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A thinner tele body?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by smokey9701, Nov 6, 2020.

  1. smokey9701

    smokey9701 TDPRI Member

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    I have a very nice piece of figured maple I would like to use for the top of a Tele body. I'm not really trying to make a pure Tele, just something I have built myself. I will likely get a neck from Warmoth. I would like to make the body a bit thinner/lighter then a standard Tele. After milling the maple I will likely be left with about 1/4 inch thick. If I was to use alder for the back, I was wonder how thin I could go before the wood around the pocket is no longer stiff enough?

    Any thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2020
  2. gb Custom Shop

    gb Custom Shop TDPRI Member

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    A major factor here is the height of your control switch (minus the actual switch tip), which will determine how much clearance you need in your control cavity - and you don't want your switch to bottom out. My oak Grigsby switch measures 1.3725" from the bottom of the control plate to the bottom of the wire from the lugs. Generally speaking you would want the bottom floor of the control cavity to be at least 1/4" thick. I wouldn't go lower than that, especially if the body is unfinished and will require some sanding. You could probably get by with an overall body thickness of 1.625", compared to a normal 1.7-1.75".

    If you want to make it lighter, you could always chamber the body, as you'll be putting a top on. Most alder I've come across is already pretty light, so likely won't have to chamber that much, but all depends on your body blank and what you prefer. You can also rout the pickup cavities deeper if they'll be mounted to the pickguard & bridge plate.

    Hope this helps & good luck!
     
  3. guitarmikey

    guitarmikey Tele-Afflicted

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    Indeed, control cavity and switch might be the main problem...
     
  4. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    A couple of other considerations:

    The stiffness of the body (resistance to flex under string tension) is provided primarily by the floor of the neck pocket (the black layer). The 'extra' wood on the sides of the neck (red layer) does provide some support, but that slab portion the neck gets screwed to is doing most of the work.

    [​IMG]

    When you consider how thin the wood is in a typical neck and compare that cross section to the slab in a guitar body, it's easy to see how the wood in the body will be more stiff than the neck; there's simply more wood there.

    If you want a body that's thinner than a typical Tele switch allows, you can use a Switchcraft "shorty" three-position switch as used on Les Paul-style guitars. I've done this on a bunch of custom builds and it works great. The 90 switch will also fit, but it will only flip up and down, not in line with the control knobs:

    [​IMG]
     
  5. smokey9701

    smokey9701 TDPRI Member

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    Thank you all. Great information and a big help on planning. I should have mentioned, that first, this would be just for me and and resale value is of no issue. Then sadly there is the issue of my playing ability which isn't worth 2 cents alway. So I had a though of only using a single bride pickup, 2 pots 1 for tone and 1 for volume. So I could skip the controls switch. My hope was to not use a pick guard and keep the top clean and open. Here is an image of the maple I have. maple.JPG
     
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  6. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    i have a L6s copy of the brand Custom. thinner body than a les paul, very vibrant so tone wise i would not be afraid, but like the others mention, other hardware could be a problem.
    if i think pickups, i think the microcoils with adjustable polepieces are not so deep and very playing sensetive.
    maybe a rotary switch will be not as deep, but you can do a lot with 2 mini switches.
    but what you want to play does have a vote to and maybe a reason to look for a only neck ore bridge pickup
     
  7. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Plenty of bolt on SG's come in about 1-3/8" thick but they use a short toggle. 1-1/2" thick is about the limit for a tele with a tele switch. The norm is 1-3/4" thick. Old Hagstroms were thinner than an SG, but they used an elevated jack plate with slide switches. You can see how thin the wood and vinyl was under the neck and they worked fine.


    https://reverb.com/p/hagstrom-hagst...MI1_jppMHu7AIVmIvICh38vAbrEAQYASABEgKRivD_BwE
     
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  8. gb Custom Shop

    gb Custom Shop TDPRI Member

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    If you're considering only a bridge pickup, you could also get a pickup tapped for multiple leads so you can have multiple tones from the same pickup - would still require a switch tho. Just a consideration! But could give you more flexibility with the axe.

    BTW did you have a desired overall thickness and weight?
     
  9. PARCO

    PARCO Tele-Meister

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    I think most of the snakehead bodies I've seen are only 1 1/2" inches thick.
     
