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Cost Of A Tele Build


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Hello all,

I would ask the here if I am on the right track. Below are my current researched costs (no shipping included) for building my next guitar. I wanted to know if the number is in the "ball park" from you guys. By the way, I looked around and I did not see any rules for not posting prices. I know the mimf had some issues with this. So if I am out of line here I am sorry. I hope the formatting comes out or this will get messy! Here goes....

Please reference the following:

Tele type

$$ Where notes

neck blank $15.00 warmoth

fret board $25.65 stewmac

tuners $30.00 carvin/guitarfetish will vary

nut $3.82 stewmac

string tees $5.37 stewmac/guitarfetish

side dots $5.50 stewmac

frets $5.22 stewmac

neck plate $4.00 universal jem

neck bolts $4.00 stewmac

truss rod $15.09 stewmac

body blank $87.50 warmoth mahog

veneer(s) $20.00 ?? estimate

top cap $20.00 LMI

binding $0.00

2 pick ups $130.00 ??? will vary

selector switch $9.00 universal jem

2 nobs $6.00 carvin

capacitors $5.00 anywhere

pots $4.00 universal jem

bridge $46.00 warmoth humb. Tele

saddles $0.00

pick guard $0.00

control back plate $8.00 carvin

jack $3.64 stewmac/universal jem

String ferrules $5.30 warmoth

wire $8.00 radio shack

Strap buttons $4.00 carvin/guitarfetish

finish $35.00 ?? will vary

2 packs of strings $18.00 local

CA or other glue $6.00 local will vary

misc $20.00

total $549.09

These prices were taken from the websites as listed. Estimates are just that and noted and again no shipping included. The goal is to make a guitar with decent quality parts/wood but still be able to afford them! I did not factor tools, templates, or other smaller items (sand paper, etc). I have those for this type of guitar. Also, some of the items above will make more than one guitar(side dots, glue, etc) but this is a gross estimation or worst case or built in fat type of number.

The design is that I will use a top cap of A grade spruce (for cream faux binding) or walnut ( for dark faux binding) and cover this with a figured veneer if needed or called for. I can also put a 'normal' top cap depending on what I find. The guitar will be lightly chambered as well. I have seen this done by Mr. Myka who comes here as well and it looks good. I am not experienced enough to begin to estimate what tonal qualities this will impart on the sound of the instrument. This is not a 'parts' guitar. I will be making the neck and body. I will not cut fret slots though......I am not set up or confident to do that yet.

I do not have a jointer, planer, or drum sander to get raw wood for cost reduction either. Also, I might build 2 to 4 guitars a year so bulk purchase is not too good of an option either.

I will finish the instrument myself and have a small spray set up that I can use.

So with all that .....what do you think.....do the costs above

Thanks

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i would say you need to get as many of the parts as you can from the same supplier unless its really something specific you want/need. i notice a lot of the stuff you have listed from LMII and universal Jems is also stuff you can get at stew-mac, albeit usually at a slightly higher price.... but postage could easily change that anyway!!

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I used to do the same thing.....looking for the 'best deal' on each part, and it will eat up the $$ with shipping charges. I ended up talking to a local music shop owner where I live and he gives me 20% off on all AllParts items.

Also check for a near by saw mill. I got a slab of maple 7 ft. x 17" x 2" for just under $100.

I think you would be better off with one source as well. Good luck!

Steve

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Thanks for all the info...

I will put the spruce top cap on then put a figured veneer on top of that. When I round over the edge it will create a faux binding. No sold on this. It would be cheaper to just veneer the body and bind the guitar. Just thought it was different. Also, the spruce is soft. I will look for a harder light colored wood for this around the same price range.

The veneer can be anything...quilt maple, burl ect.....what ever I can find that looks good.

I completely understand about shipping. That is why I did not go there yet. I still have the process of optimizing that effort. Multiple suppliers vs one or two sources for cost effictiveness.

Lastly I did not put the cost for a case either. I was just dealing with the guitar.

Thanks for the info!!

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Well, if nothing else this thread will help people (like me) who come to this forum thinking "hell I'll just build a guitar, it'll be cheaper."

Although I'll offer a suggestion : Buy a tele. Harvest that for parts. It'll probably be cheaper in the long run, and you can sell off the parts you don't end up using.

I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind putting a spruce cap on a mahogany body.

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This could be an extremely valuable thread and discussion here...

