DIY Guitar Kit

So I decided it was time. I am tired of buying guitars that aren’t exactly what I want. I always end up replacing everything in the guitar, from the nut and the strings to the electronics. I decided that I needed a guitar with single coil pickups. I am a Stratocaster person so I decided that it was time to build a Telecaster. I like my guitars at the opposite ends of the spectrum. I have never had a Tele so it was time!

I spent several weeks research the right “clone” to build when I stumbled upon BYOguitar. I asked in an expansive Facebook group what they thought about them, but the people who tried them were few. So I took the plunge. I ordered a finished Telecaster kit in Metallic Blue and kept everything stock except for the pickguard. This being my first guitar kit build, I decided that it was best to start with an already finished body. Also, I like that with the BYOguitar I did not have to shape the headstock in Telecaster fashion. Whereas in other kits, it was just a rectangle.

So in less than a week, it arrived on a Friday and I was super stoked. The next morning, with the instructions on my phone out, I got to work. I did all the pre-build steps. For being a finished body, I thought most of the holes might be pre-drilled, which they said in the instructions that it might be. They weren’t so had to do it all. I went through mock build steps pretty quickly and had it all partially together like the directions said.

telecaster build
The final steps began and this is where I ran into trouble. I got all the pickups in place and soldered the neck pickup. Wired it all up, and forgot the ground wire that is loose and just needs to touch the bridge. So I started undoing everything and got that fixed. Now the pickguard where the control plate went wasn’t cut right so I had to file down the groove to be more round.

Finally, I was ready to string this bad boy! I used Gear Supply CO string and had ordered some light weight gauge strings. This should be the easiest part, NOPE! The low E String would not fit through the bridge. I wanted to flip a table, so I got creative. I have a drill bit slightly bigger than the string, so hammer meet screw solved this problem.

After all that, the strings were flat against the frets without even putting on the capo. I started turning the truss rod which made it better. I finally got it just far enough away from the frets, but with no pressure on the strings. I cranked the saddles up on the bridge. That really helped this whole thing, but I feel that they were rather high so I turned the truss rod some more. Finally, I found the sweet spot where it does not buzz. Surprisingly, the intonation was easy with the cheap saddles.

Take aways

Do not cheap out on the bridge. That was the biggest pain that I had here. Upgrade the bridge to at least the next step up. Next, I would really make sure you have feeler gauges and measurement care. Those were the biggest tools that saved my life. I will probably shield my next Tele build as well.

In the end, I am completely shocked at how well this guitar plays and feels. It feels better than most of my other guitars. It’s smooth and sounds so good crisp and clear for even having the cheap pickups in it. Despite my hurdles, I am impressed with BYOguitar and plan to do another Tele build.

Austin Riendeau

I make noise, sometimes call it music. I have background in Violin, Guitar and Bass.

Denver, Colorado