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Emerging from the cocoon

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by Spoonman, Jun 24, 2020.

  1. Spoonman

    Spoonman TDPRI Member

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    Early on in the Covid lockdown I placed an order for a tele style guitar with a young local luthier. He’d done some set-up and maintenance work for me previously on my FGN Iliad tele-clone and impressed me.

    I mainly mess around with blues and wanted to stick with the tele shape that I love, but to have it made with woods and gear that would give it a meaty, warm punch that I didn’t think would come from off-the-shelf stuff. So for better or worse I commissioned a guitar from him - my first ever 'custom build'.

    A week or so ago I saw the first photos of the embryonic ‘butterfly’ emerging from the cocoon of lumps of wood and today I've been along, seen it in the flesh with a bit extra work having gone into it since then. I thought I'd share the journey with you in instalments and give a warts and all honest debrief on the whole experience, highs lows, delight and regrets. I intend to be brutally honest, if I think with hindsight it was a mistake, I will say so, if I'm delighted, then you can be damn sure I'll tell you that too!

    Here's instalment number 1, the build up to date:

    At commissioning stage, Josh (the luthier) really impressed me with his knowledge, how he listened to my playing and what I wanted and then proposed the way he'd build it. I tried several styles of guitar in his showroom and stuck firmly to the Tele - it just works for me. I liked his whole approach and felt good about supporting a young guy running a local business during these difficult times (his workshop is a ten minute drive from my home). Whilst he asked for and listened to my thoughts, he was very determined not to let me do something 'stupid', so gave me quite firm advice when needed, which I appreciated because I make no claims to be an expert. He gave me sketches and a materials list at first, followed by CAD drawings from every angle. I didn't shop around other luthiers in other parts of the country, lockdown being part of that, but my desire to support a local businessman whose I genuinely took a liking to and trusted was the main reason. Naive perhaps - time will tell.

    Every week without fail since that commission, he's kept me posted on progress and where he's hit issues or had choices, he's consulted me first but given his advice and made me feel really engaged with the process.

    2-3 weeks ago the woods arrived at his workshop and after they'd acclimatised he did the shaping of the body and neck and sent me these photos:
    upload_2020-6-24_16-51-22.jpeg
    upload_2020-6-24_16-51-54.jpeg
    The main part of the body is some very dense Brazilian Mahogany, sourced from a Spanish timber mill that was closing down and selling off its stock. Amongst the stock they had a fair bit of this dense mahogany that had been sitting in their stores for over 60 years according to the old timers that had worked there man and boy. The top is figured walnut from the crotch of the tree. The neck is plain straight-grain walnut and the finger board (and pick guard) is European flame maple. Josh had suggested Rosewood, but I was concerned the whole guitar would look too dark brown, so he did agree to this cosmetic change as it won't change the tone as much, Euro maple having a warmer sound that hard maple apparently.

    Today I saw the work in progress:
    upload_2020-6-24_17-6-47.jpeg
    upload_2020-6-24_17-7-15.jpeg
    upload_2020-6-24_17-7-42.jpeg
    upload_2020-6-24_17-8-6.jpeg

    The parts list looks pretty decent to me, though more experienced players may know of better bits, but it's things like:
    Bridge - Hipshot Fixed .175 Chrome
    Tuners - Hipshot GripLock Closed Chrome

    Pickup Configuration - Bridge, Humbucker / Neck, Humbucker Sized P90 - hand wound by the Luthier and he will tweak them after delivery if I want any changes as part of the original price e.g. if I decide I want two humbuckers or differently wound coils.

    The price is a bit more than I'd have paid at a music supermarket like Gear 4 Music on a Fender Ultra and less than the Rarities and Parallel Universe 2 models - all of which are factory built. I've absolutely no delusions that if I sell it it won't hold value like a Fender - it may be a mistake...but it'll be my mistake!

    6 weeks to go Josh reckons, so fingers very firmly crossed.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Wow!
    Love it!
     
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  3. MickM

    MickM Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Love that top.
     
  4. John E

    John E Friend of Leo's

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    Wow, that is very cool...
     
  5. RobDaglish

    RobDaglish TDPRI Member

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    That looks lush! I like the shape of the back, and the neck inlays don’t look too OTT. I’ll be interested to follow this one!
     
