Building a Telecaster: part 1

By Simon Barber on December 31, 2009 — 2 mins read

This Christmas, I have started a project that has been on my to-do list for some years, but just never got around to. I’m building a new guitar. Often, when people build Fender style guitars from parts they have assembled themselves, the instrument is called a ‘Partscaster’. I already have a name in mind for this guitar, but I won’t be revealing it just yet.

Over Christmas, I purchased a Telecaster shaped body from a luthier up north. It’s a two piece swamp ash body which looks and feels really good. I tried to ensure that I got a good quality wood as I want this guitar to be a heavy, solid axe with plenty of tone and sustain. There’s probably a bit of six-string voodoo in that, but I’m up for sprinkling some magic elf dust on this build.

I own a small number of guitars, mainly Fender Stratocasters, but since I sold my Fender Telecaster about a year ago, I’ve been hankering after another. Despite playing since I was about fifteen years old, I’ve never built a guitar before, so no doubt there’ll be plenty to learn about aligning the neck, wiring the electronics, doing a proper set up and playing it in. The first, and perhaps the most daunting task, is to oil the wood for protection and to give it some kind of finish, whether that be just buffering it to a sheen or actually applying some kind of clear lacquer. I want to maintain as much of the natural wood look as possible, so i’ll need to be careful there.

I’ve also picked up some other parts, including a Fender licensed neck, a vintage Fender bridge, jack plate, and machine heads. The pickups and other hardware came from Frank Stallone who sent me the innards of his Telecaster many years ago and which were the original impetus for this project.

As you can see from the photos, I couldn’t wait to do a rough assembly and get a basic idea of what it might look like. Luckily, the neck fits perfectly in its pocket as do all of the parts. Next up, i’ll need to procure a vintage style 1 ply, 5 hole pick guard as I want this guitar to be sporting a black scratch plate and to maintain the vintage 50’s Tele approach that it seems to be taking. I’ll be posting more images of the build as it comes together in part 2.

Posted in: Guitars

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  • Had no idea you’d sold your Tele! What were you thinking, man?? Good luck with this anyway. I hereby rename you ‘Lex Luthier’.

  • Gorgeous pics there, Simon – I could look at Telecasters all day…I see that you’ve already got the guts sorted, but if you’re interested in some noiseless (“zero-hum”) pickups, I can recommend those made by Chris Kinman: look forward to seeing more from this project as it progresses.