Thursday, July 21, 2011

Xavier's 1955 1958 Humbucker Keith Telecaster


This was an interesting project. Xavier brought me a Tele body from '55 and an Esquire neck from '58. He also provided a '66 Tele bridge pickup and a 60's Gibson Humbucker. He asked me to put together sort of a "Keith" Tele for him, using mostly vintage parts. I supplied a '58 neck plate, '58 knobs, and '58 control plate. I installed brand new switch, pots, and jack. Tuners are repros. This Tele is quite heavy, at over 9 lbs., due to the body... but it sounds absolutely killer. Both pickups are wonderful in this guitar and they work well together. And honestly, despite the preference for vintage pots and switch, the brand new electronics work much better than expired vintage stuff and make this Tele sound as good as the pickups will deliver.

Xavier wanted a deep Butterscotch finish, which I normally object to, and it took two tries to get it right for him. I first delivered a finish that was right on in terms of looking just like original finishes in the Black Guard Book, but this is not what Xavier wanted. Also, the old frets in the neck were worn and Xavier couldn't play the thing. I asked him to bring me a guitar he liked so I could analyze the frets and neck. He's accustomed to Jumbo's, so I did a fret job with medium Jumbos for him.

This project made me rethink my own preferences in the interest of addressing Xavier's particular needs. A good challenge for both of us, but the end result speaks for itself. This is a killer vintage/player Tele.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Todd's 1957 Style, Blonde Precision Bass Body

Recently I completed Todd's '57 style P-Bass body with a nice, blonde finish, tinted slightly to look older. This is an amazing Ash body, weighing well under 4 lbs! The aftermarket body came with funky string ferrules, so we decided to source vintage style Fender ferrules. I needed to drill steps in the ferrule holes so they sit flush like an original, early 50's Fender Bass.

Drilling the steps with our specially made tool.

Here you can see the steps are nice and clean.

Ferrules are now installed. Note the flush fit.

Above you can see the body with a few parts mocked up. Note that Todd had me make him a custom, one-hole tug bar out of Ash wood, with matching blonde finish. A unique touch for his bass. Probably would look even better with a black guard.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Making a single hole Tug Bar or Finger Rest for 1951-1956 Fender Precision Bass

Last year I did a restoration on a 1953 Fender Precision Bass. It was missing the single hole, wooden Tug Bar, so I made one for it (see below).


Recently, for a restoration of a '55 Precision, I now need to do it again. But rather than make just one, I figured I'd make some extras and offer them for sale. This time, I also have the luxury of having a correct original part in my shop. They are NOT the same shape as the newer two hole plastic part, but they are close.

The originals are made of hard rock maple, no doubt scraps left over from neck production. I first measured the original part. In broad terms it's 1/2" wide 3/8" tall and 2.5" in length.

I made some stock in the correct dimensions using hard rock maple.

The saw is jigged to cut precise 2.5" lengths.

The raw Tug Bar pieces are marked for sanding using the original as a jig.

The pieces are shaped by hand on the belt sander, then hand sanded to the final shape. They are then drilled for the screw hole, then counter sunk. The original part is always kept close by for reference.

Here is the finished piece ready for sealing, painting with black lacquer, then final aging.

Next we apply a coat of black nitro lacquer followed by a coat of clear. Here the finished tug bar is installed on Richard's '55 Precision Bass.

Here is the restored '55 P sporting it's new repro tug bar.