This was my first build project. It’s got a one-piece pine body, under four pounds. I found the body on Larry Robinson’s “paint grade” pile at the June, 2012 Philly Guitar Show in Oaks. I grabbed it (I did pay first), went home, and started looking for info on necks. I’m an old hand at bridges, pickups, tuners, and electronics (for guitars), but the right neck choice is critical. I zeroed in on the Fender-licensed necks sold by Allparts and selected the TRO-C, which is a C-shaped neck, with 21 tall-but-narrow frets and a rosewood fretboard.
I like the rosewood for its color contrast. The frets are tall enough that I’m not touching the fretboard wood much, but still I am generally fonder of rosewood than maple. My other parts choices were pretty straightforward: vintage-style tuners from Gotoh (the ones Fender currently uses), an unbleached bone nut from a Stew-Mac blank, a Joe Barden bridge (well-compensated saddles), and standard Fender parts elsewhere.
The finish is a light application of Tru-Oil, rubbed out with 0000 steel wool. I wanted enough finish for protection from dirt and moisture, but was curious to hear what effect, if any, a thin finish would have on the guitar’s sound. This was the biggest surprise of the build. I love the sound of a thin finish! Make no mistake, thicker commercial finishes are at least filtering the highs in the guitar, if not strangling them outright. It’s a win in every way, in my opinion. The finish is easy to apply, rubs out to a beautiful satin gloss, and contributes a lot to (or maybe just stays out of the way of) the sound of the guitar.
The pickups? Well, I always have fun with that. These are Bill Lawrence Micro-Coils, said to be the final design refinement from Bill before he died. Not traditional but great sounding, very quiet, and easily adjustable for an even string balance, unlike actual Tele pickups. These were in another guitar at first, but have found their way to this guitar, and are here to stay.
A few tweaks: I installed a no-load tone pot and a treble bypass cap on the volume control. The jack holder is an Electrosocket; again, my preferred part. Otherwise this guitar is simple, great sounding, resonant as hell, and all around a good time.
Next up: swamp ash!