Chris' Tele partscaster project
Kind supporter of the Home of Tone, Chris kindly asked me to be a part of his Telecaster parts build which was a pleasure indeed after seeing the nice parts he had compiled for it. This has been a fairly long term project for him, taking his time to carefully consider and decide upon the specs to hopefully end up at a Tele that'll suit his requirements, and I think he did a great job with that. A body from, finished beautifully in a lacquer checked Olympic White by the great Paul at Retro169. No relic work on it, so it had a fresh look but plenty of character thanks to the generous checking. The body being paired with a new, genuine Fender Road Worn 50s Tele neck, a selection of aged hardware from Fender, Gotoh, Kluson and Charles Guitars, and pickups by Bare Knuckle. I knew this one would be a pleasure to build, when you're presented with nice quality parts it's reassuring you'll end up with a great guitar. So let's dive in!

This was going to be a full assembly, I won't cover every step in full detail as I've done that before on partscaster jobs, but I'll share some photos from the journey here. The factory fitted plastic top nut was going to be removed in replacement of a hand shaped bone nut, and I'll be making a solderless wiring loom for this one just in case Chris wanted to easily swap and try out alternative pickups in the future. He also asked me to copper foil shield the cavities to try and tame the usual single coil noise so I'll share some pictures of that. 

First step I opted to mount the neck, check fitment and alignment etc. I also took the opportunity of the neck being off and having a little more space to drill/fit the strap buttons. 

Then it was onto hardware alignment, getting nice even gaps and alignment between each item and see how everything matches up. Which on this occasion was all great! So I measured, lined up and taped them down ready to mark for the various screw holes.

I always tend to favour adding a little counter sink to body wood screws. Helps prevent un-wanted lacquer chip etc. At this stage I also drilled for the bridge screws (they were marked but not depth drilled) and also sent a drill bit through the string through holes as they had a bit of paint/lacquer build up. 

Then onto tuner alignment and fitting. These were a set of aged Klusons. Bushings were a tiny bit small for the hole size in the headstock, but they held captive and with the tuner post in place they were more than fine. 

With all the pilot drill holes sorted, I set about applying the copper foil shielding. 

You might spot the small overlaps I do, this is so when you screw down the pickguard or control plates, they securely contact each other to ensure continuity throughout. 

Also, as a Telecaster has multiple separate cavities, I run a little ground wire between each, again for continuity reasons to ensure the shielding is doing it's job effectively.

And there we go. A few checks with the multi-meter and we're good to go!

You can't see it here, but I did notice that the neck pickup cavity was a pretty tight fit for the pickup itself. Which as a result of the copper foil shielding, did mean the copper was touching the solder eyelets on the pickup which would have ground out. So I just cut a piece of electrical tape to insulate that small area and fitted the pickup. 

In with the 'solderless' 3 way loom, which has small connector blocks for quick and easy pickup swaps without the need to solder, a request from the customer. 
This was made with CRL switch, CTS 450 series SSSP 250k pots, Mustard .047uF tone cap, Gavitt wire and a pure tone multi contact jack.

Then on with the nut replacement. The factory installed nut was plastic, and although they can do the job fine, Chris asked me to fit a nice quality hand shaped bone nut in there instead. The factory nut came out absolutely fine and cleanly which is always a bonus.

In with the blank, which needs fully shaping.

With that roughed in and a tiny dab of wood glue just to secure it, I will complete the final slotting, depths and shaping upon setup.

Frets were really rather good on this new fender neck. I would say it is a guarantee that you need to address the frets on a replacement/partscaster neck. After mounting this up and checking them over they were very good indeed. Only a couple of very minor high spots, so it was just a spot level, re-crown and polish up for this one.

With that all done, I could string it up, align and fit the string tree and see how it sat under tension for the first time.

This one was setup on Stringjoy Broadways (round core pure nickel strings) in 10-46 gauge. Setup all went great and it settled at tension really well. First impressions were great too, a super resonant Tele which translated well via the pickups and plugged in tone. Lovely stuff! 

Thanks for reading/viewing. If you have a partscaster in the works and would like some finishing touches, parts supplying, or a full assembly, do please get in touch via the contact form above and I'd love to help.

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