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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:23 pm 
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Jamey Amrine and I are both guitarists, and have long had a soft spot for vintage versions of Leo Fender's famous Telecaster electric guitar. We've decided that we're going to join forces (and shops and tools) to build our own Telecasters. Working together on 90% identical guitars will make it worthwhile to make some jigs, and will leverage Jamey's experience in building musical instruments. We figure that we can probably accommodate a couple of others who might be similarly inclined, though since our shops are limited in size, 5 people will need to be the max.

We'll be starting hopefully sometime in February, and the sessions will be scheduled as we move through the project on evenings and weekends depending on how everyone is progressing. It may be necessary to complete some operations on our own in our own shops before our next get-together.

In particular, each person will need to show up at the first session with a glued-up guitar body blank of a suitable wood, milled to final thickness (18" x 14" x 1 3/4" thick), and a maple neck blank, again milled to final thickness (30" x 3 1/2" x 3/4" thick). The game plan is to do as much as we can with our own tools and materials, so that if anyone decides to abandon their project early on, they will have a minimal cash investment. Most of the expensive stuff (fret wire, pickups, wiring, pots, bridge, pick guard, tuners etc.) get purchased at the end of the process.

Total material cost (not including the blanks) is estimated to be $250-$300

Feel free to ask general questions in this thread. Jamey has put together a pretty detailed project plan, and I've picked his brain a bit and done some of my own research so we have a pretty good idea how each step will be accomplished, but we don't want to bore everyone with a long discussion here. If anyone is interested in also building a Telecaster, might be willing to host us in your shop at some point (though that isn't required), please send Jamey & myself a PM. We'll get together soon to discuss all details.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:41 pm 
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Wow....that's ambitious! Are you planning on a maple body or something more exotic like tiger maple? There's probably two schools of thought, one being a paint finish and the other being natural. Both can be really cool! As an acoustic player, I've often wondered if the wood has the same tonal contribution that it does with an acoustic instrument (?).

I'd love to join you but would not want to take up someones space that's more dedicated.

Jay


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:00 pm 
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A CNC router would make quick work of these!

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:01 pm 
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The choice of wood and finish is up to the participant, as long is they're willing to go with a Telecaster shape. I'm expecting most of us to opt for something basic like Alder or Poplar, and then going with a painted finish. There's no reason someone can't get all fancy on us if they want, but I'm going to follow the KISS principle for my first guitar. There are other common elements that we'll all have to be on board with, such as a rosewood fingerboard, and some nice vintage tuners that Jamey found so we can get quantity pricing which kicks in at 3+ for a lot of items.

From what I've learned, the tone of an electric guitar is more a function of the gauge of your strings, the scale length, and the type of pickups and how they're wired. Electric guitar bodies can be successfully made from just about any wood - walnut, mahogany, swamp ash (not the ash we get around here which is much heavier), alder (which is probably the traditional wood for commercial guitars) etc. Some early Tele's were even made from pine according to Jamey (and I've seen some that even had pine necks!). I think that the one area that I think is affected by "tone wood" in an electric is sustain, but given the electronics that can have much more effect on sustain than the wood, I'm not sure that the wood choice is all that critical.

For acoustic instruments, wood choice and bracing is MUCH more important.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:05 pm 
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Elbert W Creed wrote:
A CNC router would make quick work of these!

Not only used by production guitar manufacturers, but custom shops too, although you have to be building (and selling) a lot of guitars to make the investment worthwhile. Most professional luthiers seem to stick with templates and a handheld, overarm or pin router.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:15 am 
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Jay Houghton wrote:
Wow....that's ambitious! Are you planning on a maple body or something more exotic like tiger maple? There's probably two schools of thought, one being a paint finish and the other being natural. Both can be really cool! As an acoustic player, I've often wondered if the wood has the same tonal contribution that it does with an acoustic instrument (?).

I'd love to join you but would not want to take up someones space that's more dedicated.


Jay, in response to some of your points: maple does not make a great body wood due to its density. It would make for a very heavy guitar without significant chambering. As Steve mentioned, typical solid-body guitar woods are swamp ash and alder (most common in Fender higher-end guitars), basswood and poplar (common in lower-end guitars, but to my mind actually very nice sounding woods), and mahogany (most frequently associated with Gibson guitars). The places where you will find maple used in electric guitars is either as a "top" (either carved and laminated onto a mahogany body like in a Gibson Les Paul, or in a hollow body archtop).

The appeal of building a Fender style guitar for this project is that the design was developed as an assembly line-built instrument. The bodies are slabs, easily routed using jigs and handheld or pin routers, and the necks are built from slabs as well. Repeatable steps and building from patterns is what made Fender successful and is what makes this an approachable project.

As to your question about the effects of wood on tone, I believe there to be some impact, but nothing like what is noticeable on an acoustic instrument. There are correlations though. Maple and other dense, close-grained woods tend to be brighter. Mahogany, poplar, etc, tend to have mellower sounds. Really though, the pickups, string gauge, scale length, and construction means (glued vs. bolted neck, etc) are the biggest factors in defining "Fender tone" vs "Gibson tone" etc.

