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Thread: Time away from bikes - a telecaster-ish guitar

  1. #1
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    Default Time away from bikes - a telecaster-ish guitar

    I crashed my mountain bike pretty hard this past August and broke my shoulder blade, left humerus, separated my shoulder, and borked up a couple of discs in my low back. After a couple months rest, I still couldn't lift my rotary table off of my milling machine, or swap out the vertical/horizontal spindles or lift anything more than 20-30lb to do any bike work so I took on a project that I've wanted to do for a long time...build a guitar from scratch. I don't have a telecaster style guitar and it's fairly simple, being a slab so it seemed like a good choice for a first attempt.

    IMG_1408 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    I didn't have a way to joint the pieces for glue-up, so I made a shooting board. The 1.9" thick ash proved a bit too robust to cleanly plane it, so a bit of sticky-backed paper was applied to the sole to tune it up for a gap free fit.

    IMG_1413 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    The glued slab needed to be taken down to 1.75". It was done in small increments with as much movement as my shoulder could take each day.


    IMG_1507 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    After roughing out the neck profile, and finalizing it with few passes of the router, some paper stuck to my granite slab seemed like an adequate way to make the neck flat with the two planes parallel.


    IMG_1544 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    With the neck flat to about 0.001" I stuck it on the mill bed to cut channels for the carbon stiffeners and truss rod.


    IMG_1549 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    The stiffeners were epoxied in place while the double action truss rod was a press on the ends with a little dab of silicone to ensure the center doesn't rattle.


    IMG_1551 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    The top side was sanded flat again to clean up any epoxy squeeze out. The carbon rods sit a few thou under the top surface.


    IMG_1603 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    After thicknessing and slotting the fret board, I cut the fret slots and milled a little cutaway for truss rod access.


    IMG_1605 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    center marks were laid out and punched and holes drilled for dot markers


    IMG_1608 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    markers set with CA glue and a couple of guides clamped to the table to radius the fretboard


    IMG_1632 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    The fretboard was epoxied on, the headstock trimmed down and the neck mounted to the mill table again for final fretboard radius.


    IMG_1633 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    side dots marked drilled and glued.


    IMG_1643 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    I'm not a fan of the old style Fender blocky neck area so I worked on profiling the neck closely to the profile of the body. This is somewhere in the middle of that process.


    IMG_1653 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    The stainless fret tangs proved to be much more robust than my Knipex end nippers, so some scraps and a file were used to remove the tangs from the ends. I'm not binding the neck, but I wanted them undercut so I could drop in a little dust and CA to hide the tangs.


    IMG_1656 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr


    IMG_1657 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    I pressed in the frets with a few drops of CA and hit it with accelerator while it was being held down.


    IMG_1672 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    All the work making the neck and fretboard very flat (about 0.001" of variation) paid off and only two frets needed a minuscule amount of filing to be perfectly in line with the rest.


    IMG_1681 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    Working on the neck profile was an iterative process. A spoke shave was used for the bulk of removal and then it was chalked and sanded with paper mounted to an 8x8" flat board going across the grain. This does a great job of showing you that you've removed all the high spots.


    IMG_1691 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    While figuring out how I was going to finish the guitar, I decided to make some string ferrules out of some 6/4 ti scrap I had laying around. It was the perfect length to make 6 ferrules.


    IMG_1698 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr


    IMG_1720 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    Marked the nut with equal space between strings.


    IMG_1913 by Sean Chaney, on Flickr

    Finally built up.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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    Default Re: Time away from bikes - a telecaster-ish guitar

    Wow. Looks great, Sean, thanks for sharing that. How does it play and sound?
     

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    Default Re: Time away from bikes - a telecaster-ish guitar

    Looks like a beautiful job! Sound clip please!
    Guy Washburn

    Photography > www.guywashburn.com

    “Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol, talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America, in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth.”
    -- Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman

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    Default Re: Time away from bikes - a telecaster-ish guitar

    Damn.
     

