Partscaster Facelift - Any Upgrade Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by Kelleycaster, Jan 21, 2020.

  1. Kelleycaster

    Kelleycaster TDPRI Member

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    7E81DC32-DF5E-46EF-8CCE-3F5715BAB65E.jpeg This month is the 1-year anniversary of my first Tele build, and I am considering doing some tweaks, the biggest of which is applying a nitro finish to the body. I am also not completely satisfied with the tuning and intonation, so I will be addressing this as well. I figured while I’m making tweaks to her that now is the time to take suggestions from you guys on what y’all would upgrade, so that’s what this thread is for. Of course, opinions about upgrades will vary from person to person, but I want to know what YOU would change and why.

    This guitar was built from the StewMac Tele kit for anyone who wanted to know.

    First off - Refinishing the top:
    I wanted to try something unique for finishing the body, so I used a torch to burn the edges and applied a tung oil over the entire body. I loved the look of that finishing job but found that it scratched very easily which I just couldn’t live with. I had enough ColorTone clear satin left from finishing the neck that I was able to apply about 10 thin coats of nitro to the top. I didn’t have any trouble using nitro over the tung oil, but there wasn’t enough left over to do the back. Oh well... I just put everything together and called it good enough.
    The nitro on the top greatly improved the scratch-resistance, but it didn’t fix it all together. It could still be scratched or dented pretty easily with a fingernail or guitar pick. So, now I want to apply a thick enough satin nitro finish to the entire body so that the wood is protected, but that’s where I have a couple questions for you guys... Will a thicker finish solve my scratch problem? Any prep sanding or anything I should do before spraying new nitro over the body? What’s a good satin spray-can product you guys recommend for a good hard finish?

    Next area of concern - Tuning issues:
    It just doesn’t stay in tune as I’m playing, and I don’t think the Gotoh machine heads are the problem. I will try lubing the nut and adjusting action/intonation to see if this problem goes away. Should I try some rolling string trees?

    Everything else:
    What would YOU mod to make it yours? I currently have Fender Original 52 RIs pups on it, but I’m open to hearing your favorites. Should I try a bone nut? Brass saddles? Different style bridge plate? 6 saddle bridge? Does the current pickguard look awesome or ugly? Is it worthwhile upgrading the pots or anything like that? Should I try out some fancy knobs?...

    Looking forward to hearing y’all’s ideas, and I’m always grateful for your input.

    Thanks!
    45687B8A-62DE-44E7-8EDA-40F037BEC531.jpeg 2B3DE85E-F11B-4636-B5C0-5136C888F5AA.jpeg 72D8FFA1-333A-4865-960C-D4208EDC05B5.jpeg 8D20FA64-FFA0-44FF-97BB-9625EB5DDD03.jpeg 0DEAAF87-747A-4CEE-A0AA-31C02B16BBAE.jpeg 251A2B3B-5FE7-40B4-AC6B-445FF03D0904.jpeg
     
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  2. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    It looks pretty clean to me. I would probably just shoot a couple of thin coats of amber clear over it to tidy it up as is.
     
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  3. Deeve

    Deeve Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    it's Your guitar, Kelly
    As pictured, I think it looks pretty good.
    If new tuners will hold better, maybe that, and a careful adj for intonation.
    Otherwise, keep playing.
    Maybe build Another kit!
    :D
    Peace - Deeve
     
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  4. Kontaktmoi

    Kontaktmoi Tele-Holic

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    Looking at your bridge and the position of the saddles...and the fact that the neck has 22 frets, I would first sort out the intonation. I actually like the color and treatment of the body. If you REALLY want to be busy for a few days... I would paint the back of the guitar shiny black, maybe even the sides of the body ... but I would leave the top as is..
     
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  5. tubejockey

    tubejockey Tele-Meister

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    I like the switch tip. I did the same thing once on a pedal somewhere. I think I even used some big acorn nuts for knobs on it.

    Teles with 3 saddle bridges will only really intonate properly with compensated saddles.

    Maybe it's time to try some cool wiring tricks.
     

    Attached Files:

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  6. gkterry

    gkterry Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I would change the pickguard to something that would lighten it up like a cream color or perhaps aged MOP. Definitely change the tuners to locking. Ditch the 2 string trees. Replace with the vintage circular disk type and only use 1.
     
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  7. Gardo

    Gardo Tele-Meister

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    I believe in looking at the basics first
    If you know enough to build a nice guitar I’m sure you know how to tune it, but I’ve had people complain about a guitar not staying in tune and the problem was the way they tune
    Rule number one always tune up to pitch.
    If the note is to high go down a little extra then come up. This has to do with the gears in the tuner seating properly and removing backlash
    As mentioned compensated tuners are a must for good intonation, I use Wilkinson
    I like the suggestion to paint the back and maybe sides black
     
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  8. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Very nice build. I especially like what you did with the finish, using the burned edges. I would be very proud of that as a first build. I love your headstock design too.

