Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 10 – String Tree

Ball bearing string retainer installed. Normally this would be a flat disk model (vintage) or those flat steel pressed “butterfly” models you see regularly, but both of those can have quite sharp edges.

These on the other hand, have smooth round gliding surface and are therefor less likely to cause string breakage.

It is held in place with the screw and a little “plug” type protrusion on the bottom. I used official documentation as well as googled images to find out it’s location. The main thing is that you want it exactly between the B- and high E-strings obviously, generally they’re mounted near the A-string post. The internet says around this position is fine and I eyeballed it a little bit.

The “plug” type protrusion prevents it from swiveling around once fastened, however, it is necessary to drill and extra hole next to the screw hole in order for it to sink in the wood properly. Drill both holes carefully and make sure you don’t drill too deep, as you will then wind up drilling through the headstock.

The screw became a bit marred due to screwing, I solved this by filing it a bit with a diamond coated file. You can also screw it in and out a couple times or lube the screw with some candle wax.

One might argue to mount it the other way round. I kind of thought this looked alright.

Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 9 – Pickguard

Pickguard installed. Note the change under the bridge; this time the super sticky green anti slip mat. Funny is, the “normal” bridge is held in place by 4 screws, this bridge is just held down by the string tension and the friction of the anti slip mat.

I have now adjusted the “lipstick” neck pickup (chrome) to about the proper height; it was sitting too low, but I added home made plastic bushing

s to add height under the pickup so it would stick out far enough. Purists might find this non-orthodox, but hey; it’s my guitar, and these bushings will not rot or decay as the rubber surgical tubing will provided by Fender. Note the cloth wires sticking out the control plate routing.

Traditionally, the neck pickup is mounted directly to the body with wood screws. You can also mount it to the pickguard which will result in two screws next to either end of it. I chose this more original and cleaner look. The effect on the sound is supposedly negligable but the purists tend towards this method.

However, I digress. I test fitted the pickguard extensively and found that this after market model didn’t quite fit first try. The cavity for the neck pickup was not to my liking, pushing the pickup towards the bridge, giving it an “angle”, while it should just sit up straight. So I used an exacto knife to scrape off small slices until it fit snugly.

The other problem area was the half circle opening where the chrome control plate (not pictured) will go (routing near the bottom in this picture) they just didn’t line up. Same here; scraped and sanded the pickguard until the control plate fit nicely.

Again I used a drill bit to drill pilot holes prior to screwing; use a bit which has the size of the screw minus it’s threads and drill slightly less deep than the screw will go, so it will “bite” correctly. Do drill though, otherwise you might wind up splitting the wood or breaking screws, both hard to repair.

Go easy and steady, because you can easily damage the finish- or the screw heads with a drill bit or screwdriver, so take your time! Make sure the sawdust is blown or pulled out of the holes and the bottom of the pickguard (and the top of the guitar) are squeeky clean!

Oh yeah, you might notice the added B-string in this picture. I put it on to help locate the position of the “string retainer” which is mounted on the headstock. I used just googled pictures to eyeball the position of it on the headstock, more pictures will follow.

Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 8 – String Ferrules

String-through ferrules in place. This is the bottom of the guitar, the strings go through it to meet the bridge on the other side. As you may notice, the holes are not exactly aligned, but I guess that doesn’t matter a whole lot.

These “cups” are commonly pressed in using a drill press, vise or just hammered in. I’ve read that some people press them in using a soldering iron while heating them u

p so they “stick” to the finish, which is slightly melting and “glueing” the ferrules in place.

I found them fitting quite snugly, so I used a piece of wood (protecting the finish) to bang them home with a hammer, I can always use a little drop of superglue to adhere them if they ever loosen. 99% of the time they’re held in place by the string tension itself.

Note that you can see the high E-string grommet in the bottom ferrule.

Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 7 – Neck Mounted

Sigh of relief! Neck screwed in place.

I’m very happy that I took about two days studying the neck and the forum and technical drawings. Also don’t be afraid to just use common sense, as is with ordered parts from different vendors; there will always be small differences which you have to conquer.

Glad I chose to order high quality woods and genuine Fender hardware, I think this helps.

The action is already very low and good, no string buzz (the reason I returned the store bought telecaster) and tons of sustain! The low E-string rings for THREE MINUTES, amazing. Of course, using that old Gibson bridge as temporary part means the intonation and string length are not quite good, but this is to be expected since it’s not meant to be on this guitar.

In about 1 or 2 weeks I will be receiving the genuine ’52 style “ashtray” bridge with brass saddles.

Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 6 – Setting Neck

Scary!! Test fitting the neck. At first I was just eyeballing it, and it seemed crooked.

In this picture I’m using an old tune-o-matic bridge that came off of my ’69 Gibson Les Paul because I just couldn’t help myself to wait another 2 weeks with assembly. It’s sitting on a strip of packing styrofoam, later I discovered that the green antislip material worked better.

Using the low and high E-strings to string it up in order to tell if the neck was lined up straight while clamped with anti slip mat for protection.

