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previous: Liam I badly want a rosewood fingerboard... -- 1/12/2000 5:04 PM View Thread

Re: Building a Tele from parts

1/12/2000 7:47 PM
Mark Hammer
Re: Building a Tele from parts
I'm no expert when it comes to guitar building, but I have made a few. The trouble with what you describe is that the resonant and sustain qualities of any solidbody are often a function of the marriage between neck and body with respect to weight and resonance. Simply buying good quality parts is not a guarantee that the instrument will sing in your hands. The neck could be too heavy for the body or vice versa. The neck joint also plays some role here.  
So, although I am certain that an excellent instrument could be fabricated from their parts, it is also quite possible that you will get yourself something that feels well-built but just doesn't have that special zip, simply because you didn't pick out the parts in the stockroom. I've played some very low-end Teles that had far more zing than something costing 3-4 times as much. How did this happen? Simple. One makes things cheap by cutting out quality control. Although it is quite possible for low end units to be real dogs, it is also quite possible for them to be exquisite because *NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION TO QUALITY*, and unless people go out of their way to buy the worst part of the log, good stuff can still happen.  
Now, having said that, my own strategy would be to first get my hands on a neck that feels great, since that is where your hands will spend most of their time (well, at least one of them will). Then, shop for bodies with the proviso that the body be *returnable* if it is not a good resonant match to the neck you want to stick with. Ideally, one would assess this by bolting neck to body, although you can get a rough feel by simply situating the neck in the socket and tapping the overall structure while holding the neck securely to the socket. There is no particular resonance to listen for. It just has to feel like one big piece of wood, rather than one piece stuck onto another one.  
If you want, speak to the place you order from and ask them to select a neck and body that seem to match each other well with respect to weight and resonance. Remember that they don't necessarily know you want one to go together with the other when you order...unless you tell them.  
Good luck, it is a rewarding experience if you've never done it before. If you haven't acquired a Stewart-MacDonald catalogue yet, GET ONE.