Tele thinline build

bcorig

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This is a Giftocaster.

Fellow member and friend Jim fm PA gifted me a body for a thin line he made and then lost inspiration for. His finish was good, but the gloss had settled a little into the grain lines of the Doug fir top (it is fir, right Jim?). I've level sanded a little and will add more topcoat.

I made the neck this weekend from maple.

the fretboard is walnut which I love because it cuts and frets easily. However, if you are cutting by hand and the slots are even a smidge wide, it can cause issues in the fret ends. So there’s no free lunch. I grain filled and finished the fret board before fretting. This allowed me to use a good amount of ca glue without discoloring.

I also made a couple errant cuts when measuring the scale length. I learned long ago to embrace the scars so she’s a keeper.

I used an angle grinder and carbide wheel to do the brunt of the shaping. That made it go sooooo fast. Takes a little confidence though. It’s like using a chainsaw.

I will bring down the overstand when I have the bridge in place.

His control cavity is for a conventional Tele, but I may Re route a slant cavity for the pickguard style controls I see on many thin lines.


Last, this guitar will have no truss rod…. I had a couple extra carbon fiber rods for my last build that I did not use. I wanted to see how well a fiber rod holds the neck over time vs a truss rod.



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Pretty guitar. Guys like you are amazing. Could you bottle some of that skill, creativity, and patience and send me a six-pack?
 

pypa

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It's nice having Jim near.

But you don't need to live by Freeman. His advice is very much on this site. He's been extremely helpful and generous with his knowledge and pictures. I mean, he basically walked me through making an acoustic. It was like having a personal instructor. While many have been super helpful and friendly beyond expectation, Freeman has been quite an intimate teacher and guru for me.
 

pypa

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I cut down the thinline pickguard and routed it to the template. It’s a 2 step process. First flush trim it, then flip it over and using a bearing guided chamfer bit, make the bevel. Worked well. It helps if you have a router table and can sneak up the bevel so you don’t cut into the template.

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pypa

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Well, it didn’t work as hoped: The saddles are too low. Even at the topmost position, the A is still buzzing the frets.

what would you do?

A) lower the neck pocket. This will require removing the lip at the end of the fretboard or shaving it’s bottom to allow the pickguard to snug up to the neck.

B) shim the bridge. I notice this bridge is a little thinner than the Gotoh I used on my first telecaster.

C) angle the neck. I can shim the top end of the neck pocket to create a negative break angle (wouldn’t need much at all) to lower point at which the fret plane crosses the saddles. This would still require a little sanding of the underside of the fretboard overhang.



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ghostchord

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Well, it didn’t work as hoped: The saddles are too low. Even at the topmost position, the A is still buzzing the frets.

what would you do?

A) lower the neck pocket. This will require removing the lip at the end of the fretboard or shaving it’s bottom to allow the pickguard to snug up to the neck.

B) shim the bridge. I notice this bridge is a little thinner than the Gotoh I used on my first telecaster.

C) angle the neck. I can shim the top end of the neck pocket to create a negative break angle (wouldn’t need much at all) to lower point at which the fret plane crosses the saddles. This would still require a little sanding of the underside of the fretboard overhang.



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A beauty.

I think the proper thing to do is:
1. Check your neck is correct. 1" from the top of the fretboard to the bottom of the heel and that the plane of the bottom of the heel is parallel to the plane of the top of the frets.
2. Adjust your neck pocket to make it work. Find out if it's not the right depth or if you have an angle vs. the plane of the top of the instrumet (well, really the plane defined by the bridge).

Now I don't follow my advice because it's hard. But this makes sense because you want to be able to always put a standard neck on. If you start messing with things to work with a non-standard neck then when you replace the neck with a "proper" standard tele neck it won't be right.

EDIT: I would not shim the bridge. That's sort of ugly. Also you'd have to shim it by a few mm's which is definitely ugly. It looks pretty standardish to me so assuming it's built for Tele/Strat type guitars it should work fine.

It's a little odd that deepening the neck pocket would make the fretboard hit the pickguard. There should be some amount of clearance there when things are set right. That seems to point to the geometry/angle, i.e. you have a slight angle from the correct angle either on your neck heel or in the pocket.

EDIT 2: Can we see a side shot of the neck in the pocket and the fretboard vs. the pickguard? Also is the neck's relief set right when you are taking these measurements?

A very very small angle at the heel/body interface translates to a big difference at the bridge. If you need to raise the saddles it means that from a geometry perspective your headstock is sitting lower than the ideal line/plane. So you can visualize what sort of adjustment you need to make at the interface to correct for that (you can even calculate the exact amount of material/angle). Another thing to double check is that the heel is actually sitting in properly and not stuck on the sides/too tight or something like that. If your top is perfectly flat then using a caliper to check the neck pocket depth all around it can give you some idea about how flat the bottom of the pocket is vs. the top. Checking the "thickness" of the neck heel+fretboard over the heel can give you some idea on that side of things. Though because all the measurements are over fairly small distances and you're measuring small differences it can be hard to tell. If you have a perfectly flat surface like a jointer table you can also lay the neck down such that you have all the frets touching the surface and then use a caliper to measure the heel while you're at that position, should be more accurate.