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  10. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Can you fill us in on your goals that you hope to achieve by changing the basic Tele specs?

    Personally I stress structural integrity too much and really dislike thinner body bolt on neck guitars.
    Also dislike the weak SG joint.
    My issues.
    Some thin body bolt ons are harder body woods though and really work fine.
    Some are just cheap so we hardly care.

    Alder can be harder and softer, often so soft that the neck plate sinks in to the wood when you tighten the screws.
    Remove a full 1/4" and use softer alder, doesn't sound good to me and especially if choosing a deluxe top wood, why scrimp on structural integrity?
    If weight reduction is the goal and you don't want to chamber, you could make the middle 4" width 1 3/4" thick and the "wings" only 1 1/2" or even 1 1/4".
     
  11. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Right, those prototypes were made from on hand cabinet pine glues up into 1 1/2" thickness.
    Once production began they bought proper full thickness lumber that was not pine.
     
  12. Lowerleftcoast

    Lowerleftcoast Friend of Leo's

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    For a lighter body, I chambered the alder. It is standard thickness so it does not answer the thickness question.
    DSCN1472.JPG

    I built this Alder tele. I would consider different woods for the back if I were in your shoes, for all of the reasons @telemnemonics mentioned. Perhaps Ash (heavier) or Korina (aka Limba) to stay light.

    Another option would be to fashion the body like some of the Reverend guitars. The ones that have a thicker mid section and thinner *wings*.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2020
  13. dogmeat

    dogmeat Friend of Leo's

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    another thought for switching is a rotary if you want more than one pickup. I've built a couple rigs with P-Rails. you get single coil, P90, humbucker in series and in parallel from 1 pickup. the 3 pole, 4 position rotary is the thickness as a standard pot.
     
  14. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    How thick are those Affinities? 1.5"? I think Mustangs are about that much.
     
  15. smokey9701

    smokey9701 TDPRI Member

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    My goals are to us a beautiful piece of wood which I have had for a long time. The wood came from a tree I cut up my self after a storm knocked it down. I'm not really thinking of this as a Tele or any other particular type body. I just kind of like the simple shape of the Tele body. But, I do not like the look of that ash tray thing and will not be using one. The bridge is all I will use. Next, no matter what I build, it will not have sharp edges. It will be contoured at any point a sharp edge contacts a forearm etc. I would do the same with the bottom cut for reaching the higher frets but I won't since I play so poorly I don't really play above fret 12 anyway.

    I guess I'm poking a hornets nest. Just looking to have something playable that looks nice that I can say I built myself. I have a friend who is a great player. I joke with him that he may be able to out play me by a mile but I tell him anyone can play but lets see if you can build a guitar or an amp. Just joking of course because I know I will never play like him and he can't build the things I build, all in fun.

    Just want to add, all the replies have given me great suggestions.
     
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  16. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have an Esquire-like thing I built with this scheme. It's a top-loader and it's a peach of a guitar:
    [​IMG]

    A pal of mine wanted something similar but with a humbucker, so I built him this. Basically the same guitar, but with a Railhammer pickup:

    [​IMG]
     
  17. smokey9701

    smokey9701 TDPRI Member

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    Peegoo ---- The bottom image of the black single humbucker is right in line with what I'm thinking of building. Thanks for posting the images.
     
  18. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    So all that can be done with the usual body thickness or some other thickness.
    Lumber on the racks plus your 1/4” flamed maple cap doesn’t really force you to make a thinner body, and if you need to buy some alder you can choose the thickness depending on the supplier.

    I have some Alaskan yellow cedar that’s recently in builders supply milled to 1 1/2” for deck railings, it’s nice medium hardness and weight, should be tonally lively if you care about that, might be a good alternative to thinner alder.
    Still not sure why you want to go thinner.

    I only mention the cedar because you’re aiming for sort of your own thing and it seems like a nice body wood option, plus comes in 1 1/2” to get you a standard Tele thickness without any milling.
    Or maybe you have a thickness planer?
     
  19. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Looks Esquire to me!
    How do you like the railhammer?
     
  20. Billy3

    Billy3 Tele-Meister

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    I have an affinity and it measures 1 9/16ths inch. 2018 made in Indonesia. Nice guitar,a little heavy.
     
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