Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Up to my neck

You may be wondering, "What the heck happened to the sunroom project?"

Trust me, comrades, it is continuing on its plodding path. In fact, stay tuned for updates soon.

But in the meantime, all tile and mortar makes Yr Fthfl Blggr go a little nutty. Especially when he has a basement full of other tings to work on (not to mention what he is dreaming up in his head).

Whatcha see here is a Telecaster neck from USA Custom Guitars. Technically, it's not a Tele neck, since the headstock shape is protected/licensed to Fender. There are a couple of companies who offer "Fender Licensed Replacements," but USACG doesn't offer an exact one...but it's close.

And we'll see how easy it is to modify to replicate a real one if you so desire.

At any rate, USACG's work is fantastic, and you can (as their name implies) get any number of features. This one is an AAA Birdseye Maple neck, one-piece. It has the old-style 7 1/4 inch fretboard radius and small frets. This is my personal preference. I also sprung for black Mother-of-Pearl markers. The profile is a hard "V" (in cross-section the neck has a "V" shape), and it's .820 inches thick at the first fret.

What I'm a-gonna do is finish it with Tru-Oil, as I did with the Surfcaster. The Tru-Oil is made for finishing gun stocks. It's basically natural oils including linseed oil. It makes the grain in the wood really "pop," and makes the neck fantastically fast to play.

But first I want to reshape the headstock a bit to more closely replicate a Fender headstock. USACG leaves a little 'bump' on the lower side and also doesn't make the curve up near the first and second tuners as deep as Fender...see the green arrows.

But fortunately, it's easy to modify. I took a tracing from one of my Fender necks and glued it to cardboard to make a template. If I was going to do this a bunch of times, or if I was going to make a new neck from a blank, I'd use MDF instead of cardboard. But since I just need those couple of curves, I think I'm ok with just cardboard.

Plus, the cardboard is easier to use than MDF - I just cut it with my utility knife.

Hopefully I won't destroy my not-so-inexpensive neck.

After cutting ze template, ve lay it on zee neck, ja?

Looks like it's going to work. I traced the outline of the two curves onto the headstock.

Now comes the moment of truth.

I'm not so totally stoopid as to just start whacking away on the new neck without a warmup.

I'm going to use a sanding fixture/attachment/thing on my Dremel. I figure at a low speed it should be easy to handle and not cut too fast.

We have a piece of pine salvaged from some trim on the sunroom project. I'm gonna use it as a test.

The pine's softer than the maple neck, so I should get an idea of how fast the 'ol Dremel will sand my nice new neck down to sawdust.

The test went ok. The Dremel wanted to stall a couple of times, which I took as a sign that slow is good.

Now it's on to the real thing.

I didn't take any shots of the actual Dremel-ing of the headstock, mainly because I kept thinking the camera in one hand and the Dremel in the other would be too risky. Better to stick with the job at hand.

And it came out pretty well. I left the 'cuts' a bit shy of my pencil marks. Now I'm going to take some sandpaper and fine tune it.

Armed with some 400 grit wet-or-dry (I used it dry) paper, I go at it. The paper is fine enough that I'm not taking a lot off.

And there we have it. The larger curve is very close indeed to the Fender curve. The 'indent' on the right is not quite as deep as a Fender, but it's a tricky compound curve and I went as far as I could given my limited skills.

Next up: we gonna put some finish on that puppy. I also need to get some tuners and a string guide.


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