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

THE ULTIMATE ROCKABILLY GUITAR - a budget GibbyFendyGretschy-Caster...

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by herr_rudolf, Mar 26, 2010.

  1. herr_rudolf

    herr_rudolf TDPRI Member

    Mar 20, 2010
    Hello all!

    I've just posted my intro so I guess I officially am a TDPRI-member! The reason I joined is that I've always wanted to build my own guitar. You guys make it seem soooo easy that I decided to finally jump right in and start a project:


    The base will be a... surprise surpise... Telecaster. But it won't look like a Tele for long... So die-hard tele-fans should click away right now!

    ^ This is what I've 'won' on a Dutch auctionsite: A Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom II, in parts...

    I had been looking for this Squier, a cheap P90-equiped guitar, for a long time and was about to order a new one online. So I kinda felt lucky when I found this project online. This is my first 'build', and I'd rather cut into an abandoned project than into a fresh new guitar... This used to be a good player with good sounding pick-ups.


    I see the Telecaster as Fenders' version of the Ford Model T. Just like the classic car, a Tele is the perfect base to build your own model hotrod. I'm planning to chop and channel a Tele-body to my own design featuring hints of Gretsch and Gibson next to Fender ofcourse. This is what I came up with:


    Whether people will see this as a Telecaster or not is not of my concern. I've set my mind to it and I'll stick to it. I already have a Tele that I'm happy with. Besides... This wasn't a real Fender Tele to begin with ofcourse, with it's Squier headstock, Duncan designed P90's, and Les Paul control lay-out.

    For inspiration I have looked at pics of some of my rock'n'roll pioneering heroes and their guitars:

    ^ Scotty Moore's Gibson

    ^ Cliff Callup's Gretsch

    ^ James Burton's Fender

    ^Carl Perkins' Gibson

    ^ Eddie Cochran's Gretsch

    ^ Johnny Meeks' and Paul Burlison's Fenders

    I could go on and on and on, but you get my idea...

    ^ Some more inspirational shots of Gretsches. I really like that cute Rambler (top right) and at the moment I plan to use the colorscheme of the Bambooyellow-Copperdust (bottom right)

    Oh yeah, and it'll be semi-solid...

    ^ I thought the body used to be black, but it was the blond version to begin with... But it has been black, transparent blond, and finaly dusted primer grey...

    ^ Thick layers...

    ^ But nothing a beltsander can't handle...

    ^ Time to transfer my design to the wood. Flipping the paper to the lower bout to create some symmetry.

    ^ So here it is. Ready to be cut...

    ^ No turning back now... (or should I say mega-heavy rellic ;-)

    ^ Roughly cut out my design with a handheld jigsaw...

    As you can see, I don't have much of the 'essential' tools so I layed the beltsander on it's side and with a few tweaks made it sand square... It works great on the outside curves. If I won't come up with an idea to square the innercurves I'll just have to sand it by hand...

    ^ I still have some hours to sand and refine the bodycontours but it's getting there. Made some mistakes so it's not exactly like my innitial design. Still, very close...

    Oh, I almost forgot. This Marc Bristol song kinda inspired me too:
    ^ Sucker for a cheap guitar - performed by Ronnie Dawson and Nick Curran.

    Went to a yard sale the other day
    when I looked on the table I said hey, hey hey!
    It was a Japanese copy of the same guitar
    that Buddy Holly was a-playin' when they made him a star
    when I looked at it close it was a Fender by heck
    with a Gretsch tailpiece and a Gibson neck
    I asked the lady hey, what's the price
    and she said twenty-five bucks if you treat me nice
    Well I'm a sucker for a cheap guitar
    yeah I'm a sucker for a cheap guitar
    some day I'm gonna be a star
    right now I'm a sucker for a cheap guitar


  2. fendertastic

    fendertastic Tele-Meister

    Jul 4, 2009

  3. Starting 2 Old

    Starting 2 Old Tele-Meister

    Jan 8, 2009
    Following with interest, go ahead.......

