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Blonde Model-T with Soapbars

A Side Project

Holy Cow! While uploading the photos from my Blonde Model-T project I realized it was started nearly 4 months ago, and got set aside a few times while I worked on other builds. I had a few problems along the way too, which were frustrating, but ultimately helpful. I made some new templates, since my old set was made long enough ago that I knew I could improve them. The pickup configuration I wanted to try also required a new top template.

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I just plain forgot to take pictures of fabricating the body. I’ve detailed the process enough times in other posts so check them out if you want to see it.

It includes cutting the blank out on the bandsaw, reducing the thickness to 1.75″ on the thickness planer, and using the router table to flush cut the edge. Then the body cavities are done with the plunge router base, and neck holes done on the drill press.

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A Look at the Back

The ferrules and jack cup are installed. I’ve been countersinking both of these because it just feels right, and looks better. I got a little 1/4″  expanding arbor on ebay that lets me easily pull the ferrules out after installing them. The arbor works on tuner ferrules too. It took me forever to find a good method for removing them without damaging the wood or the ferrule.

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Here is a look at the first thing that made me swear at this guitar. I broke a bridge screw off in the swamp ash. I had to use a plug cutter to remove the wood around it. The vice grips work ok at removing it, but I need to find something better. Or I just need to stop breaking screws.

Swamp ash tele body with a broken screw stuck inside Clamping a Plug

I used a deep clamp to glue in the swamp ash plug and ensure a tight fit. With the plug cutter I made a 5/8″ plug using the same wood as the body and regular wood glue. The test fitting of the neck heel was completed as well.

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 The Neck

While looking at this picture, I realized it’s not the neck on the finished guitar. I forgot that the Birdseye Maple neck I built for the guitar was ruined in the neck shaper. My new C shape cam did not translate to the neck correctly. I had to discard it and ended up building the neck from plain maple. In the end I was really happy with it.

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Finishing Process

What a great peice of wood. I pulled out the ferrules and sprayed the sanding sealer. I had to get lacquer on the guitar in a hurry because I had a long break from work approaching.

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I took a little cell phone video of scraping some pore filler into the wood. It’s a fun process.

Spraying Finish

Then I sprayed a really light coat of blonde. It barely changed the color of the guitar. The idea was to keep the woods grain visible and then make the sides a little less translucent like a burst.

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Here is the second or third blonde coat with the sides built up a little more.

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Getting Blonder

I sprayed a few coats of UV tinted lacquer over it to give it that nicotine stained blonde look. I had some 0verspray and fisheye in the lacquer, so I had to sand and re-coat once or twice.

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On the oversprayed spots I ended up just chipping them out with an x-acto knife. I didn’t want to start over to make the finish perfect since i’m just experimenting on this build. The marketing people call it a “Closet Classic”.

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Curing

I let it sit and cure for a long while. I was working on a custom build so it had at least 45 days to hang out.

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I cleaned the lacquer off the frets before putting the guitar together. I score the lacquer first to get it to cleanly chip off. The metal peice keeps the fretboard from getting scrached and dinged. I still find a way to ding it in a few spots.

Finishing the Frets

I shape the fret ends and do a leveling and crowning on the frets. I use a fret rocker to check for high spots. Then I wet sand the whole fretboard and hit it with the big buffer. I use a separate wheel for fretboards and rosewood because the metal gets them really dingy.

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Buffing the Body

I took a picture after buffing part of the front so you can see the difference between the deep gloss of the buffed part next to the flatter part on the left. The black paint in the cavities is shielding paint. It has metallic particles in it so you can paint on shielding instead of using aluminum or copper tape.

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Here is the side angle showing the “intentional” lacquer chipping and wear.

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Tele with Shielding Paint in Cavities

A Total Disaster

This one hurt a lot more than the screw that broke off under the bridge. I’m resolved to not do this again. I decided I will wax the screws, make the pilots slightly larger, and stop using the drill to install them. I had to make a plug for it just like the first broken screw. Wood glue makes a bond that is stronger than the wood itself, so I know it will be fine. Only problem is I can’t sell it like a regular Weybach. I’ll have to give it to a family member or make it my personal Model-T. The neck plate covers the plug mostly, but it still has a chip missing.

Using plug cutter to extract a broken neck screw

The Blonde Model-T is Coming Together

I started winding pickups for the guitar and had to wait for more Soapbar bobbins. I had to add extra wire wormholes since it has more wiring than a regular Model-T.

Blonde Tele Being Assembled and Wired

After getting the parts I needed I tried wiring it up with a 5 way switch. I ran into trouble with the circuit. While looking for a solution I found a circuit that I wanted to try instead. The middle pickup would be wired to a blender pot that lets you control how much middle pickup signal goes direct to the output jack. It lets you get a huge variety of sounds out of it. Yet another problem that turned out pretty cool.

A blonde tele style guitar with its wiring hanging out

Glamour Shots

I took the guitar around the Goat Farm (the complex where the shop is located) and took photos with some of the cool art installations and industrial equipment.

Blonde Tele by a Rusty door

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See you next time…

What I realized after putting this post together is that all the problems and mistakes contributed to making a really cool instrument. In hindsight I could have documented it a little better. If you are looking for more detail I recommend checking out the builds section of the site for the Blue Model-T or the Purple. Thanks for reading!

 

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