Material cost, specialist tool and skills acquisition has been the thing that has persuaded me not to build necks to date. At the above quoted prices the neck materials (no nut tuners or other hardware except frets) you are looking at almost $70 plus individual shipping. I expect you would be looking at far more than this in specialized tools to do the job. You may well end up with a better neck by doing it yourself, but without any experience, what are the chances?

So...compare that to the many options available for necks built, especially for a standard bolt on design like a tele, and there is some hard thinking required...

Not putting the idea down and obviously spread over many projects things like tooling can be reduced but not completely ignored. Shipping can often be more than the parts and there are many unscrupulous suppliers about.

Similar considerations also exist with "body blanks" although to a lesser extent. Again, with a standard design like a tele there are many options available.

Although I'll offer a suggestion : Buy a tele. Harvest that for parts. It'll probably be cheaper in the long run, and you can sell off the parts you don't end up using.

I'd like to support this notion...invariably you can buy a decent secondhand or cheap guitar to significantly improve this way, with one shipping fee and all hardware, much of it as good and fitted as the low end stuff listed to keep prices down.

Ahhh...but where's the fun in that! Well, you can do significant work on a guitar and really cut your teeth on a lot of the processes in this way without a big leap in tooling and faith to completely DIY a neck or even a whole guitar.

A lot of choices are aesthetic or to be "different" yet many of those choices can also be easily adapted to modification. You could for instance, take a guitar apart, shave 1/4" off the top and install a cap of choice or less and a veneer and, the body itself can become the template for the router with a standard bearing bit that often comes with a router. Don't have the machinery to take off the top to do this, many don't...but often a local timber shop will allow you to run it through their industrial thicknesser if shown to be clean!

With the money you save, you can do some significant upgrades to things like pickups and other hardware.

More importantly, you can try and select a guitar that has the most potential in the direction you want it to go in and learn the very important aspects of setting up and along the way learn about your own preferences and explore ideas. This can be a very important training ground for learning the mechanics of a full on build.

so...+1 for considering the option of premade necks...or even a complete guitar and heavily modding it. It is likely to be just as personal an instrument (see my telecaster for instance linked below) and you will be assured of a playable result.

Buying a guitar for such a project is a little different from buying a new guitar...you are looking for potential as much as anything...obviously very important is a good neck and fretting. Body material is worth looking at closely. On my telecaster which worked out reasonably expensive...all hardware was replaced except the neck plate...you need not go that far. The neck pickup is superb and came directly from a top of the line tele deluxe and was brought new at auction from a supplier who parts out new guitars...so it was new yet cost perhaps a third of the cost by carefully bidding at auctions and bidding my time...similarly the locking tuners.

Building a whole guitar takes a lot of skill and accuracy and a very worthwhile thing, especially if you intend to make a lot of guitars. But there are very many processes, many people even get through the fretting and neck building stages only to find that they have trouble with finishing or even the setup procedures to make the guitar play as well as the cost that is put into it.

If we were talking about a radical departure in design perhaps I would be less adamant about this kind of thing, but with a tele there are so many options in the premade or complete guitars to start with, it does warrant some real soul searching as to whether it is worth it...especially when reduced to costs like this and what you will end up with in the end if you make it through successfully.

just an opinion, feel free to modify or disagree...welcome to PG...as I say, this could be a very valuable discussion to many here with a host of different perspectives...

pete

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If we were talking about a radical departure in design perhaps I would be less adamant about this kind of thing, but with a tele there are so many options in the premade or complete guitars to start with, it does warrant some real soul searching as to whether it is worth it...especially when reduced to costs like this and what you will end up with in the end if you make it through successfully.

just an opinion, feel free to modify or disagree...welcome to PG...as I say, this could be a very valuable discussion to many here with a host of different perspectives...

pete

I'd just like to say that, for me, it was never about the cost. I set out to overcome my fear of woodworking and lack of skills in that area - and, most importantly, to be able to say "I built that myself from scratch". But what is "from scratch", because I purchased ready made hardware like bridges, tuners etc.

Building a neck myself was mandatory, because I wanted to develop the skills of fret replacement, fret levelling, nut building, etc.

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Building a neck myself was mandatory, because I wanted to develop the skills of fret replacement, fret levelling, nut building, etc.

Sure, I can understand that. Took me a while to work up the skills to tackle a neck, built two-- one I like, the other was garbage.

And even though I really enjoyed carving the neck, the rest of it wasn't all the pleasant. So nowadays, I'm perfectly happy with pre-built necks (or pre-fretted fretboards).

Of course, the only way I learned this was by building them...

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Building a neck myself was mandatory, because I wanted to develop the skills of fret replacement, fret levelling, nut building, etc.

