Thursday, 17 December 2015

Thurston Moore Custom Telemaster Build

When I first saw Thurston Moore's Custom signature Fender Jazzmaster I was intrigued by the transparent green finish and the overall look and attitude of this guitar. It was classical looking yet at the same time - of the present. I suppose you could call it "Postmodern".
I knew straight away that I wanted to create something in a similar vein but with my own unique twist of course.
I didn't want to use a standard Jazzmaster body as that would constrain my imagination a little I thought. I've always had a thing for the Telemaster since it first appeared on the scene but was a bit out of love for the standard Tele pickups and bridge design. 
I found this guy John at '1jonone' on E-bay selling red Alder Telemaster bodies which he would re-route for you at a small extra cost, as well providing custom cut scratchplates for the instrument (just search for 'Telemaster bodies' on E-bay UK).
It cost me around £130 to have a body routed for P90's and a small black scratchplate cut to fit.
John was really nice to deal with and was always helpful with suggestions of where to get good quality parts for a good price etc. He will also cut the neck pocket to fit either a Strat or Tele.
I was after a transparent finish that would highlight the grain but would also be quite vivid in color.
I'd tried lacquer based stains before but they were all a bit muted. In the end I took a punt on Rustin's
concentrated Water-based wood dye.
This stuff was beautiful and strong and so clean to use - no messy spraying and choking on fumes. I rubbed it on the body partly diluted and then when it was dry (I left it overnight) I sanded it back.

The pictures don't really do it justice, it is much bolder in hue in actuality and half-decent light!
The next step was the finish.
I'd heard a lot about 'Tru-Oil' in the past and wanted to give it a go. It was originally designed for gun stocks and is a hard lacquer that can be hand-rubbed onto wood and buffed to a glossy finish. 
I rubbed on around 8 thin coats altogether and wet sanded before the final coat. It's amazing how glossy you can get the finish. Tru-Oil is also a superb grain filler on tight grain woods like Alder, Mahogany and Walnut for might have to double the volume on Swamp Ash.

After this was completed, I bought a nice one-piece Mighty Mite maple Tele neck from Axecaster.
Its got a 'V' profile and a beautiful grain. I levelled, crowned and polished the medium jumbo frets even though they were pretty well finished straight out of the box:

I will go into the fret dressing and re-fretting in more detail in upcoming posts.
For the pickups I plumped on IronGear 'Platinum 90's' - a UK  based designer who manufactures in China. I've used Irongear Blues Engine, Dirty Torque and Rolling Mills on other builds and they are genuinely fantastic pups for the price - see the reviews online.
As for hardware, I went for the black vibe as per Thurston Moore's Jazzmaster: Wilkinson Ezi-Lok tuners as well as black control plate, black pickguard and strap buttons - I thought a black bridge might be overkill!

 As its for my own use I applied a small 'Fender' water-slide to the headstock and gave it a quick squirt of clear lacquer (its a 'Fender Licensed' neck after all).
I really love this guitar and its one of my best builds so far. The Irongear pups are so versatile: big and clangy when driven but clean and sweet with the volume rolled off. The neck pickup gives a nice thick fluty sound on its own - I'd even say "Gilmourish".
This Guitar is now nearly 2 years old and gets even better with age. The only thing I've changed on it is re-fretting the neck with 3mm Jumbo's (I'm currently in my jumbo fret period).
Since this was finished I've completed 3 other builds which I will post about in the next couple of weeks: The "Green Phantom", "Blue Sapphire" and the Garage rock style, home sprayed, psychedelic reliced "Dogbreath" guitar are on their way!

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