COMPLETED Spa-Caster - TDPRI $100 Telecaster Challenge

Discussion in '2009 TDPRI Tele Build Challenge' started by IrishMail, Feb 13, 2009.

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  1. Mark-00255

    Mark-00255 Tele-Holic

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    I admire your sanding diligence! I seem to have singular ability to make surface scratches, no matter how careful and methodical I try to sand!

    I really like that sparkly stuff! Should make a cool pickguard.
     
  2. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, Mark. At this point, just looking at the sanding block makes my arms hurt. Wet-sanding with that ultrafine stuff is something I'm learning about from my friend David, who masterfully built a red-hot hotrod with his father. At the 2000 stage, all that's left is to buff up and show off that classic "grand piano" shine, but first I must get that final color coat onto the body.

    I'm envious of EunosFD because his strat allows photos to be taken, while this foil is resisting. It must talk to the camera somehow, and I need to jam their frequency so that I can submit decent pics of the pickguard.

    I got some phone-help from my brother. After applying the foil, I trimmed about a qtr-inch outside the pg. Then, it got a shot of clear; its function is to thicken and stiffen the foil so it will cut without tearing (and starting over). When dry, I cut away the excess using both an x-acto knife and a single-edge razor blade. I grabbed the clear again and gave it a few squirts; this time its function is to seal the edges of the foil to the pickguard, so it won't go flaky on me.

    When the completed pickguard was dry, I swear I took 50 digital pictures, and the gnomes messed with 'em all. It's an OK pic of my thumb, but this is NOT the way it really looks - - it's what my camera will show (so far). We need to TALK (the camera and I, that is)! I've got to keep trying with this little camera, APPEARANCE of the built guitar is critical.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    Twinkle, Twinkle, my guitar

    I browsed around and read a bit about digital camera technology. There's a CCD that is supposed to capture what the human eye perceives, but that's not always the case. I guess I wasn't holding my tongue just right; this problem would not happen with color print film. Sharing that kind of imagery wouldn't work for this forum however.

    After my last post, I took more pictures - LOTS more, and then kept on going. After I transfered them to the computer, I had to get ready for a local gig. I play lead for a 50's-slash-early 60's cover band that targets baby-boomers and car shows mostly. The Scotty Moore slapback sound from early Elvis records is my inspiration.

    I looked at the photos and cropped the few that really do represent the appearance of this pickguard (finally). Allow me to indulge myself in these uploads:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  4. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    ... and these
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    So, what color IS my pickguard? If I keep it in a darkened room (or in a guitar case) it is :eek: silvery foil with a prismatic design. I think I'll quit taking these kinds of pictures now.
     
  5. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    Like putting strings on a guitar

    With less than a week to go, I need to get in gear and quit staring into the sun quite so much.

    The pickguard's done and the body need polishing. Let's confirm that the Raco-box-cover tailpiece really fits with the narrow short-scale neck.

    I "strung" a length of nylon cord (like chalk-line, for you carpenters) from the 1-peg, under the string retainer bar, over the nut, through the 1-hole of the tailpiece, back through the 6-hole of the tailpiece, and back up to the nut, retainer, and 6-peg. Wound the "strings" so the tailpiece was at a comfortable spot, and pulled the string tight by hand. With the other hand, I took this photo to show that strings 1 and 6 did not wander off (whew!) and fall into the "oops, no frets" abyss.


    [​IMG]


    Then I marked through the tailpiece mounting holes for the location of the mounting screws. Another item scratched off my to-do list! :)

    (The prismatic pattern on the foil is much easier to see in this shot, because it was taken in rather limited lighting.)
     
  6. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    Shiny Stuff

    Here's what I'm using to obtain a true "hand-rubbed" finish (no machine-powered thingie here). Scratch-X and an old can of spray guitar polish.

    [​IMG]

    My friend David (with the red-hot hot-rod) let me use some of his "Meguiar's Scratch-X". O-my-gosh, I'll never use rubbing compound again. I don't sell the stuff, but here are some reviews:
    http://www.meguiars.com/estore/product_raves.cfm?raveslist=G10307&ProdName=ScratchX

    Here's a shot of those products, as reflected in the hand-rubbed ebony (in my dreams). I'm pretty sure I can do better than this, and I've still got a few days.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. martyb1

    martyb1 Tele-Afflicted

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    This is REALLY good stuff too
    [​IMG]
     
  8. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    I went to the menzernausa.com website and every page except HOME said "content to come".

    Maybe the Canadians get these good German products streaming through their markets, but the Yankees might have to wait!
     
