Step One: first choices

Here we are, you fans!
Here’s the first step: choices!

Basically I wanted to start learning how to build a guitar by myself.
So I first compiled tons of part lists for dream guitars…
then I repeated to myself "you’ve never built even the simplest wood furniture, who do you think you are!"
So I told myself, "OK man, start from the basics, even if it’s not what you see fit for you. Anyways, it’s always a great step to BEGIN and END such a project!"

And this is why I chose to build a TELE.

Let me set this straight though: I’m a metal head inside me, and since day 1 of my endless love for music, I kept the promise of never sounding as thinny and cheap as (excuse me, O total master of mine!) Bruce Springsteen ! I mean, I love Bruce, I’ve learnt English with his songs, but please, no, his guitar sound is like total crap if you take it out of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band 🙂

In my endless quest for TONE, I stumbled upon Richie Kotzen. He has this wonderful vibe. He’s a shredder and a bluesman and … you name it. Here’s a sample:

well a lot more than a sample actually 🙂

He has a really great combination of ideas that give a Tele a place in the 21st century.

so I said: OK let’s try this one.

I needed something to start with.
There are lots of websites full of ‘parts’ ready for you to buy: there’s warmoth but bodies cost much in the range of 200-300$.
And then there’s this wonderful Thomann website where we bought lots of equipment with my band.

Here’s their offer:
the Harley Benton T-Style guitar kit!

This sells for €69, everything included.
It’s got basic pickups, connectors that would let you NOT have to solder anything, basically it’s just screwing screws and that’s it.
Then I had this Richie Kotzen idea in my mind.
I said, ‘let’s get HIS pickups"

And here they are:

Bridge pickup is:

it’s a great 4-conductor mini-humbucker, in T-style, with the weird pentagonal base (isn’t that weird?!).
His features are strong: 260mV output level is sort of mid-range, so it’s not a vintage pickup, it’s somewhere in the range of my beloved DiMarzio Air Norton I put on TWO (!) of my other guitars:

It’s got 4 conductors so you can get the series / parallel wiring which is great, gives you 2 very different tones also in terms of output. Checked . Chopper T, you’re in ! 🙂

Then for the neck, I followed Richie in choosing a Twang King Neck pickup, straight single coil.

Here it is:

Wow, that’s such a LOW output: just 89mV!!!
Since I got that there’ such a huge difference in output between these 2 pickups, I thought that having series-parallel in place was mandatory.

Here’s where my project moves perhaps a little bit forward combining ease of constructions with cool tone variations.

While Richie has replaced his tone pot with a rotary switch that engages the series-parallel wiring, I opted for an easier to find push-pull pot for the tone section.

The added ‘juice’ to it is that I thought of basically reversing the typical design that would have a ‘series’ wiring in the standard ‘push’ position and a ‘parallel’ wiring in the ‘pull’ position. I said, ‘If I build it like that, I’d have two pickups that sound really unbalanced, one being 270mV in output and the other one being 89mV."
So I chose to do the opposite:
my guitar would have a ‘parallel’ wiring for the bridge pickup with the pot in the ‘push’ position, and a ‘series’ wiring in the ‘pull’ position, so that when you’d pull it, you’d get your greatly beefed up tone.
WOW, I said to myself, that’s a great idea, I’m all for it, that would really rock!
Perhaps this might sound strange… ok I’ll try to prepare some simple diagram to clear that out.

OK, I have my design signed. Let’s get started!

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