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What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

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What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Matthew Lau » Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:49 pm

Hey MIMF solid-body people,

I'm usually an acoustic guy, but recently fell in love with a Telecaster.
I can (finally) afford a Telecaster without thinking about it too much, but can't find a lightweight one that I like.
So I plan to build a feather-weight Tele, and a featherweight Les Paul in Port Orford Cedar.

Have you guys found guitars that you built because i'ts not possible to buy one?
What was it?

-Matt

Ps. I have some Wilde Bill telecaster pickups I'm thinking of using. I'm not sure what your thoughts are on those...
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Matthew Lau » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:45 pm

Oh, and I'd also appreciate it if you could recommend what NOT to do.
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Freeman Keller » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:54 pm

I had an interesting experience a couple of years ago. I am fairly active on another guitar discussion forum and had posted a few build threads. I got a PM from a forumite who asked if I would be interested in building him a guitar. I asked what he wanted, he said he had been trying to buy a left handed ES-335 but couldn't find one, would I consider building him one? I thought about it, we worked out a deal, money appeared in my Paypal account and I built a guitar that I couldn't play to test

We had a lot of exchange about the neck profile and color and I inlayed his band's logo in the pickguard

Image

Oh, yeah, the kicker - he lives in Vienna Austria, I live in the US of A. I had to figure out how to ship it internationally - all came out fine and he has sent me several clips of him playing gigs around Europe. Only on the internet....


I also had a friend approach me about building an "acoustic guitar that looks like an ES-175" (sorry, this one isn't really an electric). I did, with some special inlay and a few special touches, at the last minute I buried a K&K sound board transducer - he may never plug it in but the pup is there if he decides to

Image

Other than that I mostly build acoustics and the occassional tele or LP
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Freeman Keller » Wed Aug 23, 2017 10:02 pm

Matthew Lau wrote:Oh, and I'd also appreciate it if you could recommend what NOT to do.


OK, you want to build a light weight tele and les paul. One thing to consider on the lester (you could also do it on the tele but it would be a ton of work) is to chamber it. Here is a chambered LP about ready to get its top - chambering saves several pounds over all

Image

However it will also affect the sound. I've built two LP's with identical body, neck, pickups, etc - one is chambered and the top cap is spanish cedar, the other is solid and the top is maple - they have distinctly different sound. Which one is "better" is a matter of taste

Image

As far as the tele - again, you can chamber them (Fender did this with some) but frankly I think a tele is the most basic of all electric guitars and should be made out of one single hunk of not necessarily great wood - I'm partial to old barn wood. Cheap and dirty is where its at

Image
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:17 am

This is the very first guitar I built. I was really Jonesing for a cherry burst, but couldn't afford a Fender.
I didn't realize how much work I set myself up for when I started the finish. Now, I've done a few bursts, and rather like them.

The wood under the stain is a really light piece of ash, with a muted grain.
It is a two piece body also.

1st Tele Body Horizontal - Small.jpg


Here is another. This one os a heavy piece with a very pronounced grain.
I like this one myself, as the balance is great, NO neck dive.

Caribbean Burst Body Front.jpg
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:03 am

Nice work, Gordon and Freeman! Love the bursts.
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Rodger Knox » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:30 am

A Flying V, many years ago.
http://www.mimf.com/old-lib/knox_flyingv.htm
Sorry about the photos, that was pre-digital.
A man hears what he wants to hear, and disreguards the rest. Paul Simon
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Freeman Keller » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:57 am

Mathew, one suggestion I would make is to get good plans for anything you want to build. At one time there was a very good D sized pdf that you could download from the Tele Discussion forum TDPRI.com but the last time I tried I got an error message. I do have that file on my computer and since it is in the public domain I would be happy to e-mail it to you (you need to send me your e-mail address via a PM).

I also have plans for the thin line tele (Fenders version of the chambered one) but frankly I don't think they are very good (and they are not public domain so you'll need to seek them out and pay for them).

Stewart McDonald had very good plans for a Les Paul but I'm not sure they are still available. I see others on line but don't have any experience. Get the SM one if you can find it.

When you get your plans get several copies printed (Kinkos or any engineering/architect firm) - you'll cut them up to make various routing templates. I also recommend Melvyn Hiscock's book on building your own electric guitar - pay special attention to his section on geometry. While you can work from dimensional specifications of bridges, pickups, etc I think it is a good idea to have the actual hardware in hand while you are doing your build.