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    Default Re: Time away from bikes - a telecaster-ish guitar

    Couple things...I was writing this up in the ten min before I had to get my kids to school.

    Not everything went smoothly and other than making a half dozen french cleat mounted bookshelves a few years back I haven't done much woodworking. I have to say that the part that I thought would give me the most trouble (the neck) didn't...and the part that I didn't really consider (the finish) was the most problematic. The finish problems were predictable had I been more considerate of them. It turns out that spraying nitro lacquer in Portland during a rainy spring is a recipe for trouble. After a couple of re-sprays, it looks rather good and I left the top finished to 3000 grit paper because when I polished the back, there were still some low spots. Just a tiny amount of orange peel but even that is over stating it. It doesn't look like glass though, that's for sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Bryant View Post
    Wow. Looks great, Sean, thanks for sharing that. How does it play and sound?
    Thanks. It plays pretty good but it's not perfect. I spent a lot of effort making the neck and fretboard nearly perfectly flat. Right before I pressed in the frets, I sanded about 0.002" of fallaway above the 12th fret but in hindsight, I should have done more. With the geometry of the neck, I can either have a really low action OR I can set it up to bend two full steps but not both. The way I have it setup right now, it's 6/64" on the bass side and 5/64 on the treble side and when I bend two full tones
    it just starts to decay but doesn't fully fret out. I'd prefer to have the treble side closer to 3/64 but can only get one full step above the 12th on the B and E strings. It's still lower than my acoustic, and I've gotten used to it so it's not really a problem, I'd just like it to be better. Objectively, for a first try it's pretty good.

    It sounds amazing! I do my best to support small shops and I went with a Rutters bridge and Don Mare pickups. I'm not the kind of person who is going to blow a lot of smoke about the "resilient" ride qualities of titanium nor the "laterally stiff/vertically compliant" bullshit that's out there and I'm not going to attempt to write about how the bridge affects tone or how using pickup bobbins made out of the same plastic as a 50's Fender or "scatter winding" does anything but I will say that both of these guys make absolutely top rate products and function perfectly and whatever their role is in making the guitar sound good works.

    Marc Rutters mills the bridges on a manual mill and he does a superb job. There are no machine marks on the top side, he makes his own saddles as well with notches for better intonation. He's rounded the edges a bit and it feels better to me than the old stamped bridges on real tele's.

    I got the Buck Cannon Stangray bridge (with a coil split) and Big Box Neck pickup. He's also a one-man operation and they were 3+ months late but they sound so damn good. The bridge pickup sounds about like you'd expect a tele bridge pickup to sound, but the neck pickup is the closest to a piano type tone that I've heard on any guitar. I should say that unplugged, the guitar is amazingly resonant with a very strong piano like tone on the lower strings. I wired it up with a 4 position switch so the extra notch puts them in series which gives it a great mid-rangey growl that I didn't expect.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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    Default Re: Time away from bikes - a telecaster-ish guitar

    Quote Originally Posted by guido View Post
    Looks like a beautiful job! Sound clip please!
    Maybe when I finish the amp I have planned. I currently have a Mesa Mark V which sounds pretty good, but the clean channel isn't its strong suit. I've begun collecting parts for a Dumble style ODS that I'll work on bit by bit this year. I can do paying work again now, so between that, getting back to riding and working on the next four guitars I started a few weeks ago the amp takes a back seat.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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    Default Re: Time away from bikes - a telecaster-ish guitar

    Great Work! Been following you every step of the way. You are off to to a great start!

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    Default Re: Time away from bikes - a telecaster-ish guitar

    Quote Originally Posted by Diablo de Acero View Post
    Great Work! Been following you every step of the way. You are off to to a great start!
    Thanks Jay! I appreciate it very much.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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    Default Re: Time away from bikes - a telecaster-ish guitar

    I am merely a music lover who thinks guitars are cool. This project is very cool!
     

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