A complete make-over, I hope it's not a bridge too far (for me)!

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Kiwi_Neil, May 13, 2021.

  1. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    Over the past 4 or 5 years my knowledge of all things to do with guitars, both electric and acoustic, has grown considerably. This forum, and others as well as various other sources has helped in that regard. My playing has improved out of sight too, practice really is the key! Anyway, I have an interesting project to attend to over the winter months, so I'll make this thread all about the project.

    What I have here is a tele copy that was given to me by a friend, and I believe that it was the cheapest one he could find online. Yes, it does have a Fender logo on the headstock, and that's a shame, but this neck won't be used anyway. It's a pretty nice neck with nice grain etc, but I really don't like the amber tint of the finish on the neck (or the body), so it will perhaps be used for a future project. In fact, the body is about the only thing that I will be using, and that will be undergoing some extensive changes as I have a picture in my mind's eye as to what I want to achieve.

    I'm collecting parts as we speak, but American parts are way too expensive here in NZ, so for the most part, they will not be used. The parts which are from various suppliers are beginning to arrive now. I have the bridge and I'm expecting the neck in the next week or two. Locking tuners are on their way, as are pickups. The pot's I have yet to decide upon as I'm still considering the pot values, and same for the capacitor. There's more to order but there is quite a bit of work to do on the body, and I'm in no hurry....I have the whole winter to amuse myself!

    In the morning I'll be off to the timber yard to pick up what I need to plug the bridge pickup cavity (you'll see why in the next post I make), and I'll also be plugging the control cavity as I prefer the controls to be mounted through the body, so rear routing is in order there. The neck pickup cavity I'm not sure about yet, it depends what's underneath the scratch plate. I will keep a track of the cost's which I will post upon the completion of the project. All measurements will be metric.

    This will be my first guitar 'build', so mistakes may occur, but hopefully I can minimise those by taking my time, and yes, there will be plenty of pictures of both the good and the bad!

    Here are a few 'before' pics so you can see what I'm starting with. This weekend, if time allows, I'll dismantle this thing and show what's under the hood.

    Just one question. To keep within the etiquette of the forum, when it comes time to do the finishing ( a long time from now), should I take that part of the process to the 'Finely Finished' section, and then come back here for the final assembly etc, or do the entire 'build' here, start to finish?
     

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  2. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Looks like a good project, I'll be following it as you proceed. I was fortunate to be asked to build a guitar for one of your countrymen and decided to deliver it personally. My wife and I spent two incredible weeks touring the South Island, vowed to come back for the North.

    I think of the Finely Finished forum as a place to discuss details of finish, the "how do I get....." questions. I think it makes more sense to just include the finish as part of a build thread. But either way, I'll be watching
     
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  3. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for the advice on the forum etiquette question for when it comes time for the finishing.

    It's wonderful that you were able to hand deliver the guitar to the customer on the other side of the planet. That is REAL service!! The South Island is a place where you could spend weeks and weeks as it's so diverse. Same for the North Island (where I live) I guess. If you and your wife head back down this way at some stage, be sure to drop me a line and perhaps I can show you some places that (possibly) only the locals know about.

    With a bit of luck, this weekend I'll get time to dismantle the tele and we can see (roughly) the size of the task ahead of me! :)
     
  4. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    I have a weekend which is full of work in the garden, so no time to work on the guitar until Monday. But a problem is looming which I did foresee, as I'll explain, but I'm unsure which of my possible remedies would be the best one. Of course it's entirely possible that there is another remedy that I haven't thought of, so I'm all ears. Here's the dilemma:

    The neck pocket on the body has a width of 55mm. The neck that is coming (hopefully next week) has a heel width of 57mm. I knew this when I ordered it, and the reason I submitted the order regardless was that a) I couldn't find a nice neck that was not going to cost an arm and a leg to have it sent to NZ, and b) the reviews of past customers are very good indeed, and c) the packaging is top notch, which was really the deal breaker as so many horror stories of shoddy packaging (and subsequent damage) are easily found online.

    I thought that I could make a template with the new neck and rout 1mm from each side of the pocket, and I'd be good to go. Of course it's not going to be quite that easy because this would leave the neck overhanging the side of the base of the pocket by 1mm each side. While that may not be a huge issue for play-ability, it wouldn't look too good.

