2016-09-19

Building a Telecaster, Chapter 0 - Preplanning

Planning to build a guitar. This is going to be fun...

I almost started making a lap steel, but then a evening course in guitar building popped up on my radar and I grabbed the opportunity. The plan is now to have a Telecaster-like object done in spring, or at least some pretty expensive firewood. And I'm aiming to have all 10 digits left at the end, too! I've never been much of a woodworker, but you just have to challenge yourself at least once in while, I guess.

Thorough as I (sometimes) am, I headed to the library well in advance to get some knowledge on the subject. And I did some googling and youtubing, too. One thing I learned was that there's a lot of people that seem almost like religious fanatics about their guitars, e.g. complaining about people putting the string trees in the wrong positions on their Telecaster builds (not non-functional in any way, but not like St. Leo planned it almost 70 years ago) or copying a specific year's model down to some slight misalignment in routing cavities. Wow. Good thing I don't need their approval, being somewhat more liberal I've decided not to care too much about correctness.

One thing that struck a note with me was someone calling the Tele "the AK-47 of guitars" and I have to agree. Designed by an engineer (in contrast to leaning on long traditions of instrument making complexity) for simple and affordable mass production and easy field repair ­— a screwdriver gets you pretty far when changing a neck — copied by many and used by many. I can only imagine the impact it must've made in the 1950s.

I leafed through a coffee table book with a lot of sexy Teles to get inspiration, and of all the variants from the last 66 years I gravitated towards something like a 1972 Custom, i.e. humbucker in the neck position and a traditional single coil bridge pickup with a Les Paul-like electronic circuit. But there's still a lot of time to change that plan, the raw wood will be in my hands in a few days... The rest of the electronics are undecided so far, but coil tap and maybe parallel/serial switching could very well be on the table.

I did make some quick mockups using the Moniker Guitars configurator (pretty cool tool) and some image editing, to see what the guitar could end up looking like. My first choice is rear routing and no pickguard, and if that fails, I'll slap on a pickguard to hide my mistakes :)

Something like this.


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