Tips on first build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Max3000, May 20, 2021.

  1. Max3000

    Max3000 TDPRI Member

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    Hello everyone! First time poster and builder here looking for some guidance. So I have finally decided to do this build I’ve been thinking about for a few years. I’ve always wanted to have a Partscaster sort of thing that can do my two favorite sounds (and some stuff in between) - a Strat neck and a Casino bridge. Now obviously I won’t be able to perfectly replicate these two in any one guitar (wood types, construction styles, etc.) but I’d like to be able to get decently close to both with a Strat pickup in the neck position and a P90 in the bridge. Also I like the Tele shape for this project, which kind of narrows down the bodies I might consider. So far, I was planning on incorporating the following elements:

    - a 24.75” scale length
    - a bolt on maple neck w/ rosewood fingerboard
    - a Thinline Tele swamp ash body

    Most of these can be done via Warmoth if I’m not mistaken. Disregarding circuitry, this leaves the bridge setup (unless I’m forgetting something, in which case please let me know).

    Now, in order to get a decent compromise here, I was thinking about using a Tune-o-Matic bridge with a stop bar. My reasoning is as follows: although the Casino actually used a trapeze tailpiece, the TOM/SB setup will allow me to reasonably approximate the proper break angle and also allow for some resonance behind the bridge, which I think, next to the pickups and hollow body, are decently important factors for the Casino sound. As for the Strat sound, well, it won’t be perfect, but it’ll be in some ways similar to a Jag bridge setup (again at least with respect to behind-the-bridge resonance), and Jag/Strat neck pickups do sound adequately similar for my purposes, and I might actually slightly prefer the Jag neck pickup sound to the Strat one (this is also why I was ok with the 24.75” scale length). What I want to know, broadly speaking, is:

    1) Is my reasoning sound? Is this bridge setup a reasonable compromise, and more importantly, is it doable/playable?
    2) Am I overlooking anything?
    3) Does anyone have experience with any part of my planned setup and have some advice about it?
    4) Are there better ways to achieve my goals, particularly with respect to the bridge?

    Any input is greatly appreciated.

    EDIT: I am also interested in how any of these decisions might affect tone. I’m only really interested in your input about the tone if you 1) have hands on experience with the element in question and 2) if the comparison you make is in a controlled setting. For example, if you say “well a Casino is ‘warmer’ than a Tele so a trapeze tailpiece is ‘warmer’ than a Tele bridge” I’m just not gonna buy it, sorry! If you said “I replaced my Tele bridge with a TOM/STP setup and it darkened my tone” or something like that I’ll probably believe you. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2021
  2. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    First off welcome to TDPRI! Lots of help here.

    The big item I can see is using a TOM on a Tele style partscaster body. You'll have to consider that the neck will need to be angled. Does Warmoth or others offer an angled neck pocket? I don't know. And what is the proper angle? Without having the body, neck and bridge together it might be hit and miss. Others here will probably chime in.

    As far as pickups go I have 2 P90's in a Thinline and really like the sound of the neck pickup.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
     
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  3. Max3000

    Max3000 TDPRI Member

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    First of all, thank you! I’ve been a long time lurker so it’s about time I actually post something.

    As for the TOM, I believe Warmoth actually does angle the neck pocket if they know you’re routing the body for that bridge, so I’m not too worried about that (although if I decide to get a body secondhand instead of through them this issue may arise).

    And yeah I agree that neck P90 sound is really great (god, I should probably just buy a Casino at some point). I decided to go with the strat pickup there instead though cause I wanted to get some really novel sounds out of this project and I know two P90s is a pretty common setup (for context, I plan on putting a blend knob on this thing as well as a series-parallel switch). Plus, you can’t really go wrong with a strat neck pickup IMO.

    Anyway, thanks for your input! I hope to have some updates soon.
     
  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Hi Max and welcome to the forum. Let me just say up front that by mixing a ToM with generic Fender construction you are creating a whole lot more work and headaches for yourself. My background - I have built five fender style guitars and five with ToM's including a double neck, plus a bunch of others - archtops, acoustics, yadda yadda.

    In every case the fundamental starting point is always the geometry - if you don't get it right you'll never be able to make the guitar playable. I don't care about pickups and woods and shape and paint - if the geometry isn't right you can't play it.

