The FenderTelecaster Lover's Modification Site!

Ed Gordon

Campbell, California, USA

Ed Gordon's Tele ModMy first Telecaster. Arrogance and stupidity can lead to many things. In this case, it led to my building a Telecaster. I got the idea originally from my guitar dealer where I saw a cheap Strat kit. I figured that there had to be something better, and the guy at the shop pointed me to Warmoth. From there, I realized that it could be done. But not liking Strats, and that is a personal issue, I settled on a Telecaster, and then I started cruising the web looking for possible sources of parts & pieces. In the process, I found a local luthier who was willing to help a bit. And I learned alot in the process, and had a pile of fun.

Details on this thing:

  • The body is 2A (low quality) quilted maple over mahogony, solid. Rear routed. All that I had to do to the body was final sand, dye, and finish. And of course put it all together.
  • The neck is 1/4 sawn maple with an Ebony fretboard. It came fretted.
  • PUPs are Seymour Duncan 5-2s, neck and bridge.
  • Tuners are Schaller mini-lockers.
  • Neck radius is 15", top and bottom. I love my Taylor neck, and that is what they use.
  • Bridge is from Warmoth, I forget what model. I think that is a Gotoh, but not positive. But it is a modern style, not vintage.
  • Pots are 250k ohm, with a standard 3 way switch.
  • Nut is bone, from LMII. I shaped it and filed it myself. First time. Miracle of miracles. But I will replace it next time I change strings.
  • The top dye I mixed myself, with tints from LMII. Water based. The black I bought from Home Depot.
  • The finish is a urathane that was brushed on. I tried blowing it on with an air gun, but I could only get it to blow water. I got po'd and brushed it on. Looks like crap, but that's life.
  • No pickguard. Don't like them, did not understand the need for one on a Fender. I do now.
  • The pots go off at different angles. Oops.
  • No internal shielding.

Things that I learned, presented in no particular order:

  • Ed Gordon's Tele ModFit everything first. The neck. The string ferrules. The depth of the holes for the pots if you are doing a rear route, or they might end up pointing in odd directions. Like mine.
  • Drill all your holes before you start applying dye or finish. I did not test my ferrules, and ended up chawing up the wood to seat them properly. I also wasted some screws trying to seat the bridge because the holes were not deep enough. Nor do they all go in the right direction.
  • Tape over the area you are going to drill, if possible. It will save your wood.
  • To paraphrase the above: Fit, tape, drill. Repeat as required.
  • The proper tools are a requirement.
  • The tools you need, or at least I need, are: A hand drill. A 12" drill press. A soldering iron. A Dremel tool. Screw drivers. Sand paper. Patience. A friendly luthier. A file for the nut. Sand paper and sanding block.
  • StewMac sells NitroCellulose in a spray can. A great way do apply the finish. Better than a brush, and easier than an air gun. And cheaper.
  • Ed Gordon's Tele Mod 

    Close up of the bridge. What you don't see underneath is that the bridge screws are not flush, and go off at strange angles. A hand held drill will do that. A 12" drill press does just fine. And a 10" is too small.

    If you want a standard color dye, buying it is faster and easier than mixing it. Black is black, and mixing dyes is messy and time consuming.
  • Latex surgical gloves are a great way of keeping your hands clean. Water based dyes will be absorbed into the skin.
  • Never apply dark wood dyes on a light colored kitchen table. Especially if you don't want the spouse to know what you are up to.
  • Why Fender guitars have pick guards. On Gibsons and Archtop guitars, the pick guard is more cosmetic, or maybe a place to rest the hand. In a few cases, the controls are mounted on the pick guard. But on the Teles and Strats, the pick guard is a structural member, in that it locates and holds the neck PUP in place. Which is why my neck PUP is at a slight lean towards the neck.
  • The folks at Chapman Guitar will make you a pick guard out of plexiglass. Cool.
  • Ed Gordon's Tele Mod 

    Just a photo of the side of the guitar. I stained the top first, then taped it off and stained the back and sides. Also, mahogany side grain stains better than Ash. Not sure what to do about that. Sound and authenticity or ease and quality of staining?

    You can get springs to put under the pups instead of plastic tubing. I have not tried this yet, but I will.
  • The best way to get the tubes to stick to the pup when trying to mount the pup is a touch of Elmers glue.
  • A touch of glue will make your ferrules stick real well.
  • Use a high quality jack and high quality strap locks. The difference in price is small, the difference in quality is not.
  • Just what in the *&^%* I have gotten myself in to.
  • A great way to mount your guitar when spraying it is to use a piece of neck It will keep the neck pocket clean and you won't have to clean it out to mount the neck. Finding a piece of neck is the hard part. All you need is the bottom 6 inches, so any old piece of junk will work.
  • Knowledge of color theory and application would help. A color wheel is a good idea.
  • There are lots of web sites with great ideas. Plagarize at will.
  • Gibsons, or replicas, are a bi*& to build properly. So I won't.

After building my Tele, I went back to my dealer who looked at this thing and pronounced it serviceable. For my first effort, I an satisfied. But now I have the bug. The next one has to be better. Look and sound a bit more vintage. The finishing job has to be better. Better quality woods. Ash body instead of mahogony. The price is going up. Rapidly.

Read more about Ed's Telecaster Adventures, and see more of his creations here!

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