Blond Tele Build is Complete (Success!)

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by Dr Chim Richalds, May 11, 2021.

  1. Dr Chim Richalds

    Dr Chim Richalds TDPRI Member

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    Hello,

    I wanted to share my first tele build with the forum since so many of you have helped me with your wisdom along the way. This is a project that I started back in January and have recently completed assembling the guitar. The first part of this post will be what the guitar actually IS in it's completed state. I went through MANY iterations of ideas and finishes and ultimately this is what worked the best and what I was most happy with. The second part of this post is going to be all about what the guitar could have been. In this section I will detail what my idea was, the process I took, and why it didn't work out. I feel like I made about every rookie finishing mistake in the book (not that I'm a pro now by any means) and I think it could help out another novice such as myself. Hell maybe I can save someone a few dollars down the road...

    Thank you to everyone that helped me with this along the way. This forum has been an incredible resource and it is so great to see everyone sharing their knowledge and having patience with beginners such as myself. I knew I would eventually finish this project with a playable guitar. What I never dreamed was that it would be as great as it turned out and is actually one of my most fun/best playing guitars.

    But first - the TLDR summary and some pictures:
    • Body: Warmoth swamp ash
      • Finish: Mohawk blonde toner nitro, Mohawk clear nitro
    • Neck: Warmoth roasted maple
      • Nut: Graphtech TUSQ
      • Finish: not a finish perhaps, but I sealed the wood with a mixture of boiled linseed oil, Japan drier, and mineral spirits
      • Frets: 6105 stainless steel "jumbo"
    • Electronics:
      • Bridge: Lollar DB humbucker, 1M pot with coil split, volume control only
      • Neck: Lollar Strat Special, 250 pot, volume control only
      • Jack: Switchcraft, Electro-socket
    • Hardware:
      • Tuning Machines: D'Addario locking tuners with string trim feature
      • Bridge: Gotoh humbucker tele bridge

    PART 1a: Project Background/Methodology
    My idea for this guitar from the onset was not to create a traditional Telecaster, but more of a hybrid guitar with a bridge pickup that could do everything from clean to rock to metal, and a strat-style neck pickup that could do strat cleans to SRV blues. From my research I found that the Lollar DB humbucker fit my criteria for the bridge nicely as it is their foray into high output pickups. All reviews praised the pickup for maintaining clarity and being very versatile and dynamic with a very useable single coil split position as well. As I already own a LP-style guitar with Lollar Imperials in it - I was sold on the DB as it seemed exactly what I was after. I spoke with their customer service rep on the phone who recommended the Strat Special for the neck pickup.

    So why a Telecaster and not a Strat build? I have always felt most comfortable on LP style guitars. There is something about the shape and playing angles that just works for me, or at least it works for me because it's what I grew up playing the most. My first 'real' guitar was an Epiphone LP and I've played that general shape for over 20 years now. I recently briefly owned a G&L Legacy, and while I enjoyed the guitar and it's tone, I never became fully comfortable on it. I could never get over hitting that middle pickup with my pick or inadvertently hitting the volume knob with my hand. I did LOVE that neck pickup sound though and actually became very comfortable with the 'Fender' scale length. Also, over 10 years ago I briefly owned a telecaster and felt very comfortable on it. It ultimately wasn't the sound I was after at the time so I let it go. When I thought of this project I wanted to combine all of the aspects of the above mentioned guitars into a single instrument.

    The other idea from the onset was to have a swamp ash body and a finish where the grain was still visible. I wanted it to appear I had colored/finished the guitar and not just clear coated it, but I wanted the grain to show. After all, if I had planned to just paint the guitar opaque I would not have bothered with the open-grained ash.