    It is possible to make any bridge work with any construction if you pay attention to the details. Lets just talk about some of the considerations

    24.75 (or 24.562) scale will work on a tele if you either move the bridge or move the neck to body joint. Conversion necks do that automatically

    Fenders get their geometry by a flat (zero degree) neck angle and the fact that the neck sits proud of the body (called overstand). ToM's generally require some angle and may or may not have overstand.

    There are three basic models of ToM bridges - they have different studs and mounting. They have slight differences in their overall height (which affects neck angle) but in general are about 1/8 higher than a fender bridge.

    ToM bridged may have different string spacing than a fender (they vary) which means your strings might be too close or far away from the edge. You can of course compensate when you make the neck, but now it is not fender standard.

    ToM's are generally 12 radius and are not adjustable. Fenders are generally tighter.

    Stop bars require a solid block of wood for mounting. Thinlines frequently have that area routed out.

    Stop bars may not give you the proper break angle on a flat top. Lay it out when you do your geometry plans.

    For a new builder I always recommend Melvyn Hiscocks book. He gives a very good overview of various geometry. You might also want to work your way thru this - I talk about both fender and gibson style guitars

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/building-for-playability.991659/
     
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  5. Max3000

    Max3000 TDPRI Member

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    wow, that is a lot to consider. I was thinking about getting the parts from Warmoth. Do you know if they handle the neck angle properly? Also, if I am not carving the body myself, should I be posting to a different forum? Sorry, I am a bit new to all of this
     
  6. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I was not aware of Warmoth doing any custom neck pockets for this geometry. They do sell a "conversion" neck which allows Gibson scale to be screwed on to a telecaster bodie - ie the neck fits the fender standard pocket. The have a pretty good discussion on their different neck pockets here

    https://www.warmoth.com/Guitar/Necks/faq2.aspx

    Obviously you should call Warmoth and see what they offer.

    This sis exactly the forum you should be posting to if you are doing a scratch body - there is a lot of experience here. If it is helpful here are two of my scratch builds - the first is similar to a thin line tele (with fender geometry)

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/a-chambered-tele-ish-sort-of-thing.884657/

    And this is an angled set neck similar to a les paul

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/a-chambered-lpish-looking-thing.874641/

    What you are proposing combines the two
     
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  7. Max3000

    Max3000 TDPRI Member

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    Would the setup described in the attached image plus a conversion neck do the job? Or are there other things I’d need to make sure of too (eg. fretboard radius and width)?

    and thanks a lot for the literature. A lot of this has all been in my head and it feels good to be able to bounce these ideas off of people who have done this kind of thing before
     

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  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    That looks like it would work and as long as you get the neck and everything from Warmoth you have a much better chance. I would recommend a neck with 12 inch radius (happens to be my preference anyway). Most of the time ToM bridges come without the slots filed so you have a bit of wiggle room on string spacing - again, you might want to confirm that with Warmoth.

    Good luck with your guitar - post pictures as you put it together.

    Ps - I would buy the bridge from Warmoth even if it costs a bit more. Both Gotoh and Tonepros are good bridges.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2021
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  9. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Typical nut width on a Gibson guitar is 1-11/16". Gibson traditionally has a 12" radius fretboard. The tunematic bridge most commonly used these days is the Nashville style with longer saddle travel than the original ABR-1 style. The metric style tunematics are the 3rd type. I personally would avoid that style myself unless there isn't any other alternative. Most cheaper Gibson copies have this bridge and well...You can get better quality metric bridges and then you can get horrible copies with loose saddles. YMMV.

    I believe the Epi Casino USA models used the ABR-1 style bridge with the trapeze.


    Gibson | Bridges


    Tunematic, Korean | eBay
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2021
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  10. Moodivarius

    Moodivarius Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Max. Welcome.

    My tip is, Have Fun!

    It'll turn out great


    Scott
     
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  11. Max3000

    Max3000 TDPRI Member

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    Good call, less concern about compatibility
     
  12. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Max, I think you can get everything you need from Warmoth - its all going to be custom but they can handle that. Another thought is to build a semi hollow body double cut. There are some cheap kits available but I think they are junk and would not recommend them. However a company in British Columbia is making some very good quality kits and have one model that is pretty close to a Casino.

    https://precisionguitarkits.com/product/double-cut-archtop-custom

    It has humbuckers but you might be able to get P90 routes or none and route it yourself.