Tele geometry is dead simple and if you get it wrong you can just throw a shim in the neck pocket. A Lester is quite a bit more complex - the combination of neck angle and carved top and set neck makes it very important to get the geometry just right or you won't have enough adjustment in your bridge. I keep checking and double checking that right up to the point where I glue the neck to the body and I worry about it until its strung up.

When you get ready to build and have any questions I've got lots of photos of both tele's and LP's - let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Dan Smith » Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:30 pm

I wanted a RR offset-V. The stock colors are boring.
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Dan Smith » Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:51 pm

I can make "copies" that are half the price, better quality, and with exotic materials.
I donate all of my builds. The joy of giving is a rush.
It's also cool to experiment with different pickup configurations, weight relief, neck profiles, etc.
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:10 am

Some gorgeous guitars there Dan!
What kind of wood is on the top of that Tele?
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Dan Smith » Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:09 pm

Gordon Bellerose wrote:Some gorgeous guitars there Dan!
What kind of wood is on the top of that Tele?

Thanks Gordon!
The top is a Bubinga veneer.
Dan
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Edgar Jessop » Sun Aug 27, 2017 5:22 pm

I had accumulated some extra parts so to get rid of them I decided that I needed a korina wood chambered flat top LP Special replica with a Bigsby, three pickups with a master volume and two tone controls, and a 5-way switch.

Webp.net-resizeimage (1).jpg
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Beate Ritzert » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:53 am

With 15 i could not afford any electric guitar, so i built my Flying V (and modified it a few times through the years):

Image

Ten Years later i could not afford an archtop and did that one:

Image
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Randolph Rhett » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:20 am

I don't know about couldn't, but wouldn't. Won't. Haven't bought a guitar in 15 years.

A "Tele" with a beautiful Biltoff CC in the neck.

IMG_4313.jpg
IMG_4315.jpg
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Matthew Lau » Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:57 pm

Hey Lester,

Even your glue-up pictures are tasteful and artistic! :D

Personally, I think of Barn wood and other old growth stuff as desireable.
I plan to build a Strat/Tele hybrid with old-growth Port Orford Cedar.
It won't be symmetrical. I'm just putting together woods from my workshop.
But it's exactly what I want, but can't buy.

While I think it should be too hard to make, nobody is selling it to my knowledge!
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Matthew Lau » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:00 pm

Randolph Rhett wrote:I don't know about couldn't, but wouldn't. Won't. Haven't bought a guitar in 15 years.

A "Tele" with a beautiful Biltoff CC in the neck.

IMG_4313.jpg
IMG_4315.jpg


Hey Randolph,

If my builds turn out as nice as yours, there'd be no point in going to the store.

Your guitar looks FAAAAAAAR better than anything from Fender's custom shop.
Excellent job on the bookmatch and everything else.

What bridge did you use? Is it a Gotoh?
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Randolph Rhett » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:58 am

Matthew Lau wrote:
Randolph Rhett wrote:I don't know about couldn't, but wouldn't. Won't. Haven't bought a guitar in 15 years.

A "Tele" with a beautiful Biltoff CC in the neck.

IMG_4313.jpg
IMG_4315.jpg


Hey Randolph,

If my builds turn out as nice as yours, there'd be no point in going to the store.

Your guitar looks FAAAAAAAR better than anything from Fender's custom shop.
Excellent job on the bookmatch and everything else.

What bridge did you use? Is it a Gotoh?


I ended up using individual string bridges because I HAD to have spacing wider than standard Fender. HAD to.

In what world would I actually have noticed the difference between the Gotoh 2 1/8 and the 2 3/16 I wanted? Never. But you know how it is, you get these ideas in your head about what you want. In any case, if I wanted stock Fender dimensions I would have bought a Squire! Still the individual string bridges were a PITA to make sure they lined up and spaced properly.
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Re: What electric guitars have you built because you couldn't buy it?

Postby Robert Smallwood » Fri Sep 22, 2017 3:35 am

What got me into this whole pursuit was a photo of the CS 356 - a scaled down ES335 - much more user friendly - well with kids mortgage etc etc I didn't contemplate buying one so decided to have a go at building it. Warts and all I was thrilled with the result and brought it in well under $800.00. ( Not counting tools lol )

Now I need to make slightly wider necks to accommodate arthritic fingers...
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