I would invite you to throw your name in. I think it will be a pretty fun project, and there is very little financial investment until we get to the point of installing all the hardware. If we wind up with more than 5 people, I think we can make it work, even if we do double sessions or find a larger workspace. Only a few steps require a full-blown shop. Most can be done in an open space like a garage with sawhorses.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 4:36 am 
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It is interesting that this topic came up. I have recently been looking at assembling a Strat or Tele kit and may be inclined to join the group, although my work schedule is expected to ramp up significantly in the next few weeks. Here are a couple of links to the kits and parts I saw.

http://www.grizzly.com/products/category/235040
http://www.stewmac.com/

Mike


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:43 pm 
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Boy, this sounds like another tempting addiction coming my way. While I'm an acoustic player and would love to build one of these I don't think I'm there yet. However, I've always preferred the Tele over the Strat when it comes to electrics and this may be more suited to first time guitar building. If Jamie has gotten his hands on some vintage hardware then I think I'd have to say I'm in. Having said all this, I don't play electric, sold my Champ amp a few years ago, and my band...wait I was never in a band. I guess it all starts with an electric guitar (when I get big, when I get real big).


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:40 pm 
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Phil Dewey wrote:
(when I get big, when I get real big)

Nice sly Neil reference there.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 2:00 pm 
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Nice pick-up there Chris.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 2:32 pm 
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[quote="Phil Dewey"]If Jamie has gotten his hands on some vintage hardware then I think I'd have to say I'm in. /quote]
Whoa, I never got any vintage hardware. I think Steve meant "vintage style tuners." Although vintage bits and bobs are not that hard to come by.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:07 pm 
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Quote:
I'm expecting most of us to opt for something basic like Alder or Poplar,


Sure about that? The type of wood, even on an electric, has an effect on tone and sustain. I have a friend who made a guitar with a one piece neck down through the body to enhance the sustain.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:22 pm 
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My understanding is (as you mention) that just about the only effect that choice of wood has for electrics is sustain. However, given the amount of processing that is done to the signal (including electronic sustain) this is much less important on an electric than it is on acoustic instruments. What this means from a practical standpoint is that you can really use any wood and get good results. Other choices have much greater effect on the sound of the instrument than does wood choice. I understand from Jamey that some of the early Telecasters that came out of Fender had pine bodies, and if you spend some time on some of the forums where musical instrument makers hang out, you'll see folks who have successfully made entire guitars out of pine, including the necks!

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blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:20 pm 
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Just my personal prejudice. The softer woods tend to have a more muffled sound where the maples are brighter. I don't think you can really get a decent sustain from pedals. But I'm not playing at Carnegie Hall either.......


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:29 pm 
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I believe there to be some affect on sustain from the wood species, but I would suggest that the method of mounting the neck to the body and the method of anchoring the strings to the body have an even greater impact. Not to mention bridge/saddle and nut materials. I think sustain is overrated though. 8-[


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:57 pm 
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I used to work or a guy who performed three plus times a month (day job was engineering) and he told me that early basswood Tele's were sought by people who perform due to the weight. 3-5 hours of playing while standing and the weight makes a difference on your neck in the morning. Also, the Ash that is common for guitars comes from the south and called "swamp ash". Never had any, but heard it is much lighter than our Michigan Ash.

Steve.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:09 pm 
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Yeah, I was going to mention that too. I used to play bars way before DJ's and disco. 9 pm to 2:30AM with 15 off an hour (unless we drove the customers out with Muddy Waters....). That EB0 was small but it got heavy! But good tone is everything!!


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 2:25 pm 
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Have you guys started these yet?

I'd like to get in on this as I have far too few guitars.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:42 pm 
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Yes, Bruce - we've been working on them for several weeks.

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A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:20 pm 
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How's about an update? Where are you guys at on the project?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:04 pm 
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We have the bodies all done - shaped, drilled for strings, routed for electronics and the neck pocket. Necks are milled and drilled and routed for the truss rods, though I have to plug and re-drill the hole for the truss rod - my neck was the guinea-pig! :mrgreen: I plugged it last night, and hope to have it re-drilled before our next get-together.

I finished the fret-cutting jig last night, and now I'm onto the fingerboard radiusing jig.

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>>--Steve Sawyer->>
A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:06 am 
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The Guitar build is coming along well here are a few pictures of what we’ve been up to.


Attachments:
Cutting_Out_Bodies.jpg
Cutting_Out_Bodies.jpg [ 64.25 KiB | Viewed 11057 times ]
Group_Guitar_Build.jpg
Group_Guitar_Build.jpg [ 79.7 KiB | Viewed 11057 times ]
body.jpg
body.jpg [ 49.72 KiB | Viewed 11057 times ]
neck&trussrod.jpg
neck&trussrod.jpg [ 41.11 KiB | Viewed 11057 times ]
Body&neck.jpg
Body&neck.jpg [ 49.2 KiB | Viewed 11057 times ]
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 Post subject: Progress photos
PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 7:16 pm 
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Today was a catch up for us, a few more than the others. Here is a photo progression on my build. Body is cherry and thus the heaviest of the group. Neck is figure maple.