  6. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    very cool!
     
  7. Spoonman

    Spoonman TDPRI Member

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    Cheers Rob, Josh steered me away from too much glam stuff. I said I wanted a conservative, mature look rather than 'bling' and that fitted with his approach as his focus was on playability and tone, with looks taking third place, despite which I think he's played a blinder with the top. He advised me to fit chrome stuff and simple inlays rather than gold fittings - time will tell if between us we've got the balance right.
     
  8. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Afflicted

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    Nice Joiner! … … Um, I mean That figured walnut is gorgeous! I was impressed by it before I even saw it with finish. The maple (sycamore?) fingerboard is perfectly quartered. Your luthier has a great artistic eye as well as excellent woodworking skills. The p90 neck / bucker combo is well established, I have a Pacifica with that compliment (tapped HB). You're going to have an amazing guitar!
     
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  9. Spoonman

    Spoonman TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the comments, it's a relief to hear people who know their stuff giving it the thumbs up. Josh is a really nice guy and has bent over backwards to get it right for me so far. He worked in Japan as a luthier until recently when he came home to York. His order book looks like it's filling fast. His website is here if you're interested...https://www.joshparkinguitars.co.uk. He has another Tele style for sale, but it was a bit bright for my style of playing, you can see it on his website and on Reverb.
     
  10. 39martind18

    39martind18 Friend of Leo's

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    The whole guitar is exquisite, but that top: WOW, just WOW!!
     
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  11. Spoonman

    Spoonman TDPRI Member

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    Cheers, that was my reaction too, but Josh was far more excited by the 60+ year old Brazilian mahogany body - he says he can't wait to hear the tone it gives, its such dense wood. The downside could be that it might weigh a ton, but at least it probably won't be neck heavy!
     
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  12. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

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    It all looks wonderful - and one of kind. I might have missed it, but is that some kind of walnut on the headstock as well?

    All in all, just fine, fine, fine. I hope it becomes everything that you are wish.
     
  13. Spoonman

    Spoonman TDPRI Member

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    Thank you, I really appreciate that!

    Yes, the walnut neck goes all the way up into the headstock. Unlike the top it's just plain walnut. Josh had originally said he would try to get figured walnut for the neck too, but was struggling to find some during lockdown, so many timber suppliers were working on a restricted basis or not working at all.
     
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  14. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Afflicted

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    You need to do lots of homework first, but working with a luthier on a custom build has to be experienced. I was able to do it as a one off when I retired, and enjoyed it so much I did it again. (And my builds were only banjos.)

    DSC_4809.JPG

    They're keepers. I reckon Spoonman's Tele will be too.
     
  15. Spoonman

    Spoonman TDPRI Member

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    Cheers! Hardly ‘only’ banjos, they must be special to you! Just out of interest why does one string finish half way up the neck?

    One acoustic luthier I’ve bought from in the past makes nice custom mandolins, mandolas and suchlike as well as guitars....https://www.fyldeguitars.com/available1.html. Despite rumours, guitars aren’t the only instruments worth taking time and care over!
     
  16. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Afflicted

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    The short string is a high pitch string played with the thumb. It's usually a drone but can be fretted.

    These two came from the USA and Canada, but if I did it again there are some banjo luthiers here in the UK who are doing really good work.
     
  17. drmordo

    drmordo Tele-Holic

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    Beautiful!

    I dream of having a guitar made one day, but I'm pretty cheap so it will be a struggle to make myself come off the money for it.
     
  18. pugnax

    pugnax Tele-Meister

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    Hot damn, that is a sharp guitar.
     
  19. wowazeplin

    wowazeplin Tele-Meister

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    walnut neck!!! I love it when people try something different...
     
  20. jfgesquire

    jfgesquire Tele-Afflicted

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    What you are paying him for his time is a bargain, and that's not touching the talent level.

    For skilled labor it's not just the time physically working on the project, it's the mental time planning and problem solving that has incredible value.

    I'm guessing a finish on that maple fretboard will bring out all kinds of texture and pattern. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished project.

    Sent from my LG-H932 using Tapatalk
     
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