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Oak For A Thinline Tele?


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Possible new project being hatched: thinline tele.

Wood available: nice piece of oak.

I don't come across oak very much as the wood of choice for electric guitars. Is there any reason it is thought unsuitable? Weight? Tonal quality? too hard?

It's just that there is a good slab of oak available and I really want to put together a chanbered thinline tele.

Any feedback welcomed. Thanks! :D

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I havent played it yet so I cant comment on the tonal qualities, but I'm currently making a guitar out of oak. It's chambered and its actually very light (light enough so that I can pick up the whole guitar by holding the end of the neck near the headstock, [if thats any sort of indication]). Since your idea is chambered too I'd guess it will probably be OK weight-wise.

If by 'too hard' you mean hard to work with, then its fine in that respect. Its softer than the rosewood fretboard I bought.

Hope that helps!

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There are very few woods that have an absolutely compelling reason not to use them (as in structural weakness, or unstable nature). So if you want to give Oak a try go for it. As far as it's properties being more or less desirable. Tonal preference is VERY subjective, although if you want a tone similar to another instrument you should try to use similar materials. As far as strength Oak is very strong. As far as weight. Common thinking is lighter is better, but again is subjective and by no means a set in stone rule. Some people prefer a bit more weight. Also chambering or hollowing parts of the body obviously will lighten the overall weight. Some people will have strong opinions of what makes a "proper" tonewood. You will also find some very very experienced builders that tell you there is no "bad" wood, some are just better suited to what they want out of an instrument. Shoot people use thick Burled and Spalted carved tops all the time, and that is about as tonally dead and unstable as you can get. It of course only makes up a part of the overall tone of a body so it is an acceptable trade off for looks. Have fun with your project!

Peace,Rich

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fryovanni said a couple of things that i'd like to echo.."Tonal preference is VERY subjective." I've always been of the opinion that if a particular piece of wood didn't have what most people consider great tonal qualities it could be made up with proper pickup selection. personally i choose my wood more for it's natural beauty and how good i think the final product will look. i love working with spalted woods and their density is inconsistent at best so you would think that their tonal quality would be inconsistent as well and yet i've never made a guitar with it that sounded bad.

second, "Have fun with your project!" while there are a few here that make their living building guitars most of us do it for fun and personal satisfaction and some of us, like myself, sell their guitars to support their woodworking habit. if you've got a good piece of wood that you like..go for it. enjoy the process and the satisfaction of a job done in a craftsmanlike manner. don't worry too much about the rest of it.

good luck with your project.

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Couple things to add. It has a tendency to split and has soft spots and harder spots when carving(all wood does but Oak seems to be more so). It can be difficult to get it to carve evenly but it is still workable. Solid oak is heavy so you will have to chamber it for sure.

The grain is pretty, much like ash. But with that it is very porus and will need to be filled, maybe more than once.

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I only have experience from making oak necks. One for a mahogany Strat, one for a mahogany bolt-on SG found in the trash with a broken headstock and a couple of laminated maple/oak necks. Guitarguy is right on the spot about oak. Plus it dulls cutting tools very quick.

My personal opinion on the sound in necks is that it is a little less bright than maple but gives a little more pronounced high mid compared to mahogany. I once had a hand built oak Tele in my shop with a one-piece maple neck. The weight was comparable to an ash bodied Tele. The sound was OK, Not one of the best Teles I have had in my hands, but definitely not one of the worst. With all of this in mind I’d say that oak is better for bodies than for solid necks. As laminates between maple it is very good to soften the sound a little and add some high mid that makes the tone cut through a little more and make is a little more “focused”. But again it is all about subjective opinions.

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OAK? Seriously, oak looks very good through a transparant finish. A figured maple top is also always very nice. If you want a more acoustic sound you can try a spruce top and some serious routings.

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Yeah some oak has nice figuring, you say you have a 'nice piece of oak', so if its nice why not use it for the top too? :D

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Yeah some oak has nice figuring, you say you have a 'nice piece of oak', so if its nice why not use it for the top too? :D

I guess I'm scared about taking a thin sliver off the main body piece to use as the cap while the main body gets a thorough routing.

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Woods are just like people...once you get to know their differences, they work out just fine.

If Eric Clapton was seen using an oak Telecaster, you'd be surprised how many "great sounding" oak Teles would pop up. I didn't know, but from reading here, that Gibson doesn't, or didn't, use headplates on the Les Paul headstock, and therefore had the tendency to crack there. But, it is still considered to be the Holy Grail of guitars, and is accepted becasue it is a Les Paul.

Ears don't lie. If it sounds good, than it is good!

People don't like what they're not used to, or what other "experts" might frown upon.

Chravel/Jackson used nothig but poplar for the bodies on all the guitars. Now their "San Dimas" guitars are considered by some to be collectors items to the well seasoned expert.

Oak might need a little more care than mahoagny, but mahogany needs more care than myrtle. So it's all relative.

I say, build it, and give us all a review of what your hands have created (along with some help from God, when he made the mighty oak).

unclej and fryovanni said it pefectly.

Have fun and maybe, when the oak craze starts, you can say you did it first!

Remember...."solid bodied guitars?...what's that?....Yeah right..."

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I made a bass body out of oak and bolted on a maple neck.Tonal quality is pretty good and I found the weight not to bad.I finished it with black paint and filled the grain with white and clearcoat and looks impressive.Almost done an SG in the same manner out of oak and I think it will sound just fine.Good luck!!

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