Esquire project: five pounds and it rings like a bell

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Peegoo, Nov 18, 2019.

  1. Peegoo

    Peegoo Tele-Meister

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    Just completed this project. It's a super lightweight ash body, Bakelite 'guard, one-piece quartersawn maple neck with stainless steel 6100 fret wire and Kluson repro tuners. It has a Rumplestiltskin pickup with a volume and a tone control. No switch necessary! I made it a toploader to keep it as light as possible.

    I aged the body, neck, and hardware to give it a well-played look and feel. It sounds great and plays great. Total weight is five pounds. This just might edge out my CS '63 Tele as my #1 player.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Very cool, I love a light guitar and that fret size. Looks great too.
    Nice work.
     
  3. Peegoo

    Peegoo Tele-Meister

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    Cheers! The neck is a Warmoth '59 carve. It was originally a large "CBS" Strat headstock, but I cut it down to a Tele shape for this project.

    I added a buffalo nickel to it today since it's five pounds. Seemed appropriate. The custom pickup is a P90 in Tele clothing.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    Niiiice!

    How did you choose such lightweight wood? Did you go through a bunch to find the right pieces, or did you dry the wood yourself?

    Amazing how inviting an Esquire is, isn't it? All that room to roam and dig in.
     
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  5. Peegoo

    Peegoo Tele-Meister

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    My hunnie's dad has a wood store (not a retail place...a building where he has wood stored), and I cherry-picked a really lightweight 2" slab of ash. This wood has been in there for more than 30 years. He's got some stuff in there you just cannot buy these days.
     
  6. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Neato!
     
  7. DavidP

    DavidP Friend of Leo's

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    A 5lb Tele is to die for! VERY envious...
     
  8. joeford

    joeford Friend of Leo's

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    count me in for the stainless steel for life club. I've got them on all my main players. once you've had that pleasure... i can't imagine playing anything else

    i like toploader teles too. but can you really count that as weight savings? that seems like a stretch!
     
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  9. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Ok, I just got a paulownia tele body with the intention of routing it out for a Custom. I wonder how light I can get it?
     
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  10. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Meister

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    tell us a bit about the body finish detail

    Looks sweet!
     
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  11. Peegoo

    Peegoo Tele-Meister

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    Thanks!

    I use pretty much the same process as the Fender Custom Shop does.

    I relic a neck by applying a finish to it, and then remove the finish from the areas that receive the most wear from years of playing. I rub different colors of pigment into the wood and onto the finish, and then rub it all off. This process is slow because you have to work slowly; it's too easy to get in a rush and you'll get too much color into the wood. Maple turns a grayish color, as most other woods do (ever see an old forklift pallet?) when it loses its finish. This is due to oxidation of the cellulose fibers and often includes fungus that grows in the wood caused by moisture. So I shoot for that washed-out gray color on maple.

    I have a few guitars that have authentic play wear, so I use those as a guide. It also helps to have plenty of pictures--The Blackguard Book is a good one--to use as a reference.

    The body goes the same way: finish it like it's going to be a pristine paint job, and then relic it. I apply a very slightly yellow-tinted clearcoat to add a shade to the finish, because colors tend to yellow over time, and areas on the guitar that receive wear and abrasion from the arm/palm/fingers tend to retain their slightly brighter color because the finish wears there and the yellowing is worn away. So in those areas I rub off the yellow shader with a coarse shop towel. A combination of the abrasion and heat building up wears the finish and provides a pretty authentic look.

    Bumps, dings and scratches: I have a large key ring with old keys and other small metal hardware on it. I hook a finger through the ring and gently whack the body and neck in the areas that receive the most bumps. The trick to getting a random ding appearance is to flip the key ring around between whacks. Some hits are really gentle drops. Some are rubs or scrapes, such as the belt buckle rash on the back of the body.

