The 'Cubacaster'.

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by KelvinS1965, May 21, 2016.

  1. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    I have an older Squier Affinity Telecaster that I bought to take with me on the road back when I used to travel with work. I didn't want something too valuable that I'd be upset about losing or getting damaged, so I picked up a £99 Affinity (I'd always wanted a 'Telecaster' too so it helped tick that box).

    Fast forward about 14 years and I now have a 50s Classic MIM Telecaster in the lacquer finish which kind of made the Affinity redundant. I had lots of ideas about what I could do with the Affinity, but never really got round to doing anything about it as it seemed I'd end up replacing almost everything on the guitar. However a recent holiday in Cuba gave me the itch to get a 'Surf Green' guitar (since so many of the cars and even buildings seemed to be a similar colour).

    After some discussion on another thread about Affinity Teles*, the idea of modifying the Tele into an Esquire (but with a Seymour Duncan little '59 single coil sized humbucker instead) and refinishing it in Surf Green was born. Ira7 suggested two names and I've gone for 'Cubacaster' as a reminder of a great holiday...

    * http://www.tdpri.com/threads/tell-me-about-the-affinity-teles.610923/page-2

    This is the Affinity before:

    Whole Tele.jpg

    Not bad condition for a 14 year old guitar that has been taken around the UK and across to Ireland. It's an unusual colour too, but I've never been that mad about it myself. It was all they had in the shop at the time.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2016
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  2. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    I assembled a small amount of parts on order for the project. The plan was not to spend any more that the new price of the guitar (slightly went over budget in the end, but not by much):

    1. An off white Esquire 5 hole pickguard.
    2. A Wilkinson vintage style bridge with compensated saddles and top or through string loading options. The original 'modern' bridge would look out of place and I could never stop the rattles.
    3. A replacement jack socket made of metal/chrome plated to replace the cracked plastic original one.
    4. A blank control plate since I planned to run with the pup connected directly to the output jack.
    5. A Seymoure Duncan little '59 single coil sized humbucker (supposedly sounds like a PAF, but don't they all say that? :) ).

    The bridge, blanking plate and jack socket were all B stock items, though it's hard to see why now I have them. At least it saved a bit on the total cost. I'm waiting on the pup to arrive, but after starting work on the body yesterday I decided to fit some strings so I could check out the new bridge and make initial adjustments today. While I was at it I soldered the original bridge pup direct to the jack just to test it out.

    This was typical of the inspiration for the 'Surf Green' guitar:

    Cuba 3 edit.jpg

    On the building behind the car:

    Cuba 1 edit.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2016
  3. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    This is where I've got to so far. There are three holes behind the new bridge and three under the new pickguard. I'll fill these when I prep the body for the respray. I haven't decided if I'll just use a rattle can or I can get a half litre of Surf Green lacquer which I can use with an old spray gun I have. I'll wire the new pup in first to test it out before I strip the body down for the prep as I'm interested to hear what it'll sound like.

    I don't know if it's the Wilkinson bridge (I've top loaded it to save the hassle of drilling the body and fitting ferrules) but it feels a bit different to before. I know the string spacing is a bit narrower on these Affinity Teles, so perhaps that's part of it. I've also put 10s on it rather than my typical 9s on my Fender guitars, yet I find bends and general action/feel to be good. I suspect it'll be more of a rhythm guitar due to the tighter string spacing, though I can solo on it I prefer the wider neck on my 50s Classic in that regard.

    I think it looks pretty cool with the blank control panel, though there is the option to drill it and fit a volume control. I think I'll remove the headstock decal and make my own 'Cubacaster' one if I can find some suitable transfers.

    Esquire 1.jpg Esquire 2.jpg Esquire 3.jpg Esquire 4.jpg

    Sorry some of the pics are turned despite me editing them first. :(
     
  4. matmosphere

    matmosphere Tele-Meister

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    Cool project. I think you'll like the Wilkinson bridge, it'll be a big improvement. I put one on my mim and can hear a huge difference. The guitar has way more sustain now and just has a much thicker vibe.

    Have you considered putting on a cool tap for the pickup? Might add some extra tonal options.
     
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  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Will be a fantastic color you've chosen!
    Stripping the old finish can be a bear. Some have had success with a heat gun on the low setting and not too close or it turns into a wood burner and a putty knife with the corners ground smooth so no gouging. Belt sander with 60 or 80 grit belt will take it off but most of these guitars have a very thin veneer on the back that you could cut through into the control cavity. You'll want to sand it after but getting the bulk of the material off with heat saves time and dust.

    Top loaders have tended to feel slinkier than string through to me and other players, I'm not fond of string through since it is so much easier to change strings on a top loader. Do some research on how to drill through if you want your string ferrules to be in a straight line, very tricky for many builders (threads on TDPRI show a few tricks).

    If you are putting in a humbucker, you could get a 4-way switch and use the split humbucker features to get single, parallel (Strat/Tele), and series (LP) tones. A 500k volume pot will sound best for the humbucker setting to cut through a gig mix.

    I do recommend the Eldred Mod circuit from Phostenix's site after building and playing it in an Esquire. Modify it for the 4-way.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    I think you're right wrt the top loader being slinkier than the string through. Due to a problem with my 4th finger I've been downsizing my strings on each guitar and I'm currently running 9s on my two Fender guitars and 10s on my Les Pauls. I decided that I'd try 10s on this one due to the top loader (I always felt 9s felt to thin on it before I modified it). Compared to my 50s Classic on 9s the 'Cubacaster' feels pretty similar on 10s, so there seems to be something in the idea of slinkier feel from top loaders.

