Here is the ash body after routing and initial sanding.

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    And this is the sapele and maple capped body...

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    In the control cavity you can see the wiring channel that was routed before glueing on the top. Of course the Ash body being one piece will require drilling holes for the wiring channels.

    IMG_1570.JPG
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2018
  12. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Here is where the more serious carving of the body is to take place, the neck heel. In place of a neck plate will be neck ferrules, so holes were drilled for them before carving. Then some lines were drawn on the body as a guide to begin carving.

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    This is mostly where the finished product will end up. Along the way will be some small tweaks but this is very close to the finished idea.

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    This shows the belly cut and the roundover.

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    Oh I forgot to mention... both of these bodies will get binding. The maple capped guitar will get cream and the ash will get black binding.

    The Stew Mac binding router bit is amazing!

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    Here is the two bodies together...

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    Then both bodies on the scale.

    The ash one is first.

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    Then the other.

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    They are very close in terms of how much they weigh! I truly thought the ash body would be heavier!!

    ... more to come.
     
  13. adirondak5

    adirondak5 Wood Hoarder Extraordinaire

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    I really like what you've done with the neck heel area John , good work !
     
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  14. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Thank you
    Thank you Herb!!
     
  15. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    I have a love hate relationship with binding. There is something that looks amazing with well done binding and then there just that little thing about it that feels overdone. Regardless of my feelings about it, these two bodies get the binding treatment.

    I know there are many ways to install binding, I'm of the opinion that you should use whatever method works for you. In my case I use a heat gun to "shape" the binding to the body and alleviate tension. Then I use acetone to melt the binding to the body.

    Here you can see the binding shaped and ready for the acetone application.

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    I use a pipette and drizzle acetone behind the binding and then tape it securely to the body.

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    The binding is glued in.

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    While cruising on Ebay I found an Alder body blank for less then $30. that included shipping! So of course I had to add it to my collection of bodies!!

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    My design, literally just fit onto the blank!! Well.... after a bit of tweaking!

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    So this got the routing and carving treatment as well....

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    So for those not keeping track, that makes a total of 3 bodies. Not sure if I'm crazy or smart. I suppose I hope that at the end of this build I will have at least one of these guitars for myself!!
     
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  16. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Here are the three bodies, sanded, carved and ready for finish. From top to bottom in the photo is the Alder, the ash and the sapele/maple.

    IMG_2813.JPG

    And here is the rear view...

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    It seems I mis-spoke, the back of the sapele is not yet carved in this photo.

    But hey... I'm not finished yet. A 8/4 slab of basswood was spotted on the lumber rack. Oh no... here we go again!

    Yup, yet another body, this made out of basswood. This one will be painted a solid color. For a couple of reasons, but mainly because basswood is not very attractive.

    IMG_3299.jpg

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    The basswood body is really light! It's a very soft wood so it's really easy to route, carve and sand. But because it's so soft it's easy to dent and scrape while working on it.

    Gee... now there are 4 bodies.
     
  17. adirondak5

    adirondak5 Wood Hoarder Extraordinaire

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    John , you better stay away from Condon's for a while :lol:
    Four builds at once , I like it .
     
  18. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    But wait.... there's more!!

    Since I'm on a roll, might as well continue. What other material is sitting on my lumber rack?

    Ooooohhhh.. look at this a stack of one piece walnut blanks! Let's grab one of those....

    And what's this over here... hickory!! We can make a nice heavy weight body out of that! Just joint it and glue it together!!

    This is the back side of the hickory blank...

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    And the front...

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    And here is the walnut blank, this will be the front...

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    And of course, less interesting goes on the back!

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    It's getting really easy to cut, route, carve and sand this design by now!!

    IMG_3454.JPG
     
  19. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I'm sorry we are out of room in the incomplete guitar parts museum......
     
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  20. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    First the walnut... this one I put a 1/2 inch round-over on the back.

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