Since I've been on Jemsite a bunch lately, I wanted to post some pictures and details of my new build. It's a little bit of a long read. However, if you like build threads or thought about bolting a telecaster together you might find it interesting.
This build was based off of a GFS (Guitar Fetish) Pawlonia Telecaster Body. I got the idea from reading some of the build posts at TDPRI (the telecaster forum). The folks over there talk about how the wood is light and resonant. So for $50 I thought I'd give it a try. In addition, I wanted an economical project to work on with my 6 year old. It was kind of a way to break him into my passion.
The price list for building the guitar broke down as follows. The body was $65 including shipping; I had set of Fender 60's re-issue pickups; the pickguard and control plate set me back $18; I had the pots and knobs left over from another project; the neck (Allparts MIJ maple neck with a rosewood fretboard) was a bay purchase that included the sperzel tuners (i almost forgot how much I really like these USA made tuners) $160; I bought a new neck plate, neck screws, and an electrosocket jack plate for $24; and finally I added a set of wilkerson swiveling saddles to a fender bridge plate for $38. I also have a set of planet waves strap pegs on order, which were $7.5 shipped. So I figure all said and done taking into account the value of the parts I had that the guitar could be built for around $375.
Now came bolting it all together. It went together, but took some time to line everything up. I'll say a little more about this later. I used a 3-way switch to wire it up - Neck, both in series, and bridge.
Then it was time to set it up. I checked the nut height and filed the slots very slightly. On my telecasters I set the string height at the 12th fret (capoing the 1st fret) at just shy of 3/16 of an inch. Frets were checked with a stew-mac fret rocker and they checked out ok. I used 9-42 d'addario's (same as my ibanez guitars). Set the intonation using the swivel saddles and was ready to test it out.
It plays great and weighs 5 lbs on the nose. The bodies so light that it's every so slightly headstock heavy. I'm kind of torn on pawlonia for a body and would not recommend GFS for an easy build. I have built a number of warmoths and Ibanez parts guitars. All of these have lined up. This was not the case with the GFS body. The holes generally lined up, but needed some help with the drill to get everything the way I wanted it. I had to drill the string holes and work the body to neck holes to get the body to line up with a standard fender neck bolt pattern. In addition, I needed to shim the neck pocket because it didn't have the correct neck angle. I didn't want to sand my neck heel or the pocket because I felt the neck would sit too deep in the pocket. Another pro or con, depending on how you look at it is how soft the wood is. I did not have to pre-drill any of the holes in the body. I just used a punch to center the hole and put the screws in from there. That made it quick. However, I could feel the neck pocket compress when the neck was fully tightened. The other thing about the body is that the finish is good from far, but far from good. There are imperfections in the body sanding that can be seen when you examine the guitar up close. I know you get what you pay for. In the end I can port over all of the parts to a better body when the urge hits, but for now I can enjoy a Monaco yellow telecaster for a fraction of the price.