GFS Telecaster Kit is my first Home Brew Guitar

electric guitar

Home Brew Telecaster with Mini Humbucking Pickups

For a long time, I had been considering a way to incorporate mini humbucking pickups into my current favourite body shape, which is Telecaster. I also wanted to do some custom wood finishing – but I don’t have a wood working shop. So I started looking at precut, unfinished bodies and necks. I soon gravitated toward the GFS website, where i found a Telecaster body blank, cut for a Stratocaster style tremolo bridge, and routed for P90 pickups. I soon realized that GFS had all the other parts, including a neck, so I placed a huge order and waited patiently for the package to arrive. I was not disappointed, although, as with any custom kit, there were some rough edges and problems to solve. In order to fit the GFS mini humbuckers in the P90 routed holes, I used the black GFS pickup adapter mounts (also available in cream colour).

I started to sand the body, and thought about the finish. I decided to experiment, and used a thinned wash of artists acrylic – pthalocyanate blue, and a tiny bit of glitter (sparkle) acrylic to create a metallic look. The idea was to create a strong colour, but let the wood grain show through. This was the case, but I would use a slightly lighter colouration next time. Also, I will someday try multiple colours to give a “tie dye” look.

I heavily diluted the acrylic with water, and applied with a large cloth. I then wiped it quickly with clean water. Note: the body must be completely sanded smooth at that point, because further sanding will remove paint and expose streaks of wood. Because the water raises the grain a little, a fairly thick finish coat is required. So about 8 coats of polyurethane from a spray can were needed. I sanded with sandpaper on a flat sanding block in between some coats. After about a week of this work, it was starting to look nice.

While the finish coats were drying, I turned my attention to the neck. the nut was grotesquely high. It should have been replaced, but I filed down the grooves instead, to lower the strings there. I adjusted the truss rod to make the neck perfectly straight, and did what must be the world’s crudest fret dressing job, with a large flat file. I smoothed and crowned the frets with increasingly fine grades of sandpaper alone, since I have no tools for such work. I would never do it like that again, but it worked.

For wiring I chose a dead simple arrangement, single volume and selector switch with no tone controls. All the cavities are shielded with copper tape, properly soldered to the ground connection. All the electrical parts were available from GFS.

Finally, it was assembly day! Thanks to a lot of pre-fitting, everything went together fairly smoothly. The only real botch was that the tremolo rocker screw holes could not be aligned precisely enough. So, I had to secure the bridge in a fixed position. I don’t use the “whammy bar” in my playing, since none of my guitars have previously had one (or maybe I didn’t notice!). Really, I would rather have installed a Fender style fixed bridge, but it wasn’t possible because of the cutouts.

So! What’s it like? It’s awesome! The neck is perfect. I tried lowering the action – before any string buzz occurs, the snap is lost. It means the alignment is just perfect. I raised it up to where I like it, comparable with Fender factory string heights. The sound? Beautiful! The mini humbuckers are the best I now have, especially the neck pickup. It is the only guitar I have that sounds really good with only the neck pickup – perfect for jazz. The blue finish is absolutely stunning.

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