Classic Vibe Thinline mod/build project - Basically replacing everything

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by Naigewron, Aug 31, 2020.

  1. Naigewron

    Naigewron TDPRI Member

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    Not sure if this is considered a build or a mod project, but here goes.

    This project has two objectives:

    1:
    I really wanted a Thinline Tele with a Bigsby(ish) trem and a modern 9.5" radius neck, without spending too much. Even though I'm basically rebuilding this from the ground up, I'll still come in a fair bit cheaper than the cheapest similarly spec'ed Fender. Of course, this might turn out to be a real lemon, but in that case I can hopefully fix it ;)

    2:
    I've never done anything more advanced than replace a pickguard, so I want to get somewhat comfortable with modding my own guitars. Hopefully this will allow me to fix whatever I don't like on a guitar in the future, rather than just selling it and hoping the next one will fit me better.

    My starting point is a Classic Vibe 60s Custom Thinline Mahogany Telecaster, but when I'm done with it the only parts that remain will be the body and a couple of pieces of hardware.

    Here's the "before" pic - Untouched and unsullied; it actually plays and feels pretty nice, all things considered. Throw some compensated saddles on there, a nicer set of pickups and a proper setup, and it could be a great workhorse. But of course, that's not what we're doing.

    [​IMG]

    Now, the sensible thing to do would have been to start small - Maybe replace the pickups, or the bridge, and then build on that. But once I decided to go ahead with this, I pretty much went "screw it" and I pretty much ordered an entire guitar's worth of parts all at once. So yeah, let's see where this goes.

    Here's the list of parts that are going in:
    • Pribora Cream T pickups
      I've had a set of his Blues Classic pickups in another Tele and I loved them, but they were currently sold out. People seem to like these too though, so I figured I'd give them a shot.
    • Solderless wiring harness from Six String Supplies
      I never learned to solder, and I figured I have enough of a learning curve on this project already. If I really get into this whole modding thing, I definitely want to get into soldering as well though.
    • Fender Standard Telecaster replacement neck (satin finish, pau ferro fingerboard)
      I'm sure I could have gotten something cheaper and "better" from another manufacturer, but after reading a few stories about issues with fitting non-standard necks I figured I'd stay on brand for this one. By all accounts, Fender necks should fit CV bodies without any issue, and that turned out to be the case (see below)
    • Duesenberg Diamond Deluxe Tremola Short
      Basically a Bigsby as designed by a German engineer. Simpler restringing, and an arm that can be adjusted for length, plus super smooth operation.
    • Gotoh Intune sadler
      Great saddles, but I hope I won't run into issues with combinind them with a trem
    • Scalloped ashtray bridge plate
      Nothing fancy; found on eBay. Bridge plate with cutaways that will allow the trem to operate properly.
    • Walnut pickguard
      I was surfing eBay to see if I came across some nice pickguards, and came across a guy in Greece who made walnut pickguards. We'll see how it looks - If it works it will definitely give the guitar a pretty unique look.
    I also have to find a set of tuners, since the Squier ones are not compatible with the Fender neck, and because I'd like to find a set of staggered tuners to hopefully avoid the need for a string tree.

    I'm also considering "de-glossing" the body with some 0000 steel wool, but I'm not sure about this yet. I've seen it done (on YouTube) and it should work well in theory, but if it doesn't I'll have pretty much ruined a perfectly good body. I definitely don't want to end up with a "relic" finish.

    I test fitted the neck to see if it fit, and just placed the trem assembly on the body to see how it would look, and I think this might just turn out pretty cool. I'm liking the look of that Duesenberg trem.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Still awaiting the arrival of the electronics, pickguard and bridge plate, so there' not much more I can do right now. Hopefully it will start arriving this week, although I know that Pribora doesn't always have the shortest shipping times. I'll also be looking for a set of tuners very shortly.
     
  2. janglemore

    janglemore TDPRI Member

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    Subscribed. Very cool project.

    I just scored a 2019 model off Craigslist 3 days ago. Pretty much brand new. Hadn’t even been set up yet. Paid $325. The guy had an accident to his pinky finger on his left hand and was switching to keyboards. I’ve been playing it all weekend and I absolutely love it. Definitely impressed with the stock neck and fretwork. I was able to get the neck at just about zero relief. One thing I don’t like is the pickup selector switch is pretty close to the volume knob when in the bridge position. It’s hard to switch it. Also, there are some wiring issues - it shorts out occasionally. Will need to take a look under the hood. But I’m really liking this guitar so far.

