The Fender Telecaster, first introduced in 1950, is a solid-body electric guitar. It was one of the first commercially produced electric guitars. The Fender Telecaster has been in continuous production since its introduction. The typical Telenaster is a dual pickup, single cutaway guitar. Many hobbyist guitar makers built their own Telecaster-type guitars from self-assembly guitar kits. But to make a genuine Fender Telecaster, it's important to use authentic Fender parts. Making your own Fender Telecaster is a good way of getting a high-spec, unique guitar while saving money.
Pick a Fender model. There are a variety of Fender Telecasters in production. The majority of them have the standard, single cutaway solid body. The rest are semi-hollow body Thinline models. Pickup configuration also varies, according to model. The Telecaster Standard has two single-coil pickups. This is by far the most common configuration. The Telecaster Custom has a single coil at the bridge position and a neck humbucker. Some Thinline models have two humbuckers. Once you've decided on a model, you know which parts to buy.
Buy parts. You can get a lot of the necessary parts from a guitar kit retailer. Kits come with pre-cut bodies, neck blanks and hardware. To create a genuine Fender Telecaster, the body and neck must be made by Fender. Guitar makers and some guitar stores sell salvaged parts like these that normally are from damaged instruments. You can use non-Fender hardware and pickups, which are commonly upgraded parts found on many pre-owned Fender Telecasters.
Set up your workshop and inspect your parts. Your workshop must be well lit and spacious enough to lay your guitar flat with access to a power source for your soldering iron. Check the parts, paying special attention to the wood. Look for any cracks in the neck and body. If you spot any, return the part and get a replacement.
Mount the hardware. Use a crosshead screwdriver to screw in the bridge and tail piece with the 3.2mm crosshead screws provided in the kit. There are pre-drilled holes in the centre of the body for the bridge. Place the pickups in their cavity and gently thread the wire through the hole in the body so that it reaches the cavity where the potentiometers will be housed.
Wire the electrics. Consult your wiring schematic to ensure that you correctly complete the circuit. Solder the black wire from each pickup to the relevant terminal on the pickup selector potentiometer. Then solder the wire that connects the pickup selector to the volume and tone potentiometer. Finally, solder the wire from the volume potentiometer to the output jack. Screw the pickup selector and potentiometer assembly in place.
Bolt the neck to the body of the guitar using a cross head screwdriver and 9.5mm round-head ribbed bolt. The neck snugly slots into the neck pocket on the body. Tighten the truss rod to adjust the neck relief.
Paint unfinished wood before mounting hardware to prevent getting paint on metal parts.
Solder in a well-ventilated area.
Tips and warnings
- Paint unfinished wood before mounting hardware to prevent getting paint on metal parts.
- Solder in a well-ventilated area.
Things you need
- Guitar kit
- Wiring schematic
- Fender-made body
- Fender-made neck
- Fender pickups
- Soldering iron
- Guitar strings