The 1954 Telecaster Whiteguard Replica Build Thread

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Marn99, Apr 13, 2019.

  1. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

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    Hey everyone!
    So while I haven't given up on finishing my walnut telecaster, I have learned a great deal about vintage guitars, vintage accurate materials, lacquer chemistry, historical construction techniques, etc as well as luthier skills in general since I started my journey as a guitar maker, and as such, I have opted to start my next build. Well, to be more exact, I actually already started it about two weeks ago, and didn't have the common sense to record my progress before today! The body will be made from a quite pretty two piece swamp ash body blank from the Carolinas with a weight of 2.35 pounds per board foot, which is pretty nice considering most swamp ash is in the range of 2.5 to 2.8 lbs pbf. The neck will be made out of hard maple, with a one way truss rod and a walnut plug and skunk stripe. I am also planning on machining some of the metal hardware myself, maybe even dip my toes into using a spray gun. The finish will be the mid 50s white blond using lacquer that is as close to the original stuff as possible. Here's what I have so far, and I hope you stick around and enjoy this process!
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  2. nnieman

    nnieman Tele-Meister

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    Loving it so far!!

    Nathan
     
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  3. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

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    Okay,
    So one of the major roadblocks to making this guitar right now, or at least getting some progress on the neck, is getting the materials to make the truss rod, and making a historically accurate truss rod nut. In the very early 50s, truss rod sizes were all over the place, but after a couple years, the standard size was a 5/32 inch rod in a 3/16 inch slot. Now, I already have the 3/8 cold rolled 1018 steel rod to make the truss rod anchor and the nut, but nowhere can I find the 5/32 inch cold rolled 1018 steel rod for the main shaft. I have been asking around at several steel suppliers, and either they cannot supply it, or they charge 188 dollars due to the small size of my order. Does anyone have some 5/32 1018 steel rod sitting around or know where I can get some in small quantities (at a reasonable price!)? As for the truss rod nut, I recently got access to a South Bend lathe and a Bridgeport mill, and I think it would be a cool project of making and nickel plating a nut of my own. While I have the 3/8 inch dia. steel needed to make the truss rod nut, I have had no luck finding vintage correct dimensions for things such as the width of the X slots, depth of the X slots, thread hole depth, depth of the threads, etc. If anyone has a pre-cbs truss rod nut and are able to measure it, let me know!
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
  4. GunsOfBrixton

    GunsOfBrixton Tele-Afflicted

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  5. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's Vendor Member

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    NOTE: The following is just math and not in any way intended as offensive:
    If the Swamp Ash you have acquired is 2.35 pounds per board foot that means it is 0.0163 pounds per cubic inch. Since a Tele body is right at 264 cubic inches, that equals a body weighing about 4.3 pounds. While this is not terribly heavy it is neither terribly light. No doubt a very fine body and it looks great but it doesn't strike me as on the light side.

    Yours in science ;),
    Rex
     
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  6. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

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    Ok, so I put an order in for four 6 foot lengths of 5/32 1018, the cost being about 7 dollars for the bars and the shipping coming out to about 35 dollars, but that's far better than paying 188 dollars for 5/32 1018. Right now I have been thinking about the wiring. Originally, this guitar would have left the factory with the 53-67 "dark circuit". Despite the fact that I think the dark circuit is capable of making some beautiful sounds, I personally feel that, in the grand scheme of things, it greatly limits the tonal variation of the telecaster. Apparently, many guitarists in the 50's felt the same way, as it was frequently removed. Now, I don't want to stray too far from originality, but truth be told, this is one area that I am willing to let slide. I do not, however, want to deviate in terms of wiring materials and overall tonal profile. I drew up this wiring diagram of what a owner modified 1950s telecaster might look like. Truth be told, I am absolutely not a wiring expert, and I would like some input from the more experienced wiring/electronics people on the forum. Here it is modded 50s tele.png
     
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  7. tigger

    tigger Tele-Meister

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    I was also worried by getting 5/32" rods but then I realized it's 4mm and they have them in the local hardware store. I have no idea how to make the nut though yet.
     
  8. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    That is the standard as far as I know. The only difference is the cap value. Some diagrams show a .22 or a .5..
     
  9. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

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    good to know, thanks! Do you think the cap value staying at .05 mF instead of being .022 is a bad thing? When I drew this wiring diagram I didn't want to change any of the pot or cap values, but rather make a recreation of what a dark circuit removal done in the 1950s might look like. Presumably (based on my very limited understanding of guitar wiring) that .05 cap would stay where it is, as it is not part of the dark circuit.
     
