First Commission Build - Is A Super-Tele A Thing?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by TerribleTim68, Apr 8, 2022.

  1. Okay gang, I'm gonna get moving on this build here fairly soon so I guess it's time to post up a build thread. At first I was hesitant to post this, because it is "TalkBass" and this will be a 6 string guitar build, but you guys talked me into it, so here goes.

    The Plan:
    I've been asked by my old guitarist from my younger band days to build him a custom telecaster. Let me put this in a bit more perspective; he's not just my former guitarist, he was literally my best friend all through high school and part of junior high. When I moved to this town he was literally the first person I met at school and became friends with. We were inseparable, like Tacoma's version of The Toxic Twins, we did everything together and went everywhere together. We later formed a band and played together for years. We changed a few other members, but the two of us stuck together through all of it until I finally stepped out of the band scene. So for him to ask me to build him a custom guitar is kind of an honor for me.
    So what does he want?
    Man, great question! I've bene asked to build a Telecaster shaped object, the customer has specified Fender Custom Shop Texas Special pickups and, get this, a Floyd Rose tremolo...on a Telecaster, and he wants it "neck-thru". The customer's only other request was for his name to be custom inlayed in the fretboard. I have full freedom on all woods, finishes and even headstock shape. I even have full freedom on any contour carves on the Telecaster body, as long as the general outline is still Telecaster shaped from the top down. I've heard of "super Strats" but is a Super Tele a thing? Because I think we're building a super tele here, or at the very least we're building the world's most bizarre tele! :woot:
    So, Neck-Thru Telecaster, Texas Specials, Floyd Rose w/ locking nut, name inlayed in fretboard. Go nuts on the rest. :smug:

    This will be my first commission build, my first customer guitar and my first guitar that will be "out in the wild". I'm equal parts nervous and excited. I know I will be fully judged on this build, because it WILL get gigged. Him and his wife do these pseudo-acoustic two-man shows where they sit on a stage in a small café/bar and he picks the guitar while she scratches out some vocals (I'm not a big fan of her voice). He is also doing recording and mixing at a local music studio, so there's a good chance this thing ends up being recorded too. I gotta get it right, from top to bottom.

    First Steps:
    I need to source some templates. Yes, I'm aware I could just grab a drawing off the interwebs and make my own. But if I'm gonna build a Tele why not invest in the stuff to make more Teles in the future? And, I'd like to just source a laser cut template that I know is dead on rather than try to make one and end up a teeny tiny fraction off somewhere that bugs me forever. Ideally, I'd like to source a full set of body and neck templates, even though I'm going to be changing the headstock shape. I asked the customer and he said he would rather have the headstock shape reflect me and my builds than a true Telecaster headstock. This also gives me a chance to go 3+3 to help reduce overall length / neck-dive. Not that neck dive is a thing on Teles, I don't know, but I think I plan on going 3+3 because I like the look better.
    So there we go, a placeholder for this build. I think I'm gonna do this one as part of the "Great Guitar Build Off 2022 - Community Build" so I need to get moving on it. I'm supposed to pick up a deposit from him Sunday, so then I'll have some cash to start ordering the important stuff and I'll need to take a trip down to my favorite woodworking store and see what they have in stock for wood, start thinking about all that. I've got some pretty nice flame maple, but I need to see if it is long enough for a neck-thru guitar, I'm not convinced it is. Bolt-on, sure, but neck-thru? Hmm. :cautious:
    Anyways, as part of GGBO-22 I'll be filming this one for the YouTube channel, which adds extra pressure. What I can tell you about being a Youtube content creator is, anything you can do in a half hour, add about 3 hours if you plan on filming it and then about another 8 hours of video editing. :jawdrop: :eek:
    But hey, who needs sleep anyways?

    Buckle up, here we GOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! :roflmao:
    Rôckhewer, Bent77, deff and 8 others like this.
  2. Oh, and for anyone interested, this would be me and the customer playing in these songs, back in our younger days, circa 1991 -

  3. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    Looking forward to seeing how this unfolds!

    With a neckthrough on a tele, you might want some deviations from standard anyways, at least around the heel (and the infamous router hump). If you want to buy commercial templates you could just use the commercial template to make your own body template, with a relief cut to fit around the heel of the neck.

