COVID 19 Tele Paul Build

Kennoyce

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So, I've been a long time lurker and even commented on a thread here or there, but have never done a build thread. The main reason for that is I always forget to take photos through the build process. I get into the building and before I know it I've done multiple steps without any documentation! Well, I finally tried really hard to document a build, and while I certainly missed plenty of steps I think I've done a decent job, so here is my first build thread!

Back in February I build a bed for my daughter. When I was done with the bed I had a bit of 1x4 select pine left over and I thought it looked like it might be just enough to laminate together and make a guitar body. Since it is pine, I thought the obvious choice would be a pinecaster, but there are a few things that I really don't like about Tele's. The first and most obvious is the hideous headstock shape, the second is the ashtray, and I tend to use humbuckers a lot, so the traditional 2 single coil setup isn't all that appealing to me. Around this same time there was a Tele-Paul build thread going on here where the basic guitar was a les paul but it had tele controls on it. I decided to do a similar build, but make it a tele body with a les paul neck and a few other les paul type features, so here it goes.

First off, a couple of steps that I started before deciding to make a concentrated effort to document this build:

1. I ripped the 1x4 pine down the middle and then laminated it all together into a blank big enough for a tele body, again, no photos of the process, but here is the result:

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(as you can see, I just barely had enough wood,that's why I had to do the two separate pieced on the bottom)

2. I like to batch process things, so for this build I used a Pao Ferro fingerboard that I had previously inlaid, radiused, and slotted:

IMG_20200319_153210_1000.jpg

(This is a photo of when I was doing the binding, but you can at least see what the board looks like)


So, once I knew that I had a big enough body blank to build the guitar, I decided to start with the neck.

For the neck I had a nice piece of maple that was perfectly flatsawn, so I decided to use the Peter Shupe laminated neck method (okay, I know it's not his method but he is always advocating it for turning flatsawn lumber into a quartersawn neck), and I decided to do a strip of Pao Ferro down the middle to match the fingerboard. Now we all know that gibson style necks are prone to having the headstock break off, but I didn't want to do a full scarf joint, so I decided to compromise and do a scarf joint in the Pao Ferro strip to hopefully add a bit of strength to the headstock.


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To glue it up, I used a toothpick to keep the two pieces from sliding apart as I clamped them together.

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And all clamped up and glued together!

Next, I ripped the maple down the middle, and glued the neck together

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Unfortunately, I have to run now, and I'll be out of town for the next few days, so this will have to wait until next Tuesday to continue!
 

ARandall

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That neck wood strip is really nice. I thought for a sec it was actually Ziricote due to the really bold striations in it.
 

Kennoyce

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Okay, sorry about that wait!

First off, I realized that I forgot to mention that I didn't want a pickguard on the guitar, so before laminating the pieces for the body I routed some internal channels to run the wiring through, just one simple channel between the two pickup locations, and then I drilled a hole from the bridge pickup location down to the control cavity location and made sure to keep all of the pieces in order so that everything would end up in the right place!

So, on with the build, next step was to get everything smooth and level, so I planed the body flat in my 13" planer (the body just barely fit), and I cut out the rough shape of the body on the band saw.

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With the body all smooth and to the rough shape I put a flamed maple veneer on the front (because who doesn't like flamed maple, even if it is just a veneer).

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Now for the neck, I cut a 14 degree headstock angle on my band saw, then just used the hand plane to get everything smooth and square.

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Once the Veneer had dried, I traced out the final shape of the guitar on it and cut it closer to the line with the bandsaw, then brought it right up to the line with the oscillating spindle/belt sander.

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Next up was tapering and binding the fretboard, for tapering I just ran it through the bandsaw close to the line, then I taped it to a straight edge and used a template bit in my router to bring it to final dimensions (sorry, but no photos of that process). For the binding, I like to sand the surface to be glued with some medium grit sandpaper, then I just use medium CA glue to stick the binding on. I know people love binding goop for this, but I find that CA glue forms a much stronger bond. I start with the end of the fretboard and glue a piece on there, then I cut/file/sand it until it is flush on all sides of the fretboard, then I put the side pieces of binding on. For the corners where the binding meets I use binding goop to make it look like the binding is one seamless piece of binding all the way around the board.

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As you can see in the photo above, I ended up with a small gap between the top edge of the binding and the fretboard that I filled with sawdust and CA glue.

Next I trim the binding close to the board with the router, and then sand everything flush

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With the fretboard binding finished, I am going to leave it there for today.
 

Kennoyce

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All right, let's keep working on the neck shall we.

With the neck all squared up I routed the channel for the truss rod (a stewmac 2-way hot rod truss rod), but I wanted to use a Gibson style 2 screw truss rod cover and not use a filler strip on top of the truss rod, so I didn't route the channel all the way into the headstock. Unfortunately, I didn't get photos of the process, but I did get bumped while routing the channel making a slight gouge in the side near the body (luckily, it won't affect anything).

