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Hmm. What should I do during lockdown?


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Last November, remember it? Winter looming and lockdown had already loomed which kinda' put the kibosh on any sort of travel plans I had intended on embarking upon. Confined to quarters, I needed a project that I could get my teeth into to alleviate any incidents of ‘gah gah’ I might succumb to.

Well, fortunately, I had the much needed lightbulb moment quite quickly and with some lateral thinking, I thought I know instead of playing a guitar, I'll become a Luthier and build one.

It was a no-brainer for me as to which make and model to build. My first pro axe was a 1968 Fender Telecaster bought the same year, so an original, which I still have and use.

Now, what raw materials do I have on hand (remember, no travel allowed) to enable this project to get off the ground? A search around various nooks and crannies turned up a scaffold board, the builders left behind after extension works some ten years ago, for the body and the neck, an old discarded oak shelf for the fret board and a square metre of plastic panel of 'ramourque' advertising blurb, that I had found had been abandoned by some dork on a woodland walk we had done a couple of years earlier for the pick guard.

I already had an assortment of hardware and electrical components at hand and everything else I needed it would just be a simple task to purchase on-line so, with no more ado, it was onwards and upwards.

First task was to download a scale dimensional drawing of a Telecaster, set the printer to full-size and, 12- A4 sheets later, I had a full size drawing which just required taping together along ‘draw’ lines. I was now able to make tracings to cut out of an old roll of wallpaper for paper templates of the body, neck, fret board, pick guard, pickup and control plate housings. With these paper templates, I then handmade MDF templates for reproducing machined made templates to produce the real-thing.

These photos are a selection from some of the build sequences during the production of the project.


1 Downloaded plan ready to be tapped together.



2  Machined body blanks.



3  Abandoned plastic sheet found in the woods.



4 Body blanks glued and clamped.



5 Paper body tempate taped to a section of MDF for sawing out.



6 Machining MDF body template for routing cavities.



7  Finished MDF body and cavity templates.



8. Part cut out body.



9 MDF template pegged to body for machining to size.



10 3-stage body machining.



11 Routing out pickup and control panel cavities via template pegged to body.



12 Finished machined body.



13 Part carved and rounding of the neck.



14 Trimming down the thickness of the neck head.



15 Routing a slot in the neck to house the truss-rod.



16 Slotting the neck for frets.



17 Finished neck with frets and mother-of-pearl fret markers fitted.



18 Trial fit of hardware including scratch plate.



19 Hole bored to house output jack.



20 First of 12 coats (4x3 passes) of nitro-cellulose paint.



21  Finished neck, sprayed and machine heads fitted.



22 Soldering wiring for pickups, control panel and output jack. All cavities lined with anti-static copper tape.



23 Job done.



With the end of lockdown long gone and other obligations and jobs occurring, I finally finished this project at the end of June when I put the guitar to one side for two months to allow the spray paint job to cure and harden.

Am I pleased with the result?  Yes. It kept me occupied and, I can only practice and churn out musical scales so many times a week after all.  It plays well, I've given it a few workouts and with just a couple more tweaks to the truss rod adjustment it should qualify as a useable instrument.  The tone of the output differs from my original, as they are built using different wood, Ash body and neck with maple fretboard '68 model and Pine body and neck with oak fretboard '21 model.

If you've made it this far, thanks for your interest and when the next lockdown corrals us all again, I might consider taking on a Strat or Les Paul build. Watch this space. ?



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