  9. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    Taking a break from hand-rubbing that black body, I reached into the baggie for the remaining parts and divided them into two groups. First to show are the signal components:
    [​IMG]

    The signal chain consists of:
    GFS Lil Killer pickup, (springs and screws were camera-shy)
    ground wire to bridge,
    volume pot with push-pull switch,
    treble bleed capacitor,
    on-off-on toggle switch for Gretch-style tone selection,
    tone capacitors (3),
    and the output jack.

    Remaining to assemble are the following hardware components:
    [​IMG]

    This grouping shows:
    neck screws (5),
    their finishing washers (5) (instead of a neck plate),
    the Allparts bridge,
    the Raco tailpiece,
    mounting screws for the bridge (2) and tailpiece (5),
    and the strap buttons (2).

    These, in addition to polishing the body and attaching the pickguard, are just about what's left.

    THERE'S LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL! :D ( hope it ain't a train )
     
  10. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    Using the spray polish brought back a memory from '64. It smells just like when I opened the case of the Gibson LG-1 that my mom rented from the local Baldwin piano store. That was my very first guitar - you know, rent one for the kid, no use buying it only to find out he's no good, or doesn't like it.

    The other part of that memory is seeing those beautiful black pianos in the showroom, lookin' for all the world (to me) like a long black Cadillac. I'm liking this polished black piano look - like it was dipped in plastic or something.

    I (thought I) finished polishing, so I screwed the pickup down a bit, attached the neck, the incomplete control plate, and dropped the pickguard in for a perfect fit - NOT! :oops:

    Bring out the Weapon of Mass Destruction (again).

    I missed the sixth-string side by a country mile. So, out again with the rotary rasp and the hand-held Black & Decker drill. I made it this wide: :rolleyes:

    [​IMG]

    Even minor setbacks at this point are - well - ennervating, to say the least.
     
  11. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    First, a huge "thank you" to all the challengers and non-participating lurkers who honor my effort by visiting this thread. I truly appreciate your attention. As I approach the end of this challenge, as a true first-time builder with no bench tools or shop, I feel motivated as I see those 'view' numbers rise. At the same time I am humbled by the fantastic efforts of the others who dared to enter this event. Thanks again to all. :D


    I finally fit the pickup so it mates properly with the pickguard. I screwed them both in place (no photos; everybody's seen screwing before, right? ;) ) I also attached the Raco-box tailpiece.

    The ground wire for the bridge had been stuck up in the air for what seems to be a long time. I lost some sleep pondering how it would physically and electrically connect to the Allparts vintage-style bridge. Getting up this morning, I took a close look at the base of the bridge. To my surprise, the height adjustment screws are threaded into the baseplate.

    I shortened and stripped the ground wire, and soldered a small ring connector to it. Then I r&r'd one of the height adjustment screws, slipping the connector discreetly under the baseplate, like this. (The bridge won't be set until the strings go on, so that I can get close to decent intonation).

    [​IMG]

    Also in the frame, the black gloss shows off well in close-up. The other end of the bridge-ground along with the pickup wire are partially visible.
     
  12. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    NERD - BALL !

    There is a part of my very essence that is totally NERD! Not just sort of, but this part is beyond the pale. On the computer side, my first succesful programming was in 1966, and I retired as a Systems Analyst 39 years later. In Cub Scouts I built radios when we were supposed to do bird houses, and I built my first shortwave radio in the 5th grade. My wife and I are both licensed ham radio operators. We're talkin' nerd-ball, baby!

    So it comes with much delight that this build finally gets to the part that I'm comfortable with. The everlovin' SIGNAL PATH. Woo-hoo! I'm not using a tone pot. I don't think it's necessary, and besides, it might cost real dinero. I've got only one humbucker with a coil-tap switch in the neck position, so I really don't want to roll off much treble. I'm using a higher-than-average volume pot with the pup, so I have lots of both signal and impedance to work with.

    For years, Gretch has utilized a tone switch in the upper horn of many of their models. I modified that concept slightly, and am sticking a three-position mini-toggle next to the volume knob. I used the 2 caps in parallel instead of just a different value, because I had to buy them 6 at a time. Here is my nerrrrdy schematic of the tone circuit.
    [​IMG]

    :eek:
     
  13. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    Look out! - He's got a gun!

    I shared the last post with my bride, who said once again, "That's nice, Dear". Then she added, "They have NO IDEA".

    Well, I felt inspired. I AM a solderin' fool, after all. So it behooves me at this juncture to profess that I still use my Weller Dual-Power soldering gun that I got in maybe the 70's. Replaced a lot of tips (they burn out), but it still "hums" right along. If you have one, you know of what I speak.