    Good luck with your project! Will be fun to watch.
     
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  3. Squier by Squier

    Squier by Squier Tele-Meister

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    Looking nice.

    I have more or less replaced my Squier Standard Telecaster (body, bridge plate, control plate and output wire are still originals), although time span has been like ~15 years. But it's still my only electric guitar today.

    Good luck!
     
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  4. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    A couple of quick notes:

    -no steel wool anywhere near a guitar. The steel chips get stuck to magnets and the pickup bobbin wires and eventually shorts things out. Better to use high grit sandpaper (800+).
    -measure actual values on the pots 'n caps and choose carefully -- they can push a guitar's tone around as much as the pickups. And pickup height setting can do a lot to improve/detract from good tone. don't necessarily be frightened of ceramic bar stock pickups.
    -add a 4-way switch to the build .. you'll get a stealth Les Paul humbucker tone.
    -don't know what you are spending on the ready-built harness .. but frequently those run $100 and the parts on a Tele can run $20 if you solder yourself.
    -Find a good local guitar tech to do the final setup, or get good yourself. Youtube Frudua channel has good notes on how to do it yourself. Nut slotting, neck setting, and saddles plus intonation are key. You can have a junky salvaged guitar with a good setup and it will play and sound better than the best premium parts with a poor setup.
    -hang onto the old parts as you will be only a body away from a second guitar ;)


    .
     
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  5. Naigewron

    Naigewron TDPRI Member

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    I definitely won't be doing it without stripping the body completely. I'll be doing a lot more research first too, and probably just do a very small test behind the neck plate or pickguard to see if it can even be done at all. I've got some very fine sandpaper as well, so I'll probably test both alternatives if I go ahead with it at all.

    That's beyond my skillset and equipment at the moment, and since I'm replacing both pickups and electronics there would be little point in trying to match one or the other to the stock setup. The pots I've ordered are the old standard 250k deal, so they should sound reasonably Telecaster-y

    Didn't go for that this time, since the Pribora pickups aren't wired for it. Definitely something I'll keep in mind for future modifications though.
    I realise it's not a complicated mod to add the extra wiring, but then we're back to the soldering issue ;)


    I realise that, but I just didn't want yet another potential issue since this is my first build. In addition to that, I don't have any form of soldering equipment, so I probably wouldn't have saved much in terms of cost for this specific project. If I find that I like modding guitars, I'll definitely want to get into soldering though.


    indeed. I'll try my best myself first, and then bring it to a guitar tech buddy to have a look at it. We'll see how much he will have to do to fix all my mistakes

    I came to the same realisation. I was intending to sell it just to recoup some costs, but I doubt that a body-less Squier would fetch much of a price on the used market anyway. I've already started having some ideas for the next one :lol:


    Yeah, I was really impressed with the neck too. My main issue with it was that it's got an incredible amount of gloss lacquer on it, and that I generally don't prefer maple boards. I'll keep the neck though; definitely a good candidate for a future project (or to put this one back to stock)

    Yeah, that'll take a bit of getting used to, although a slimmer switch topper will help a bit.
     
  6. Joe M

    Joe M Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Naigewron, you've posted in the correct forum, you haven't "built" anything, just replaced parts.
     
  7. Naigewron

    Naigewron TDPRI Member

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    Ok cool. Wasn't sure where the line was. I'm basically building it from scratch (only thing from the original guitar is the body), but obviously not actually making any of the parts myself.

    All the same to me, just wanted to make sure I was following the rules :D
     
  8. stratisfied

    stratisfied Tele-Meister

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    I've ordered lots of pickguards from that same eBayer (Electric Church Pickguards). He does first class work. Here's one of his walnut pickguards on a Tele I put together.

    IMG_1227.JPG
     
  9. Naigewron

    Naigewron TDPRI Member

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    Very cool! That makes me feel a bit safer about my order.

    Love everything about that Tele. Is that a top or a solid body? Gorgeous wood regardless.
     
  10. stratisfied

    stratisfied Tele-Meister

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    Back is ash, top is 1/4" spalted maple slab.
     
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  11. bettyseldest

    bettyseldest Friend of Leo's

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    [QUOTE="Naigewron, post: 10076806, member: 140299"-add a 4-way switch to the build .. you'll get a stealth Les Paul humbucker tone.