  4. kidmo

    kidmo Friend of Leo's

    May 25, 2008
    Jeffrey, you got it goin on! That's a heck of a start to a long career here at TDPRI! We like builds and we like pictures and you're knockin me dead with both. Can't wait to see the finished product!!

  5. WisconsinStrings

    WisconsinStrings Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 15, 2007
    Arcadia, Wisconsin
    You're messing with a classic shape there. Not easy I to pull off... but I think you did it!

  6. mrz80

    mrz80 Tele-Meister

    May 1, 2007
    Siskel and Ebert would give it two thumbs up if Siskel weren't, well, dead, and Ebert weren't darned near retired. Keep up th' good work! So I didn't see what you're figuring on doing for pickups - Filtertrons for the Gretschy vibe?

  7. szechuanking

    szechuanking Tele-Holic

    Mar 11, 2010
    new jersey are you going to chamber the body if you are you adding the f hole? im guessing you're going to plane it down and add a lam top rather than cover it up with a very large pickguard with all of that routing? little nervous about that neck pocket, what are you down to 2 screws now or were you able to save it? cant tell from the last photo

  8. oramac7891

    oramac7891 Friend of Leo's

    Sep 10, 2009
    Very nice!!! I like it

  9. herr_rudolf

    herr_rudolf TDPRI Member

    Mar 20, 2010
    Thanks guys! :)

    - I'm a show'n'tell-kinda-guy. Expect to see lot's of pics if and when I post. I love to document builds as much as looking at others'

    - 'Messing with a classic shape...' Well, remember... Mr. Leo Fender did that before me. He improved the Telecaster and called it ...The Stratocaster. ;-b

    - I had to look up 'Siskel and Ebert'... I don't think we got that show over here in The Netherlands...
    - I'm on a very tight budget, so no (expensive) Filtertrons here.... Funny you should say that, btw: Filtertrons were introduced around 1958, which made em post-rockabilly, right? I can't come up with any rockabilly-pioneer with a Filtertron-equiped Gretsch (except for Chet Atkins). Yet a Filtertronned Gretsch seems to be THE most popular guitar for Rockabilly nowadays. I guess we have to thank Brian Setzer for that. (I think his sound is amazing if not perfect btw...) Also, using Filtertrons will make it too much Gretsch, and thus a 'fake' Gretsch. Just as much as painting it orange will. For the same reason I can't paint it gold because it would be too much Gibson. And it would have been too much Fender if I had kept the Tele-lines.

    I really want a good ballance in the looks of the guitar so I plan on just using the pups that came with the guitar:

    ^ 2 P90's. Duncan designed (If that's worth anything...) I've seen and read great reviews of these pups in this guitar so I'll stick to them. I'll be trying cream covers though for that little bit of extra vintage vibe. And MAYBE in the far future I'll replace the bridge P90 for a DeArmond as a tribute to Eddie Cochran's modified Gretsch...

    - Yes, I want to chamber the body, but only for aesthetics. At the moment just enough for the f-hole to be a 'real' hole. I don't know if planing is nessecary. I hope not... The original 3 ply pickguard had some thickness. I'm still figuring out a good but cheap way to cover the body. For instance I've thought about full body pickguard material, just like Gretsch has been doing since the 50's with drum-material: Sparkles and pearls. But I think I'll be going for someting more traditional (and cheaper) and install a (laminated) wooden top. I wonder if a backside from an acoustic will do...

    - Well, there is not much of a pocket left... (just like a Stratocaster) But I'll still be using all four screws:



    ^ I just discovered a problem... The allignment of the neck is way off. (not only from my shaving and scraping! ;-) But the pick-ups and bridge were mounted slightly off-centre too, making it hardly noticable and perfect for playing. I think I'll have to redo it and plug the screwholes in the neck and drill 3 new ones...

