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Telecaster Tele

In the end I just could not do it.
I just could not sell this guitar. I had two people ready to buy it. I even marked it "Reserved". Money was being sent and then I called and said "don't send the money, I cannot sell this guitar". Maybe I will sell you the next one.

By impulse I even called a top Nashville Studio player and told him he really should be playing this guitar. I told him that he will have to buy it like anyone else, I don't care who he is. I don't give guitars away or endorse anyone. Just don't believe in paying anyone to play my creations. It just goes against my character to do anything like that. I find it dishonest from both sides. He said that under contract he is not able to play any other guitar than what he is now paid to play. Too bad, his loss, I know he would've lost his mind with this F1. It would have been hard but I may have sold it to him just because he is a great player and deserves this special guitar.

Body Style
Body Wood
Neck Wood
Fbd. Wood
Scale
Tuners
Frets
Pickups
Neck Joint
Weight
Price
F1

Pine

One Piece

Maple
Maple
25.5"
Vintage
24 Dual Size Large/Medium
Neck:
Fender Nocaster

Bridge:
Seymour Duncan Vintage 54
Screwed
7.5 lb
$2800
with case

Do you Remember seeing a picture of that original 1948-49 Telecaster prototype? In case you have not seen this pic already, this is what the Telecaster looked like before the design and all the production details were worked out and finalized. The interesting thing about this guitar, which caught my interest immediately was the wood the body was made of. I imagine they needed some inexpensive and easily available wood and Pine was easy to find so they made their prototype from Pine. I am sure they did not consciously know how good pine was for tone and they wouldn't have cared anyway. This was to be nothing more than a new noisemaker and a fad which may or may not catch on. After all, who would ever take a guitar seriously which had its neck screwed on a solid piece of wood, had crude hardware, no separate fingerboard an untilted headstock and sounded really bright like a lap steel? To most, it was an atrocity.

1949 FENDER BROADCASTER PROTOTYPE This may not be the most beautiful or finely crafted guitar in the world (in fact, it's downright butt-ugly), but it is undoubtedly one of the most historically important instruments of the 20th century. In 1949, Leo Fender completed his first solid- body prototype, which became the template for one of the most popular and enduring electric guitars ever built, the Broadcaster (which was later dubbed the Telecaster). Al- though the prototype differs slightly from the final version of the Broadcaster (the prototype has a three-on-a-side tuner configuration, a small pickguard, angled controls and a crude sliding pickup cover), it has the same body shape, angled bridge pickup and bolt-on neck construction as the Broadcaster.

After being displayed to the public for the first time ever in 1994, as part of the Fullerton Museum's "50 Years Of Fender" exhibit, the guitar was sold to a private collector for $375,000, the highest price ever paid for a [non-celebrity] guitar. There may be earlier solidbody guitars (such as those made by Les Paul, O.W. Appleton and Paul Bigsby), but this axe was the cornerstone of the world's largest and most successful electric guitar company.    (Guitar World Magazine)

 

I was intrigued about making a Tele-inspired guitar out of Pine. Having already discovered Pine several years before, I knew this would be a great theme for a new Zachary project. Its right up my alley.

So here it is, if you ever wondered what a Pine Tele would be like, however advanced with all the Zachary traits for playablity and design, here it is. With an action at the 12th fret at 1 mm for the high E and 1.5 mm at the low E, a fingerboard radius of 10", 24 dual-size high frets, custom-spaced control plate, custom-made featherlight aluminum knobs and neck pup surrounds, custom-modified bridge plate, 4-way pickup switch with custom wiring and expensive Titanium bridge saddles, this Zachary guitar must be nothing like the Fender prototype you see in the picture and not much like a new production Tele either. Rather, it is a high performance weapon which a few may think is what a Fender Tele should be like. Not a chance, I hear sales are huge for the current Custom Shop Handcrafted Master-Built (CNC machine-made) Relic (fake aged) Reissue Fender models, which very faithfully preserve the poor design and awkward playability of the original. Frankly I am glad a Fender is not like a Zachary. If they were, I would actually have to look for a job.

Pine is readily available, however its mostly small stock and usually full of knots, its known as Knotty Pine, which has its own charm for multi-piece glued together bodies. Recently I was lucky enough to run across a large board of premium and wide Pine. Its quite rare. The board is about 15" wide, 2" thick and 12 feet long and has no knots in it at all. Perfect for making one-piece Pine bodies. This is a very rare opportunity. As soon as I saw this board, I immediately thought of making this guitar.

For the electronics I chose vintage-spec pickups but used a 4-way switch which gives you one extra sound. The regular Tele wiring already includes both pups wired in Parallel but the 4-way wiring also gives you an extra sound, that of both pickups wired in Series. This is the same as making the two single coil pickups act as if they were one humbucker. So what you get is a thicker and louder sound with more gain than an individual single coil. There is a lot here to play with.

