In looking at web sites for kits, Tele style, and I am looking at Music
Maker's site which has a tele kit with a Basswood body. I've heard of some
different woods for the body, but not Bass wood. Is this a good wood for the
body, or are they using it to just make the kit cheaper? I'm a ways from
doing this, but I am looking to see what's out there. Thanks.
Teles (which in my mind include Broadcasters, "No-casters" and Esquires)
have been made by Fender with bodies made of pine, ash, poplar, alder, ash
with a maple center block, mahogany, rosewood, koa, ash with a spruce top,
various of the above with a maple cap, and basswood.
To my ear, the basswood, alder, and poplar Teles all sound about the same,
which is pretty good. They've got the sort of spanky top end that makes that
Tele sound, and they don't weigh a ton.
Basswood is cheap, and used primarily in cheaper guitars. But the truth
is that most of the woods used in traditional mass-produced guitars is
cheap-- that's why Leo Fender used ash and alder back in the 1950s. The
designs worked with those woods and everyone became accustomed to the
tones they produced. The Gibson solid bodies that use a maple cap on a
mahogany body were more expensive and sounded darker, also by design.
At any rate, I'd suggest skipping the kit all together. Buy a pre-made
neck if you must, but making an electric guitar body is remarkably easy
and will allow you to create a design of your own, with the woods you
want to use, at a fraction of the price of a pre-fab kit. (I'm assuming
that you have access to woodworking tools since you're posting to a
I'm at the finishing stage of a semi-solid body electric I made from
hard ash with a maple cap split by two 1" strips of walnut. The
double-cutaway ash body is hollowed out within 3/8" of the rim except
for the center core which I left intact for mounting the neck, pickups,
and bridge. I cut F-holes in the top and made mounting rings for the
pickups from thin walnut stock to match the strips in the top. I put
twin P90s in and am still playing around with the electronics, but am
probably going to go with mini-toggles for each pickup (in
phase-off-out of phase), a single volume, and a varitone type circuit.
The finish will be clear lacquer but I'll probably tint it toward amber
a bit to help bring out the figure in the maple top. The neck is a tele
copy of rock maple with a rosewood fretboard.
Anyway, making the body took about two hours in the shop (minus gluing
time). You can make a tele in probably 30 minutes, if you have a
template for routing the pickup cavities handy. I've never made a tele
(I have a Fender already) but if I were planning to make one I'd
probably use white ash or alder for the body before basswood.
It'll be more than you think! Take a look at rec.music.makers.builders
for some threads on cost...many people are putting $700-1000 into their
guitars. At the other end (where I'm working) it's going to be hard to
build a guitar for less than $200 even if you buy parts used on Ebay.
Make a list and check prices on the following (assuming you'd buying a
pickguard ( if you want one)
Then look around for sources of 8/4 wood suitable for guitar building.
None of the small mills around here routinely cut 8/4 so my best source
is 75 miles away and charges about $4/BF for ash ($75 will make me
about four bodies at that price). I buy figured maple or walnut for the
tops on Ebay, which I resaw myself to get 2-3 tops from a typical $15
board. If you're building necks then you need to consider the cost of
fret wire, nuts, and fretboards in addition to the rock maple blanks
for a Fender-style neck.
It all add up pretty quickly. But the first time I plugged in a guitar
I had built and it played better than the last NEW Fender I'd purchased
I was hooked. That one cost me perhaps $200, but some of that included
leftover parts that went into the next one too.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.