First Build and a Hot Mess

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by okayestplayer, Jul 24, 2021.

  1. okayestplayer

    okayestplayer TDPRI Member

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    Hello All,

    Im new here. Lurked for a while- you guys have great wisdom on stuff. But now I need to ask some specific questions.

    Been playing forever but this is my first build.

    Ive been on sabbatical for the last 6 mos and I finally got bored out of my head. Decided to build something before I started breaking things.

    I knew it was going to be a "first build" with both "first build" frustrations as well as quality.

    Made plenty of mistakes, loved every minute of it.

    Heres what I have

    Black ash body body from Supra Tone in St. Paul
    [​IMG]


    Maple neck with ebony fret board from WD Music
    [​IMG]

    Wilkinson premium 60s WVS Alnico 5 pickups

    Wilkinson 54mm Vintage Tele six saddle bridge.

    920D Custom Loaded Pre-Wired 4-Way Oak Grigsby Control Plate for T-Style Guitar

    Other random Wilkinson parts

    got it all put together. Soldered in the 4 way switch- tone pot isnt working, talking to the dealer about that.

    Someone gave me a Guitar Center gift card so I figured Id have them do the final set up.

    What I found out was that they dont currently have a "guitar tech" but do have people who have been "through the training."

    Got a call from GC, tech didnt like the saddles in the bridge, strings kept popping off. He was right, I noticed that when I strung it up the first time. Reccommended some graph tech saddles, I said that sounded great.

    Got another call, he said he couldnt get the intonation set quite right. Had the screws dialed back all the way so they bottomed out. He said "the bridge wasnt set back far enough." Thats where the bridge pick up route is as well as they pilot holes are drilled. He said "well you never can tell the quality with the kits." This isnt a kit. I researched the parts, thought I bought good ones. Spent not a small amount of money. I know the Wilkinson stuff can be hit or miss but Im not playing professionally. Just bangin around with friends. The pickups sound great. Everything else seemed to work just fine.

    But I can tune the thing up and it goes about a half step sharp from there.

    The other problem is that the action is WAY high because it frets out at the 13th fret on the lower strings. I know I can take that to a luthier and get it fixed.

    But the intonation problem is a problem. Is it an issue with the bridge? I really dont think the company drilled/routed it out incorrectly. Could a different bridge fix it? Im not averse to getting a new one, I didnt spent TOO much on this one.

    Anyway. The thing is gorgeous. I did a great stain job if I may say so myself- stew mac merlot, dark, with an underlying coat of black. Looks incredible with the ebony board and pearl pick guard.

    But I really dont want to have a pretty piece of wall art. Id like to actually play it and have it be mostly in tune.

    So any of your combined wisdom would be deeply appreciated.

    Thanks.
     
  2. fuzz guy

    fuzz guy Tele-Meister

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    It's possible that the extremely high action is responsible for the intonation issues. I wouldn't think the bridge is mounted wrong and I don't think it's an issue with the Wilkinson parts. Hard to tell without looking at it. Take it to a proper luthier and they should be able to sort you out.
     
  3. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Only thing riskier than getting medical/financial/legal advice @ tdpri is getting setup & intonation advice from somebody @ GC who is "not a tech, but went to the training..."
    :eek:
    Yes, a proper tech can see you bought nice parts and can suggest appropriate next-steps for a more playae home-build. Congrats, BTW.
    ;)
    Peace - Deeve
     
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  4. no doz

    no doz Tele-Meister

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    +1 for proper tech
     
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  5. WalthamMoosical

    WalthamMoosical Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    Welcome to TDPRI ! Welcome to guitar building! Welcome to fixing your build!

    I'd be surprised if the problem is the bridge.

    You might want to get hold of that famous PDF of Tele measurements and see how your body matches up to it--I found it very useful when I was cobbling together the two tele-parts-casters I've made so far. The bodies I started with had the pickup cavities routed but not the string holes or bridge mounting holes, and having those plans was useful as a check. It actually is not that hard to "move" the bridge mounting holes by filling with dowel and re-drilling, if it comes to that; and don't worry, the bridge will cover the scars well enough.

    BUT it is true that intonation issues are coupled strongly to action (and nut slot depth), so those things should be considered before accusing the body.
     