Lastly, if you have another known good Tele neck installing it will tell you if it's the neck or the pocket...

One more thing ;) if you suspect the bridge is lower than standard and you have another tele just measure the difference with a ruler. This looks like a pretty standard Tele bridge though. My Tele and Strat both have about 2mm of base plate though my Tele has way more adjustability than the Strat the geometry should be pretty much the same.
 
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ghostchord

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Also if the fretboard is actually touching the pickguard that'd possibly explain it. There should be 1-2mm of clearance between the fretboard extension and the pickguard unless it's some unusually thick pickguard. I'm sort of eyeballing my Strat pickguard at 1mm.
 

guitarbuilder

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Well, it didn’t work as hoped: The saddles are too low. Even at the topmost position, the A is still buzzing the frets.

what would you do?

A) lower the neck pocket. This will require removing the lip at the end of the fretboard or shaving it’s bottom to allow the pickguard to snug up to the neck.

B) shim the bridge. I notice this bridge is a little thinner than the Gotoh I used on my first telecaster.

C) angle the neck. I can shim the top end of the neck pocket to create a negative break angle (wouldn’t need much at all) to lower point at which the fret plane crosses the saddles. This would still require a little sanding of the underside of the fretboard overhang.



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A tele specs out as a 1" thick heel in a .625 deep neck pocket for a typical F style bridge. I'd adjust whichever isn't to spec. In my opinion, shims are kind of a bogus "fix" unless you want to get a little neck angle in there ala Gibson.

If the heel is over 1", then I'd adjust the depth of the neck cavity until neck sits properly. Adjusting the fretboard handover thickness to fit over a pickguard isn't unusual.
 

pypa

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Thanks guys for the advice.

My pickguard is 2mm. It is 3ply. I figured out what the problem is: The neck is angled down from the body. I laid a straight edge on the body and sighted the fretboard edge under it (like a winding stick). I can see the angle. I verified this by lowering the saddles and tightening a string across the fretboard. There is a break angle indeed.

So I trimmed a tiny slope (thanks for the card idea, Dave!) in the pocket. I scribbled some marker to gauge progress and use 2 biz cards under a jig. I did have to shave the bottom of the overhang a tad, but I believe I am close enough to good now.


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Jim_in_PA

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At the time I was reading the "what to do" question, my response was going to be I'd shim the bridge, but adding the slight angle to the neck pocket is a great method, especially given what you found after investigating further.
 

Freeman Keller

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Well, it didn’t work as hoped: The saddles are too low. Even at the topmost position, the A is still buzzing the frets.

Pypa, I have to ask. Where was the fret plane relative to the bridge? If you used my method and you didn't have enough adjustment I need to know that so I don't give people bad advice.
 

pypa

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Pypa, I have to ask. Where was the fret plane relative to the bridge? If you used my method and you didn't have enough adjustment I need to know that so I don't give people bad advice.

Your advice is spot on: the fret plane should graze the saddles at their lowest position.


I've done it that way on all of my builds since the beginning and it works like a charm.

But this is to maximize available travel. My mistake was I thought I could get away with being close enough but I wasn't close enough. a) I assumed the fret plane was parallel to the body (it was not) and b) I didn't measure the distance from the fret plane to the top of the saddles precisely enough and underestimated the distance I had to make up.

I think, humbly, there is an addendum to this principle though:

the fret plane at the low and high E position should graze the saddles at their lowest position.

I never thought about it - and maybe it's moot - but the fretboard is arched and if the bridge is flat, this means the plane at the apex will be slightly above the saddles. But that's why this bridge has longer screws in the center string saddles.
 

Freeman Keller

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Good point on the outer strings - most of the time I'm dealing with pretty flat fretboards (12 or 16 inch) and most of the time I'm using bridges that conform to the radius (acoustics or ToM's). There are a couple of other factors that come in to play - both relief and nut action adds a tiny bit of action at the middle of the neck and both modify the "fret plane".

I'll also add that I have seen a bunch of guitars that have needed shims to make them work and I keep a small stock of those premade SM things, but usually they are used if you can't get the action low enough.

Thanks for the feedback.
 

pypa

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Pretty much done. I think I have a new favorite. It’s so light and the neck just fits my hand.

I still am tweaking the nut height. I made it a little low. I was able to raise it so that I have very low action at the first frets. All strings work well except the high E. I suspect the string trees are needed to stop that. What say you?


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