    Didn't go for that this time, since the Pribora pickups aren't wired for it. Definitely something I'll keep in mind for future modifications though.
    I realise it's not a complicated mod to add the extra wiring, but then we're back to the soldering issue ;)[/QUOTE]

    I don't thnk this is an issue with the pickups themselves. The 4th position just combines the two standard single coil pickups to operate as a humbucker. This differs from the middle position on a three way switch. However, you would need to source an appropriate pre made harness/control plate. Hate to nag you but, the sooner you spend 3-400 krone on a half-decent soldering iron the better.

    Nice looking guitar though.
     
  12. zippofan

    zippofan Tele-Afflicted

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    Nice, looking forward to your build!
    I pretty much did the same thing to my CV Thinline, though I didn't start out that way. Its current form is stock body, Warmoth birds-eye maple neck, Gotoh tuners. Pickups are Cavalier Fat Lion and Lioness, replaced the pots with CTS, switch is an Oak Grigsby, Orange Drop cap, Switchcraft jack and Electrosocket. Bridge plate and saddles are Rutters, and the pickguard is from eBay. Oh yeah, Fender neck plate and string tree too. I don't know if I have a current picture!
     
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  13. naveed211

    naveed211 Tele-Afflicted

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    Cool, I’ll be following this thread. I love my CV Thinline stock, but am also a tinkerer so I’ve considered a total overhaul as well just to see how great it could be.

    All I’ve ever done with my last two CVs was swap a neck for a Baja and install a Fender bridge with brass saddles, both to positive effect. A complete overhaul sounds fun.
     
  14. DHart

    DHart Poster Extraordinaire

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    Starting with a bare body and pulling all the different parts together for assembly can certainly be called a "build" in my view. Many items in today's world that people "build" are an assembly of parts. (Building a car is putting parts together in an assembly plant.) So, I wouldn't worry about terminology - everyone knows just what you're doing. Call it a build, call it an assembly, no worries either way.

    My CV '69 Thinline started from just being a stripped-down, bare-mahogany CV Thinline '69 body. Every part other than the body was sourced separately to my preference and taste. The end result came out awesome. And no problems of any kind fitting a Fender-brand neck and other parts to this CV body. (That's a Fender Baja '60s rosewood-board neck.)

    [​IMG]

    I see no reason why you shouldn't solder up your electronic parts yourself and do the set-up yourself. You really don't need to hire that work out - it's not 'rocket-science'. Soldering wire to pots and switches is really quite simple once you've practiced to get the feel for it.

    Study some YouTube tutorials, do enough off-guitar practicing with the soldering until you've got it down, and just go for it! You CAN do this well. Go very slowly and methodically, readjust as needed, and you should come out fine!

    As for the set-up - same thing. Do your homework first, on YouTube, once you know what to do, approach it slowly and methodically, check your work, re-adjust as needed. Not difficult.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
  15. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    If you're getting into partscasters, learn to solder! It's very easy to do.
    All fender necks need a string tree. Really they should also have one for the g string. It's part of the design. Strings need to break away behind the nut at an angle. Staggered tuners don't get enough.
    Fun project!
     
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  16. Naigewron

    Naigewron TDPRI Member

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    Yeah, I will absolutely attempt to set it up myself first. The only thing I know that I'll be outsourcing to a guitar tech buddy is the nut filing, because that's one of those jobs that can't be reversed if I screw it up (without replacing the nut). I'll be following closely and asking him stupid questions all the way through though ;)

    I will definitely get into soldering if I build another guitar (or start doing more mods to this one). I just didn't want the learning curve to be too steep for this first project, because I know that would probably mean that I just put it off and ended up playing it stock instead :D

    You may be right; I'm just basing this on my experience with my American Standard Stratocaster. It had staggered tuners and a string tree, and I would get much better tuning stability with the trem if I just avoided using the string tree.
     
  17. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    Properly used string trees will never cause tuning issues.
     
  18. Naigewron

    Naigewron TDPRI Member

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    How many ways are there to use one?
     
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  19. Naigewron

    Naigewron TDPRI Member

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    Since the thread was bumped, here's the latest tiny development: The bridge finally arrived yesterday, and the wiring harness is due to arrive today. No sign of the pickups or pickguard yet.

    Installed the Gotoh Intune saddles on the bridge; looks pretty good so far.

    THe only niggle is that I may want to slot the end of the adjustment screws. Intonation adjustments are going to be hell when the trem is installed, if I have to adjust it from the back of the bridge.

    Anyone have experience with this? Should I just get a really fine blade for cutting metal, or will that just slip all over the place?

    2020-09-10 12.17.02.jpg
     
  20. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy Tele-Afflicted

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    May I have a link to this eBayer please?
     
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