Telecaster Build Blog Part 3. From Parts To Guitar

Posted on by Orpheo

Earlier, in parts 1 and 2 I showed how I took to turn a bunch of parts into a guitar. I drilled the holes in the neck so the neck and body can be attached. I also installed the tuners. Just a recap: this Tele has a medium weight hard ash body and a thick single piece maple neck with 21 frets. The body was prepped for a string-thru bridge, but I prefer a top-loader, so I bought one with brass saddles. I selected the body because of the ‘tap tone;’ the sound you get when you simply tap the piece of wood. It wasn’t the prettiest piece (it has chips and dings in it) but it sounded the best, having the best potential of making a good sounding guitar. The guitar is supposed to be a beater, a workhorse. No pretty woods, no lovely high-gloss lacquer, just a coat to protect the wood from the elements.

The neck and bridge can both go on the body. Easy! Now we have to ensure the guitar can make some sound. The problem? No hole from the bridge pickup cavity to the control cavity!

First, a hole for the leads of the neck pickup to go to the control cavity via the bridge pickup.

The result!

I just tested the hole with the  leads of the bridge pickup since I didn’t have the neck pickup at hand at the time, but the hole is big enough.

Since the body I bought was really just half-finished when I bought it, more holes had to be drilled. Now, the hole for the output jack has to be done.

I use a long 8 millimeter drill to see if a hole can easily be drilled from the control cavity to the bridge pickup cavity, via a (yet to be drilled) hole for the output jack.

Bingo! A 22 millimeter drill will make a hole wide enough for the jack.

The hole is done. I drilled it all the way through so I’d have enough space for all the wires, in case I want to expand. Also, I prefer to use this kind of hole instead of the 10mm hole for the ‘barrel’ type jack, also used every once in a while, since I prefer the open type jack.

The 8mm hole for the pickup leads is done. 

I attached the pickguard and bridge so they wouldn’t move and the control plate with just one screw. I now measured the distance between the control plate and  bridge plate and will rotate the control plate to the left or right in order to maintain a uniform distance between the two plates.

Same distance!

All the electronics are now in place.

I use a screw with which you screw the pickup down to the body to see if the screw is long enough. Clearly it’s not. So… I will have to find a fix!

I thought of suspending the pickup in the pickguard, but I didn’t like that idea, so I just cut two small pieces of purpleheart to raise the pickup.

This is the height I want in the end.

The two little blocks of purpleheart, with the grain perpendicular to the grains of the wood of the body.

The pickup rests on the two blocks with enough space for the wires to leave the bobbin.

Since I forgot to get me a jack plate, I fabricated one myself out of a big aluminium washer by reaming the center hole and drilling two little mounting holes.

Mounted! I could have taken some time to polish the plate, but I really couldn’t be bothered. Again: this guitar is a beater! 

Wiring the Tele. I really don’t like wiring Fender-style guitars since they always have too little space!

First set of strings! Always a special moment.

And she’s done. Or he… or it?

Anyway, whenever you build a guitar, no matter if it’s a Partsocaster (which this kind of guitar really is) or a build from scratch, the first time you plug the guitar in an amp is always exciting. This guitar was no different. Of course, it helps the plug the guitar in the amp you just turned on… I was annoyed like crazy: the wiring works, amp is on: why no sound?! But when I plugged in the right amp, the tone just blew me away. I had to adjust the action, fix the truss rod, fix the intonation, etc etc, yet I had major trouble putting this guitar down. The guitar played incredibly well and the tone had a nice bite combined with a sweet roar…

It was just a great moment to hear the guitar do what I wanted it to do. You never have any guarantee, no matter how well you select your woods or parts, so whenever it all pans out perfectly how can you even be remotely disappointed?

I don’t intend to profess I know everything on luthiery or that this is the ‘only’ proper way (or manual) to make a Partsocaster. I just want to show my way for a build like this with a specific goal, and I also want to show all the little steps and things that go into making this work. I forget little stuff regularly; just take a look at the output jack plate! But since the guitar is supposed to be a beater I decided to just make a plate myself. If I’d built a Les Paul with an extremely quilted maple top under a high glossy finish, I’d be mad to use a plate like the one I used on this one!

Written on January 11, 2013, by Orpheo

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  • Schmorpheo

    Well, nearly done anyway. Looks like you need to set the intonation. And, er, screw the pickguard on?

  • aaron doyle

    Nice work! I had to shield the cavities for the pick ups with copper-flex tape to stop the pick ups hum. Worked great. Did you use shielding? You are correct the first plug and play is very exciting. Thanks for the guidance.