Finished build (non-Warmoth) - tradtional-looking Tele

Jumble Jumble

Senior member
(the story is long, sorry. There are some pics at the bottom, more to come)

About 4 years ago, my brother-in-law (my wife's brother, not my sister's husband) started university. My wife and I visited him in his first few weeks, and he had done what all students should do: blown a chunk of his first student loan on a guitar. A US-made Fender P-Bass in Butterscotch Blonde. And very nice it was too. He told us that the next thing he wanted to get would be a Telecaster - but he didn't play much guitar and so it'd have to wait until he could spend that amount of money without worrying (ie a very long time).

On our way home, we came up with the idea that we could get him his Telecaster as a graduation present. Obviously I would build it, rather than it being off the shelf - that way we could make it really special. That would give us three years to slowly save up, buy parts here and there, and have it ready for graduation. We agreed not to tell ANYONE that we were planning it.

As is often the case, it didn't really work out like that. We had some big bills, I had a couple of uncomfortably long periods of unemployment, and we had a baby. So the saving didn't happen, the parts didn't happen (with the exception of a few tiny things here and there) and three years later there was no guitar. Of course, nobody was disappointed but us, as nobody else knew it was happening.

For those three years, though, I did secretly grill him from time to time over what his perfect Telecaster would be like. My original thought of doing some kind of highly figured top with a dyed-burst finish went out the window - he wanted it to match his P-Bass - so we were looking at a classic 50s-style Tele. Coming from Bass, he's used to a lot of space between the strings. So much so that his acoustic guitar is a 12-string with only 6 strings on it. So I knew he'd want a wide nut (though I didn't want to make it weirdly wide). Apart from that, though, he didn't really know what he wanted, so I decided I would simply try to create the vibe of a 50s Tele, with all modern conveniences and the best example of each part I could think of.

Once I'd come up with these specs, using Warmoth was out of the question. They simply didn't have the flexibility required for what I wanted, in either the body or the neck. The specific things they wouldn't do were:

- a 9.5-14 compound radius on the neck (which I chose through doing lots of maths - 9.5 at the nut feels nice for chords, and it hits 12" like a Les Paul at the 12th fret)

- a one-piece vintage-outline Tele body (flattened-off jack area, vintage wire routing) with a tummy contour

So the body and neck are from USACG.

The guitar is called the "Serenaur Cleverbastard". "Serenaur" is an internet name he used to use for a while, which also means "gold star", so appropriate for marking academic achievement. And "cleverbastard" is pretty self-explanatory. I had a custom decal done, which was buried as part of the neck finishing process.

Time for some pics, then the full spec.






Flame maple (I asked for "light flame" to keep cost down, but got really lovely-looking wood) two-piece neck.
Headstock truss rod adjust, no skunk stripe
Neck profile taken from measurements of a '63 Tele neck
9.5"-14" compound radius; fallaway after 12th fret
SS6150 frets
I had to sand the headstock to an approximate Tele shape before finishing as USACG isn't licensed
Light vintage tint gloss
1.8" nut width
Rolled fingerboard edges
Bone nut
Interestingly, the frets came semi-dressed. The sharp ends had been filed; all that was left for me to do was polish them up.

One-piece Swamp Ash vintage-outline Tele body
Tummy cut
Butterscotch Blonde finish

Callaham vintage bridge
Brass compensated saddles
Sperzel locking tuners
Dunlop StrapLok dual design buttons
Bakelite pickguard - this was hard to find. In the end Mike at did it for me. Rather than lacquering the pickguard, how it was done in the 50s, he polished the surface of the Bakelite itself to a gloss finish. The result is lovely and won't scratch off so easily!
Engraved neck plate

Neck pickup: Fender Twisted Tele
Bridge pickup: Seymour Duncan Hot For Tele (tapped)
Pots: 250K
Volume bleed
.022uF orange drop tone cap
Three-way switch, standard wiring
Electro Socket jack
S-1 switch on volume control. Normal position is the "vintage" output on the bridge pickup (sounds like a normal Tele); when pushed in it activates the extra windings for more mids and overall volume

Before I gave him the guitar, I sent it to Charlie Chandler's Guitar Experience. Here it had a full Plek setup, including a custom nut cut by the Plek machine for the unusual nut width.
Jeri Designs black leather 2.75" strap
10-46 string gauge (I used Ernie Ball Coated strings as he doesn't change them often and has filthy hands) - spare sets included
Some picks and a spec sheet thrown in the vase
SKB hard case

Surf n Music

Senior member
What a great story. I am using some of my student loan money to build my #2, shhh don't tell anyone. I bet he will be stoked! Such a sweet looking guitar. That flame really is nice on the neck. Not to overboard. Great job.

Jumble Jumble

Senior member
I should say - he's got the guitar now, and in fact he took those photos. Giving it to him was fun - he basically managed a stunned silence, some hugs, and then giggled for an hour.


Senior member
Guitars that are made for special occasions are even more special (all guitars are special for their owners). Very nice of you paying and putting it all together for your b-I-l. I want to do the same for a close friend but unfortunately I can't seem to afford it.

The neck looks great, I like some of the things USACG do. I have wanted to order from them for years but everytime something happens and return to Warmoth. I've been waiting for a company that combine everything Warmoth, USACG and Musikraft do... :sign13:

Have you personally visited Charlie Chandler's Guitar Experience? I have a friend who studies jazz on Cardiff and I recommended the store for a setup, his guitars really needed it. They were both Pleked and he said they did an amazing job, they play like butter and he uses 13's! He also told me the shop has a lot of stock of expensive guitars & amps.


Senior member
I've visited Charlie Chandlers, and had some work done there.  It's not a huge shop but he often has some interesting bits and pieces.

There is also a shop in the southern part of London, called Chandler Guitars but Charlie is not involved in that store now.

Chandler Guitars is an older store and is bigger as I recall as its about 20 years since I was last there.


Senior member
If you mean Chandler at Kew Gardens, Richmond, Surrey I've been there twice. I knew that shop from their ads in Guitarist magazine in the 90's so when I first visited England in 2000 I visited them. Cool shop, the main floor is small but their basement is bigger and they had interesting amps, a lot of vintage British amps. They let me and a friend play any amp we wanted, first time I played through a Hiwatt!

I learned about C.C Experience later from the net so I've never been there. Next time I will though!


Senior member
Yes that's the one in Kew Gardens.

CC. G experience isn't too far away in the Kingston upon Thames area. I had a re fret and Plek on my 80s Hamer done there. Very helpful shop...

Jumble Jumble

Senior member
Guitar Experience were fantastic.

As for Chandler's in Kew - well, I had one brilliant setup done there, and one terrible one. So I won't go there again.