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Thread: Building an electric tenor...

  1. #1

    Default Building an electric tenor...

    As the title suggests, i'm looking into building an electric tenor. I just bought the fender tenor tele, but it seems that the craftsmanship is just not up to Fender's typical standards, string buzz, rough fret work, the neck is bowing after just a couple weeks. I seem to have trouble finding a decent made tenor. With eastwoods I also had some issues and the neck and string spacing itself was awkward. Even my blueridge has presented problems since I first received it. Some of it has to do with the climate I live in, but regardless I figured i'd look into building my own. The only problem being its really tough to find a "starter kit" per se with body and neck dimensions that come close to matching a typical tenor guitar.

    Does anyone have any ideas on where or who to contact for a neck / body for a custom electric tenor?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Paul Lestock made me a 5-string electric tenor as a custom build, based on a Gretsch Duo-Jet body and Bigsby inspired finish:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The splotches on the one without the pickguard are from a deep cycle battery that exlpoded in Paul's shop and stained the instrument. I had it finished in clear to preserve the story...

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    In general, I'm a fan of Paul's tenor guitars...here's my "quiver":

    Click image for larger version. 

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  6. #4
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Surely it would be a lot easier to take your Fender to a luthier?

    Guitars are made from wood and wood can move around a bit so i think you have to except slight variation from one to another?

    Re building an electric guitar ... what a great challenge that would be but i dont think you can buy short scale necks very easily and getting suitable four string pick ups is a real challenge.
    However if you are really keen to build yourself a electric tenor guitar I am sure you will get plenty of support and advice from the forum.
    Or you could get one made from any one of hundreds of luthiers but it will cost a lot more than getting your Fender set by one.

  7. #5
    Registered User bbcee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Hey EJ,
    I found a good "starter kit" in a 3/4 scale solidbody, with a 21.5 or 22"" scale and bolt-on neck. All the work was in reshaping the neck. It was a fast & cheap way to see if the sound had a place in what I'm doing.

  8. #6

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    You might try Joel Eckhaus for a neck or body, or even a build.

    http://www.earnestinstruments.com/

    He might also have some insight as to why none of the instruments you mention in your post seem to be working out. If you live in the desert, or in a humid climate, you may have to pay particular attention to humidity, or lack thereof.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Quote Originally Posted by EJMUSIC View Post
    As the title suggests, i'm looking into building an electric tenor. I just bought the fender tenor tele, but it seems that the craftsmanship is just not up to Fender's typical standards, string buzz, rough fret work, the neck is bowing after just a couple weeks. I seem to have trouble finding a decent made tenor. With eastwoods I also had some issues and the neck and string spacing itself was awkward. Even my blueridge has presented problems since I first received it. Some of it has to do with the climate I live in, but regardless I figured i'd look into building my own. The only problem being its really tough to find a "starter kit" per se with body and neck dimensions that come close to matching a typical tenor guitar.

    Does anyone have any ideas on where or who to contact for a neck / body for a custom electric tenor?
    I would be willing to sell you this..

    <snip -- Forum has a long standing policy of no selling within this space. However, we have a Classifieds that is perfect for this, or lots of other places to sell things like eBay, Craig's List, Reverb, etc.>
    Last edited by Mandolin Cafe; May-07-2020 at 5:00pm. Reason: violates forum posting guidelines.

  10. #8

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    I decided to have a go at building some. I have two in process right now. Anxious to see how they come out. I can run a Tele body and neck for you on my CNC and you can do the remaining work.
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  12. #9

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Quote Originally Posted by djweiss View Post
    In general, I'm a fan of Paul's tenor guitars...here's my "quiver":

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Love the black one. How's it sound? Low F?
    VerneAndru.com | oKee.ComX

    - ---==< V >==--- -

  13. #10
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    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    Love the black one. How's it sound? Low F?
    Each of those are tuned FCGDA....Sounds like an archtop with focus and snap...I had the top carved with a slightly flatter arch in order get a little more sustain/tone.

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  15. #11

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Just want to report on my two conversions I did in the last few months. Both are squiers. One is a mini v2 and the other is a short scale squier. One the mini I drilled new bridge holes for 14mm spacing. On the short scale, I purchased a gaudy 14mm spaced bridge. The bridge is basically a drop in. I left the outside string nut slots and evenly spaced two new slots for even nut spacing. Both are working fantastically.

