Jun 16, 2016

Custom Telecaster Thinline Build Design

Is there any room left in the market for another small guitar-builder?

I've been looking into building custom guitars in very small batches, but I'm not sure if there's any profit to be made, I'd like to just put this out here and see if anyone else has any experience.

My base for materials for this design is an Albatross Guitars DIY kit for a semi-hollow Telecaster.  This maker appears to offer consistent products of decent quality at reasonable prices, around $130 including shipping for this model.  Although a thinline Tele is scarcely semi-hollow, this is the cheapest a semi-hollow can be bought for just about anywhere.

My plan for the body is to use dye instead of paint and hand-rub the finish in so it soaks into the wood rather than smothering it.  Buzz-words for tone?  Absolutely.  After finishing it in black dye, I plan to use fine sandpaper to flatten the grain raised with water-finish dyes, which will also let some of the natural grain bleed through the black in what is hopefully a very mature, classy finish.

Over top of that, I'm thinking Tru-Oil instead of a poly finish for again a more natural, rubbed finish, instead of a thick plasticky one.  The neck would be lightly finished in the same method after shaping the headstock.

I can't attest to the quality of the bridge or tuners without having the model myself, since I scarcely have the money to buy materials, but hopefully they're acceptable; if not, they too will go.

The pickups might be fine, but I plan to use this as my chance to hand-wind pickups instead.  I've obsessively researched boutique winding methods and believe I could create a set of very nice sounding pickups, although not likely in a very time-efficient manner!  The neck pickup will be a classic slightly-overwound vintage style with highly scattered wraps to help the treble shine through and prevent it from sounding muffled.  
The bridge pickup I plan to wind in two stages - one vintage spec set of wraps, then potted, then another set of highly scattered wraps over top and half potted, so a coil-tap switch can tap into that overwound sound when wanted, but can shut off for vintage twang or to prevent any feedback that may arise.

Wiring would otherwise be the classic Tele wiring with the addition of the bridge coil-tap switch.  The included electronics might be decent, otherwise they too will have to be swapped.

Overall a build like this should run me $150 bare minimum with stock pickups, or around $250 with custom pickups, tuners and pots.  A fair amount of the quality depends on the quality of the Albatross parts, but I can always return a bad neck, and tinker to get the quality of other parts.  The question that remains is, "is there any competitive value to handmaking instruments like this in a market saturated with decent, dirt cheap Chinese instruments?"  And that's where I have to leave it open to everyone else.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Questions, comments, concerns, complaints? Leave your thoughts below!