GuitarAttack: This is a great story. Lots of great
techniques, even if it isn't a real Saga.
An UN-SAGA T-Style Saga
I've been really enjoying my SAGA LP for the past year, and building it was
so much fun I started looking for another guitar to build. A friend of mine
has a Fender Telecaster and I like the sound of that instrument so decided
that should be the next project.
Naturally I started looking at SAGA T style kits, but remembering that I
basically replaced just about everything but the
wood and the bridge on my Les Paul I figured I'd be further ahead to source
the parts individually and make my own kit.
I searched for bodies and necks on EBAY and decided to give EDEN guitars a
try. Their prices are within my "I can afford
to lose" EBAY auction limit. The neck came prefinished in a "vintage" tint
(read yellow) and was pre-drilled for modern tuners.
The body was 2 piece Alder pre routed for standard tele pickups and 3 saddle
I eventually sourced GFS vintage Tele pickups, Wilkinson compensated bridge,
vintage style 6 in line tuners, control plate
neck plate, and electronics from sources as StewMac, Guitar Fetish and
I must say that after sourcing all of these parts, the SAGA kits are an
incredible bargain! Everything you need to build a
guitar for usually under $100 for S or T style kits. My total cost is more
like $375 to $400. I'd say the only major advantage
to getting the body this way was that I didn't have to remove that tenacious
sealer that SAGA puts on their kit bodies!
There were alignment issues with nearly every component that went into this
guitar. The 3 way switch that I used was too large for the control cavity so
I had to make the cavity 1/8" deeper at that point. The pickup/bridge
combination didn't line up with the string through holes and pickup route.
The neck mounting screws that came with the neck plate were 1/2" too short.
The pre-drilled tuner holes on the headstock were not correct for vintage
tuners, even with adapter bushings from Stewmac, I ended up filing a bit off
each tuner base until everything aligned properly. None of these problems
were a deal breaker for me, but did add to the complexity of the build, and
I may add that I enjoyed the challenges as they came along.
The neck came without a nut so grabbing a piece of the Bison femur that our
dog was gnawing on I proceeded to make my own. This was another of those
tasks that at first looks very difficult but when approached slowly and
methodically can be very rewarding.
For electronics I wanted to do something non-standard and decided to use the
alternate control layout as described on the repair techniques at Guitar
Attack, with my own little twist added for fun, I also incorporated a treble
bleed modification that I read about on another guitar forum.
At some point along the way I had an epiphany and realized that applying a
finish to a guitar was no different that applying a finish to fine
furniture, something which I have had great success with in the past. So
this time I followed my tried and true finish technique of hand rubbing
water based stain followed by water based polyurethane.
On Christmas Eve I started polishing the finish and applying a coat of
Carnuba wax. I found myself at a point where I could start to assemble the
guitar. Well one thing led to another and I had it nearly completed by 1:45
that afternoon. Realizing that I might have it ready for Christmas Eve
service, I quickly called local music stores to see if anyone had a
pickguard for a Tele. Absolute Sound in Hamilton came through, but I had
less than 40 minutes to get there before they closed. I got there in plenty
of time and bought their only pickguard, and 2 sets of Ernie Ball Hybrid
By 4:00 the guitar was together and ready to start twanging, but when I
plugged it in and turned on the amp I got no sound out of the neck pickup.
Turns out there was a sharp piece of solder on the ground lug for the pickup
cover which pierced the hot lead and shorted the pickup out. I got it
repaired with 15 minutes to spare. This made its debut
performance at church at 5:10 p.m. and played perfectly all night.
My plans now include a wooden pickguard made from Ebony or another dark
exotic wood, perhaps a burl of some sort. I am also going to inlay a figure
on the pickguard of the Southwestern character called Kokopelli, only he'll
be playing a Telecaster rather than a flute and be called koko-tele, which,
coincidentally, is also the name I've given my Un-SAGA T-Style.