I was confused, because when I marked the holes in the neck (the body came with holes, not visible in this picture) they did form a nice square shape on the neck butt, although not parallel to the neck, a bit askew. But studying pdf plans I found through I noticed that the neck is somewhat asymmetrical in shape, so I figured it was supposed to be like that.

Having figured that out, I turned the clamped rig up side down and drilled very shallow pilot holes using a drill bit which is about the same size as the pre drilled holes in the body. I then used a smaller drill bit (otherwise the screws won’t have enough bite) to drill the neck holes. Make sure not to drill too deep, check how deep you have to go test fitting the screws. If necessary tape your drill bit so you have a visual reference.

This was very nerve wrecking!!! Once I had this done, I screwed the F-logo neck plate on the back with the 4 screws. DEAD STRAIGHT!!

Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 5 – Neck Pickup

Test fitting the neck pickup. These pickups have “vintage” style cloth wires. Be sure not to strip them involuntarily while pulling them through the body! White “dust” is wax that comes off the wires as you string them through as these were “potted”; inundated in molten wax. It also came with a rubber band probably protecting it in transit.

Rubber surgical tubing is used as bushings between the baseplate of the pickup and the screw head. Unfortunately, this body was routed quite deep, something Fender didn’t anticipate with the mounting hardware supplied. So I cut two pieces off a wall plug as bushings to get the correct height, under the baseplate.

Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 4 – Hardware

Rest of the parts, can you spot what is double and what is missing in this picture?

This green stuff is very soft rubber antislip material. I highly recommend it for anyone building on or tinkering with instruments. I use it as work mat so the finish doesn’t get scratched and little pieces of it under clamps. Very cheap, very handy.

Another thing I recommend highly is a digital caliper in mm and

 inches. Measuring is everything!!

Pictured parts:

-3 ply pickguard (black, white, black)
-pickguard screws
-f-logo neck plate and screws
-string retainer (ball bearing type)
-jack cup (solid one not original spec one)
-wired control plate
-strap buttons with felt rings and screws
-usa 3-way switch

The switch is double, since there is one in the control plate. However, that is the cheap chinese one, which I intend to change for the proper USA one. The control plate also has the “vintage style” cloth wiring and the cheaper “alpha” pots. Thinking about changing those in time. It also has the wrong knobs; genuine Fender knobs are flatter on top, these are too round, probably going to change those too.

Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 3 – Tuners

Screwing Grover (10mm) tuners in place, used straight edge to line them up, drilled small pilot holes first.

I specifically didn’t want retro/vintage tuners on this guitar or cheap ones, as this will be a player. So I opted for the most expensive tuners they have.

Even with my test setup (see further pictures) these tuners stay in tune very well! They have screws on the top of the buttons so you can adjust them to go tight or loose, whatever you prefer.

Grover tuners installed. Funny is to notice how much weight they add to the neck.

Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 2 – The Neck

Canadian maple neck with 21 jumbo frets, tusq nut, trussrod opening on headstock, wooden trussrod skunk stripe (not pictured) and test fitted Grover tuners. It has the c-shape neck and the 10mm tuner holes.

The neck is made from Canadian maple with maple fingerboard, for that extra bit of twang. Crafted in Japan in satin finish.

I have a little surprise coming in the mail; there is a website (ca

nnot name the name) where you can order reissue Fender decals. These are the “logos” Fender puts on their guitars. I’m not intending to rip anyone off sellling it as a “real” one, but I want it to look as “real” as possible. I won’t go as far as to give it a serial number, “made in USA” decal or neck / neck pocket dates, but you get the general idea. Just wondering how many will mistake it for a real one.

Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 1 – Ordering parts

So I’ve been away for a while as in “not blogging”, and I’m sorry to say that my F Style mandolin build project has been put on hold for quite some time. I do intend to finish it, I hope to pick it up later this summer.

Meanwhile, I wanted a Fender Telecaster. So I went into town and bought one. A Squier Affinity series in butterscotch. Thing is; it sucked. String buzz all over the neck, even after a thorough fret dress, trussrod and saddle adjustment by a professional luthier: it just screamed crap all over. So I returned it to the store.

Kind of miffed by this experience I dove into eBay and several parts resellers on the internet. I had already purchased a set of Original Vintage ’52 pickups, planning to put them in the Affinity. No such luck, so I was more or less forced to do something with these, as I’m quite sure they will sound awesome.

So I decided I would scout the internet for the additional parts, namely the rest of the guitar. I found a reseller in the Netherlands where I live and calculated it would save me a whole lot of shipping costs and import tax to just order the parts right here.
The next item I found was a body; I wanted an Ash body because most good Telecasters are made of ash, I found one for a very decent price, a b-stock ash grey / black burst body with a flamed maple top.

So I guess if you stick around and follow my posts, I will show you which parts I chose and how I will be screwing and soldering them together to make a nice playable and affordable Telecaster for a fraction of the cost of a “real” USA one. Stick around!