    ^ Line Nr.1 is the centreline from the neck/pups/bridge. Line Nr.2 is the official body-centreline... Also notice the 'less precise' positioning of the string-through-body holes... The low E was spot-on, but going to the treble E the spacing increased compared to the spacing of the holes in the bridge...

    Ah well...
    I plan to plug the holes and install a Bigsby anyway.

    Last edited: Mar 27, 2010

  10. Pellwell

    Pellwell Tele-Meister

    Jan 24, 2010
    Interesting build. Sound/video demo required when done!

  11. Veitchy

    Veitchy Tele-Afflicted

    Florentine cutaway looks wicked. Good luck with the build. Watching with intrest.

  12. Ironhide

    Ironhide Tele-Meister

    Nov 15, 2008
    I like where this is going!

  13. Sharkblues

    Sharkblues Tele-Meister

    Dec 30, 2009
    Having fun watching! I love anything rockabilly and agree with you on the Setzer sound; he is my only guitar hero.

  14. Topfooldugster

    Topfooldugster TDPRI Member

    Feb 20, 2010
    Monarch Alberta
    I'm liking what I see so far... And have found my new theme song..." Sucker for a cheap guitar"! I have an addictive personality, don't drink much or do drugs anymore, but I've been thru dozens, if not hundreds of guitars. Looking forward to the completed project.

  15. Sharp5

    Sharp5 Tele-Holic

    Jan 8, 2010
    Nice shape man!

  16. Robbied_216

    Robbied_216 Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 25, 2008
    Sydney to L.A.
    Damnit! I want to see more of this already....

  17. SixShooter

    SixShooter Friend of Leo's

    Sep 20, 2008
    Funny, I never thought of and have never seen anyone drastically change the shape of an existing body. I like the thinking on this and it opens up alot of possibilities. Great stuff.

  18. varakeef

    varakeef Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 7, 2007
    Goodness gracious! One idea... a dynasonic in the bridge. You'll get some twang, gretschines that is very close to telecaster bridge pup.

  19. herr_rudolf

    herr_rudolf TDPRI Member

    Mar 20, 2010
    Glad to meet all of you open-minded Tele-lovers. Progression is slow because lack of parts and essential tools. I've spend some (a lot of...) hours sanding to make the sides as symmetrical as I possibly can with sandpaper and my two hands. That went quite well, if I do say so myself. I also keep on refining the curves for a perfect flow in the bodylines. Too boring to take out my camera...

    Next step is to plug the body holes en some holes in the neck. Remember the poor allignment? But I'll have to wait for a decent drill...

    I've also made a list of parts I want to order online later this week.

    I'll post a vid when done. But I'll have to warn you: My guitarplaying kinda sucks...

    I admit it's a bit tricky... Even more so with a tele-body. Not much to cut off of. (not to mention messing with a classic shape...) It would've been better to use a 'normal' Tele-body instead of this Custom II model because of the extensive routing near the edges. But the overall shape of my design fits. Ofcourse I cut off more than I wanted but thats the risk for using a jigsaw instead of a router.

    PLUS: messing too little with the shape of a classic can easilly result in a cheap-looking, badly designed knock-off... And eventhough this is 'just' a Squier, I want to avoid that as much as I can... We'll just have to see if I'll succeed...

    Setzer's sound is magic... Most authentists(?) won't agree if I say he has the perfect rockabilly guitarsound but I realy think he has. Not authentic, just evolved.

    Yes sir. As I said before: Maybe I'll install a bridge DeArmond pickup just to get that Eddie Cochran-vibe. But this is a budget-build and I'm guessing a DeArmond wont be cheap... (I just discoverd that TV-Jones is now offering DeArmond style pups. YUMYUM! Also in P90 covers. Very expensive though... Besides, this being my first project and having no experience in electronics whatsoever I'll follow the straight and narrow, and 'just' use the P90's for now...

  20. varakeef

    varakeef Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 7, 2007

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