Birth of a Tele – Part 3

I took the plunge last night and tackled the hard part, getting the bridge and neck mounted in proper alignment. I say I tackled it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I accomplished it. But I did get them attached to the body, and while I was at it, I also attached the pickguard, control plate and  strap pins.

The body I’m using came with the through holes for the strings already drilled, but not the mounting holes for the bridge. It was also drilled for the neck, but the neck itself was not drilled. So the big challenge was to get the bridge and the neck lined up with each other and then screwed to the body while still in alignment.

The way I went about that was by putting on the two E strings, snugging them up a bit, and then checking that the strings were correctly located on the neck without being too far to either side. Once I was confident that I had them lined up correctly, I used an awl to mark the holes for the bridge. Then I drilled the holes and screwed the bridge down, and used the  now attached bridge to line up the neck so I could mark where the holes needed to be in that. Once I had those holes marked, I drilled the 4 holes in the back of the neck and screwed the neck onto the body.

Now that I had the neck and bridge attached, I decided to go ahead and mount the pickguard and control plate to get them lined up properly too. I ended up with a slight gap between the pickguard and the end of the neck, but that’s probably due to the way the control plate fit. And since the control plate has to cover the access hole, there’s really no leeway for moving it around much. No matter though, the slight gap doesn’t bother me, and if I decide it shows too much, I’ll take it off and paint the small strip of wood that shows black. No one will ever see it.

It still needs a nut and a jack plate, and it still needs to be wired up, so there is plenty to do before I can fire it up and see how it sounds. In the meantime, here’s what she looks like right now.

Birth of a Tele – Part 1

Now that I’m officially “retired,” I thought it was a good time to start a new hobby. Well, maybe not entirely new, but something I haven’t done for a long time. So I’ve decided to build a (actually, another) Telecaster guitar. It’s not that I need another Tele, but since when does “need” have anything to do with it!

This all started rather innocently when I was going through some drawers looking for something (now I don’t even remember what I was looking for) when I came across a Tele bridge and control plate. And then a few days later, I stumbled across a set of Tele Kinman pickups I had forgotten that I even had. What can I say, it was kismet! I almost had no choice but to put those parts to good use in a new Tele. After all, who am I to tempt fate!

Here are the parts I was able to find in drawers and closets that I had completely forgotten about.


To get the ball rolling, I needed a body. I have a couple of old Tele bodies in my closet, but the reason they’re in the closet and not part of complete guitars is that they both weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of one ton. Because of old age and a bad back, I needed something much lighter. So I bought an unfinished paulownia body from GFS and gave it a quick finish with Tru Oil. I didn’t want a glossy factory-type finish, but something more like an old barn door. To get that, I just sanded the body lightly to smooth it out a little and then rubbed on several coats of the Tru Oil. This body weighs 1.2kg, or just a tad more than 2.6 lbs.

Here’s the body the way I received it.



And here it is with the Tru Oil finish. It’s actually a little darker than it appears in the pictures.



And here it is with the parts just sitting on top to see how they fit. I can’t attach the bridge until I have the neck so I can be sure the alignment is correct before I drill any holes. That’ll be the next step.


The neck is due to arrive in a week or so. This is what it looks like. It’s a Musikraft neck with a roasted birdseye maple fingerboard. Sure looks good in the pic!



When it gets here, I’ll move on to Part 2. Stay tuned!


Guitar picks. Ubiquitous little pieces of celluloid or plastic, or sometimes other materials like nylon, bone or metal, that many guitarists use but that don’t seem to get talked about very often. For more than 40 years I was perfectly happy with my choice of pick, the “standard” Fender 341 pick, although I used the rounded shoulder rather than the point.


Then several years ago I met a guitarist who would completely change my attitude toward the guitar, including my choice of pick. This guitarist goes by the name of “Spider” and he introduced me to swing blues and jazz guitar which resulted in my buying some nice archtop guitars, devoting myself to relearning the guitar and, among other things, changing to a new pick!

The pick that Spider uses is a big, green thing with 3 pointy ends. I tried that one but it was too thin for me, and too pointy, so I tried a thicker pick from the same company, I think it was purple. Better, but still too pointy. That’s when I discovered the big Fender 3-corner pick and adopted the extra heavy version as my new pick of choice.


I used this pick for some years, although I was never completely satisfied with it. I subsequently bought a lot of different kinds of picks to try, but was never able to find quite what I wanted. I tried everything from tiny little jazz picks to gypsy jazz Wegen picks, but nothing really worked. The closest I got was a pick from V-Picks that I bought when they first went into business. I liked it enough that I bought just about every pick they made, but even then it was close but no cigar.

It was at this point where I was waffling back and forth between the Fender extra Heavy pick and a few different V-Picks that I kinda liked, when I decided to take another look at the V-Picks website and see if they had anything new to offer that might work for me. I ended up ordering a half dozen or so different picks to try and in that batch of new picks I found my perfect pick! It’s called the “Bb” and it looks like this:



I like the shape, I like the size, I like the thickness, and I like the way it sounds. What else is there! And one cool thing about these picks is that they seem to be made out of some kind of material that as it warms up with use it tends to cling to your fingers, making it harder to drop. I don’t know how or why it works but it’s cool. I haven’t dropped my pick since I started using these. I’m a happy picker.

I just ordered a few more of these since I have been known to lose my picks on occasion, and while I was ordering I also ordered the fattest pick they make, the Insanity. Not sure why I did that, but it’s an interesting pick and I’m glad I got it. The original design is rather pointy so I asked Vinni to make me a less-pointy one and he did a great job of it. I’m not sure that I would use this on a gig, not yet anyway, but I do like it and it is surprisingly easy to play with. But one thing I have noticed about this pick, and it applies to the Bb as well, is that each point sounds different. It’s not a huge difference, but definitely noticeable. I have also found messing around with some of Vinni’s other picks using my fingernail files, that slight changes in the shape of the tip have an effect on the tone. I don’t know if this would apply to other picks from other companies or made out of other materials, but it does apply here.

So here is a group shot of my “old” extra heavy Fender pick, my new standard Bb V-Pick and the Insanity, side by side. As you can see, they all have roughly the same shape, with the Bb being slightly smaller in diameter and the Insanity being slightly larger. The size of the Bb turns out to be just right for my fingers. Obviously other fingers may disagree.



And here is an edge shot so that you can see the difference in thickness of the 3 picks. That Insanity is, well, insane! But it is a blast to play with. If you want to know the specs on the V-Picks just take a look at the website.



So that’s it. I have a found a pick that fits my fingers, is comfortable to play with and sounds great. Now I have no excuse for not getting back to practicing! Incidentally, I should add here that I have no affiliation with V-Picks other than as a satisfied user. I paid for all my picks just like everybody else, and I’ll gladly buy more when I lose the ones I have now. Thanks Vinni, for making these great picks.