Attachments:
File comment: Raw boards from the woodpile
raw.jpg
raw.jpg [ 67.75 KiB | Viewed 10996 times ]
File comment: Raw boards cut for next step - glue up
cut.jpg
cut.jpg [ 96 KiB | Viewed 10996 times ]
File comment: Glued up blank for the body
glueup.jpg
glueup.jpg [ 76.45 KiB | Viewed 10996 times ]
File comment: Outside shape routed but not sanded. Cavities basically cleared but needing final routing.
bodyshape1.jpg
bodyshape1.jpg [ 47.09 KiB | Viewed 10996 times ]
File comment: Outside shape is sanded and all the cavities finishe routed
bodyshape2.jpg
bodyshape2.jpg [ 53.32 KiB | Viewed 10996 times ]
File comment: Body with roundover and most of the sanding completed
bodyshape3.jpg
bodyshape3.jpg [ 129.37 KiB | Viewed 10996 times ]
File comment: Todays work - truss rod cavity completed and basic shape routed on the neck
neckrod1.JPG
neckrod1.JPG [ 162.22 KiB | Viewed 10996 times ]
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:42 pm 
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=D> Nice work so far guys... Keep the pics coming. There was a musician in my class last term that was highly interested in this project, and also the prospect of refinishing a guitar he presently owns. I like music myself (but I don't play). I would love to do something like this someday, even if it will just hang on the wall. Guitars are just super kewl.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 3:38 pm 
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Very cool! Great progress.

My talent is in playing the guitar as opposed to building them.

(forgive the shameless plug)

http://www.soundcloud.com/theandric


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 9:19 pm 
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This group gives whole new meaning to the word long term, AOL anyone want to build a guitar?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:57 am 
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I am eager to get started back up. Soccer season starts Saturday though, so my availability starts to get pretty constricted. Later in the day on a Saturday is generally the best bet for me.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:18 pm 
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Saturday afternoon could work.

However, is anyone available on FRIDAY?? (looks to be crappy weather that day...)

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A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:57 pm 
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Not sure if I can make Friday, all depends on the time.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:10 pm 
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I have Friday off, but so do the kids. They have soccer practice that evening. (Yep, more soccer).


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:53 pm 
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Then let's see if we can get together on Saturday - what time works for you guys? The only commitment I have is someone coming over to look at the bike I'm selling @ 10:00

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk

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>>--Steve Sawyer->>
A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:55 am 
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Unfortunately, I am not available until late Saturday. Soccer games from ~10am until about ~5pm, maybe later (depending on if I play in the neighborhood pickup game).


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:16 pm 
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I'm probably in about that same time frame for Saturday, not until after 5:00.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:28 pm 
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My time on Saturday is evaporating quickly. I am probably out for that day altogether.

I could do something Sunday, but I don't suspect we can get everyone on a holiday.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:53 pm 
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I'm afraid I have commitments both for Saturday evening and Sunday... :(

I'm going to be in the shop on Friday so if anyone's situation changes, I'm available then.

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>>--Steve Sawyer->>
A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:31 pm 
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Is tough this weekend with the Holiday and all, maybe next weekend will be better.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:45 pm 
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Next weekend looks possible for me right now...

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A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 12:42 pm 
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I missed the build project last year. Is the guitar project you are discussing now a continuation of the uncompleted projects from last year, or a new batch. I would be interested in joining in, although I have some catching up to do with the build, as well as my playing.

Mike


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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 3:04 pm 
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We're still plugging away at the original project, mike...

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk

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>>--Steve Sawyer->>
A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:14 pm 
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Steve Sawyer wrote:
We're still plugging away at the original project, mike...

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk


Hi Steve. I'm new to the forum and will be attending my first meeting next week.

I've been build electrics for about three years now. I've built six so far. Working on number seven as we speak.

Here's a link to the ones I've built. Hopefully it works.

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=493D98D35B242CB1!319&authkey=!AAKGkM7GUAAYRj8&ithint=folder%2c.jpg


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:43 pm 
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Kevin, very nice!


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:59 pm 
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You must be left handed!

Jay


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2014 11:14 am 
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Kevin - those are fabulous!

Now we know who to call when we get ourselves into trouble!

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>>--Steve Sawyer->>
A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2015 8:19 pm 
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Hey, I don't know if anyone has finished their project but just saw this on the web. It's awesome. Fender builds a cardboard Strat! If you haven't maybe this will relight the desire.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTZtnKbXAC0


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:14 pm 
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Dan Hoffman wrote:
Hey, I don't know if anyone has finished their project but just saw this on the web. It's awesome. Fender builds a cardboard Strat! If you haven't maybe this will relight the desire.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTZtnKbXAC0



Very Cool 8) 8)
Wid T

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2015 10:10 pm 
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Holy SHIT!!

THAT is AMAZING!!

It also PROVES what a lot of us claim - it doesn't matter what kind of wood is used for a solid-body electric guitar - it's all about the stability of the mounting of the strings, the strings and the pickups that determines how a guitar sounds.

Very cool!

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>>--Steve Sawyer->>
A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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