    I can’t help you out with your nitro questions as I’ve never use that finish.


    As for other modifications, I like four-way switching, with the series position all the way forward and the other three following it in traditional order. I also like to reverse the control plates because I like to do volume and tone swells with my pinky.
     
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  9. speranza

    speranza TDPRI Member

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    I can't recommend compensated saddles highly enough — I use Glendale saddles on my Tele but have had good results with Callaham too. They'll definitely help you sort out any intonation issues, which might be where the tuning problems are coming from. And if the tuning is wonky on the lower frets, your nut slots might need to be cut deeper, so the string doesn't have to stretch so far to make contact with the fret.
     
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  10. Telecentric

    Telecentric Tele-Meister

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    Yup, compensated saddles. Tuners and making sure the nut is cut correctly.
     
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  11. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Holic

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    Personally I would keep what you have, take what you have learned and build another. Staying in tune is a little different than intonation. It looks to me like your nut slots are too deep, possibly grabbing the strings. If your neck is moving that could cause some tuning issues and of course slipping at the tuners itself. I prefer locking tuners and compensated saddles as well but where does it end? If you do invest in some higher end components the money adds up quickly. A new nut will not set you back much and would be a good start. As far as finish, I would color the way you want it and top coat with water borne polyurethane. Once hard you can polish out and it is tough.
    Best of luck
     
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  12. elmicko

    elmicko Tele-Afflicted

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    I wouldn't touch a thing appearance-wise. It's a gorgeous guitar! Just work on the tuning stability. if you always tune a string up to pitch it should stay in tune so maybe you do have the slots in the but a bit too tight.
     
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  13. jackal

    jackal Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Locking tuners, tusq nut properly cut, new saddles---compensated/stainless on the E/A, brass on the other two. 1 string tree--the reverend one that covers 3 strings. That should cover your holding tune and intonation. Appearance wise, I like it a lot, maybe a clear coat on top to hold down on the premature wear. I realize that this is a shotgun approach to your tuning problem.
     
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  14. Kelleycaster

    Kelleycaster TDPRI Member

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    Thanks everyone for the excellent suggestions!

    I will definitely keep all of those in consideration, and the main thing that I would love more recommendations on is a durable clear (matte, ideally) finish that’s either spray can or can be applied without special equipment. I’m not trying to alter the appearance of the guitar, just looking to build up a hard finish for protection.
     
  15. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Compensated saddles are a good suggestion if the intonation is bugging you. I think it looks good like it is. If you can get it playing and staying in tune, I would just play it, and build another one if you want something different too.

    Never discount the importance of winding the strings cleanly on the posts and stretching them pretty well as requirements to get a guitar to stay in tune.
     
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  16. 65 Champ Amp

    65 Champ Amp Tele-Afflicted

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    I LOVE your headstock shape!

    New bone nut.
     
  17. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Tuning issues are often nut slots. Check the string Ts for burrs under them. Bridge through body holes are often sharp and grab the strings so file the edges. Graphite dry lube (no grease) at all the contact points.

    Rotate the control plate V-T-Switch to the rear. That's the only way I play 'em these days.

    4-way switch.

    Lately I'm fond of Tort pickguards .... but try a couple of other colors. I have one I put a clear pickguard on and behind it put paisley print cloth (idea being the backer design can be changed at any time just unscrewing the pickguard and putting another down, wrapping paper at the holidays, etc).

    .
     
  18. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I would suggest a darker and more opaque toner, over the body. That "figured" area next to the bridge, on the left, needs to be obscured.

    Take another stab at the pickguard. Another try - get the next one to follow the contour of the body better.

    I don't see how your "neck section to heel" transition is playable, up in that range of frets. I would completely reshape that - make it disappear.
     
  19. PeterUK

    PeterUK Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    99.9999999% of tuning issues are due to the nut and that’s where I’d start.

    Gotoh tuners are bullet proof but your string spacing of your nut and the high E string slot have started to ring alarm bells for me.

    It may be the photograph angle, but are the string distances even?

    The low E looks really close to the fingerboard edge.

    Tuners are rarely then problem.

    Sort the nut. Consider compensating saddles.

    Great first effort!

    Let us know how it works out.

    :) Peter
     
  20. SithTracy

    SithTracy TDPRI Member

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    I just finished a Stew-Mac kit... Threw out all electronics and plasticy gear tuners. First, replace the nut! Graph Tech TUSQ is the way to go. It's a flat slot, so I went with the PQ-5010-00 model. You'll need to sand it down to fit and you will need to deepen the nut slots. Now, be careful pulling out the plastic nut, on my Stew-mac kit, they used so much glue to hold it down, some of the maple came off too... No worries... got the broken piece on the tunner peg side of the headstock glued back down with Tite-Bond. I also put some Hipshot locking tuners on there for easy string changes.
     
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