    Another option would be to rout 2mm from the bass side only, which would leave the neck heel sitting flush on the treble side of the pocket. The fact that the centre line would now be off by 2mm is not an issue as I will be plugging and re-drilling the string holes anyway (I'll explain why later)...same for the pickup cavities. The downside to this would be the 2mm overhang on the bass side, which is mostly hidden from view, but it's a bit mickey mouse imo.

    Another way would be to leave the neck pocket as it is and carefully plane/sand the neck to fit the pocket. Yes, I would have to re-finish the neck which I didn't really want to do, but 'needs must.'

    The last idea I have, and it's the one I prefer at this stage, is to rout the neck pocket 1mm each side and then plane/sand the heel of the neck to get rid of the overhang. This should leave the 'repair' invisible after re-finishing is completed.

    I'm not at all concerned that by routing the neck pocket of the body, a 55mm heel neck can no longer be fitted sometime in the future. This neck (if it's good when I receive it), will be the guitars 'forever' neck.

    I hope I haven't confused anyone, if so, I'll try to explain a bit better. Is there another way that I haven't seen? How would you tackle this?

    Cheers,
    Neil
     
  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    According to Warmoth's web site, the width of a tele neck pocket/heel is 2-3/26 (56 mm). If what you say is true then neither the neck pocket or the neck conforms to the standard. The big advantage of a standard, of course, is that every neck fits every body.

    I would wait until you get the neck in hand and carefully measure both. I would also carefully lay out the string paths based on the spacing at YOUR bridge and what you want for nut spacing, see where the string lay relative to the edge of the fretboard.

    https://www.warmoth.com/Guitar/Necks/faq2.aspx
     
  6. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    Thank you for the information and advice, I appreciate it. The vernier that I use is not a dial vernier, it's more 'old school' than that, but still good enough for the level of accuracy that I need. For sure I won't make any decisions until I have the neck in hand and taken some measurements, I was just interested to see what other people think. One good thing about this project is that I have the entire winter (or longer if need be) so I have time to carefully consider each step as I go, rushing this will surely end in tears!!

    Thanks again for your advice, I'm off to open some new ground for my winter veggies to flourish in!
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
  7. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    Today I had some time to dismantle and measure this guitar. There was some good news, and some not so good. The good news is that the neck pocket measures in at 57mm, which is the (stated) size of the neck that is due any day now. Let's hope that the gods are smiling and the new neck will 'drop in' without too much work.

    The not so good news is what I found under the bridge...as you can see. It looks like someone has tried to fit a different (maybe a modern) bridge and has found that the vintage and modern style bridges are not compatible. There has been some chiseling going on too, which is not helpful! The plan of attack is going to be to square up the bridge cavity and plug it. I'll be using a pair of Wilkinson P90's in this project so I'll have to rout the cavity to suit anyway. I won't tackle the neck pickup cavity yet, I'll wait until the P90's arrive to take their exact measurements. The control cavity will also be filled and re-routed from the back. The first task is to fill all those holes in the body with dowel, which I hope to get onto later this week.

    neck_size.jpg

    bridge_cavity.jpg
     
  8. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    Nothing too exciting today, but I had a bit of spare time, at last, so I plugged the screw holes in the body. I won't get time to shave them down flush for a couple of days but at least it's progress! I want to knock out the string ferrules and hopefully not ruin them in the process because I'd like to use them when I relocate the string through holes. I like the flush fit ferrules, but if I have to buy new ones, so be it. I want to take a few measurements before I knock them out and plug the holes, but once that's done, I can move onto (either) the belly cutaway or else plugging the control cavity and bridge pickup cavity. It depends on the router bits turning up as to which job I tackle first.

    doweled.jpg

    ferrals.jpg
     
  9. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    I have cut the dowels off and chiseled them flush. I don't have a flush trim saw so I used a 24 tooth hacksaw blade which worked just fine. I haven't had a chisel in my hands for a good many years, so I was very careful. I didn't get the dowels 100% perfectly flush, but I wasn't aiming for that anyway. When it comes time to do the finishing, that's when I'll take care of it.

