My First Build

matman14

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Oct 12, 2020
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The biggest thing I have learned is to test everything on scrap material before you do the task on the actual guitar.

It's a pain, but better to find out that your drill with a larger bit corkscrews through pick guard material leaving a chewed up mess, or your stain of choice doesn't apply evenly etc etc on scrap material than ruining your project.
 

rodneynolan

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Welcome Rod. You have already received some of the best advise you can get. A couple more things - I always recommend Melvyn Hiscock's book - he literally covers every step of electric guitar building on three different style guitars. But he also talks about things like geometry and tools and woods and safety and finish..... Its all there.
The 3rd Edition is on Amazon for way more than it should be, even considering import fees. I'll probably buy direct from the website. Thanks for the recommendation.

Second, if you haven't downloaded the TDowns plans at the head of this forum do so. Take the pdf to Kinkos and get about four full sized prints. You will be cutting a few of these up to make templates and such.
I got one copy each of the body and the neck from Staples on the weekend. Looks like I'll have to make a return trip.

Third, mahogany is my favorite body wood. Keep all the cutoffs for experimenting with finishes - mahogany does finish beautifully. When thinking about cutting and routing and all I think it is important to do everything in a logical order. I build the neck and body at the same time and don't route the bridge or pickup cavities until they are mated up. I am constantly checking the geometry as I make the neck and neck pocket. Its a good idea to have your bridge in hand as you build so you can keep checking against it.
For the first build, I'll likely go with two single coils and I've read enough to know that I most definitely want a six-saddle bridge, maybe Gotoh or Fender American Series.

I'm not sure I've seen a walnut neck but no reason it won't work fine. Many builders here do the traditional curved skunk stripe truss rod - that requires some jigging to route the channel. Hiscock shows how as does Marty in his neck building threads. I've used double acting truss rods on all of mine - they go in from the top and the route is much simpler. I also like how they work, but both are fine.
I have a piece of wood that used to be a shelf has been sitting in my basement for the last 20+ years. I'm not sure what it is but I'll post some photos to ask for opinions on whether it'd be any good for this project.

Lastly, have fun and don't be afraid to ask for advice.
I'm absolutely certain that I'm in the right place here. I'm so glad I found you guys.
 

rodneynolan

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The best advice I can offer is Take Your Time.
I've often been accused of being a procrastinator but I just really do like to have a plan before stepping into the starting blocks. For me, this project is as much or even more about the process than the result. I've been talking with a wood worker friend of mine who insists that I have to impose a deadline on myself to avoid losing steam and losing interest. We agree to disagree.

Be patient. Think through each operation before you do the operation. If you get in a hurry--which is normal--your work will look rushed. There really are no shortcuts. Take your time, ask lots of questions, and learn from your mistakes. Many of us have been building for many years and we all still goof up once in a while.

Also: wear eye pro and ear pro. A small flying wiod chip or a broken drill can hit you in the eye and it will be Life Changing.
Ear and eye protection are a must, I agree.
 

Peegoo

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I've been talking with a wood worker friend of mine who insists that I have to impose a deadline on myself to avoid losing steam and losing interest. We agree to disagree.

Oh I totally get that. I have a similar problem, but it's not so much losing interest as it is becoming distracted by my thousands of other interests and hobbies. I have a lot of 'em.

The warning about taking one's time is especially important when it comes to finishing because a rushed finish looks like a rushed finish. A good sprayed finish takes time to develop. For example, if you polish out nitro lacquer a week after spraying it and assemble the guitar, the finish continues to gas off over the next few weeks as it cures and becomes thinner. This creates all kinds of imperfections in the surface, and on a glossy finish the bad juju is merely highlighted by rippley reflections.
 

rodneynolan

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If you aren't completely overwhelmed with reading build threads, here is another one - a chambered (for lightness) tele looking guitar made out of mahogany

So far, so good. I'm really enjoying my nightly hour-long soak in this pool.

I'll check this one out tonight... I weighed my body blank this morning and it's coming in at 9 lbs 13 oz. The fretboard and neck blanks combine for another 3 lbs 7 oz. I know I'll lose some during the build but chambering is starting to sound attractive.