    I don't think it's worth the trouble of trying to drill through and fitting ferules; it also helps differentiate between it and my 50s Classic.

    I'm not looking forward to the body prep, but I've restored a number of cars over the years so I have plenty of tools and sanders, etc. I'm assuming the current finish is some kind of poly, so if I just flatted it back and went over with a can (acrillic car paint) then I expect it would react. However the lazy side of me says to have a small test patch on the back before I go to the trouble of stripping it back to bare wood. I did that with my Strat and it was a long job, though I've since had it professionally refinished in 2 tone sunburst lacquer and the hard prep work paid off.

    I'm pretty sure I'll end up with the heat gun and sanding though as you suggest.

    For the electrics it depends on what it sounds like with the SD '59 wired direct. It is definitely very bright with the original single coil wired direct right now, but I'm not used to this pup as I previously had OV pups in it which I moved to my 50s Classic. I might either add a volume pot with a pull switch to give me some coil tapping options, or perhaps just wire a 500k resistor in parallel with the pup to give the same effect as a 500k pot turned up full (I rarely use the guitar volume control if I'm honest). I really like the clean lines of the blank control panel though so I'm hoping I can live without any switches/knobs on it.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2016
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  7. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's Vendor Member

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    You can do the Li'l 59 Series/Split/Parallel with a regular 3-way switch (attached). I just completed an esquire with this exact setup. I have yet to bond with the tones though. I may get the time to post a truncated build thread on mine this weekend.

    I would encourage you NOT to fill the neck pickup rout, but maybe even enlarge it before you do the refinish to a P90 sized rout. This provides you the growth potential later on, if you decide you want a neck pickup after all, to add back a standard Tele, P90, Filtertron, or mini-humbucker - all fit in the P90 rout. (BTW, I'M a big fan of P90s in the Tele neck position). I haven't checked to see if a Strat pickup fits too but I bet it will.

    I love Surf Green - this is going to be great!

    Rex
     

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  8. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    I hadn't planned to fill the neck route, but your idea of opening it out for a P90 before the refinish is a good one. I nearly bought a thinline Tele with P90s, but then found a killer deal on a Les Paul Studio with P90s so went for that instead; I really like the P90 sound especially through my mini Marshall stack:

    Mini Stack & Strat.jpg

    (Marshall 1 watt JMP1-H and a custom built cab with Heritage Greenback).
     
  9. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted

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    That's going to look sweet. I'm fond of the classic car colors but the inspiration by modern day Cuba is a cool twist.
     
  10. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I used a circular/orbital sander on mine, and don't understand why some people think this is so time-consuming. To me, using a heat gun was much more work. I would estimate it took me a bit over an hour and a half in actual sanding time, not counting breaks to rest my elderly wrists. (And I assume UK hours are the same as USA hours!)

    As far as the back, I obviously didn't come close to sanding through to any of the cavities. I didn't even execute more care on the back than the front, but of course, YOU can. However, wood filler is your friend, so if God forbid you do something nuts, it's an easy fix, so don't sweat it.

    Drilling ferrules is a different story. People who can do this properly are magical, mystical creatures whom I'm in awe of:

    When most mere mortals attempt it, the drill bit always bends, and they don't come out in a straight line. They're still FUNCTIONAL like this, but they look ridiculous on the back.

    Today, I'm starting on my Squier Telecaster to Synthcaster conversion--synth pup only--so I gotta go check my sandpaper supply now!
     
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  11. spartan warrior

    spartan warrior Tele-Meister

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    Hello Kelvin,
    I think this will be a really good looking guitar when you are finished, the colour of the Chevy bonnet (hood) is gorgeous and it will look just as good on a Tele. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished article.
    It would seem that I'm a neighbour of yours, we both live in Wokingham, perhaps when it's finished I can see it 'in-the-flesh', or should that be 'in-the-wood'?
    Keep up the supply of photo's
     
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  12. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

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    And I used 80 grit.

    Or whatever measurement you Brexit guys use these days.
     
  13. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

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    You just apply moderate pressure to the sander, tilting it a bit now and then to dig/cut into the existing paint/finish.

    It's pouring here now...I usually do this outside with lots of beer...so I have to wait a few hours or until tomorrow.
     
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  14. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Holic

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    I'll be playing it at our end of term gig at The Hope and Anchor late July (assuming it'll be finished by then...) if you fancy hearing it as well. :)
     
  15. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Oh!!!

    Important!!!

    I just realized and remembered this!!!

    The top of the guitar has a thin veneer. I guess they add that because that material holds the paint better. Don't know and it doesn't make sense, because I'm pretty sure this veneer is only on the top.

    Since I later put a wood laminate on my last project, and am putting fabric on my Synthcaster, it didn't nor doesn't matter if I dig into this veneer to the real body wood in certain spots when sanding, or if I totally sanded it away. But this might matter when you're doing a paint finish!

    So if you decide to sand, on the top, start moderate with like an 80 grit, but then go much finer and be careful. Or just sand the entire veneer away.
     
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  16. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

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    image.jpeg Here's an image showing you certain spots where I lost veneer.
     
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  17. Wild Turkey

    Wild Turkey Tele-Meister

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    Great project !
    I did one recently in surf green , I really love the colour

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Edit to my post above:

    That was a Standard Squier with the Veneer. Don't know if the Affinities have it.
     
  19. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

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    There's a modern day Cuba?

    It's the same that it was 50 years ago, except everyone's hungry and dirt poor now.
     
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  20. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Keep your photos all landscape/horizontal. Not portrait/vertical.

    The site can't read minds and know how to orient them.
     
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