Note from GuitarAttack:  This is a great story.  Lots of great techniques, even if it isn't a real Saga.

From Chris Knowles

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 style bridge.

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 Choppers Music.

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 Slinkies.

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.

Great job, Chris -- Keep on building and send us more photos!

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