    I've got a sparingly-used roll of "Archer Rosin Core Solder". Cripes, does anyone remember when Radio Shack sold under the Archer Brand?

    Finally the flux. As kid-nerds, we used to say "flux you" to each other [editor: now THAT'S nerdy!] I still use my cherished 2-ounce tin (yes, made from metal, not plastic) of "Kerster Soldering Paste". The price is clearly marked: 33 cents!!

    It's nearly gone, and (serious beg from the judges) I'd use the winning proceeds to update my supply of both flux and solder. (i had to be very careful typing that - my fingers kept wanting to spell 'similar' words)

    I've shown off my other hand operated, low-tech tools. Why not showboat with these antiquities??

    [​IMG]

    Ok, grin and bear it - most of y'all weren't even born when these were sold.
     
  14. Mark-00255

    Mark-00255 Tele-Holic

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    Cool stuff, Irish! I'm a ham as well - got my General a while back but I honestly haven't been active lately. I'm down to just a 2-meter HT at the moment!

    Looking forward to seeing this black and sparkle beast unveiled!
     
  15. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    QSL, 'ol man'. I could probably hit you on the 40-meter noon-time net, but that's another topic and and likely offline. I got my Extra-class license the same day they dropped Morse code from the requirements - - never got the hang of it.

    Anyhoo, it furthers my tech skills in new ways, like hunting for hidden transmitters and building efficient antennas. I'll take a moment to encourage all viewers to think about whether they are tech-savvy enuf to really BE a ham. If so, visit arrl.org and lurk around.
     
  16. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    I did a little soldering of the stuff that didn't need any wires from the pup or the bridge. In this shot, black is ground and white is hot. The cap on the volume pot is .001 uF, for the treble bleed (so that tone isn't cut as the volume turns down). All the 3 others are .01 uF, which I hopefully described already. The pickup wires and the bridge ground are in the shot, too.

    [​IMG]


    From the other side, I hope you can see more clearly the treble bleed cap, along with part of the GFS Lil Killer rail pickup.

    [​IMG]

    In each photo, the refraction of the foil has been subdued, so as not to overwhelm the judges. :rolleyes:

    CQ, CQ, who else is a ham (on- or off- stage)?
     
  17. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    As my thread approaches its conclusion, I went back through it to see if I had missed anything significant, or maybe interesting. Then, I rooted around on the hard drive here to see is there were any half-decent pictures to go along with the story. I managed to turn up a few.

    Of course, much has been written in other threads on this forum about the merits of various templates, blueprints, and the like. I would suggest that if all you have are hand-held power tools, these sophisticated and sometimes pricey items are overkill. My template was custom made and is not (yet) on the market as a finished item, though the materials are widely available. It is the Natural Light template:

    [​IMG]

    Weeks ago, I had mentioned the template but forgot to include the photo.

    As the body took shape, I had a longing to see what it would look like as a painted-up guitar. I hadn't yet cut the wiring channels, and it was a rather rugged morning after Mardi Gras that I shot some very old blue spray paint. It was a mistake, sure, but it seemed at the time like calm, peaceful, blue water. Gawd, it was ugly (once I regained my senses)!

    [​IMG]

    The double-dots are at fret-12 of course, and you may verify for yourself that I'm using a 19-fret rosewood over mahogany neck.

    When the rough sanding was FINALLY over with, I prepared for the black finish with white primer, seen in various stages of my build. I felt as if I had been through a class-5 white-water kayak run. Here is the body just before applying the color coats.

    [​IMG]

    I'll look again for missing stages of the build, and post them (soon) if I find any.
     
  18. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    Friday The Thirteenth - BACK TO BACK

    All righty. Here we are with two Friday the 13th's - back to back. It can only happen in Feb-Mar, of course.

    The last ones were eleven years ago (1998).

    The next ones will be six years from now (2015).

    The ones after that will be eleven more years (2026).

    And the ones after that will be another eleven years (2037).

    It's goofy like that, because of the leap day. See, I TOLD YOU that I was a nerd!

    "Happy Friday The Thirteenth" - go rent a movie or something....
     
  19. Parma_TeleMon

    Parma_TeleMon Friend of Leo's

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    Uh, Natty Light? I'm pretty sure the $100 build limitation didn't include the price of beer! :eek:
     
  20. IrishMail

    IrishMail Tele-Meister

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    Don't include the beer cost? I must've mis-read the rules or something! :rolleyes:

    Cripe, and I've been drinking THIS swill? Oh well, St. Paddy's day is comin' on.

    If I don't have to count the Natty, I'm way under budget.
     
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