I had a stroke of luck. Well, sort of. I appealed on social media for anyone with a spare lump of wood, or possibly solid wood kitchen worktop. A builder friend said he had a few bits that I could have. I popped round and was chuffed to find that it’s the same as the walnut worktop I have used before and that there’s loads of it!
I love the shape of a telecaster. I have a router template in the telecaster shape. Those two things lead to the inevitable, its going to be telecaster shape again. I thought that processing 2 bodies at a time would be more efficient so have made a start. I have plans for these two that will differ a bit from previous builds. More on that later.
The most annoying bit is the rough cut with jigsaw. You need to cut it to a few mm larger than you need before trimming to size by router. I don’t have a bandsaw, which would be a better tool for the job, so jigsaw it is. It does the job but it takes a while.
The necks I used for Deepset 2 and Deepset 3 were fine but needed a lot of work on the frets to make them usable. This time I decided to try one recommended by a fellow guitar builder, a little more pricey but hopefully will need less fretwork. It’s made of baked maple, so a lovely dark colour, and beautiful grain too. The fingerboard is rosewood with a nice grain pattern. Jumbo frets should make it quite a nice playable neck.
You can see the lovely grain in the pictures below, and this is an unfinished product. Can’t wait to see that grain pop when the finish is applied to the maple and lemon oil on the fingerboard.
I need good weather for the messy bits, and took advantage of a fine autumn day to rout the body to size, round off the edges with my new profiling bit and cut the neck pocket. You’ll notice that I have abandoned the idea of working two bodies and am focusing on just one for now.
I was chuffed that the neck pocket size was perfect. You know you have got it right when the neck supports its own weight just sitting in the pocket. Better make sure I place the bridge carefully because there’s going to be no adjustment in the neck pocket!
Just one layer of Osmo Polyx on the necks and the grain is popping beautifully. A bit of lemon oil on the fingerboards too and the necks have a bit of protection for the small amount of fret levelling they need.
I measured and marked out the position of the bridge. As the neck was so snug I had to be really careful getting it right as there will be very little repositioning possible.
The process of creating the cavities is quite time consuming and messy. And very noisy! I do like it though. First you drill out most of the material with a forstner drill bit and then using a template rout the rest out. I finished the pickup cavities and made a start on the controls cavity in the back, but both my trimmer router bits are looking like the bearings are on the way out. I’ll have to replace them I guess. That’s annoying, they’re not cheap! It also means that I can’t finish the cavities until I get the new bits.
Somebody asked me recently how the channels are made to pass the wiring between pickup cavities. The answer – a very long drill bit!
I haven’t finished the cavity for the battery compartment or the edge for the rear cavity so the cover can be recessed. That’s for another messy day, but in the meantime I gave it a good sanding and tested out a dilute stain to see how it would take to the surface.
Finished routing the cavities. I had some trouble with the template and made a bit of a mistake. Nothing that will show at the end, it’s cosmetic and will be covered with copper tape ultimately. After that I gave it a sanding and stained it. One coat of sanding sealer, and its starting to look pretty nice…
Back to the neck.
Pre-made necks often need a lot of work on frets. This one was pretty good to start with so didn’t take too long to level and polish. They’re looking great, I think this guitar is going to be a great one to play. I’ve added my decal to the headstock and will begin applying the finish when it’s dry.
It’s always good to get ready for applying the finish by the end of a weekend. I can apply 2 coats of finish a day throughout the week while at work, one in the early morning and one in the evening. That way I end the week with lots of coats of finish and ready for the real fun part. This time I have used the Satin version of Osmo PolyX. The pictures below were taken after a few initial glossy coats, see later for the satin finish.
So the weekend arrives and it’s time to drill all the holes I’ll need, line the cavities with grounded copper foil for shielding, and starting to attach the hardware.
I have always found it quite nerve-wracking to get the tuners perfectly lined up. It crossed my mind that I only need to line one up and then put some tape parallel to the holes to drill the anchor screws in the exact right spot. I’m probably late to the party and every other builder knows this already but it did make the job easier.
Down to the electronics. I’ve always enjoyed soldering so I like this bit. First I soldered the sound circuit, the lighting circuit is independent and I can do that later.
Once that was done it can be played of course!
You can tell it’s close to completion when I make progress in the evenings after work.
Finished the sound circuit (lighting circuit not started yet but it’s independent so doesn’t matter for now).
I had adjusted the neck to dead flat before I did the the fret work. After putting it together and stringing up I expected to need to adjust the truss rod again. The action was very low over the frets (top E string practically resting on them) so I expected a buzzy experience, but actually it was remarkably good. I did a quick setup without adjusting the neck, just string height, no intonation yet. The strings are now at the standard 4/64″ at 12th fret for the moment but by the time I have finished I think they’ll tolerate being lower than that. Even with the rough setup it’s very playable, certainly the best of my builds so far.
The tone is really nice too, those irongear pickups have a lot of depth and a very crisp top end, the pseudo single coil sound setting is so clean. The greasebucket tone control is a really nice way to roll of some of the top end when you need it.
Lighting circuit completed, didn’t take long. I added an extra resistor to limit the current because the leds were dazzling!
Last peripherals added, string tree, made a cover for the back cavity, and its finished!
The gallery will be available on the website http://www.deepset.co.uk soon, and the guitar will be for sale in the UK in the next week or two.
I’ll miss this guitar when it sells, with an action of 3/64″ it’s so playable, and the tone is so versatile from a twangy telecaster sound to a full clean, almost like an acoustic guitar. I’ll record a demo video soon so you can hear for yourself.