By the way, did you ever notice the problem with the stock Tele control plate? That is the stupidest knob spacing there is. The volume knob is so close to the pickup switch that there is no room between them and the other knob is placed totally to the edge of the plate, not leaving much wood for the mounting screw. This has bugged me since I first saw a Tele. I immediately thought there was something wrong with the knobs on that guitar. I notice these details and they keep me awake at night. So I paid big money to have custom control plates made with an improved spacing of the controls, which makes sense. Some people would not even notice this sort of thing but it bugged the hell out of me because it was illogical.

So, who likes a Telecaster out there anyway? Anyone? Do you like chicken picking. Do you like Roy Buchanan, Danny Gatton, Brent Mason, Redd Valkaert, Vince Gill, and Jerry Donohue ? What the hell??? You say you don't? Well, then this guitar is not for you.

A Tele is a guitar which is different from anything else. Its all in the details of the simple design, archaic parts and crude construction. I just cringe in disgust when I see something cut into a Tele shape and its called a Telecaster. Such an act should be illegal and punishable by 52 lashes with a cane. It bugs me because it shows ignorance. I hate ignorance. It tells me the person is stupid, disinterested, unaware, uneducated and has no respect for tradition.

One must preserve the character and personality of this traditional guitar. There are some key features, which must be religiously preserved and celebrated for a Tele to be a Tele. Simply cutting wood into a shape is not enough, and I repeat, its highly disrespectful and shows appalling ignorance. Its usually done and appeals to those who have no guitar knowledge, which is like 97.8% of all guitar consumers. "As you know, I love guitar consumers dearly". I would sure like to see more guitar players and far less guitar consumers. Of course, the Fender Custom shop works very hard at achieving the opposite and to create more consumers. They are very successful at it. Which one are you at heart, a player or a consumer? Sorry, I got off topic for a second.
What I am saying is that a Tele is a religion of its own and very few understand this. Worse of all, most pretend to know it but are totally clueless, they in fact know nothing. The bottom line is, that if the tone does not "cut glass" its not a Tele. No wonder the Telecaster greats were and are purists.

Telecaster Tele

Alex, Glad to see you didn't sell this F1. I know that if I got my hands on it, I wouldn't let it get out of my sight.

That guitar reminds me of a story about the late, Muddy Waters. After he died, a wooden plank was taken from the cabin Muddy Waters was born in, and the cabin itself was dismantled, sent on a tour, and then placed in the Clarksdale Blues Museum. Very cool. Muddy was one of the first people to ever experiment with the electric guitar on stage. He loved the Telecaster and played hell trying to learn how to make it work with his music and his band. He used to scare the crap out of people who came to see him because he was fiddling with knobs and making loud, obnoxious noise with his equipment in trying to make the new technology work for him and his audience. I'm definitely going to call this guitar, Muddy - after the late, great bluesman, himself. If ever you do decide to sell, Muddy, I get first dibs, eh?   Ted Noiz

Alex, I remember talking with you about making a "pine tele". You said you were going to do it - and now here it is. 120207 is a dream come true for any Telecaster freak - especially one who actually knows what he's doing with the instrument. It can't get any better that what you've done here. You have literally changed guitar history around with this guitar. With this particular guitar, the idea of the Telecaster has come full circle.

She's nothing to look at. Anyone who knows nothing about guitars would not give her a second glance and couldn't tell anything about her even if they did give her a second glance. Happily, you don't have that problem with Z fans. We all know what this guitar is and what it is capable of. She screams Danny Gatton to me. She screams "Memphis Dream" and "Pretty Blue". This guitar is just too fucking much! Congratulations on another incredible masterpiece.    Ted Noiz

Can you say stripped down!!!!! That one piece body is killer. I would love to get my hands on that thing. New "4th position" for pups so you can get one sort of humbucking sound without having to have a humbucker on the guitar. Genius. 1mm at the 12th fret on the high e? Must be practically touching the frets in the middle of the neck...and yet with the killer new Zach set up no sacrifice in tone to achieve low action. Add to that the extra hard frets and that set up will last and last. You could go all trad country and then start tapping your brains out with zero effort. MAN!! And inspired by the Tele prototype to boot! Seth is drooling right now. That thing had better go to a dedicated player...seriously.   Eli

Alex, The 120207 simply looks like music through and through! The "balance" of the guitar is magical. It looks like the favorite pair of jeans, perfectly comfortable and utilitarian through and through, succeeding in being worn because it is _right_. Otto

Alex, Regarding 120207..FUCKING BRILLIANT!! How you ever part with them I'll never know. Talk to you soon, take care, Orlando

