Walnut medium-scale Tele Deluxe/Snakehead mashup

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by ctmullins, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    So I'm generally not a fan of Fender instruments at all. Here and there they do cool stuff (the new Dimension bass looks sweet), but their utilitarian heritage, gaudy aesthetics, and obsession with obsolescent design just turn me off.

    Then one day I stumbled into the Basses forum, and this thread caught my eye: http://www.talkbass.com/index.php?threads/If-Fender-asked-you-to-design-your-OWN-bass....1077833/

    Dangit!

    The seed was planted.

    The original inspiration was the Rosewood Tele, along with the '72 Deluxe with its big humbuckers, and the Snakehead headstock of the prototype. Since I can't afford a solid rosewood body blank, the next best thing to me is black walnut. So here are my specs:

    Black walnut Tele single-cut body (NOT the Tele bass body)
    One-piece black walnut bolt-on neck, snakehead headstock
    32" scale mac ebony fingerboard, no inlays
    Quilt maple Thinline-style pickguard, dyed black
    Chrome Hipshot A bridge
    Chrome Hipshot Ultralite tuners with detuner
    Dark Star in the mid-position, Novak EB-BS at the neck
    Passive electronics: single volume, Gibson-style 3-way switch, Stellartone Bass Ten
    D'Addario Chromes

    While shopping for a suitable body blank, I found a fellow on eBay who had already-shaped walnut Tele bodies for about the same price as an unshaped blank, so I had him make me one with no pickup routes, which put me ahead of the game a bit. :)

    I hate Fender-style inline headstocks, and out of all of the various styles of Fender headstocks, I think the Tele style is the ugliest. I know many disagree with me, but I think it's absolutely hideous. So when I learned about the "snakehead" headstock of the original, I knew that was the style for me!

    So far the neck is rough-shaped, and the maple pickguard is done:

    IMG_0139.jpg

    Since that photo, I've installed the truss rod, glued on the fretboard, thicknessed the headstock, and installed the neck bolt inserts.


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  2. Oh. Yeah. Sub'd.
     
  3. devinp17

    devinp17

    Jun 26, 2014
    Ontario, Canada
    Sub'd
     
  4. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Thicknessing the headstock:

    IMG_2092.jpg

    Truss rod recess (still need to clean it up some):

    IMG_2093.jpg

    Radiusing the fretboard:

    IMG_2140.jpg

    Dressing the fret ends:

    IMG_2141.jpg

    Hope to have more time today and tomorrow to work on the body routes!
     
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  5. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    I love the smell of Walnut! Made a BIG pile of lovely shavings today:

    IMG_2143.jpg

    I hollowed out everything under the pickguard, for a bit of weight reduction. Most of my builds have been a bit on the heavy side, so I'm going to chamber where I can.

    IMG_2146.jpg

    The Novak EB-BS needs to be recessed into the body a bit; otherwise it sits too proud and the strings can hit the cover, sending a nasty impulse spike through the amp - found that out when it was installed into the RayBird.

    IMG_2147.jpg

    Also did a rough carve on the neck with the fearsome Shinto Saw Rasp:

    IMG_2144.jpg

    A good day! :)
     
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  6. pilotjones

    pilotjones

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Very cool, I had never heard of a snakehead Tele, since I'm not a guitarist of a real Fender guy. But this build has got me thinking. And yeah, walnut and its shavings are great.
     
  7. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Harvested the Dark Star from the ThunderStick (that instrument will be getting a makeover soon, to include a pair of Vintage Vibe CC-Riders…).

    Brightwork mockup:

    IMG_2149.jpg

    Love me some chrome! :)
     
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  8. xaxxat

    xaxxat

    Oct 31, 2008
    Yummy...
     
  9. uh oh, The big guns are coming out. Love the dark star in there. Should be a cool bass.
     
  10. Joe Kyle

    Joe Kyle

    Oct 18, 2008
    Connecticut
    <3 Tele style basses
     
  11. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Thanks for the interest and the kind words folks! This build is going pretty quickly.

    I got the cavity routed for the Dark Star the other day. Today I routed the back for an electronics cavity.

    TIMG_0001.jpg

    The main reason for this is that the maple pickguard on the front will be glued on. I absolutely hate tacky screw heads messing up the aesthetics of the front of a bass. I'm not crazy about it on the back either, but it's much more acceptable to me back there.

    I did the outer perimeter with a homemade template, and then Sharpied the inner route and free-handed it, since it won't be seen.

    TIMG_0002.jpg

    One last look at the routes from the top before the guard is glued on:

    TIMG_0003.jpg

    Also got the final carve on the neck, finish-sanded it, and dressed the fret ends. I didn't have an 11/16" bit, so I ordered one, and as soon as it comes in I can drill the tuner holes, and then it's Tru-Oil time for the neck!


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  12. wraub

    wraub

    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    Lookin' good so far...

    One thing re: losing the tacky looking screw heads on the front of the instrument- I have found double sided tape to work well for that.
     
  13. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Hmm. Is double-sided tape permanent? I had to be pretty careful gluing it, as I didn't want any squeeze-out, since the Tru-Oil won't stick to those spots. I think I did pretty well.

    Today I masked off the portion that needed to be routed away for the EB-BS, and then, well, routed it away. :)

    TIMG_0004.jpg

    Also drilled holes for the controls. A bit more finish sanding and it'll be Tru-Oil time!

    TIMG_0005.jpg


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  14. wraub

    wraub

    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    Nope, not permanent. Easy to remove the taped on part (but it stays in place until removed), and no residue left behind (at least in my experience.)
     
  15. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Man oh man, there is nearly nothing as pretty as oiled walnut!

    TIMG_0006.jpg

    Got six coats on now, with a bit of wet-sanding after the fifth. Getting a nice shine, although I apparently didn't sand the maple pickguard quite enough...

    I should receive the last of my hardware today, which means I should be oiling the neck tonight. Assembly within a week, hopefully! :)


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  16. Dadagoboi

    Dadagoboi CATALDO BASSES Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2005
    Florida Swamp
    CataldoBasses: Designer/Builder ThunderBuckerPickups:Consultant
    Looking Good! As to double stick tape, there are many variations. 3M VHB (Very High Bond) is used in auto and aircraft assembly. It's fairly permanent. I use their lower strength double stick on pickguards but I don't have controls mounted on them.

    http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/...-Sided-Bonding-Tapes/3M-VHB-Tape?N=6105&rt=r3

    There's a California guy on Ebay who sells small quantities at great pricing with very quick shipping on all the 3M tapes.
     
  17. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Got my drill bits yesterday, and got my tuner holes drilled last night. So it was time for a first string-up, primarily to check pickup placement and neck alignment, but also to get a gratuitous visual. :)

    TIMG_0007.jpg

    I'm happy with this!

    I found a spot on the neck carve that is still a bit high, so I'll shave that down, then I'll start oiling the neck. Meantime I should be able to start wiring up the body. :hyper:


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  18. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Mmmmm, optimism.

    Last night I attached alligator clips to the pickup leads and ran it through an amp for the first time. By complete coincidence (or what Professor McGonagall called "sheer dumb luck"), the two pickups happen to be RWRP. Was a little worried about that!

    However, while plunking on it the last few days I've also discovered that the neck carve is still too fat on the bass (thumb) side. So I'm not quite as close to finishing as I had thought...
     
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  19. Funky Ghost

    Funky Ghost Translucently Groovy

    I'll take one in a fiver config with a Gibson T-Bird Headstock!

    Seriously though that's a great looking design! I dig the Maple and Walnut combo.
     
  20. wraub

    wraub

    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    Definitely looking good!

    More, please...