    Do you have any thoughts at all on overall look? Wood, colors, anything? Pickguard? Controls?
    TerribleTim68 likes this.
  4. I believe you’ve said you’re aware of them but the templates from Maximum Guitars are supposed to be excellent quality if you have the $$$. Also, I have a black Limba Tele shaped body with a Floyd and a humbucker at the bridge and single coil in the neck. Still a bolt on so not quite what you’re doing but it does have the full GraphTech acoustic and Roland GR controller output so “Super Tele” isn’t unheard of.
    mikewalker and TerribleTim68 like this.
  5. Not yet. I mean, sort of. :roflmao:
    Like I said, he wants the Texas Special set, so the pickups will still be the typical Tele "look" of dual single coils, one slanted in the bridge position. I plan on leaving them alone, no custom covers. If he wants those specific pickups, he probably wants them to be seen.
    I'm probably gonna do a natural finish, I just don't know what wood it will be yet. I need to take a look at what is in stock and what "speaks to me". I really like the ash body with the zebrano top I did on Lucifer, but I'm not sure I want to recreate that on a Tele shape. So I need to see what they have in stock and then I'll decide. I kind of want the top to full cover the top, not show the neck-thru section through the top. But I'm also thinking of doing some sort of Kiesel style arm carve where they expose the layers underneath, just not as dramatic as Kiesel does it. -
    Screenshot 2022-04-08 102048.jpg
    I also want to do some sort of mega-multi-lam neck too, using thin veneers between lams. So something light colored with black dyed veneers, maybe maple and purpleheart with black dyed veneers, or if they have redheart I may go that route. But whatever I put in the neck, I want to carry through to the intermediate layer of the body so it creates a stripe in that arm carve area, if that makes sense. So maybe you have a maple top with purple or red heart under it and then ash under that for the body. I do like the ash core for the body wings, it sure saves weight.
    So yeah, I've got some ideas floating around in my head. But nothing set in stone yet. I need to start digging into Telecaster measurements.
    Hey @Jon Clegg, do you have a Tele CAD drawing that I could pilfer?
    Beej, Matt Liebenau and dwizum like this.
  6. Yeah, those are amazing. I'm just not sure I wanna go that price.

    Pics or it didn't happen. I don't make the rules man. :roflmao:
    T_Bone_TL likes this.

  7. I will after that nasty, build interrupting thing AKA work…
    Bent77, TerribleTim68 and T_Bone_TL like this.
  8. Gary_M

    Gary_M Formerly known as SlingBlader Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2013
    Northern Indiana
    Hey Tim. Great to see you're getting started on this. Having just built 3 of these (not neck through, but good info anyway), I have a couple of resources that you might be interested in.

    Here is a very accurate body plan. I'm pretty sure I got this from TDPRI at some point.

    Also, here is a link to the Tele templates that I bought on Reverb. They are high quality and very accurate. They would be a great starting point for you.

    Let me know if you have questions. :)

    Attached Files:

  9. rickwrench


    Oct 29, 2016
    Golden State
    A thick slab Tele is a great starting point. I built a Gretsch-caster for a jazz buddy a while back. Tele outline, but with many PRS and Les Paul cues - set net (PRS style), carved top, back loaded w/knob recesses, deep reach carve on the lower horn. I used a Duesenberg tremolo, Gretsch Filtertrons, "vintage" wiring (tone cap on the output lug).
    No matter what you do to it, it's still going to have the Tele silhouette.
    Beej and TerribleTim68 like this.
  10. Thank you! Appreciate that. :cool:
    SlingBlader likes this.
  11. BishopJP


    Apr 5, 2019
    North Carolina
    Looking forward to watching this build progress!
    TerribleTim68 likes this.
  12. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Cool project, Tim. If nobody else coughs one up, Lemme know and I can draw up a CAD plan for you. I’ve always been a sucker for F holes in a Tele, adds some instant chambering and weight reduction if the image works for this build. Maybe work some elbow relief and belly cut in too, Teles can be a bit uncomfortable to play without them.
    TerribleTim68 likes this.
  13. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    That drawing @SlingBlader posted the link to is very good. If that’s in PDF format, I can import directly into Autocad (usually) for modifications. I’ve been doing that with all kinds of hardware drawings.
  14. Yeah, I actually found a couple .dwg files so I can drag it into AutoCAD over here and start poking at it. -
    Screenshot 2022-04-08 120810.jpg Screenshot 2022-04-08 120831.jpg
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  15. RichterScale


    Feb 21, 2021
    Would that same body size work for a 34" scale bass?
  16. Fender's American Ultra Luxe Telecaster and John 5 signature Telecaster might be good points of reference for "super-Teles".
    Beej likes this.
  17. There's lots of Tele basses out there, but I'm not sure if they use a different size body or not.
    RichterScale likes this.
  18. Bloomfield


    Jan 21, 2020
    Nova Scotia
    I don't think it would very well. I once made a tele-shaped 34" bass but I scaled it up to about 14" wide I think. I don't recall it having any neck dive, but it was heavy white ash. I'll have look later to see if that template is still around here.
    RichterScale likes this.
  19. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Mmmm, nice. I took a shine to Tele-shaped objects recently. It’s a great compact shape that is pretty comfortable, although I thin mine down to 1.5” or less….



  20. RichterScale


    Feb 21, 2021
    Dam, those are nice.
    Beej likes this.

Share This Page