I then glued ears on the sides of the headstock to get it's full width.

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Once the ears were glued on, I planed everything flush and glued a flamed maple veneer on the headstock face.

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Next I traced out the headstock shape onto the veneer, and then made a quick template for the truss rod access point and routed it out.

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I then carefully drilled a hole from the truss rod access cutout to the truss rod channel so that you can adjust it.

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Next I cut the basic neck profile out on the bandsaw and then used a router sled to get everything close to final thickness.

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I drilled tuner locating holes in the headstock and then used rasps and sandpaper to get the transitions where I wanted them.

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Now, you may wonder what the tuner location holes are for at this step in the build. since it is easier to cut the headstock shape with the face of the headstock resting flat on the table of the saw, I use the tuner holes to locate the position and shape of the headstock on the back of the neck as seen below:

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With the headstock shape transfered to the back of the neck, I take it to the scroll saw.

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I then use the bandsaw to cut the basic neck shape making sure to leave myself a bit of room for any fine tuning that needs to be done and end up with this:

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Well, I think I'll leave it there for today and post up some more tomorrow.
 

Kennoyce

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Well, took a few more days to get back than I had planned, but here I am, so let's continue with the neck.

For the neck shape I decided to go with a pretty standard '59 profile (at least according to the stewmac neck profile template I have, who knows how accurate that thing really is). I just used the facet method with a shinto rasp and went at it.

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Here it is once I have a pretty smooth profile using the fine side of the rasp.

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And to finish it off, I clamp it to a supporting piece of wood and use belt sander belts that I have cut to get it nice and smooth.

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Now it's time to attach the fingerboard to the neck. For this build I used the toothpick locating method that has been discussed on this site. Previously I would use a dremel to cut off little pieces of a 1/16" drill bit to use as the locating pins, but it seems like a better idea to use wood, so toothpicks it was. The only issue with the toothpicks is that I didn't have a drill bit the same diameter as the toothpicks, so I chucked up the toothpick in my drill press and sanded it down to 1/16" so that it would fit snugly in the holes I drilled. Next I double sided taped the fretboard to the neck and drilled 2 holes through fret slots for the toothpicks.

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I put the toothpick in the holes in the neck and cut it off slightly above the surface of the wood for locating, then glued the fingerboard onto the neck.

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And here she is with the fingerboard glued to the neck:

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And the last big step for the neck was the side dots. For these I marked the locations with a sharp screw so that my drill bit wouldn't wander, then drilled through the binding where the dots would be. For glue, I used binding goop so that it would match the binding perfectly. I just dipped the stew mac side dot rod into the goop, pushed it into the holes, and snipped it off a bit above flush.

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And finally, I waited until the next day for the goop to completely solidify, then I snipped the dots off flush and sanded it smooth.

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That's it for today.
 

fatdaddypreacher

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i have a sheet of that due in tomorrow. you happy with the way they worked and look? they look good to me
 

Kennoyce

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i have a sheet of that due in tomorrow. you happy with the way they worked and look? they look good to me
For sure, I really like how it looks. I've used the trapezoid inlays from them in the past, but I'm not a fan of how the underside is white so you don't see the color of the wood through them. This stuff is great because it doesn't have the white underside.
 

Kennoyce

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Sorry, it's been a while, but I'm back, so let's get back to work!

Back to the body for a bit, next I routed the control cavity, this was pretty simple, just made a quick router template, hogged out the majority of the material with a drill, and then routed it out. Where it was a little bit different from a standard build is that I wanted to use a 5-way super switch instead of the standard 3 way tele switch, so to allow the super switch to be centered in the cavity and still fit I had to undercut the route in that area so that the control cover plate would still cover the cavity. For this I just used a smaller bearing on a template bit and made sure that the bit extended all the way into the cavity leaving ~1/4" of material above the top of the undercut.

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(Sorry, no photos of the undercutting)

Now it was time to bind the body. This is super easy compared to a les paul build since the router can just ride on the flat top. The only issue I had was the router bit I wanted to use due to my bearing selection was too long, so I had to make myself an MDF base to raise the router up higher above the workpiece. Of note, with the soft pine body I was worried about the bearing leaving marks on the edge of the guitar, so I taped to edges with painters tape to help protect it some. I also did the roundover on the bottom of the body at this point on the router table, but forgot to get photos of that.

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No pictures, but I use a piece of scrap wood with adhesive sandpaper on it to smooth out any irregularities in the binding channel prior to gluing in the binding.

