Esquire for a friend
While I don't really get into the idea of building Fenders from parts or kits I decided it was the best way to go for this project, given my very limited time available and because my friend Will has always wanted an early Esquire.
My long term friend Will has been though a few bad years with financial and health issues dogging him badly so with his 60th birthday coming up it seemed like the right time to get this project happening.
Will has one of my guitars which I can't for the life of me find photos of (pre digital camera) but it is a double cutaway Tele with a pine body with a bound New Guinea rosewood carved top and rock maple neck. It has a standard Tele bridge and pickup and a P-90 in the neck. If/when I find pics I'll post them on here.
Anyway, Will has some very nice guitars and amps and has a personal full analogue recording studio where he writes and records his own music. He's been a good friend and supporter of Tym guitars for a long time and we started this project about 10 years ago when Will mentioned he'd always wanted an early Esquire. I ordered an Allparts ash body and maple Tele neck and then ..... well, things (life/work/family/floods/health/etc) all got in the way and those parts sat here for, well, that long.
When Will mentioned he'd love that Esquire as his 60th birthday was coming up I figured it was time to make time.
This raw ash body and medium thick maple neck have been sitting here at the workshop for all that time so it was time to spring into action, well, move slowly around all the other stuff I do anyway.
Will didn't want a "bright yellow" one but more a butterscotch that looked like it had spent most of it's life in a smokey blues club. I mixed some yellow and brown into my clear nitro and after a couple of clear sealer/filler coats I squirted some "dirty nitro" onto the body.
I sprayed the neck with a more yellow nitro first and then finished with a couple of light coats of the brown to give that "dirty worn to original yellowed" look and let 'em both dry.
My good friend Mick Brierley wound me the Esquire/Broadcaster pickup to original spec with string covered bobbin and I started assembling the parts.
The great thing about a Tele/Esquire of course is that it is essentially a "kit" that screws together as that's how Leo designed it. It was designed using furniture building techniques made in pieces that could be assembled by unskilled labour, and what a wonder of design and technology it is. It really is the most basic form of a solid body electric guitar you can make with function, easy and cost effective manufacture being at the forefront of it's design.
When the nitro was cured I "cracked" it up and gave it some scars. Again, I'm not really into the whole "relic'ing" thing but I have taught myself over the years to aid in repairing vintage guitars to blend the repairs in better when needed.
I aged all the new hardware and shot some clear nitro on the scratchplate as was done originally by Fender and gave it a little warp.
These go together like clockwork, as was their original intention and once all the pieces were collected and the body, neck and hardware were all aged and ready the assembly only took about an hour to get it playing. For those of you assembling "kits" like this I highly recommend buying good quality "Fender liscenced" (or similar) bodies and necks and Fender or Fender compatible hardware as they really do just fall together. If you start buying cheap parts from here and there I guarantee you they will not all fit, line up and fall into place. The number of cheap "kits" I've had to assemble and set up over the years for customers has completely turned me off that path.
So, with a new bone nut and a quick tweak on the truss rod it was playing like an ..... Esquire. The nerd in me couldn't resist making this a "52 Esquire (I know ubernerds, there's other differences) with some slotted and some Phillips head screws from the transition period.
I do like the feel of an aged guitar over a completely brand new factory built one but I don't go in for most of the (so called) "facts" about vintage guitar mythology and "mojo". I personally prefer to make guitars with new (or slight variations on) ideas that may, or may not work in an expected way, but may bring up positive results in other areas. I don't personally think just because this is the way we used to make guitars that this is the way they should be made, but, this was a project for a friend who had expectations and desires, and I could accommodate that by doing it this way. Remember, when Paul Bigsby came up with this idea, it was completely new and original.
This was a fun and satisfying thing to do for a friend but it's not what I would want to do all the time. I prefer to design and make guitars using materials other than solid timber and as I've always said, the world doesn't need more "Fenders" in it.
One day when I have more time I'd like to get back into being a guitar maker, for friends but this place just takes up too much time, and it's a time consuming interest if you do it all by hand. I've never called myself (and never will) a luthier as the art of lutherie, to me, is something much more divine and special. I've built over 130 guitars and basses, and over 200 necks completely from scratch (not like this). I hand made the bodies, the necks, the fretboards and the trussrods. I've built pickups, vibratos, bridges, and knobs. I've made solid body, semi solid, hollowbody, acoustic guitars out of many materials like timber, ply, MDF, plastic, acrylic, aluminium, polyethylene, Laminex etc etc, but for me a luthier makes fine stringed instruments. I just make guitars. and hopefully they make people happy.