I can't believe the character and personality in that pine body! That fretwork must have taken you forever. Really amazing work. I have never really found that model to suit my particular playing style or music, but with action that low I could solder in mini humbuckers and play along with my old Warrant and Nelson tapes all day long... Congratulations! -James

The Tele is awesome. Wood grains like ocean waves. Brilliant. I like the pics too. If you look closely, you can see your spirit in some of them. Your hand in plates, the red reflection from the couch. Truly art. Hope your knee is getting better,   Bryan

Alex you just keep getting better and better - well done - JR

Nice Zach-caster! The only pine you ever see in the UK is the knotty variety - it's very popular for rustic furniture. I'm looking forward to some sound-clips of this one. But I still don't think Teles are for me!    Ludwik

Man that guitar looks good! It's all bustin' with woody goodness. Whoever gets it better know them banjo licks and brush up on their chromatic scale. Keep makin' them pine gutiars. Don't worry...no one else will.   -Z

Hey Z, Hadn't dropped you a line in a bit but i've been watching your work-you continue to amaze me. The PINE F1 is just awesome. Just fucking awesome. And the G1 is a beaut, as is each and every one.

But back to that PINE F1: Just killer stuff as always. I love the stuff you come up with-the big picture and the details- the FOURTH position on the Tele switch? Why the hell didn't that ever get done? I can't believe I've never seen that anywhere!
Re-spacing the controls is another classic Z-thing: "It just makes sense, let's just do the stuff that makes sense."

I've been a fan of that original Fender prototype since first sight. Have that picture on my computer as a matter of fact.
And you are correct about the strict adherence to the Tele recipe. Humbuckers do not a Tele make. Whammy bars are out.
The strings MUST go through the body and the cheapo pickup has to be screwed to a cheapo metal plate.
Gotta have three bridge saddles, gotta have a maple neck. Gotta have that BITE, gotta have that smokey/muddy neck pickup jazz tone.

It's bad enough you make me pine for a Zachary all the time, but damn you've gone and made me nostalgic for the Tele. You've done a cople of recent things where you do these update/improvements on classic designs, (the G1 &2, the F1s) and you've really knocked me out with every one of them. 'Trampled Underfoot' and 'Bella' are beautiful but 171106 is so amazing that it just breaks my heart. You've inspired me, and I really am going to start cutting away and build something here. It won't be pretty, I'm sure. But if I can make it play, that would be awesome. i'll keep you posted. Keep up the great work, talk to ya soon,    BT

One word .......Beautiful ! Your guitars are just Beautiful .       Steve Green Guitarist

Alex, That's a gorgeous F1. I'd love to give that one a test ride!! Bet that neck pickup sounds great - waiting eagerly for the sound samples...!!
Keep up the good work...!! Mark

Alex.. just checked out the site.. and saw the new F1... oh my God... that is such a beauty... I will have to purchase one... do you think you can keep a piece of that 12' pine board for me?.. I will be putting in an order for an F1 early next year if that is alright with you... I know I shouldn't be thinking about it since I have only gotten Bella 050107 but you see when you have glimpsed and tasted perfection (like my Bella) I'm afraid your powerless...please keep me in mind for ealry next year order placement... I don't mind when you get it done thereafter that's not important. Now that I have gone full time at music I want to brush up my skills on all sorts of guitar styles but in particular in the area of Country... I know it is not for Ludwik but it certainly is for me... let me know what you think? Tony (Iireland)

Hey Alex, Your other Pine guitar, the one sold many years ago, is all over the Internet now in many of the Blogs, etc. Some just discoverd it and are talking about it now. People are amazed what you can do, except for the wannabes, who are as jealous as shit.. I love the fact that you can do the most fancy stuff with figured flamed exotic wood with gold hardware, etc, but I know your heart is not in that stuff. You just love the no bull-shit souped up hot rod tone machines. Keop on kicking ass.   Steve

One word .......Beautiful ! Your guitars are just Beautiful . Steve Green, Guitarist

There is such a vast sea of BS. You must stay on your quest....even if it is kind of a Don Quixote kind of thing because no one will give a crap in the future. It is hilarious how the handmade shops (even the ones that actually seem to be handmade) are simply trying to "out PRS" PRS....what is the point of that? If you are going to handmake an instrument then it should really feel and sound handmade, not just another fancy top shiny piece of crap.   Eli (NYC)

Alex - good decision! I did say in a previous message that I wanted to see it marked NFS. You are right - however good a guitar player is - they have to buy the guitar at the marked price. You work is worth every penny. To quote Henry Royce 'the quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten'. Best JR

(about endorsements)      Nothing worth having should be free.    Jeff (Canada)

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