    Part 1b: The Successful Finishing and Build Process
    1. PREP SAND the body very well with 240 grit; wipe down with Naptha
    2. SANDING SEALER the body with a few coats of generic Verathane Sanding Sealer; lightly level sand with 320 grit.
    3. GRAIN FILL using Aquacoat and an old credit card/fingers. I did about three rounds of grain filling while knocking it back a little bit after each round with 320 grit. I grain filled until I felt I could no longer achiever a better result from subsequent rounds of filling.
    4. CREATE A BASE FOR TONER using Clear Mohawk nitro (all nitro's in this post are aerosols). I found that the body needed to be totally sealed up in order to evenly tone, and using nitro as a further sealer/base coat worked best for me.
    5. TONER COAT using Mohawk Blond toner nitro. I made sure to spray very light even coats and build slowly until I had extremely even transparent coverage.
    6. CLEAR COAT using Mohawk Precat Gloss Clear. I sprayed about a can over the whole guitar taking care to hit the sides and edges well. I then knocked back any orange peel with 320 grit on the front and back. I wiped with Naptha, and then put about 1.5 to 2 more cans over the front and back exclusively. My goal here was to spray wet coats and allow the lacquer to self-level to provide me with a clear coat that needed very minimal finish sanding. I achieved this by spraying the guitar flat - I wedged the false-neck under the fabric of an old lawn chair which held the guitar perfectly flat. This enabled me to really lay on some nice wet coats, and it worked like a charm. I would spray a side, walk away and let it level and dry, and then flip it and do the back, alternating back and forth until my cans ran dry.
    7. DRY SAND using Micro-mesh finishing pads. I used the method where you dry sand in one directions, and then take the next pad and "erase" the initial marks by sanding in the perpendicular direction. I repeated this as the pads got finer and finer all the way to the last pad.
    8. SCRATCH REMOVER/BUFF with Novus fine scratch remover and circular foam buffing pads I got from Amazon that I attached to my drill. I buffed with the fine buffing pads and the scratch remover until I had a very mirror-like finish. The problem was that under the bright LED track lights I have in my basement, I could never seem to get rid of all the swirl marks... until I actually took the guitar upstairs into more natural light where the swirls were not visible at all and there was just a perfect mirror shine. This is where I stopped.
    9. DRILLED HARDWARE HOLES AND ASSEMBLY using standard drill bits. I did notice a little clear coat would flake off around each drilled hole because the finish ended up being very thin, but I wasn't too worried as all of the flaked areas would be covered by the pickguard, bridge, control plate, etc.
    10. From here I assembled, wired, tested, and ultimately brought the guitar to Lark Street Music in Teaneck NJ where their fantastic luthier worked his magic and brought the guitar into 100% perfect playing condition.
    Part 2: The Other 10 Attempts that CRASHED AND BURNED
    Coming soon once I get a few more minutes to write.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  2. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Looking fwd - btw, I get an error msg when attempting to enjoy your pics

    Peace - Deeve
     
  3. jackal

    jackal Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Ditto, get error message.
     
  4. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    I think you might need to adjust the settings for your media so we can see the pics, I'm not too familiar with how that part of the forum works :).

    Pictures or not, it sounds like you got bit by the guitar building bug ;).

    .
     
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  5. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    can't see s***
     
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  6. theprofessor

    theprofessor Poster Extraordinaire

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    See about fixing those pictures so that we can see them and then heap on effusive praise.
     
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  7. GGardner

    GGardner Friend of Leo's

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    When I try to open the photos, I get an error message that says, “You do not have permission to view media within this album.”
     
  8. Dr Chim Richalds

    Dr Chim Richalds TDPRI Member

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    Is this any better? I changed view to everyone. Damn I’m so sorry I’m not up to snuff on my forum posting.
     
  9. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    That's a real nice looking finish.
     
  10. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

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    Beautiful! Quality components top to bottom.

    Nice job. I'll bet she sounds as great as she looks.
     
  11. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Groovy!
     
  12. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    That turned out real nice :).

    Your finish schedule is pretty much the same as I followed with my blonde double humbucker Tele, and I was very happy with that finish.

    When we stick to a proven schedule and pretty much source our products from one supplier, we have the best opportunity for a good looking finish ;).

    I think that Mohawk Blond Toner is a real good looking color on a Tele :).


    How does it play?

    .
     
  13. DHart

    DHart Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    Gorgeous body and finish on that Tele!
     
  14. theprofessor

    theprofessor Poster Extraordinaire

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    The grain and finish on that body are stunning! Congratulations on a job well done! And thanks for including all the details!
     
  15. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Friend of Leo's

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    Very nice! That Lollar bucker is gonna sing.
     
  16. Treynor

    Treynor Tele-Holic

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    Stunning!
     
  17. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    Sah-weeeet dude! That is one mighty fine looking guitar. Fantastic job you’ve done there. I’d love to hear it - especially with that Strat neck pup, as I’ve been tinkering with a similar combination for ages on a long stalled project.
     
  18. Dr Chim Richalds

    Dr Chim Richalds TDPRI Member

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    old wrench thanks for all of you input throughout the process.

    it plays better than my other nicest guitar. The slick feel of the (barely) finished maple is so fast. My local guitar shop also worked some magic to make it ultra comfortable to play. They employ wizards that do what I could never do or adjust.
     
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  19. Dr Chim Richalds

    Dr Chim Richalds TDPRI Member

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    it’s like a great humbucker with extra oomph if that makes any sense. It’s like at full volume you have your tube screamer on, and it rolls off from there. Single coil usage sounds great as well.
     
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  20. John Owen

    John Owen Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    Nice job! Have a blast playing that bad boy!
     
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