A sexy Tele build

#1
Yes, I know that's a contradiction in terms, but I'm going to try to make a sexy-looking Telecaster for someone who may or may not wish to reveal him/herself*.

I'm currently still working hard on the 12-string and the fanned fret superstrat thingy, but I actually have two more people who have asked me to make guitars (obviously, neither of them has actually met me yet!). We have already pretty much decided on the specs for one of those, and so about a week ago I let myself be tempted into starting to rough out the body.

The idea is a tele shape with a single P90 pickup. The body wood is going to be the other piece of padauk from the piece that I made my padauk strat from. We're going to put a lacewood cap on top of that, and - here's where we try to make it sexy - there's going to be an arm carve which will expose some of the padauk, like some of the Ibanez and Kiesel guitars. The lacewood will be stained, probably either white or yellow, to make a nice contrast (I still have to do some stain tests on an offcut).

The neck will be another laminate, with three pieces of sapele separated by two thin strips of something else (I'll dig around and see what I have). It will have a rather nice flamed maple fretboard, and overall we think that should look pretty good.

I won't start working in earnest on this one until I've finished the 12-string (or possibly if I'm waiting for coats of lacquer to dry), but that should happen in September. Meanwhile, here are a couple of pictures of the body and cap, which I did cut out.



Unfortunately, I already made a mistake and cut the top the wrong way round, so the bookmatched side shown won't be on the top. The other side still looks OK, although there's a mark that I still have to sand out.

More pictures etc. to come in due course when I start making more progress on this one!


* Going on past behaviour, that's not unlikely - but let's not dredge up old court cases here!
 
#3
My aim is to finish the two current builds, and hopefully to do the two more that people have asked me for by the end of the year, or January at the latest. My initial goal for this year was to make six guitars, although first I had to finish two that I'd started last year (Sunrise and the padauk strat). In fact, if I make those two then I'll be up to seven for this year - the pointy baritone, @johnniegoat's hybrid tele, the wenge 339, the 12-string, the fanned fret superstrat and these two new ones. That would be a pretty good haul for the year, and lots of experience building up!

In other news, I've been in touch with @John Ambler recently, who was the subject of a thread on here two years ago. He makes stunning guitars, and he's starting to run courses so I'm in discussion about doing a 7-day course with him next year. That would be great - I've enjoyed my courses at Crimson Guitars and learnt a lot, but it would be really helpful to see how someone else makes guitars, with different tools and techniques. That's pencilled in for next Spring, maybe around March or April.
 
#6
Since I finished the 12-string, I've been working on this guitar a bit (and the fanned fret one). I had to reduce the depth of the body, which wasn't easy because it's too wide to fit through my planer thicknesser (side note: I need to build a router sled one day). This week I've cut out the control cavity and I've weight-relieved the body - I forgot to weigh it before I glued the cap on, but it should have come down to about 2kg (it was 2.16kg before I cleaned out the sides of the cavities).

I'm on my own this weekend, and I'm planning to do a lot of work on these two guitars. Here are a couple of shots of the body, before the cap was glued on and when it was all clamped up. There's a little bit more that I can do on the body over the weekend, but I think it will be time to start making the neck. I'll have to get hold of the guy that I'm making this one for, if he's not stuck at the police station again over the weekend (Friday night is often quite eventful in his world!).



 
#8
That's most of my clamps in that picture....actually, I want to buy some more because the F-clamps (the ones with the red handles) were very cheap and at least a third of them have broken. I prefer my G-clamps but they are about three times the price.

I think I've spent at least £150 just on clamps...it's not cheap, setting up a workshop for guitar-building, because you need a lot of different tools!

I made some good progress over the weekend. I did the chamfers on the top and back of the body - there's a cutaway to reveal a bit of the body wood, like some of the Ibanez and Kiesel guitars. I also put together the neck blank (sapele and padauk) and did the first rough cut to shape of that and the fretboard. Given that the top will be stained white, we're discussing whether to stain the fretboard, and thinking of a light amber stain to bring out the flamed maple.

[linking to a picture on Google didn't work....I'll upload it very soon!]
 
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#10
Here's another picture....this is an offcut of the fretboard; you can see that it has a nice flame pattern on it. I stained strips of it with yellow, orange and amber stains (the leftmost strip is unstained, for comparison), and then sanded back the bottom half. The idea is to see which colour (if any) and which level of sanding back (if any) we want to apply to the fretboard.
 
