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Want suggestions for next build. Ultimate Tele?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by mlau, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. mlau

    mlau TDPRI Member

    Aug 21, 2010
    Alameda, CA
    I've been lurking here for about a year, before I broke down and left my Tele closet. I've been thinking of building my first electric, and incorporating things to make it "just right."

    I'll say--I really like the Tele bridge sound. It has a character that the Strat simply won't do for me, and a certain feel/tonal shape that makes a standard humbucker feel like mud.

    I want to build something special. I want sustain, a nice bite, a nice character like a fine whiskey or a wine. I'd like it to play nice, sound nice, and be able to compete with the very best Teles out there (whether a Suhr or an Esquire Tele). Of course, I expect it to take quite a few tries.

    First, I'd like to hear from my more experienced Tele-seniors before building the darn thing.

    Here are my possible specs:

    Semihollow? Wings?
    Alaskan Yellow Cedar neck (or maybe 50+ yo old-growth wood salvaged from some local warehouse)
    Some solid wood for back and sides
    Keystones wound by Bill Lawrence
    Generic switchcraft pots/switch
    Chrome knurned knobs with black MOB
    Variable radiused fretboard (probably Mad rosewood, looks/acts like Brazillian).
    Carbon fiber neck reinforcement.
    Two way truss rod
    Maybe french polish?

    I'd like you to weight in with yes/no.
    I'd also like to know what you'd think would be the ultimate Tele.

    -Matt, SF Bay Area

    ps. If this build comes out decently, I may sell it (how much should I sell this at?), and build another with a Lollar p90, self-wound bridge pickup. Hell, I might make my own hand dovetailed bridges if I get into this enough.

    pps. If the specs sound a little weird, it's because I'm not very experienced with building electrics. I'm used to building acoustic guitars ala Martin and Torres using hide glue, sharp instruments, and french polish.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2010
  2. cc9cii

    cc9cii Friend of Leo's

    Feb 24, 2009
    DISCLAIMER: I'm not an experienced builder or expert in anything

    You've chosen several parts that are either non-mainstream (e.g. neck wood) or that are based on personal preferences (e.g. pickups).

    That's pefectly fine if it is for yourself - but possibly too narrow a target market if you're going to sell it.

    If it is for yourself, then only you'll know what appeals to you, no?

  3. newtwanger

    newtwanger Blackguardian. Ad Free + Supporter

    Feb 11, 2007
    Quebec, Canada
    OK, You asked for opinions...

    Never in a million years would anyone guess a Tele was going to be built with the list above. Never in a million years will whatever you build using the list above be a Tele.

    Build YOUR guitar the way you see it in your dreams, play it, be happy with it. Don't build with the idea of selling it because you could be sadly disappointed that your dream guitar may not be something anyone else would be interested in.

    You say it'll take a few tries. How about the first one being an actual Tele, with actual Tele specs? That way you can compare and see if you've done a good job. If you can't make a simple bolt on neck Tele, you'll never get the guitar from your list built. If that first Tele turns out great, then try another incorporating some of the list, then another, then another, until your dream is built (but it's a Mattcaster and not a Telecaster).

    Unless your acoustic builds are at the level of a true Martin Custom Shop guitar (not the cheese Martins sold in the guitar center for $500), your electric builds won't likely be close to a Suhr. And there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you're having fun.

    Go for it!
  4. telemania

    telemania Tele-Meister

    Dec 18, 2007
    Austin, Tx.
    there are so many posts on building here that it's easy to get lost. if you have experience building acoustics, then by all means stick to your list and make your own tele. i am sure there are a lot of people here who would like to know if you can successfully build to your spec list, and post samples of what it sounds like. me, I shopped warmoth, usag, and ebay to come up w/ my nashville/joe barden monstrosity that i love so much...good luck.
  5. kidmo

    kidmo Friend of Leo's

    May 25, 2008
    Howdy and welcome to the forum mlau! +1 on what the other members said about first builds.
    My ultimate tele would be:
    Neck through, thinline, maple neck/rosewood board, mahogany back/maple top, Lollar Vintage T bridge/Lollar mini humbucker neck, cream binding on neck and body top, nitro amber tint all around.
    Would it be a tele? If it was built for me, it would be whatever I want it to be!
    Good luck with your build!
  6. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 14, 2008
    Manheim Pa.
    What is a dovetailed bridge ?
  7. allen st. john

    allen st. john Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Good point, newtwanger.

    FWIW, I think you're underestimating the importance of the pickups and electronics, given the fact that the knobs are spec'd more carefully than the switching.
  8. mlau

    mlau TDPRI Member

    Aug 21, 2010
    Alameda, CA
    Thanks for the pointers.

    I'm making this for myself, not to sell.
    I was just thinking of everything I like in an electric guitar, and wrapping it together.
    I love the look and feel of the Telecaster much more than the strat. It just feels right,

    And yes, I know what I'm up against.
    While I'm not impressed with the current stock Martins, the custom shop guitars are decent. They still don't hold a candle to the originals. Mine do.

    Nevertheless, there's a ton of builders that are a lot better than me. For instance: Bourgeois, Collings, some of the older Martins, and probably a ton of hidden luthiers in the woodwork. I'm just an amateur, but I really like guitars and I'm picky about tone.
    Oh, and about a dovetailed bridge: I was (very briefly) thinking of making my own tele bridge in the same fashion as Infill plane makers--hand peening metal. But on second thought, it's waaaay too labor intensive.

    I think that I'll just build what I want to play.
    If someone wants to buy it, that's just gravy.


    ps. I think that you're right about a standard Tele first.
    I may just go and do that.
  9. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Bakersfield Ca.
    Make a guitar any way you want thats your choice.

    But from the list of parts and what you want to do thats not a Tele.

    Are you good at woodworking do you have all the shop tools required to build a guitar from scratch? If not Id suggest this first.

    Go on Ebay to a place like the Stratosphere and there you can buy all the parts to make a Tele or Strat. They are parts from new disassembled guitars. Get a body it will already be finished get one in the color you want pick out a neck and tuners pickguard pickups bridge all the parts you need and then assemble it.

    That way you can get your feet wet and see if you wanna try to do one yourself. To do this requires nothing more than a screwdriver and soldering iron its very simple to assemble a Tele.

    Have fun.
  10. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    ya gotta remember, the "Ultimate Tele" exists only relative to your own cognition.... Your "Ultimate" may well be someone else's Dog... And that is why there is such a variety of #1's out there..

    Ron Kirn
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2010
  11. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

    Oct 22, 2006
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    With the skills that requires, you should be very confident of your ability to build a solid body guitar. Tele's are very simple.
  12. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Feb 21, 2008
    Left of the Left Coast
    If there were such a thing as an Ultimate Tele, the TDPRI would vanish in a puff of lightly relic-ed smoke.:lol:

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