Total Newb Initial Build Questions

Telecaster88

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Hey all... I'm at the point where I'm thinking about building a guitar.

I want something along the lines of a Tele Deluxe (maybe Custom), with WRHBs, now that the CuNiFe pickups are available. Gibson-like controls. I want something with a satin finished maple neck, Medium jumbo frets. This is blasphemy to many Tele players, but due to current strumming arm issues (Ulnar Nerve Compression coupled with mild Carpal Tunnel) I think I want a body with a forearm contour carve and maybe a belly cut.

So I'd need to build my own. Where would I start? What are the best online sources? And how much do you think it would cost me to do something like this? Is it something I could get via the Custom Shop or Mod Shop?

I'm not typically a hands-on builder type guy, but I am a perfectionist and I can read and follow instructions.

Thank you!
 

PhredE

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If from scratch.. One word: tools!

Would it a partscaster work better for you instead (eg; if you don't have all the tools required)?

Study up on all the threads the Freeman Keller, Ron Kirn, guitarbuilder, and others (sorry, there are too many of you builder folks and I can't possibly recall all your names, as much as I wish I could..). There's tons of great info here -- just have to go find the threads that apply best.

On the other hand, the only way to get experience is to do it! So, I wish you the best whichever way you proceed.


As a side.. Also had a brush with serious CTS a while back and I also prefer the Tele style w/contoured front and back. Ended up buying one of these a few years ago as a project guitar: https://www.rondomusic.com/furrianmnashnat.html

I tore it down to the bare bones (the body and neck were basically good) and replaced all the hardware over time -- Wilkinson tuners, GFS top load bridge/saddles, both pickups (Bootstrap+DiMarzio), electronics (Bourns+switch) and bone nut, etc. Did a little touch up to the frets and now it's my favorite guitar. :D
 
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DrASATele

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Oh, now were talking a mash up of the 72' out there.
Would you be building the whole thing, or just the body?
I'd start with pricing out enough poplar to build a proto type body and neck (probably run you $50/70 @ the lumber yards, you'll need 8/4{2 inch thick} stock. Enough for a body (about 3-4 board feet) and a neck (1/1.5 board feet). I'd also price out whatever timber you think/feel you want the actual guitar to be from. That said, a few pallets and some time you can make the test body or the main build from pallets, it just means you mill what you need from the pallet stringers and deck boards (it's quite fun actually).
Several places make templates but there are PDFs in the T Downs thread with full size plans that would allow you to make your own templates.
Cost depends on what you are willing to pay vs what you want in the body and neck. If you have to have swamp ash and figured maple, you maybe better off looking at pre-made stuff, coat on those is usually the cost of a cheapy guitar. However if you don't mind what type of woods are used you drop $ into great electronics & pickups.

Like they said above tools if you don't have or have access to a router, a jigsaw and a drill press you should probably consider the pre-made stuff and assemble a parts-caster.

To the perfectionist: don't build your dream/need guitar first, build a proto sort out your issues then build that guitar.

The key to it all is to enjoy the build.
Good luck!
 

dented

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If you are intent on that body style you might want to see if you can source a MIJ body. I have a '93 MIJ Tele Deluxe that has the forearm relief and body contour. Then you can play with the finish if you want or make a partscaster. That to me is a good place to get your feet wet. JMHO and good luck on your project.
 

Mojotron

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The main thing to consider that should guide all your decisions is how do you play and how do you want to play?

For instance:
What is your playing experience, do you need the guitar to have some characteristics that you highly favor?
For example:
- some people love the way a Gibson feels when playing - and a lot of that is the scale length of the neck as well as the string tension...
- some people also hate the way an SG will get neck heavy - so perhaps balance is hugely important...
- There are a lot of partscaster options if what you want is more along the lines of existing designs with a bolt-on neck...

Do you play mostly in the first 12 fret positions - or do you need upper fret access to be a priority?
- That is where, for me, partcasters fail because I really want at least 22 frets and to have equal access to all frets: Which led me to a design from scratch and build from scratch approach that took me 15 years - and a lot of guitar builds to get right...

Do you play a lot of chords or a lot of single notes?
- This has a lot to do with the fretboard radius you may want...
- but also the type of trussrod design you want to go with. A vintage Fender-style truss rod will cover all bases, but will not do some things, but a dual-action rod is not a great option if one wants to keep their single note tone to have less fundamental tones and more of a jangly/twang option with the bridge pickup...

How much do you want the guitar to weigh?
- Most people will say .... as light a possible, but in reality most Alder guitar bodies will weigh about 4.25-4.50 lbs and that balances really well with a Maple or Mahogany neck: And, balance is nearly unattainable with a body below 4lbs without building your own neck from a lighter wood like BigLeaf Maple.... For me, balance and a body below 5lbs is the sweet-spot.

