Boys, she's here. I wanted a new axe for my 50th birthday. Never had much wanderlust with acoustics: I've been playing my Rosewood J45 since 2002 and have never looked back. But electrics? I've been more fickle. Over the years I've played Strats, Gibsons, PRS's, and Godins. My first electric worth having was a swamp ash 52 reissue Tele I bought in the early 90's. I had some lean years after college and had to sell it. But lately after all the other axes I've played, I longed for the simple, elegant look of a Tele. Lately I've been getting more into jazz and have become a huge fan of Ed Bickert. Now, I'll never play as good as him in a thousand years, but I do play a lot of jazzy chords in my original songs, through a clean setup, with my fingers 80% of the time, and the idea of having a Tele with a humbucker at the neck had become very appealing to me. I first thought about getting an actual Fender "off the rack", but I ran into a few issues. I spent a bunch of hours in various forums here and on other sites, as well as trolling the big and small music store sites, trying to familiarize myself with all the models and trim levels and specs of all the iterations of the current Fender Telecaster. I'd wanted a humbucker at the neck, but if a "stock" tele had everything else in order for me I'd have been happy to modify that after the fact. I finally got down to the city and spent a good two hours at that pit of hell known as Guitar Center for the express purpose of checking out how all the different Teles sounded and felt. I absolutely *loved* the way the Elite NECK felt. The thickness, nut width, and that screwy-looking c-to-d radius. It looked a little odd to me but felt amazing. I wanted a 6-saddle bridge, which the elite has. I also liked the way the noiseless pups sounded (even though I'd have probably swapped out the neck one) but, two things about the Elite tele bugged me: one was the S-1 switch. Now, I like the idea of having that as a tonal option, but I'm talking about the switch itself. It just bugged me that a cheap-feeling plastic button protruded out of the top of an otherwise handsome barrel-knob. And it felt like it might crap out after a year or two. The other thing I had aesthetic trouble with (call me shallow) was the rib cut. To me, the symmetrical slab-cut look of a Tele is a big part of its beauty. The rib cut (again, to *me*) made it look like somebody took a nice Tele and squashed one side of it! Now, the American professional has the symmetrical body, but a 3-saddle bridge and no compound radius. The neck didn't have that same "can't put me down" feel that the elite did, so that wasn't gonna be it for me. I tried out an Elite Thinline. Gorgeous looking, loved the neck, no rib cut, but a few things bugged me about that axe: one was the new floating "suspension" bridge. It just looked wrong and cockeyed to me (and it was a three-saddle). The other thing was that it felt *too* lightweight to me. One of the main reasons I turned against my last axe was that it was neck-heavy. I found it very distracting, especially when trying to sing. Now the Elite Thinline wasn't exactly neck-heavy, but it seemed to lean a little bit in that direction. It was the kind of thing that probably wouldn't bug me initially but would get more annoying over time. Finally it also had that flimsy plastic S-1 protuberance. So it didn't sit well either. I had also thought about getting a G&L Bluesboy, but I've heard mixed things about the bridge pups with respect to certain amps, and also (again call me shallow) the G&L headstock just looks funny to me. And in all the above cases, I'd be making some compromise with respect to look, color, wood, finish, etc.. So I figured I could do one of three things: Partscaster, Fender Custom Shop, or Indie Luthier. I went down the Partscaster rabbit hole for a while, and there were aspects of it that were really cool. I may go that route for a future axe but I know sometimes they can be a crapshoot, unless you either *really* know what you're doing or you get help from someone who does. The FCS would have been great, but for what I wanted, it would have been 4.5 grand for them to even pick up the phone, and as I wanted to stay under 3k, that wasn't gonna work. So back to the forums, where a name kept coming up: Ron Kirn. "His work is amazing." "I sold mine and regretted it ever since." "He'll build you a Ferrari for the price of a Crown Vic." Well, I decided to send him an email and see what I could get for my budget. What I *really* wanted was a classic slab T-style guitar, black urethane gloss alder body, birdseye maple neck (with nitro finish for JUST the neck), rosewood fingerboard, red tortoiseshell pickguard, abalone dots, Duncan Seth Lover humbucker at the neck, Jerry Donahue at the bridge, 6-saddle Gotoh bridge, 5-way Bill Lawrence electronics, fully shielded, locking tuners, strap locks, and an exact mimic of the proportions of the Elite-style neck I loved the feel of so much (1 11/16th nut width, .083 - .090, 9.5 to 14" compound radius. Ron said, "No problem." So here she is. I will spend the neck few days/weeks/years getting to know her sounds with my different amps and pedals, but man she looks and feels incredible. Oh, and I've named her Honey Wilder.