    I have no experience with Precision kits but have heard good things from people who have built them. One nice thing is that they do not come with any hardware (like cheap kits) so you don't have to throw away a bunch of junk. Note that this is a set neck (like a Casino).

    Anyway, another option. I have scratch built two 335 style guitars - they are completely different from a tele of course - if you truly want one here it is.
     
  13. Max3000

    Max3000 TDPRI Member

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    Oh wow, I did not realize there was a decent place to get archtop kits. Maybe for a future project though. I think I need slightly more customizablity for this one. Thank you for all the literature you’ve sent my way though!
     
  14. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

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    Hi Max! Welcome!!

    Great info above Freeman - I've gone down the build from scratch and integrate Gibsonish elements many times.

    What I ran into was that I needed a 2-3 degree angle to the neck to get the TOM bridge to work. I always make my necks with a 12" radius because there is no down side (compared to the 10-16" compound radius necks I have had) AND, a 12" radius is a bit more straight forward to do a complete setup on (leveling, nut slots, relief and bridge/saddle height...) and get it completely nailed - which is the most important part. I opted for a home made Tele like bridge and it worked perfectly - better actually than a TOM ever has, although I would go for a 6-saddle design when I figure out how to make them. Here's a link to a one of those projects where I go through that discovery process - I've done my guitars like this since 2014:

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/completed-zen-and-the-flummoxasion-of-mojotron.467704/


    IMG_1996.jpg

    This guitar was more hollow than chambered - but the Tele style bridge worked great for coupling the vibration of the strings directly into the body.

    I believe that Warmoth only has a chambered body that is designed to not create a hollow body tone - rather for weight relief. To get the Casino tone you may want to go more for a hollow body rather than the Warmoth approach.
     
  15. Max3000

    Max3000 TDPRI Member

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    Oh, I should’ve been clearer. I am interested in the Thinline Tele body, which is distinct from the chambered Tele
     
  16. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Well, yes and no. Thinlines are chambered. They also have the f-hole on the bass side which some of us think is silly looking. They have some sort of drop top glued to the hollowed out body. Most of the time they are bound.

    I chamber most of my "solid" body guitars for weight saving alone. Going back to your earlier rant (sorry) about "don't tell me about something if you haven't actually done it" - I did make two LP style guitars that are identical except for the fact that one is chambered, one is not. They have very subtle differences in sound, I've posted clips in one of the build threads I linked for you.

    One minor thing to remember is that thinlines usually have a routed chamber right behind the bridge, right where your stop bar will go. Warmoth should catch that when they build your body.

    Here is my version of a chambered tele, poke an f-hole in it and call it a thinline

    IMG_4632.JPG
     
  17. Max3000

    Max3000 TDPRI Member

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    Ok I think I see where the disconnect is coming from. I’m using “chambered” to describe what Warmoth advertises as a chambered bodies, which does have small chambers inside the body but many small ones rather than a few large ones like in your photo. I believe Warmoth would call that semi-hollow
     
  18. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    What Freeman is showing is basically a Thinline rout. I noticed on Warmoth's site that they offer a chambered body with a rout for the f-hole. They also show Tele bodies with holes for a TOM and stopbar so they must angle the neck pocket. Your best bet is to phone them and talk to them.
     
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  19. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I generally refer to a guitar like an ES335 as a semi-hollow body. It has a center block that supports the bridge, pickups and neck, and large hollow areas on each side. They are generally laminated pressed tops and backs

    IMG_3236.JPG

    A semi hollow is different from a hollow body electric which is different from an acoustic archtop. They can all have similar characteristics, but I think of them based on construction.
     
  20. Max3000

    Max3000 TDPRI Member

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    Right, ok. Side question, but do you know how much of a tonal difference the center block actually makes? Like if one were to build a guitar that was essentially a Casino with a center block (actually I think there is a version of the 335 that is almost this cause it has P90s), would it drastically differ to ally from a fully hollow Casino?
     
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