My advice to first time builders it to:
#1) Fully appreciate that your first build should not be your last, and one should not try to 'boil the ocean' with their first attempt

#2) Unless one is an accomplished wood worker, it is way more expensive to build a small number of guitars from scratch than it is to buy the finest new American made models of just about any company. Scratch building a guitar from $75 worth of parts/wood could cost you over $2000-$3000 once you get all of the tools, all the critical setup tools you really need to get from places like StuMac and maybe medical bills paid for... woodworking is a very dangerous hobby for those that are only focused on building a guitar and not on becoming an expert at using the tools safely.

#3) Partcasters are a fantastic option if you love Tele/Strat design options with respect to the width of the heel - that is how much room is left on the side of the neck on above the 12th fret. As well as playing with the upper fret access that the standard neck heel on a Fender gives you.

#4) If you are good with #3 above, buying great parts off of ebay (Fender/Warmoth... necks/bodies) and tweaking them - sanding in a forearm contour or maybe routing pickup cavities... leads a vast majority of people to the guitar they always wanted. Unless you are like me and want guitar a collection of design options that no one out there makes in one guitar, getting a great name-brand neck and body off of ebay that has not been altered can be amazingly inexpensive in the end.
 

old wrench

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You can find all the info you need to build your own guitar within this forum :).

There is even an accurate and proven template available to download (T.Downs Tele drawing) ;).

You will need some tools and the ability to use them - no getting around that.



Many folks ease into the process, by buying pre-made unfinished parts, instead of a complete from scratch first build.

You are the only person who really knows where you are at in terms of ability and follow through.

Any which way you go, it should be a fun and enjoyable learning project in the first place.

With guitar building, there is an answer or solution for every problem, and part of the enjoyment is discovering the solution and putting it to work ;).

.
 

Telecaster88

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Oops, yes... To be clear I mean putting together a partscaster. I have neither the skill nor inclination to build from a slab of raw wood!

I'm open to all options, including buying a Vintera or American Performer etc and modding it.

The main things I'm looking for are:

--At least one CuNiFe WRHB
--Contoured Tele body
--Satin maple neck
--9.5" radius, medium jumbo frets
--Standard Fender C or bigger neck

(I've played an Am Std Tele as my #1 for 35 years, so that's what I'm used to and like, but I also like U necks.)

I believe the Am Performer necks are 9.5" with medium jumbos, so that's maybe where I could start neckwise?

Thanks!
 

2HBStrat

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Oops, yes... To be clear I mean putting together a partscaster. I have neither the skill nor inclination to build from a slab of raw wood!

I'm open to all options, including buying a Vintera or American Performer etc and modding it.

The main things I'm looking for are:

--At least one CuNiFe WRHB
--Contoured Tele body
--Satin maple neck
--9.5" radius, medium jumbo frets
--Standard Fender C or bigger neck

(I've played an Am Std Tele as my #1 for 35 years, so that's what I'm used to and like, but I also like U necks.)

I believe the Am Performer necks are 9.5" with medium jumbos, so that's maybe where I could start neckwise?

Thanks!

Just buy a Fender. If you want to build something build something original. Just my opinion...
 

old wrench

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It's pretty amazing when you start looking into what's offered as "parts" :).

Some of the custom parts suppliers offer just about any variation or option you could want in a guitar no matter if it's a body or a neck.

You can pick and choose just as if you were doing the work yourself.

Even Fender is selling separate bodies and necks now.

It sounds like you've already got a good idea of what works for you - that makes it much easier :).

Warmoth, Musikraft, USA Custom Guitars, etc., etc.

.
 

Mojotron

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Yep - I got some great parts from Stratosphere years ago - namely an American made Player's Tele neck that was brand new and played great. I would not bargain hunt on really good parts - never pays off. But, for someone like that on Ebay the prices are not too bad. If you get a Fender neck, you may want to get a Fender body that will match...
 

DrASATele

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Strotosphere is good, they are near by me in Boston and they have had good turn around times in the last year or so. At least that's my experience.
 

Ronkirn

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I'm at the point where I'm thinking about building a guitar.

STOP!! you're making the number one mistake made by new builders... i.e. trying to make the first your "dream" guitar... As you advance up the learning curve your thoughts on what exactly comprises a guitar will change... thus as you approach the end, you're building something that you will no longer be into.. also forget ALal ther bunk about what wood sounds best, is more stable, is anything... just build the guitar with your brain unencumbered by a lotta useless cack that just gets in the way..