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  6. pinchegil

    pinchegil Tele-Holic

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    Ok, be forewarned this is my opinion only and its probably worth less than $.02. The fact that you built your own tele, including finishing the body means you are a DIY guy. You have already spent $$ on a "guitar tech". What has it got you so far?? Why stop the DIY, you can get a guitar set good enough to set up a guitar for $20 or so on the internet, you can get a guitar straight edge for $15 off of amazon. You can get Umpteen tutorials on how to set a guitar up on youtube for free. Finish what you started and learn to set your guitar up yourself. There are times when a luthier is worth their weight in gold (re-frets etc), and you might get to that point, but not trying, means that you are not learning. Every guitar player should know how to adjust a truss rod and set intonation. DIY guys should know about shims and how to level frets as well. Just my < $.02 :)
     
  7. okayestplayer

    okayestplayer TDPRI Member

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    I can work a truss rod and I can find my way around a bridge. But the six saddle tele bridge is something I've never done before. My other ax is a PRS S2 Vela and I know my way around it- for the most part. But I had a gift certificate

    I was originally going to use it to buy a couple good cables. Probably shouldve done that instead.

    There are a couple good luthiers in my area. Gonna get the frets leveled- that's not something I want to try myself Hoping that fixes the intonation issue. I'll post pics later. It really turned out nice. And I was really surprised by the Wilkinson pick ups. For barely $100 they sound incredible.

    Now I just need to get the tone pot figured out........
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2021
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  8. Sax-son

    Sax-son Tele-Afflicted

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    OK, here is my suggestion, from the nut to the saddle, does it measure 25.5 inches from the nut to at least the mid point of the saddle screws and reach? If so, you should be able to intonate. I have had bodies where the holes were drilled in the wrong place, but a Telecaster design although simple, is still very exact. On bodies and necks that I am not familiar with, I line up the pickguard, control plate and bridge plate to the routings to see where they visually line up. If it looks a little out of whack, you might want to stop there. If everything lines up within reason, you should be able to get it to play right. If you are new to electronics, retrace your steps. Sometimes the simplest mistake can cause big problems. Don't be discouraged, that's how you learn.

    High action can be caused by a number of issues. You have to check the neck pocket depth to see if that specs out correctly. I always go with vintage specs because Asian specs can be all over the map. I have seen them way off the charts and had to sand them way down. Choose your battles when it comes to buying your parts. Your WD neck should be fine, I am not so sure about the body, but maybe it's ok too.

    It might be easier with pictures step by step so that we can help you along the way. A picture is worth a thousand words so the problems might be obvious if we can see them. In my opinion, only take it to a tech when it's the last resort. Many times you can figure it out yourself. Knowledge is empowering and we have all made mistakes along the way.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2021
  9. ghostchord

    ghostchord Tele-Holic

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    Congrats on jumping into this exciting hobby. Before you know it your house will be full of guitars. I also started on a simpler project but it was a kit with all the parts provided.

    I think we need more details and pictures before giving concrete suggestions. I didn't quite understand why the action is set high, did you mean you get buzzing otherwise? That would suggest there is some issue with the fretwork, i.e. the frets are not level. That is generally checked with a fret rocker. Did you set up the truss rod correctly? Such that there is a *slight* relief in the neck (e.g. checked by putting a capo on the first fret and then fretting way up the neck?).

    It is possible the bridge isn't located correctly though as mentioned if you can't get the action set up properly then it's probably not worthwhile messing with intonation before you figure that out. It is also possible that the body was not drilled for your bridge. At any rate, to figure out if the bridge is located properly you need to measure the scale length, get a metal ruler at the hardware store and measure carefully from the nut to the saddles and let us know. The ruler can also help us and you determine if the neck angle (and pocket/heel/fretboard location) is correct. With no relief, i.e. a flat neck, a ruler set against all the frets should hit the saddle at its lowest position.

    What's the problem with a six saddle bridge? Easiest setup in the world. Each saddle moves back and forth and up and down. back and forth for intonating, up and down for action. The only issue I had when I did it the first time is that I decided it wasn't a good idea to make adjustments while the strings are under tension (i.e. I first release the tension, make adjustments, easier without the string pushing on the saddle, tune it up, measure again, but that's maybe just me, also otherwise the adjustment screws can scratch the plate up).

