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Solid Tele Wood Selection

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Hey guys-

I'm contrmplating my second build now and trying to learn a little bit more about wood. I've read a lot but see a lot of contradicting info. I'm looking to make a tele style guitar on the heavier side, although it doesn't need to be backbreaking. Aiming for some serious sustain. Also, I'm aiming for crystal clear, bell like cleans(warm, lots of overtones with too much treble bleedoff) with a little grunt under distortion...of the blues/jazz genre. I'm leaning towards P90's for this application. I've dreamed of an all black tele, but also enjoy wood grain so I'd like to show it off. I'm thinking of doing a transparent black body and neck in one of the following:

Goncalo Alves




I'm curious as to how each of these would serve for my application? How well do they take stain? What would a solid tele body weigh using each(speaking in ballparks/averages)? Is there an alternative that has interesting grain pattern, is affordable, and reasonably heavy? Also, this may be the first body I cut myself, so I'm curious as to their workability.


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Personally, I love bubinga. The guitar would be on the heavy side, but that's what you want. Even if you chambered it, it'd still weigh a lot.

I've also been planning on making a bubinga body soon with a transparent black finish, probably dyed. It won't be totally black, but the color should be pretty amazing... in theory.

Edited by NotYou
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Welcome OmaPlata...

potentially opening a can of worms here...on many levels...and I am probably not a good judge, but am prepared to stir the pot a little.

I am not entirely sure that a heavy guitar equals improved sustain...in fact many heavy woods are oil rich and vibration dampening potentially producing a dead sound, especially in the high end. More important than the "mass" (ie weight of an instrument) is perhaps the structural rigidity of the material. A metal guitar for instance can produce amazing sustain, even in a light weight material such as aluminium. SO, I am not sure that "weight" is really something to go for in this day and age. But perhaps others could dispute this or make suggestions.

Traditional tele woods like ash can produce massive sustain and the tele is a structurally good instrument to promote the best of this kind of thing by design...so, you are off to a good start in aiming in that direction.

Certainly, if using these heavy woods I would suggest a lot of lightening under the hood...just because it has cavities in it does not mean that it need to have f-holes to prove it or anything...but for balance and practical purposes, it may be something you may wish to consider...

Speaking of "something"...perhaps the most renown "heavy wood" tele is the solid rosewood george Harrison telecaster used around the let it be era. I wonder if you might consider an ebony version...most likely faked by using fine grained timber of veneer and stained to give the effect...giving you a kind of exotic version of something similar...

Otherwise...others may chip in on the wood fest...good luck...


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PSW said it well...

There are so many other contributing factors as well... truly an open door for opinions :o)

I know it's not heavy like you want, but to my ears, korina has always made for a very open top end tone. Well, then again, it would be more of a challenge to dye black because of the grain structure.

On the heavier side, bubinga could be a strong contender.


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I built one with a chambered mahogany body with a maple cap and Tele single coil pickups, and it sounded so nice. It was nice a warm and handled distortion with ease. It was not your traditional twangy tele sound, but certainly not your Les Paul sound either. I wish I still had that one. I would like to have heared that combo with P90's in it.

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THanks for the responses everyone. I haven't considered mahagony only for the reason that I already play a mahogany gibson and want something different.

As for weight, I don't want the thing to be so heavy I can't stand up with it, but I don't mind if it's heavy. What am I realistically looking at for a body weight with bubinga(I think my current top choice)?

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Well, to be honest a Tele design out of mahogany sounds nothing like a Les Paul. Even playing both side by side with P90's they will sound significantly different. Maple vs. mahogany neck, 25.5" vs. 24.75" scale, 1.75" thick vs. 2" thick., bolt on vs. set neck. All of those will play a huge difference in the sounds, especially the scale length. 25.5" is known to be a brighter sound.

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Thanks again for the responses guys. I do agree that mahagony is a great wood, but I just want something different...perhaps a little more exotic and interesting to me.

In any case, I think it will end up depending on what I find with the most interesting grain pattern when I go hunting for wood. I guess I'll gauge the weight when I come to that bridge. I currently play a 10 pound tele +/-...wouldn't want to go any heavier really, but don't mind it at that weight.

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