I take your point...and if this is going to be an ongoing hobby it is justifiable...although some of the procedures of setting up a guitar properly could be argued better learned on an existing instrument.

Interestingly though...all of the procedures mentioned specifically in the above quote are equally applicable to a secondhand neck. Even some reshaping and finishing can all be applied to a secondhand guitar.

When you break down a lot of "neck building" people routinely use pre radiused and slotted boards, obviously truss rods, and neck blanks. If the end result is to get a tele neck, I have had to ask myself, could I do better on my first attempt or with the means and time than I could otherwise get buy purchasing it complete or modifying an existing neck. On a second hand guitar, refretting and all those skills are equally applicable.

I'm in no way implying that one shouldn't go the whole hog or part hog (by buying pre slotted and shaped boards)...from a pragamtic POV it may come down to ego over practicalities and finances. This should be aknowledged...ego is not a dirty word...but if the end result is the same (conventional design and timbers for instance) and you are taking short cuts to get a guitar you 'made yourself'...it does require some close examination.

There is a stigma to not doing it yourself...but some of the most essential aspects of getting a great playing guitar are lost or glossed over in the fetishism of woods and being different for the sake of making a project more personal. It should not be seen as heretical to promote the modding of existing guitars or building from more processed parts...I'm just trying to promote this point of view. In fact, it should be celebrated a lot more along with the beautiful creations people make from scratch...perhaps I am just trying to put forward the idea that one should look at the end result and your own resources.

If money and time and space and tooling is no object...and you don't mind learning from the many mistakes along the way, it is definitely the way to go to build the thing completely. This applies particularly if you are going for very high quality parts, unique timber choices and design features. I would still suggest that your projects will be enhanced by working intimately with factory guitars to see where they are deficient so that your choices are well informed and your skill level elevated before going the whole hog into something like this. There is a significant risk that for all the parts that you could end up with a very substandard guitar or one no better than a secondhand guitar stock at half the cost of parts or even less...

pete

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Very good discussion. I have only made one guitar from 'scratch' (can be seen here on the forum). It took me ~3.5 years from paper to final setup. That time was very long but included kids and the general life everyone of us leads.

Many, many, many times I was frustrated and or nervous and told myself to stop and do exactly what you are suggesting. I did make a MDF and plywood prototype and purchased a pawn shop special to gut and take apart for learning. This was prior to jumping into the real project. During the build I told family and coworkers that I should have used cheaper materials and moved along the learning curve better. But as with all things my eyes were bigger than my ability and I had to get the beautiful woods that I used.

Luckly it came out all right in my opinion. Sure there are things that can be better with it. I agree the route one should take is what you suggest prior to going into the 100% scratch building mode. I admit it is hard to do for myself.

I reasearched all the steps heavily here and other places. Planned, read books, videos, etc.... I performed the steps that I was comfortable doing. I did not cut fret slots, radius the fretboard, or make the bridge on that first guitar (accoustic-electric). Those were the steps that were just out of my reach on the learning curve at the time.....and still is for that matter....but in time I will get there.

Again I agree with your point and because I went through that same senerio recommend exactally what you are promoting. On the oher hand, feeling comfortable and knowing your limitations to tackle processes is ok. One has to understand and not get too discuroged when you mess up.....get back on the horse kind of thing. I am very proud of what I acomplished and it hangs on my wall today. Most people will not see the mistakes I made.....I know them, learned from them, and next time will put out a better and better product.

Thanks again for all the input and discussion. This is why I come here.

Matthew

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Don't have the machinery to take off the top to do this, many don't...but often a local timber shop will allow you to run it through their industrial thicknesser if shown to be clean!

i never let a lack of machinery stop me, where there is a will there is a way... which is why when i was starting out i took a kit telecaster and removed the top 3/8" with a handsaw! then i chambered it and added a new top and with a pickup upgrade, new nut and tuners a very cheap kit telecaster had gone from a really uninspiring and dull to actually quite a nice guitar ... with only a few bits of filler around the edge :D

wv2.jpg

i dont recommend doing this... obviously visiting a local wood working firm makes so much sense, but i learnt a hell of a lot from that guitar!.... i am going to have to see if i can dig out the picture of it with a handsaw halfway through the body!!!

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Yeah...that's what I'm talking about...nice one...Wow

That is a cool unique looking guitar, interesting features and a lot of lessons learned...plus, you get to upgrade form the GFS quality that are on most guitars anyway to professional grade with the money saved. In addition, you could do it in stages, replacing things like the tuners or the pickups further along the track.

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