Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Daphne Blue Thinline Telecaster Project

Here's one that I had high hopes for, but it just didn't pan out...mostly because of my lack of technical and woodworking skills. I have always thought that a sonic blue or daphne blue Telecaster Thinline would be my dream guitar. I actually have a previous story on here about a daphne blue Thinline that I bought a number of years ago that had two humbuckers in it that just didn't really float my boat. But I still had it in the back of my mind that that guitar was very close to what I wanted, but I just still like the standard single coil pickups. So the years have gone by.

Then, last year, I was at the NAMM tradeshow, which is the big music equipment industry tradeshow where they show off all of their latest products for retailers. The show is not open to the public, so to get a pass you have to know someone really connected, someone who owns a store with an extra pass, or a famous musician who is connected to a company. I got very lucky and got passes from a friend of mine who is endorsed by Taylor Guitars. If you are a music gear junky, going to this tradeshow is like letting little kids loose in a candy store. It's amazing...all the newest effects pedals and accessories and new amps and guitar models and on and on. Down at the basement level of the show are a ton of companies who make parts and bodies and necks and components and much more. They are the suppliers to the industry. I was walking along and passed a booth with a long table full of guitar bodies. Mostly Fender-style bodies...Strats and Telecasters and basses...in every color combo you could think of. The one that caught my attention was the daphne blue Telecaster Thinline body with cream binding.

 Holy moly...it was the body to my dream guitar!

It was the last day of the tradeshow and everyone was tired and dreading having to pack up all of their  products for the trip home. Especially if they were from overseas like many of the parts suppliers. I stopped and looked at the guitar body and asked if, just by chance, it was for sale. They owner of the company said that since the show was almost over, he would sell it to me for $60. I couldn't believe it. I pulled three new $20 bills out of my pocket before he could change his mind and the deal was done. After I made the long drive home, I went to the Warmouth website and priced how much it would cost to custom order this exact body, with paint and binding. A whopping $514! Man, I was feeling good about this. I decided that I just didn't have a huge budget to custom order a neck and pickups and parts and strap buttons and everything else, so I decided to keep an eye on Craigslist for a donor Tele. A nice Fender MIM Telecaster that would provide the neck, pickups, switches, knobs and everything. I also realized that this body had the Thinline F-hole, but had the standard layout for the controls. Usually on a Thinline the controls are mounted on an extended pickguard. But I was actually happy about this because I really prefer the standard Tele control layout. So, I went back to the Warmouth website and custom ordered a pickguard to accomodate the F-hole and also the standard controls. I got in a beautiful cream color that matched the binding very well. This guitar was going to be a beauty.

After finding a really nice Lake Placid Blue Telecaster on Craigslist for super cheap, I got ready to put together my new guitar. When I got ready to take the donor Tele apart I actually had second thoughts. The Lake Placid Blue was a beautiful color in person, not at all cheap looking like the photos on Craigslist had convinced me of. I was a little torn, but finally got busy taking it apart. I sold the body and pickguard on Ebay the very next day and got more than half my money back from my purchase price. This was going well! I got the rest apart and removed the pickups and had my buddy do all the wiring for me. I put the rest together and bolted the neck on and strung it up. When I had bought the body from the manufacturer, he specifically said it would perfectly fit a Fender neck. Sadly, once I got it all together, I discovered that the neck pocket was just slightly not deep enough. This caused the action on the guitar to be a little too high. Adjusting the bridge was just not going to work. The neck pocket was going to need to be precisely routed.

Unfortunately, I don't have those skills or equipment. So, the guitar sat here, month after month, staring at me. Taunting me. Begging me to do something. I finally gave in. I realized that I was just not going to ever fix it. I unstrung the guitar, got my screwdrivers out and carefully took it apart. Same as it ever was. I listed the neck on Ebay and then later the body with the custom pickguard included. It would be a shame to separate them and make someone have to order another one. Hey, I'm a reasonable guy. So, that was the end of dream guitar, attempt number two. I think what I'm going to have to do is win the lottery so that I can order guitars from the Fender Custom Shop. I see their guitars for sale and I drool. I know that they can make whatever I want and actually get it perfectly right and sounding amazing and then, maybe, just maybe, I'll finally be happy. With guitars anyway.