This partscaster build I am calling the “Gretschcaster.” It is basically a Telecaster with some design ideas from my two Gretsch 6120 guitars. I have been thinking about this one for a long time. I wanted a Telecaster that had a Bigsby and I love Gretsch guitars. So it should be a great match.
I started with an order at Warmoth for a custom Telecaster Thinline body with “F” Hole and binding plus a neck with binding and Ebony fingerboard. Orange of course as you may have guessed. Ordered several bodies from Warmoth in the past. They make quality stuff. This will be my first Warmoth neck that I have ordered, however. I will be mounting a Bigsby B5 Telecaster kit and using some genuine Gretsch parts. Should have the Gretsch vibe without a fully custom build that I would have to pay a top luthier the big bucks for (as much as a good used car).
I used the Warmoth Custom Body Builder on their website and was able to order basically the body I had envisioned. The body is their Thinline Tele body with one “F” hole. The “OMIT INNER BRIDGE CHAMBER” was chosen to allow for the Bisgby install. Closest paint color they offer to Gretsch Orange is called Sunset Orange in a transparent finish to allow for the Flame Maple top’s grain to show through. I picked a cream-colored binding instead of white. I prefer the “aged-white” binding on my Gretsch 6120 Reverend Horton Heat 6120 model to the white binding on my Gretsch G6120TM Chet Atkins model. Hoping the cream binding will look a bit like the aged white on the Gretsch. Went for the contoured neck joint for better playability. The body will be a rear rout with LP style upper control switch. One volume and one tone control with no master volume control like is popular on Gretsch guitars.
The custom neck will also have the cream binding with a dark ebony fingerboard. The neck profile I chose is Warmoth’s Standard Thin which will be a bit thinner than most Telecasters I have owned, But a bit closer to my Gretsch 6120 guitars. The radius will be compound 10-16″ and will course have the standard 25″ scale length that is a bit longer than the Gretsch guitars. The nut is a GraphTech White TUSQ XL which should work well for the Bigsby as it usually offers less friction.
What I really wanted on this build was a Bigsby equipped Telecaster, not a hollow body Gretsch in a smaller size. Will be using a TV Jones Classic Filtertron pickup for the neck and Telecaster for the bridge. The goal is not to have it sound exactly like a Gretsch 6120 as I own two of them. Not really possible on a Telecaster body anyway.
Warmoth Telecaster Body:
- Model: Hollow Thinline
- Orientation: Right handed
- Omit Inner Bridge Chamber: Yes
- F-Holes: 1
- Scale: 25-1/2″
- Wood: Flame Maple on Swamp Ash
- Rout: Rear Rout
- Pickup Rout: TV Jones Classic (no ears) (Neck), None (Middle), Tele® (Bridge)
- Controls: X-V-X-T-Upper Tog (LP®)
- Bridge: No Bridge Rout
- Jack Rout: 3/4″ (19mm) Side Jack Hole
- Neck Pocket: Tele® Shape
- Mounting Holes: Standard 4 Bolt
- Contours: Contoured Heel
- Binding: Cream Binding
- Top Finish: Sunset Orange
- Back Finish: Sunset Orange
- Finish Type: Gloss Finish
- Style: Telecaster®
- Construction: Modern Construction
- Orientation: Right Handed
- Neck Wood: 3A Flame Maple
- Fingerboard Wood: Ebony (Black)
- Nut Width: 1-11/16″
- Back Shape: Standard thin
- Fret Size: SS6105 (Stainless)
- Tuner Ream: Schaller (25/64″)
- Radius: 10-16″ Compound
- Scale: 25-1/2″
- Fret #: 22
- Mounting Holes: Standard 4 Bolt
- Pre-Cut Installed String Nut: GraphTech White TUSQ XL – Standard Nut
- Inlays: No Inlay
- Side Dots: Black Side Dots
- Binding: Cream
- Finish: Vint Tint Satin Nitro
Placed orders for genuine Gretsch “G” knobs, Gretsch 3-way switch, Gretsch switch top and Gretsch strap hangers from my friend Rocky at StreetSounds in Brooklyn (near the original home of the Gretsch factory).
Bought a set of made in the USA, Sperzel Trimlok Locking guitar tuners similar to what was factory provided on my Gretsch 6120 Reverend Horton Heat. The later version of this Gretsch model shipped with the less expensive Gotoh tuners (made in Japan) which are nice tuners, but a step down in my opinion. The Sperzel Trimlok Locking guitar tuners also offer a staggered length post so I may or may not have to use string tree. These tuners will offer faster string changes and better tuning stability, especially with the Bigsby.
Going with chrome-colored hardware like my Gretsch 6120 Reverend Horton Heat on this build. However many Gretsch 6120s feature Gold hardware or a mix of Chrome and Gold.
Bigsby B5 Telecaster vibrato kit has arrived. This kit contains the B5 Bigsby for flat top solid body guitars (like Telecaster), bridge plate, Jaguar style bridge, thimbles, screws, etc. Basically, all you need to install a Bigsby on your guitar. In my opinion, the weak spot is the included bridge. These bridges have long been maligned by players. I will not be using the included bridge on this build. I ordered a Mastery Bridge like I used to replace the same style bridge on my Fender Jaguar and Fender Jazzmaster guitars. Far better bridge than the one that comes on these guitars from the factory.
M1-KIT: M1 Mastery Bridge and set of MT Mastery Thimbles
Includes M1 Mastery Bridge with standard US mounting posts and a set of two vintage spec 303 stainless steel MT thimbles.This is for B5-KITS that have post-style Jazzmaster bridges.
Also ordered Mastery String Tree (MST) that looks better than the standard ones. It features our unique hard chrome plating so the strings glide smoothly without the use of moving parts. It has a little more break angle to prevent sympathetic overtones caused by low string tension and less surface area touching the string versus the 50s wing design. Comes with stainless steel screw that’s a bit longer as well as our custom made stainless steel spacer.
The TV Jones is a humbucker and is generally best with 500K pots (sounds muddy with 250K pots) and the Don Mare Green Onion 4041 Bridge pickup is a single coil and sounds best with 250K pots (sounds shrill and thin with 500K pots). This will require some changes in the standard Telecaster wiring diagram. Goal here will be to make both pickups sound their best. Plus I am not using a standard Telecaster 3-way switch. I am using a Gretsch 3-way on the upper bout of the body.
Will need a custom wiring harness for this project. Should be fun.
Ordered electrosocket jack, Switchcraft jack, two CTS 500K pots and 470K resistor. Be using a .022uf orange drop capacitor that I have in stock. Going to try to do something interesting for a headstock waterslide decal.
This will be the most expensive partscaster I have built. Could have purchased a nice stock guitars for less. Still quite a bit cheaper than a Fender Custom Shop model. It will also be exactly what I wanted which makes it all worth it. This has nothing to do with saving a few bucks.
I will be posting pictures and updates as this project progresses. The Warmoth neck and body are going to take a while (likely 10 weeks).