For the binding I chose to use medium CA glue, Personally I'm not a huge fan of binding with only binding goop because the bond is just so much weaker than with an actual glue. To ensure that the CA glue sticks to the binding I rough up the side to be glued a bit with some sandpaper, then I pre-bend the tight bends with a heat gun and just glue it on the body. One reason I like the CA glue is because no tape is required, you just hold it in place with your fingers (use wax paper between the binding and your fingers to keep them from getting glue all over them), and work your way around the guitar, it takes maybe 10 minutes to bind the whole thing once everything is ready.

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(wait until the very end to do the last little bend with the heatgun so that you don't somehow get it in the wrong spot).

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And we are onto scraping the binding flush with the body. For this task, I start with a flat file with some electrical tape on the end so that I don't accidentally scrape the top and get the majority of the material off that way, then I use a normal scraper once I am almost flush to take the last little bit off.

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Well, with the body bound, I'll be done for today.
 

Kennoyce

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So, I wanted the skunk stripe on the back of the neck to tie into the front of the guitar in some way, so I decided to make pickup rings out of the extra material that was cut off of the neck blank. The idea on this guitar was to have a single coil at the neck position, and a coil splitting humbucker in the bridge position, and I didn't want any pick guard, so I made mounting rings for each.

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Next step was routing out the neck pocket and pickup cavities. For the neck pocket I wanted a 1 degree neck angle, so I took a piece of MDF and used my hinged router box to cut the MDF into a 1 degree wedge shape. Next I created a template for the neck pocket with the wedge shaped piece of MDF and used the superglue on painters tape method to stick the template to the guitar body. To make it so the tape would stick to the MDF since I wanted the side that I had carved to be against the body, I first hardened the MDF up with some thin CA glue in the three spots that I was going to be taping to it.

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Here is the Template

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Painters tape on the body

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Painters tape on the template and body

Next I hogged out the majority of the material in the pocket on my drill press then routed it all smooth and flush. You can see the route I had made for the pickup wires pocking out into the neck pocket now.

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Neck Pocket routed out

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And the quick test fit, nice and snug.

Well, I'm going to leave it there for now.
 

Kennoyce

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Okay, on to the pickup cavities. Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos of routing out the humbucker cavity, but you can see the results. I just deepened the pickup legs sections with a forstner bit on the drill press (oh yeah, I also drilled the holes for the neck without taking photos).

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Now, for the single coil, I hadn't ever built a guitar with a single coil before, so I made a quick and dirty template to route out the cavity for it (it's not a pretty cavity, but it's covered by the pickup ring and this guitar is just for me personally).

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Well, with all of the body routed it's time to begin finishing! I wanted a kind of honey burst on this one, so I started with some amber lacquer.

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As you may have noticed in the post above, I had already done a few coats of lacquer on the neck that I didn't get photos of. The reason was that I wanted to put decals on the headstock, so I needed the clear to stick the decals to.

For the decals I used the gibson font for the brand name of Gibder (obviosly since it's more of a gibson style neck on a fender style body), and to make if fun, I photoshopped the "Les Paul Model" into a "Tele Paul Model" as well.

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Here are the decals

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and here they are on the headstock.

After this, I finished clearcoating the neck, but didn't take any pictures of that process since there isn't much to see.
 

Kennoyce

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Okay, back to the neck, I finished spraying the neck (sorry, no photos of the process, but there's not much too it) and sanded it all smooth, so it was time to start fretting. Nothing too exciting here, I purchased pre-radiused jescar fretwire since I've never taken the time to build a radiusing jig, so I cut it to length, then undercut the tangs since the fretboard is bound but I wasn't doing nibs (which would have been a completely different fretboard process obviously). For undercutting the tangs I use the stew-mac fret-tang nippers (or whatever it is that they call them), then I use a dremel with a cutoff wheel to clean up the little bit of a tang that is left.

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Cutting and undercutting the fretwire

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frets all cut and ready

Now to press in the frets. I have a harbor freight arbor press that I modified to hold a fret press caul, so I use that to press the frets in. A few little things to note, when I cut the fret slots I use a file to break the edges of the fret slots so that the frets can be fully seated when pressed into the fretboard, I also put some thin CA glue in each fret slot just before I press the fret in.

No a question for all of you experienced luthiers out there, I know everyone always talks about wicking CA glue under the frets, but I always end up making a big mess of it no matter what I do and end up with CA glue all over the fretboard when I am done which is a big pain to scrape off. Are there any tips or tricks that anyone has to avoid making a CA glue mess all over your fretboard when fretting?

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Here I am prepping everything for the job, and you can see the cheap harbor freight arbor press that I use.

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and here it is with the frets all pressed in.

Next I cut the frets off flush and then beveled the ends with a file on an angled block of wood, but I forgot to get any photos of that step.

At this point I also enlarged the holes for the tuners, since I already have pilot holes it makes it easy, I just use a bradpoint bit on the drill press and go halfway throug from one side, then flip it over and come at it from the other side to avoid any tearout.

