Other Guitars

Tele-Kit Build Thread

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So... it's been a while since I posted here, but I've been checking in regularly for a quick read.

Now, I bought a Tele-Kit from Thomann and sent it right back because the neck that came with it was awefull. There were dents in the fretboard and I could even see the tang under a fret. I got a replacement kit which was a bit better and I have been working on it of and on the last year. The last few months I really got to spend a lot of time on it and I tried to document al the steps I took to finish it. At the moment the lacquer is drying so I finally have the time to go through the foto's I took.

I can't leave well enough alone so I did not 'just put it together' as you probably can tell by the photo's which I will add here.

This fretboard also needed 'some' work:

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Since I like classic shapes and looks I tried to make the headstock look like a real Telecaster using the jigsaw.

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I took the plastic nut off and pulled the frets out so I could sand the fretboard with a radius block. The upper register looked almost scalloped so I tried to even that out a bit.

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I sanded the fretboard with a radiusblock and refretted it. Good practice since this is my second attempt a refretting a neck. It already turned out so much better then my first refret.

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Refretting and filling up the fret slots.

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Frets leveled, crowned and polished:

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I should have done this before fretting but at that time I thought I'd leave it be. There were some slight openings in the fretboard but there was one I could really feel, so that needed to be taken care of. I mixed wood dust and Titebond, filled all the gaps and scraped it level.

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Made a new bone nut to replace the original plastic one.

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Since I didn't want to use the plastic behind the neckplate I had to drill the holes in the neck slightly deeper to compensate this. I also filled the holes from the original butterfly string trees with pieces of maple which turned out okay but not as invisible as I had hoped. Installed a single round string tree, I think this looks better.

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I'm watching, Mike. Keep it coming! Love this kind of threads. Great to see you building, finally.

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Thanks Sascha! I will keep it coming, I'm still going through lots of photo's of the process. I finally got my mind set on building and can actually make some time for it. Even if it's 'just' a kit, but I'm learning as I go and trying to make it a very cool guitar, on a budget haha. Although I also have my mind set on doing a scratch build eventually. I already got some wood and parts so I hope I can keep on going.

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I sanded the neck and taped off the fretboard. Ready for vintage amber see-through lacquer! But...

I didn't like this colour for this project... I put on four light layers and with the fourth layer the color was even but way too dark. And it didn't look nice with the body color. So, back to scraping and sanding back to bare wood. And order new lacquer, this time vintage yellow see-through. Fingers crossed.

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Fun, Mike! Thanks for posting this.

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Thanks Bob, there's more coming up!

So I scraped and sanded the amber orange off of the neck and sprayed two thin layers of clear lacquer first. Next a couple of layers of see through-yellow and let it dry for a bit. In the meantime I've been designing my logo to make a decal à la Fender style including a serial number. Also a first time for me making these and I'm quite happy how they turned out. The silver paint was a bit too cold silver for my liking so I mixed a little gold in there too. Still very silver but I was planning to spray some see-through yellow lacquer over it.

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I let the decals dry for a day and a half and started finishing the neck with some more see-through yellow. The last two layers were clear coat so when I sand it I won't take of too much of the color. The decal turned out a bit too yellow, almost gold-like. But I stil have to sand and polish, hopefully a little yellow will disappear from the decal when sanding it flat. But I'm okay with it either way. Now I have to wait a couple of weeks for the lacquer to dry before I can start sanding and polishing.

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That was the neck for now. Further with the body. Most of the pre-drilled holes seemed to be drilled by a drunk blind guy... So I plugged all the holes. The pickguard that came with the kit was plain white and, what bothered me more, it didn't fit the body very well. Also I planned on making my own and it's easier to copy the holes from the new pickguard to the body then the other way round.

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I could only use two of the original holes for the bridge, the other two were too far off for the screws to go in straight. By measuring I could also tell that the bridge should be moved forward about 6 millimeters. Now the saddles should intonate around halfway of the saddle screws and not at the very end of them. By moving the bridge forward I also had to Dremel out the pickup cavity so the pickup would fit.

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The jackplate holes were also a bit off, so more hole plugging and sanding. Also rounded off the sharp and thin piece of the neck cavity. That almost broke off when it caught my sweater.

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Some filling was required followed by sanding and prepping for paint!

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Fun in the sun!

I spray painted the body primer red, I love that color. In the past I have built some flightcases for my amps and also spray painted them this color. And that looked very cool with the aluminum trim. So, I decided to paint this guitar primer red and give it a somewhat hotrod look. The primer is a bit soft so I sprayed a few coats of clear over it. I like where this is going...

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Nice work Mike.

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Thanks Marcel! I'm really enjoying doing this.

Going for a hotrod look, so the clearcoat over the beautful flat red primer was too shiny. I steelwooled the shineyness off.

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What a cool build. You've had to do a lot of remedial work on this. The materials seem good but the factory fitting work would test anybody's patience. You seem to have embraced the journey with good cheer and sensible solutions to some interesting challenges.

I love the Red-Lead colour. As you say, a hot rod vibe. Or the anti-fouling paint from below the waterline on a steam ship.

It's going to be a very cool guitar, with so much of you in it. This is a really informative and illuminating thread for those who are tempted by a kit guitar. The illusion is that you just spray the body, bolt on the neck and you are rocking- but there's a lot of work in this.

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Looks good, mate. Keeps up the great work. Having built a kit Jazzmaster and rebuilt a few others, I know it can be trying. I think the satisfaction of the end result mostly outweighs the challenges.

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Thanks guys! Indeed the factory didn't do their best to get it right and that could be a problem for anyone trying to build such a kit the easy way. This was the cheapest kit I could find (€79,-) and was expecting to do more then just paint and bolt it together. I have my mind set on working on my guitars myself and this is relatively an inexpensive way to learn and get a feel for these things. I expect that the more expensive (other brand) kits would have a better fit overall. Though it is possible to just build this kit, but then it would just feel like a cheap guitar which would be hard to give a decent set up I suppose.


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