    One thing to remember when doing this step is think about how guitars receive battle scars: they get them when all the hardware is attached--which means you won't see a ding that's halfway under a pickguard, control plate, bridge, or neck plate. Ageing a body or neck with the hardware off will make it look fake really fast.

    I know lots of players aren't into this artificial ageing stuff, and that's okay with me. I also have really pristine guitars that I love to play.

    "I like toploader teles too. but can you really count that as weight savings? that seems like a stretch!"

    Yes, it seems trivial, but every little thing adds weight. The knobs on this are nickel-plated brass, but not solid; they're hollow, with plastic inserts. I went back and forth on the Dunlop Straplock knobs, because they are pretty chunky...but I caved. Ounces add up to pounds.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
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  12. chillybilly

    chillybilly TDPRI Member

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    Beauty! I know this debate/discussion has probably been staged here (and I know it's been staged elsewhere) but if Telecasters are purist instruments then Esquires might be purist's purist instrument. There is something atomic (as in basic building block) about them. One of each type of component. That's all. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

    If Teles are analogous to blade irons in golf then perhaps Esquires are analogous to blade irons with leather grips. Swinging the club and hitting it pure is completely in the hands of the player and most have difficulty doing it once let alone repeatedly.

    After seeing countless photos of Teles it can be a bit jarring to see an Esquire with that silver neck pickup completely missing and an undisturbed expanse of pickguard but after a fashion it begins to take on even more of an air of bare-bones coolness on a par with faded jeans and broken-in cowboy boots.

    A local luthier had an Esquire-style project guitar he came into possession of and was selling it for a mere $300. Having been Tele-less since selling a Cunetto CS Nocaster about ten years ago I was getting the T-style jones in a bad way and it seemed an inexpensive chance to experiment. I buckled the pavement driving to his shop to buy it only to discover his shop hours were by appointment only. I frantically messaged him on the way home to find out - unsurprisingly - that the guitar had been sold. I rolled my windows up and yelled obscenities for five minutes.

    The relic/weathering/aging (pick your term) job is fantastic too. I freely admit I'm pro-relic. I wouldn't have the patience to do it correctly and I probably lack the artistic skill as well.
     
  13. ieatlions

    ieatlions Tele-Meister

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    Beautiful!
     
  14. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    A solid ash body that weighs only 2 lbs???
    I've never seen or heard of ash that light!
    Are you certain it's ash?

    I was in a boat building apprenticeship in 1980, in an old boat shop the then elderly former owner (Herb Baum of Baums boats) had just sold. The place was full of old lumber that had similarly been sitting for decades.
    One of us pulled a hunk of grainy stock out and we were arguing ash vs oak, so we got old Herb to join in the debate.
    I forget what the vote was but we didn't all agree.

    Another boat shop I worked at was selling all the darker ash to employees because we were supposed to use the lightest color ash that matched the ash veneer marine plywood used for bulkheads.
    I still have a hunk of very figured ash from circa 1983, and it's still heavy.
    I have several swamp ash bodies that are in the 3.7lb range, and it seems roasted ash gets a good deal lighter.

    But a 2lb solid ash body?
    Incredible!
     
  15. Jerry J

    Jerry J Tele-Afflicted

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    This is a great story - the wood was aged to perfection!
     
  16. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    You can cut that pickguard down to a half sized one, unless you routed under there.

    Replace the neck plate with washers.

    replace the control plate with plastic pickguard material.

    Replace the bridge plate with a half bridge and mount the pickup direct to the body. use a leather skirt around the pickup to hide the gap.

    Nickel is heavy too ;)
    .
     
  17. Peegoo

    Peegoo Tele-Meister

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    It is ash; I do not know the specific species though. It sat aging in a warehouse in Del Rio, TX, where it's pretty dry all year. I don't know the weight of the body alone. The neck is also really light in weight.

    I considered a clipped bridge and direct-mounting the pickup to the body, as well as going without a pickguard. But I wanted this to have a specific look, which meant doing things a certain way.
     
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