    More photos, checking all the frets with a fret rocket to find high frets, and measurements and a lot of people here can troubleshoot the precise issue. I'm happy to help, it just sounds pretty vague at the moment.
     
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  10. okayestplayer

    okayestplayer TDPRI Member

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    A couple things.

    Nothing wrong with the six saddle bridge. Just haven't dealt with it before. Figured I'd let someone who knew more than me deal with it- I didn't realize that I knew as much or more than the kid from GC. But like I said I was seduced by the gift card :)

    25.5 inches from the nut to the top of the saddle screws. I don't think it's the bridge.

    Body is made in America neck fits good.

    If I lower the action it buzzes. Tried giving a little extra neck relief and then lowering the saddles a bit. Didn't help.

    I get a buzz only on the 12th fret. Not on 11, not on 13. Gave it a close look and when I hit 12 it's buzzing on the 13th fret.

    So the frets definitely need to be leveled. I don't want to try that on my own. Taking it to a luthier next week. That'll fix the buzz I think and I hope the intonation issue.

    You guys are awesome. I have really appreciated your input. I literally went from "well crap that was a waste of two months and more money than I told my wife it would cost" to "ok, I can fix that or get it fixed."

    Thanks.

    Pictures in the next post.
     
  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Okay, where in Washington are you? I'm in central washington, would be happy to look at it and for what it is worth, have built a few guitar and set up a lot more. If that doesn't work I may be able to recommend someone close to you who knows what he/she is doing.

    I'll add that if you come over I will not do the work for you, I will help you do it and understand why.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2021
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  12. okayestplayer

    okayestplayer TDPRI Member

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  13. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Without seeing it in person and unable to take a tape measure to it, there are 3 things in the original post that rings a bell. Total disclosure: Following is purely speculation based on the original post vs. my own experiences.

    First, always find a tech. I understand the temptation to use a GC gift card, but there is a time and place for everything. Now the gift card has some use on it, if not used up, & you still have to take it to a tech.

    Second, it is possible the pickup rout was for a different model tailpiece or that the new saddles are different enough that there is not enough travel left in it to intonate. If not, then removing a bit of material here or there may be in order to properly locate the bridge. I am not an expert in this area, but I have assembled enough to know that thru-body holes are not an accurate indicator of proper placement. There should be enough room in the pickup rout to properly locate the bridge.

    Third, it is entirely possible that you may have to shim the neck in order to get decent playability. There is nothing in the original post to indicate it's the end of the world for this guitar. And there is nothing, IMO, that should discourage the OP from building another guitar. You have to start somewhere, and mistakes are just lessons that need to be learned firsthand. $0.02
     
  14. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I didn't see a reply.
     
  15. fuzz guy

    fuzz guy Tele-Meister

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    If you know some stuff but maybe not enough, I would highly recommend one of Dan Erlewine's books. There's a more beginner one called How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great and a more advanced one, Guitar Player Repair Guide.

    When trying to troubleshoot electronic issues, get a multimeter and learn how to use it, without one your basically flying blind.
     
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  16. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

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    it was embedded in your quote: Way up north on Blaine. Thanks for the offer though.
     
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  17. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    This was my first thought, too. Maybe the wrong bridge for the route/string holes. I won’t repeat all of the other good advise here - there’s lots - but I will repeat that measuring 25.5” from the nut to the middle of the saddle area to make sure the bridge is located properly is a good idea before you worry about fret levelling and intonation. The neck may need a shim to change the angle, as well.
     
  18. Lonn

    Lonn Friend of Leo's

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    The only reason to ever take a guitar to GC is to sell it or try out an amp.
     
  19. Happy Enchilada

    Happy Enchilada Tele-Afflicted

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    Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.

    Teach a man to fish and he'll bore you with lies until you throw up in your mouth a little.


    Kudos to you for teaching the OP how to do this right - it's not rocket surgery, and it will give him an immense sense of satisfaction. And save him from financing the weed habit of whatever pink-haired, nose-ringed d-bag is working at his local GC and billing himself as a "tech."
     
  20. natec

    natec Tele-Meister

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    This. Cheap and easy to do at home.
     
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