#11
For most of the last two or three weeks, I've been focusing on my other current build, the fanned fret guitar. However, that's now at the finishing stage - I've given it a few coats of lacquer, and now that needs to cure for a week or two, so I'm back to working on this guitar.

I've been working on the neck, and in particular preparing the fretboard which is a rather nice piece of flamed maple. Since that is rather pale, and the top will be stained white, I'm going to stain the fretboard amber, with a yellow first coat to bring out the flame, and we think that's going to look very nice indeed. I'm actually still in a bit of a quandary about the order in which I do the next steps - I need to carve the neck, stain the fretboard, cut the fret slots, do the inlays and side dots and install the frets (which will involve sanding the sides again). It's tricky to work out the best order to do all of those in, because they all affect the others in some ways (e.g. carving the neck makes it more difficult to hold the neck in place for cutting the fret slots and installing frets).

Anyway, after I'd finished radiusing the neck and sanding it down, I decided to pluck up the courage to do one of the most difficult and critical jobs, which is to rout out the neck pocket. Nobody tell the customer for this guitar, please, but I'd had a bit of trouble flattening the heel of the neck, and it's shallower than I'd intended, which will change the way that I will carve the heel when it's been glued into the guitar a bit. Anyway, I just about managed to salvage it before I destroyed the neck, and so the next task was to make the pocket. Here's a little picture from that process, after I'd drilled out a lot of the wood and started to clean it up with the router.


The extra pieces of wood that are stuck to the body were there to help stabilise the router, since the pieces making the template were too small to support it everywhere.

When you make the neck pocket, the goal is always to make a close enough fit that allows you to pick up the body with the neck before it's glued, i.e. so that the neck doesn't just slip out. To demonstrate that this was successful, here's a picture of the guitar hanging on my garage wall - the neck is not yet glued in place (and it won't be for some time yet), but it's pretty well stuck in place anyway.


I'm happy - and relieved - with the way that this has turned out. Hopefully, this guitar should see some fairly rapid progress now that it's the only one that I will be actively working on for a little while - and there's not much left to do on the other one anyway, just buffing it and then installing hardware and setting it up once the lacquer has cured
 
#12
Some more quick pics...I'm been working on the neck!

Firstly, this is the 12th fret inlay, which is supposed to be a miniature picture of land, sea and sun. In this picture, there's still some glue around the sun. The fretboard has also been stained yellow, which was the first step and was then sanded back.


Second picture is the neck after the yellow was sanded off, and a diluted amber stain applied. This is close to the final state - I will probably just fine sand it to lighten and even out the colour a little.


Finally, the neck in the same state, but with the body. Remember that the cap is going to be stained white - it won't be solid white, because the grain patterns will still be visible; it will just look a lot whiter than it does now.


Next steps...installing the frets and carving the neck. Incidentally, the headstock is also going to receive a veneer of the lacewood from the top. I've cut out a nice-looking piece, but I need to reduce the thickness which is going to be noisy, using my thicknesser, so that will probably have to wait until the weekend.
 
#13
My fault, I didn't post anything on this thread for two months, and now the cat has been released from the bag! Our esteemed forumite Mr Johnniegoat has revealed that he is the recipient of this guitar in this thread.

He has done a better job of photographing the finished guitar than I did, but here are a few piccies that I took last night, before it was packed up and handed over to a friend of his (also the recipient of a guitar) at lunchtime today.
White Lace Tele Finished 1.jpg White Lace Tele Finished 2.jpg White Lace Tele Finished 3.jpg

You might notice that the headstock didn't get a lacewood veneer in the end, but another veneer that I had bought - I think it was rosewood of some kind but I'd have to check. As you can see, the top was stained white and I like the effect, combined with the amber stain on the fretboard. I like quite a lot of things about this guitar - the reveal of the body wood looks good, and I like the carve around the heel too. Unfortunately, there's a bit of an issue that the fretboard is too narrow at the dusty end - it may be possible to partly correct that through the installation of a narrower bridge, or he just has to not play at that end of the fretboard! At least, not on the top e string. Bit of a shame but nvm.

Although that's the second half of that rather nice padauk plank used up, I still have a few more slices of the cavity cover that I can use on other guitars in the future. I think that might look good on a plainer back, such as a regular sapele body. We'll see, at some point in the future.

Anyway, that one's done and dusted! Onwards and upwards - or perhaps downwards, since my next build is the cocobolo bass...
 
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