Meet The Family: The Mahogany Tele
I haven’t put up one of these “family” posts in quite awhile. In them, I talk a little about one of the guitars I’ve put together, go over some (I hope) interesting features, and offer a little eye candy.
So, this is a classic combination: two humbuckers on a mahogany body! Not for a Tele, though, and certainly the bolt-on maple neck and longer scale do their parts. The neck, as usual, is from Allparts, and the body is from Clearfork Designs. It’s a single piece of African mahogany, with a beautiful “ribbon” grain, and it weighs four pounds.
It is the first body I’ve used that has arm and belly cuts. The cuts are smaller than you’d see on a typical Fender, but definitely make holding and playing this guitar more comfortable.
The control plate is from Marc Rutters, and features slightly wider control spacing, and a slanted slot for the selector switch. The saddles are cold-rolled steel, which was Marc’s recommendation. He makes beautiful hardware, and it’s very reasonably priced for the quality he offers.
The pickups are RD-59’s from Bill Megela at Electric City. I like his stuff a lot, and he was kind enough to custom-wind me a properly spaced bridge pickup.
I made a bone nut and installed Fender/Gotoh vintage-style tuners. I found a pair of oversized knobs, sort of like what you’d see on a jazz bass. The thick matte black pick guard is exactly what I wanted, too.
The finish is all Tru-Oil, and I went with a higher gloss than usual. Once I saw how it made the grain pop, there was no way I’d be happy with a satin finish on this guitar. Enter Tru-Oil in an aerosol can! Several coats of that, with a touch of sanding in between, and a few dry days (I spray outdoors), and I was right where I wanted to be.
This is the short version of this part of the guitar’s story, and I’m leaving out the part where I had to sand off all the finish and start again from scratch. Oh, and scratches? Mahogany is a scratch magnet. But I got it where I wanted it, and learned a lot in the process…mainly that finishing an instrument really is the toughest thing to get right.
I’m very happy to say this a great-sounding, easy-playing, responsive guitar. The pickups have a great “Tele on steroids” PAF-type tone, and sound huge. There’s a nice balance between the slightly warmer fullness of the mahogany and the “cut” I get from the steel bridge and the pickups. Those of you who follow Swamp Ash, the band I play with, will see me using this guitar a lot in the videos we post. It’s a killer; really proud of this one!