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Kennoyce

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We are coming to the final stages of the build now, which means that it's really just finishing and I didn't really get any photos of the process, but I did take photos at different stages, so here we go:

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Here's the front of the body after spraying and scraping the binding.

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Here's the back of the body after spraying.

Now for the bridge anchors, this is the first time I have used a wrap around bridge which means that I didn't have a good way to float the bridge to set the intonation. Luckily, right as I was going to do this part there was a thread right here on MLP all about measuring the location of the bridge, so I followed that advice and went for it. I didn't want the bridge itself to be angled, and I had a wraparound bridge with quite a bit of compensation travel, so I ended up just measuring the distance to the high e string location for both sides. Luckily this worked out perfectly and intonation set up great. Here are the photos of the process:

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Here are the measured locations for the anchors.


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And here they are being drilled (I started with a slightly bigger bit so the finish wouldn't crack when pressing them in)

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Halfway through pressing one in.

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Just prepping the ground wire to go under the lower stud (the route between the humbucker cavity and the control cavity caught the lower edge of the bridge location, so no drilling required).

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And, all pressed in with the bridge sitting in place.
 

Kennoyce

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Alright, we are basically at the point of fretwork, sanding, buffing, and final assembly. For the fretwork, I just used the normal process of making sure the neck was perfectly straight by adjusting the truss rod as needed, then I taped up the fretboard, used a sharpie to mark the tops of all of the frets, and leveled them until I could see sharpie removed from every part of each fret. Next I crowned the frets with my stew-mac diamond fret crowning file (i have the double grit one which I really like because you can use the 150 grit side to take off material quickly and get it close to being crowned, then you use the 300 grit right at the end to prep it for polishing. I've always just used sand paper in the past, but on this build I got sucked into trying the stew mac fret erasers, after trying them out, I'd say that sandpaper is quicker and easier, so don't waste your money on the fret erasers. I polished them up to 3000 grit, then used a dremel with a small polishing wheel and some meguiers ultimate compound to give them a mirror shine.

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I only took the one photo of right after I finished crowning and was about to start polishing.

Next I installed the output jack. I hadn't drilled the output jack hole yet because I recently moved and couldn't find my 7/8" forstner bit, so I ordered a new one that must have come on the slow boat from china, but it finally arrived, so I drilled the hole and installed the jack.

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With the frets leveled, crowned, and polished, it was time to install the neck.

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and here is a front view with the neck installed and the single coil pickup installed as well.

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And, finally, wiring it up. in keeping with the les paul portion of this guitar, I wired it up using stacked CTS pots so that I could have two volume and two tone knobs. The pots have one 250k and one 500k stacked on top of each other, so you have the volume controls closest to the switch, and the tone controls away from the switch. The 500k pots just control the humbucker, and the 250k pots control all of the single coil options. As mentioned before, I went with a 5-way super switch to give a variety of tonal options, starting from the back the positions are Humbucker, split coil of the humbucker, split coil of the humbucker and neck single coil (in phase), split coil of the humbucker and neck single coil (out of phase), and neck single coil.

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Getting it all wired up.

An interesting little thing about this is that since the 5-way super switch is so much bigger than a typical tele 3-way switch (I did have to enlarge the control cavity by undercutting the area of the 5-way switch in the body as mentioned above) You can't fit the fully assembled control plate into the cavity. To get it to go in, you have to loosen the 5-way switch mounting screws to allow it to move around a bit as you stuff all of this stuff into the cavity, then tighten it down once it's all in!

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and here she is all wired up!

Well as you can see, just waiting on some pickup mounting screws from stew mac and for the control knobs to come at this point!
 

Tac_R

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nicely done. love the color on the back too. nice detail all the way around
I'll second that - beautifully understated, gorgeous finish and some lovely touches - with a healthy does of 'something different', too!

Apologies if I missed it, but what make / model is that bridge humbucker? Really liking how that mirrors the traditional Tele neck pickup, with the lack of pole pieces on show.

Thanks for sharing this build with us!

Cheers,

David
 

Kennoyce

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I'll second that - beautifully understated, gorgeous finish and some lovely touches - with a healthy does of 'something different', too!

Apologies if I missed it, but what make / model is that bridge humbucker? Really liking how that mirrors the traditional Tele neck pickup, with the lack of pole pieces on show.

Thanks for sharing this build with us!

Cheers,

David
No problem, thanks for the feedback!

The bridge humbucker is just one I had lying around, I'm pretty sure it came off of a cheap ibanez but it didn't have a cover. I wanted that all chrome look without the pole pieces showing so I bought a humbucker cover from ebay without the pole piece holes and soldered that to the ibanez humbucker. I will probably update it with a better pickup in the future, but I was just using what I had available at home.
 


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