Begin with something basic.. a good 'ol Blackguard... actually.. i'd suggest not even starting there... get a beater.. disassemble it to the last screw... do the fret work leveling and crowning (if ya cannot do that, you're not accomplishing anything as far as playability is concerned).. reassemble it in to a player... to get the feel.. then begin the build.

Here's some stuff, all free for ya to down load... perhaps there's some info that may. help. https://www.ronkirn.com/books-1.


R
 

ctmullins

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@Ronkirn nailed it above. First build + Perfectionist = Disappointment and Frustration. Turning chunks of wood into playable and presentable instruments is a craft, and like all crafts, perfection only comes from lots of practice. Start small and work your way up. Or just pay Warmoth.
 

guitarbuilder

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There are plenty of guitar parts out there. If you can handle " used parts" you can pick up some bargains. I'd stay away from really cheap import stuff and stick with Fender licensed parts. They should fit together. I say build what makes you happy, especially after the last crappy year and a half. The nice part about using licensed stuff is if it turns out you don't like it, you can usually sell it off. Partscaster guitars have a consumer value that is pretty much the sum of their parts minus depreciation for having been used. You can spend 1000 dollars and never recover that though.
 
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Ronkirn

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I'm more at the "Pay Warmoth" stage!

remember the number one, most important thing done to a guitar is the fret leveling, etc, and setup... if you suck at that.. then it doesn't matter how select any of the wood is, or how masterfully it was tooled.. and it also doesn't matter how exotic the boutique hardware, pickups etc are... you have no chance of producing anything that plays any better than the typical "off the rack" entry level guitar...

so.. again.. find your favorite beater and get to work on the frets and the setup.. http://www.tdpri.com/forum/tele-technical/201556-fret-leveling-yer-tele-101-a.html

It's like the typical amateur golfer... they hit the practice Tee and pull out the "Big Dawg" . . . the driver... then proceed to hit 'em left and right.. mostly right... yet the Pro will tell ya that if you really wanna drop your score, get to the practice GREEN, and work on chipping and putting... those two are about 70% of the average Handicapper's score... Most only hit the driver on 10 - 12 of the holes.. I mean you're not gonna pull the club that's "guaranteed" to give ya a 290 yard drive on a 167 yard Par 3 are ya.. there's 4 on every regulation golf course... and how 'bout those par 5's with the water hazard 190 yards out, exactly where your typical slice lands? There's a few of those... Remember you pull that putter out on all 18.. unless ya got lucky and will be buying the drinks at the 19 th.


Point being... work on what really matters... learn to master the setup... No, it's not sexy... but that where the "beef" is...
 

Freeman Keller

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Hey all... I'm at the point where I'm thinking about building a guitar.

I want something along the lines of a Tele Deluxe (maybe Custom), with WRHBs, now that the CuNiFe pickups are available. Gibson-like controls. I want something with a satin finished maple neck, Medium jumbo frets. This is blasphemy to many Tele players, but due to current strumming arm issues (Ulnar Nerve Compression coupled with mild Carpal Tunnel) I think I want a body with a forearm contour carve and maybe a belly cut.

So I'd need to build my own. Where would I start? What are the best online sources? And how much do you think it would cost me to do something like this? Is it something I could get via the Custom Shop or Mod Shop?

I'm not typically a hands-on builder type guy, but I am a perfectionist and I can read and follow instructions.

Thank you!

I came back to 88's original post to see what he really wants to assemble. It looks like a Tele Deluxe has two humbuckers with Gibson 2V2T and a selector switch in the upper bass bout, coil splitting and treble bleed. I'm not sure what all the other letters are, lets just assume they are some sort of fancy pickup.

Warmoth does exactly the body 88 is looking for

https://www.warmoth.com/Guitar/Body/Telecaster/Deluxe/

and even sells the pick guard to match

https://www.warmoth.com/Pickguard/TeleDeluxePickguard.aspx

Warmoth probably will do the belly and forearm cuts. The neck is easy, spec it from Warmoth. The nice thing about Warmoth necks is that even tho they recommend dressing the frets it usually isn't necessary. Pickups, pots, all of that stuff is available from a lot of suppliers and wiring diagrams are available. Should be fairly straightforward sourcing all the parts, assembly is just a matter of screwing things together and doing the wiring.

Assuming the frets are OK, setup is setup - a good tech at a music store or any member of this forum should be able to help.

As far as costs, run the wizzards at Warmoth, that will give you the exact cost. Parts from StewMac or dozens of other sources. If you need assistance find out what the local tech's labor rates are.

Edit to add, it looks like StewMac is selling a "tele deluxe" body but it is the wrong routes. It is SSH without the extra tone and volume pots.
 
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