    cut_dowel.jpg

    The flush fit ferrules all came out without a lot of problems. I whittled a short length of doweling until it was a snug fit in the ferrule. Then I used my soldering iron to warm the ferrule and once the finish started to deform, I pushed the dowel into the ferrule and then wiggled the dowel until the ferrule broke free. Then it was just a matter of lifting the ferrule out with a pair of wire cutters placed under the lip. All 6 ferrules came out really well and I will be able to use them again.

    ferrule_gone.jpg

    The body is now ready for me to really get into the big jobs, starting with plugging that ugly bridge route. I have a plan for that, but I'll be doing some practice first so hopefully I won't make a mess of it! I'm not sure if I'll get time next week as I'm taking an early winter holiday for a few days somewhere warm!

    plugged.jpg
     
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  10. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    here's one I did, cut down a tele bridge to follow the angle.... :)

    river tele warman p90's.jpg
     
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  11. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    Nice!!....What a good idea :)
     
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  12. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'd run out of the short hardtail bridges I would use normally, I had a few of these types on the bench.

    Mmmm?.... I'll do this to it, cut it through here, use the front holes for extra mounting, and carry on..;)...
     
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  13. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    Good thinking....I like it!!

    I have a hardtail bridge for this project, but I'll have to dowel and re-drill the string through holes to suit. Nothing like setting myself a decent challenge!! :D
     
  14. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    It just occurred to me that routing to fill the bridge cavity may not be enough. Seeing as I need to re-drill the string-through holes slightly further forward (towards the neck end), that the new string-through holes are going to be very, very close (if not, right on top of) the plugged 4 mounting holes....which might cause a problem for accurate and consistent drilling for the new string-through holes. Wouldn't it make more sense to just route the whole lot and plug it in one shot, which would avoid this potential problem completely? That would just leave the string though holes on the back of the body to take care of, which I could do in a similar way.

    Does that sound like a good idea?


    idea.jpg
     
  15. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    Oh well....I'll just go with it then ;)

    So I have a nice block of kiln dried D4S NZ Pine that I will use to fill this area. Yes I know that the block is not perfectly centred and is a little bit too wide for the job in hand, but I have no tools with which to accurately rip down the block, so I'm going with this. It won't make any difference to the end result. I screwed the template pieces to the body as the double sided tape idea is one I don't like too much. A slip of the tape could cause me more problems that simply doweling in a few screw holes.

    block.jpg

    I know it looks ugly but the bearing on the router will have no problems on the gaps in the corners, so when I get back from my break next week, I'll hit it with the router and see what we have. The ugliness is just a means to an end ;)

    temp.jpg

    Next, I'll do the same, but on a smaller scale for the string though holes on the back.....and finally I'll do the same for the control cavity. Once that's all done, I can start to create what I have in my minds eye and see where that leads me to.

    The new neck is now in the hand of the Customs dept, so I should have it in a few days
     
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  16. Bob J

    Bob J Tele-Meister

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    I like your solution. Obviously you plan on a solid color finish (what with all the doweling)?
     
  17. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    why don't your route the whole middle strip out from the butt of the body all the way to the neck heel, then if you get it really straight and use a tight piece of wood, it will be invisible, and then you can do fresh clean routes and holes and route the neck pocket to fit the neck you buy. or even just rip the two sides off of the body and glue them onto a new piece of wood? that would be invisible.
     
  18. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    I don't plan on using a scratch plate, so dowels seem like the best way to take care of any screw holes.
     
  19. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    Too easy....
     
  20. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    I had my early winter break and went traveling around the country, just to re-charge the batteries (so to speak), before the winter really sets in. I came home with a cold, so I won't be in the workshop for a few days. But, the new neck did arrive and I'm quite impressed with it. The slim taper and satin feel is just as I like it, and the frets are well seated and no sharp edges. The maple is quite nice and the only criticism is that the edges of the fingerboard are square, so will need rounding over a touch. Other than that though (and the plastic nut), I'm very happy with it.

    neck1.jpg neck3.jpg neck4.jpg neck5.jpg

    Another lucky find was this piece of Rimu, which was part of a door that dates back to the late 1800's. In those days the Rimu trees were felled (it's protected now) and used for all sorts of things. This panel will need cleaning up, and as it needs to be reduced from it's 9mm thickness down to 4.5mm, I'm sure that it's going to look great. Rimu is one of my favourite native NZ woods.

    rimu.jpg

    Hopefully in the next few days I can get back into the workshop and get some decent progress happening....
     
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