  10. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    That all comes down to personal preference. The .05mf cap will roll off more treble than the .022.
    Have a look at this:
    https://www.seymourduncan.com/tonefiend/guitar/customize-your-caps/

    At some point you have to play the guitar and then depending on the pickups you choose and the sound you want you can decide on the values for the pots and the caps.
     
  11. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

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    good to know :). I am unsure what I am going to do for pickups yet, I'm thinking of getting the Klein 54 telecaster pickups, but I'm also seriously considering winding my own.
     
  12. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    My first couple of Teles have the Fender 50's vintage pickups and I think they are great. I started winding my own and A3 neck and A5 bridge do it for me. Love the sound.
     
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  13. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

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    Okay,
    So today I got the body template made on a CNC, and it is way better than the one I had before. I also got a neck template made, but the indexing holes came out just a tiny bit off, so what I am going to do instead is CNC another neck template, forget using the CNC to drill the indexing holes, use a v bit to engrave the centerline, and just drill the holes myself. The switch, switch tip, and jack also arrived today. Originally, I was hoping to use an NOS CRL 1452 and NOS vintage pots, but alas, they proved to be too expensive for me. The switch tip, however, is indeed a vintage dakaware knob. I've seen telecasters with both the convex and concave topped round tip, I chose the concave one, as I feel it looks better than the convex one. The pots will be mojotone 250k 30% taper solid shafts.
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  14. nnieman

    nnieman Tele-Meister

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    I like .05 cap, it allows a more dramatic response with less movement.
    I like to play with volume & tone on the fly and I can get a noticeable change with a 1/4 turn.

    Nathan
     
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  15. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

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    Made some progress over the past week and a half. I got the outside of the body routed and one of the two index holes plugged, which I did because it got a little wallowed out by the screw and I didn't want it to get any bigger. Instead what I did was use the one index hole and the super glue and masking tape trick for the rest, which unfortunately got a little bit of squeeze out on the body that I really hope goes away with sanding. I had a tiny bit of tear out on the lower bout that I filled with nitrocellulose grain filler. I also got some hardware in from Marc Rutters today, a control plate and a set of saddles. As for the bridge plate he is going to custom make me a bridge plate using the vintage correct 18 ga. steel that I am sending him. The 5/32 1018 arrived today (after about a month of searching for a source for it), and soon I will get down to business with making the truss rod and nut, which leads me to my next question, what is the plating on the truss rod nut? I have heard some people say nickel, and others say zinc, but nobody has offered any actual provenance for their information.
    IMG_7304[1].JPG
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    Attached Files:

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  16. GunsOfBrixton

    GunsOfBrixton Tele-Afflicted

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    As far as the plating on the nut goes. It doesn't matter. No one is going to see it or even care. As long as it functions. In fact, don't even bother with the plating, it isn't going to make it any more or less authentic. Worry more about the parts and process that will make it a better playing guitar. Just my opinion. As Marty (guitarbuilder) would say, YMMV.
     
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  17. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

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    I'm the kind of guitar builder that absolutely does care about stuff like that though :lol:! At any rate, the more I've dwelt on this, the more I think they're nickel plated. Platings like zinc and cadmium are sacrificial coatings and over time it gets that white powdery layer on it, something you don't see on vintage truss rod nuts.
     
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  18. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

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    So I've been looking through that copy of the blackguard book that was loaned to me and I have a quick question about the screws used. I've always been under the impression that the screws used by fender were sheet metal screws, but looking at the pictures of original screws in the blackguard book, they have that taper to them that wood screws have. Did fender ever use wood screws, and if so, is this something that is only found in the more primitive broadcasters, nocasters, and early 50s telecasters or do 1954 Telecasters have them as well?
     
  19. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

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    The 16. ga carbon steel for the neck plate arrived, I do have a few questions about making them however. Firstly, should the serial number be stamped before or after chrome plating? Secondly, I know the plate itself is punched, but are the neck screw holes drilled or punched as well? Finally, who does the best custom serial numbers? I was thinking of doing 0926 as an invented serial number because my birthday is Sept. 26. IMG_7309[1].JPG
     
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  20. rubis

    rubis Tele-Meister

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    What a cool project Marn99, I love these sort of builds

    No doubt you have read through the threads Preeb posted a little while ago on here, I found them very informative when I did my 64 p bass build

    Best of luck with your build and thank you for posting your progress
     
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