Out of curiosity, what's a reasonable average final weight to shoot for with a Tele?
 

rodneynolan

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The biggest thing I have learned is to test everything on scrap material before you do the task on the actual guitar.

It's a pain, but better to find out that your drill with a larger bit corkscrews through pick guard material leaving a chewed up mess, or your stain of choice doesn't apply evenly etc etc on scrap material than ruining your project.
Looks like there'll be a decent amount of mahogany left over from the body. And the blank wasn't exactly cheap so I'll certainly try to make the most of it.
 

Steve Holt

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So far, so good. I'm really enjoying my nightly hour-long soak in this pool.

I'll check this one out tonight... I weighed my body blank this morning and it's coming in at 9 lbs 13 oz. The fretboard and neck blanks combine for another 3 lbs 7 oz. I know I'll lose some during the build but chambering is starting to sound attractive.

Out of curiosity, what's a reasonable average final weight to shoot for with a Tele?

My body with weight relief and cavities cut off was something like 4lbs 13 oz before I put the top on. I was hoping for closer to 4ish lbs which is what my alder strat body is. The top I glued on was so thin that I didn't want to risk having big open cavities so I drilled holes. If I was putting on a 1/4" top I would have probably done big open cavities like a thinline.

But yeah, something between 4 and 5 lbs will make a pretty light feeling guitar in my experience.

I'll weigh mine tonight if I get a chance which I haven't done since I did the belly contour and roundovers.
 

Freeman Keller

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So far, so good. I'm really enjoying my nightly hour-long soak in this pool.

I'll check this one out tonight... I weighed my body blank this morning and it's coming in at 9 lbs 13 oz. The fretboard and neck blanks combine for another 3 lbs 7 oz. I know I'll lose some during the build but chambering is starting to sound attractive.

Out of curiosity, what's a reasonable average final weight to shoot for with a Tele?
I have only weighed two - my completely solid douglas fir body/maple neck weighs 6 lb 3 oz. My chambered mahogany body/neck (the thread I linked) is 5 lb 12 oz. Everyone who plays it comments on the weight (or lack of). To put that is perspective, my unchambered Les Paul clone is 9 lb 3, my similar chambered on is 1 lb 9 oz lighter.

I'm a great believer in chambering but you pretty much have to do a drop top or something similar to make it work. Also I play sitting down so neck dive is never a problem for me, if you make the body too light they say it is a problem.
 

crazydave911

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So far, so good. I'm really enjoying my nightly hour-long soak in this pool.

I'll check this one out tonight... I weighed my body blank this morning and it's coming in at 9 lbs 13 oz. The fretboard and neck blanks combine for another 3 lbs 7 oz. I know I'll lose some during the build but chambering is starting to sound attractive.

Out of curiosity, what's a reasonable average final weight to shoot for with a Tele?
7lbs seems to be the ideal
 

old wrench

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Walnut makes a very nice guitar neck

Walnut isn't too heavy and it has good stiffness - it's also hard enough to function very well as a fretboard material

I've built a couple of necks using some nice straight-grained quarter-sawn Walnut, and they are every bit the equal of necks I've built from good quality Maple - plus Walnut has its own beauty!

I'm actually a little surprised that Walnut isn't used more often for necks - it's one of our nicest domestic hardwoods

.
 

Steve Holt

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I weighed it tonight and it came on at 4 lbs 13.4 oz. That's mahogany with weight relief a roughly 1/8" rosewood top, humbuckers, 1/4" roundover and a belly cut.

It's somewhat noticeably heaver than the alder strat body I'm building at the same time but not bad.

I've built a few where the bodies are 5.5 lbs or better and they're just not enjoyable for me.

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crazydave911

Doctor of Teleocity
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Walnut makes a very nice guitar neck

Walnut isn't too heavy and it has good stiffness - it's also hard enough to function very well as a fretboard material

I've built a couple of necks using some nice straight-grained quarter-sawn Walnut, and they are every bit the equal of necks I've built from good quality Maple - plus Walnut has its own beauty!

I'm actually a little surprised that Walnut isn't used more often for necks - it's one of our nicest domestic hardwoods

.
Amen brother 😉
 




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