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Tele Style Neck ??

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I want to build a Tele style neck,I have a piece of maple 700 x 100 & 16mm thick.

It has been machined .I also have a piece of maple for a fretboard & it is 7mm thick.

(Somebody advised me to build this with a glued on fretboard because its easier than a one piece neck???)

I have traced out a Tele neck BUT I cant see this being real accurate!

Should I draw & measure this out instead if tracing it?

After having all of the above where do I start?

Should I make a template of the whole neck or mark it out on the maple? How do I set out the radius of the neck?

Whats the best way to shape it?

I had a look at the tutorials and there is some great info but not quite what I was after.I have a couple of books but they do seem to skimp over neck building or they dont relate to what I am building.

Any info or help would be greatly appreciated.



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That's a very involved question. I haven't built one yet, so I'm not the guy to answer it properly for you, but I CAN warn you that some people are going to get tired just THINKING about how to answer that, as a whole book could be written! :D

You said you had books, but if you don't have Martin Koch's Building Electric Guitars or Melvyn Hiscock's Make Your Own Electric Guitar, at least one or both of those would help you tremendously.

Beyond that, another thing I'd tell you is that you should probably base your neck on an accurate drawing rather than a traced one. Nothing wrong with tracing for starters, but many people will keep as many sides 'square' as long as they can until all the routing, gluing, etc. is done (easier to use guide rails, clamps, etc); and in the end, you will want to have 2 measurements more accurate than a traced neck will be able to give you: the width of the fingerboard at the nut, and the width at the last fret (or whatever reference fret you have).

I wouldn't dream of actually giving a tutorial, as I look at my own wood and think, "Now what the hell do I do?" but I hope that gives you a bit of a push along. B)


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I agree with what Greg said and those links are killer B)

Whenever I cut a neck I always start by drawing a center line.then mearsure the fretboard length and mark it off on the neck.Using the centerline I mark of the bottom width and then the nut width.A quick triple check of all measure ments is always a cool idea :D .

From there I sketch out the headstock and cut the truss cavity,(another use for the center line).

Now here's where people differ.Some people like to fully construct the fretboard,(frets and all), and attach it to the neck before final shaping.Some people like to attach the board blank to the neck and do all shaping and slotting.

I'm in the middle,I like to cut the fretslots and radius then attach to the neck,(sometimes rough cutting the neck sometimes no.This gives me the option of adding a little extra width by flaring the board.),then do the shaping and any inlay or binding.

It'll be cool to see the responses,this thread is going to be a great learning experience . :D

Also BLS was kind enough to give me this link to a question a few weeks ago,maybe there is some more info there as well.


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do you have the original neck designed for that guitar? if you're just trying to make a copy, use a router with a flush trim bit to get the maple the right shape.

if not then you're in for some fun.

Above all else you need to determine where the nut is supposed to be in relation to the bottom of the neck pocket ( the wall closest to the neck pickup) from the high E saddle measure to the bottom of the neck pocket... 25.5" (647.7mm) - (your measurement) = how far your nut HAS to be from the end of the neck.

Like above, use a center line, match the width of the neck pocket to how wide you have to make the heel of the neck. and make the nut width about 1-11/16" (43mm) <- this can varry a bit..

You'll probably be better off buying a pre slotted fingerboard from a place like stew mac or LMI... they both offer pre-radiused boards, saving you loads of time.. rosewood, or any other non-maple fingerboard wood will also save you time when finishing the neck.

the peghead you can trace off another guitar it doesn't have to be dead on..

have fun!

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Sorry I should have been a bit clearer.

I am going to build the whole guitar not just a neck .

Mind you the body is sounding easier as I get into this, compared to the neck.

It does not have to be 100% identical (and probably won't be) to a Tele as far as looks go but I wanted to keep the scale and size etc the same

All of the info I have read is pretty well about angled headstocks and laminated necks.

Maybe I should have picked that but I thought the Fender Style neck would be easier?


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No, you chose correctly. The rest of the measurements and so forth that we've referred to would still be necessary with an angled headstock... that part of it is mostly unimportant for measuring the rest of the neck.

I'm waiting for my fingerboard to come in, because I need to do most of my measurements "hands on" with all the stuff in front of me, or I don't trust the math.

Disclaimer: what follows is theory that I've pulled out of my ass. I'm not posting it to be a know-it-all or try to pretend I'm something I'm not! By reading the original post, it made me wonder how I would do it if and when I get to this point in time, so I've come up with the following theory-- I'd appreciate knowing if it's workable or not, for when I build my own guitar.

You could find out how wide the fretboard is at the nut, and again how wide it is at the 21st fret (or whatever, I'm not sure which fret guitar-makers use for reference). Draw a line down your neck blank perfectly in half lengthwise, and measure OUT from the center line to find where the edges of your fretboard would be.

For example: if your fretboard should be 2" at the nut (I'm just using round numbers cause I'm lazy to look up the actual ones!), measure (at a perfect 90 degree angle!) 1 inch out from either side of the centre line, at where you want the end of the fretboard/your nut to be. Put dots at these points.

Using THIS fret calculator, I found out that the 21st fret of a Fender-scale neck is 17.919 inches away from the 'zero fret' (the nut, depending on construction). Put a dot here (yeah, like I could put a dot to the thousanth of an inch), on the centre line. Assuming your neck should be tapered out to 2.5" wide at this point (again, exaggerating the numbers), at that dot you would measure out 1.25" from the centre line, in either direction again. Connect the dots, and you're off to the races!

I wouldn't make any cuts until somebody steers you in a better direction-- for the record, I'm likely to try to hunt down a template or use one of my own guitars, rather than go by this method. :D

SO, that's your fretboard, though-- as for the rest, you can basically decide yourself how much wood you want to use for the headstock, and how much wood (and in what shape) you need at the body end of things, for connecting them. That's all stuff that needs to be planned out, though. Before you make any cuts, you should already be aware of how/where your neck will attach, and then where the bridge should be, in relation to the nut.

You could do much worse than track down a CAD template of a telecaster as a starting point. Even if you don't end up actually USING it, it'll help to see one, for the visualizing process. Do a forum search for "template" or "telecaster template" and see what comes up.


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Thanks Greg (and all) for your help.

I had a look through Melvin Hiscocks book and he goes through building a Tele in that.

Unfortunatly there is not a lot of BASIC detail on the neck.He talks about a "Neck Template" but ,unless I am missing something it doesn't actually go into any detail on HOW TO make the template.(I might be expecting too much ?)

I realise its all just a matter of measurements and setting out but its kind of amazing that there is not more info on the subject.

Any way I will have a go with the info you have posted.I might make it out of a bit of craftwood or something like that first up to see how it goes.I suppose the scond time around might be more straight forward.

I will let you know how it goes.


Greg W

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hey greg and welcome to the world of guitar building :D


offers a set of telecaster templates in both plexiglass and 1/4" wood

i would suggest wood because its twice as thick as the plexiglass, and plegiglass tends to break and crack, for me anyways

start by buying those templates and you can either set the templates on the wood and route it out, or just trace around them

best of luck with everything, keep us posted!

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