    So if you can run a screw driver a file and a drill, you can quickly make your own warren ellis type electric tenor. One could also change pots and go to hot rail pups if you wanted to have better looking as well as better performing pick ups.

    The 24" short scale has a slightly larger body to go along with the longer scale than the 22.75" mini. It also has a better pick guard.

    I am more familiar with the shorter scale but the 24 is nice too.

    I am having fun running with distortion and a stubbyslide.com king slide as well as a homemade pvc and copper one.

    I also tune Ggbd on both for ease of playing chords and using a slide.

    If used to narrow necks, it will take a minute to get used to. If coming from baritone uke, string spacing is probably about the same. I came from the uke and bass so it is still easier to play than my blueridge.

    I have played ggbd for years on uke. I recently have come across seasick steve videos. He does a lot of slide on a short guitar with only three strings tuned Ggb. That is my inspiration for slide.

  16. #12

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Would love to see photos, tymbrewolf!!


    Quote Originally Posted by tymbrewolf View Post
    Just want to report on my two conversions I did in the last few months. Both are squiers. One is a mini v2 and the other is a short scale squier. One the mini I drilled new bridge holes for 14mm spacing. On the short scale, I purchased a gaudy 14mm spaced bridge. The bridge is basically a drop in. I left the outside string nut slots and evenly spaced two new slots for even nut spacing. Both are working fantastically.

    So if you can run a screw driver a file and a drill, you can quickly make your own warren ellis type electric tenor. One could also change pots and go to hot rail pups if you wanted to have better looking as well as better performing pick ups.

    The 24" short scale has a slightly larger body to go along with the longer scale than the 22.75" mini. It also has a better pick guard.

    I am more familiar with the shorter scale but the 24 is nice too.

    I am having fun running with distortion and a stubbyslide.com king slide as well as a homemade pvc and copper one.

    I also tune Ggbd on both for ease of playing chords and using a slide.

    If used to narrow necks, it will take a minute to get used to. If coming from baritone uke, string spacing is probably about the same. I came from the uke and bass so it is still easier to play than my blueridge.

    I have played ggbd for years on uke. I recently have come across seasick steve videos. He does a lot of slide on a short guitar with only three strings tuned Ggb. That is my inspiration for slide.

  17. #13

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Some tenors
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  18. #14

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    They look great! You pretty much took advantage of the full neck width when you redid the string spacing. Wonderful!

  19. #15

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Other than adding two equally spaced nut slots, this can be the only expense. These small guitars can be found all over. I found a v2 mini like new yesterday for $60 in a metro area. Unfortunately i live in the sticks and selection is less frequent. I have paid 20 for one but it was pretty rough. They always need a set up even if keeping as a six string. I have not been able to find a 14mm spacing bridge other than this garish one.
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  20. #16
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    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Quote Originally Posted by tymbrewolf View Post
    Other than adding two equally spaced nut slots, this can be the only expense. These small guitars can be found all over. I found a v2 mini like new yesterday for $60 in a metro area. Unfortunately i live in the sticks and selection is less frequent. I have paid 20 for one but it was pretty rough. They always need a set up even if keeping as a six string. I have not been able to find a 14mm spacing bridge other than this garish one.
    https://www.cbgitty.com/search.php?s...ection=product

  21. #17

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Yes but unless doing individuals, all of these are too narrow and typically 10.5mm not 14mm

  22. #18

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    I was going to recommend cbgitty as well, didn’t know they didn’t have any 14mm spaced bridges. 14mm seems like an oddity - what typically comes in that spacing with four strings?

  23. #19

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Ukulele types often do.

  24. #20
    Registered User MB-Octo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    14mm = Bass? The Warren Ellis tenor, at 16mm, feels like bass spacing. With the right strings, it could easily be converted to a short-scale bass. It feels odd enough that I'm swapping out the original bridge with a Squier Mustang plate (exact fit!) and String Saver saddles (10.5 mm) in the middle four positions. That brings it into the spacing my hands are happy with.
    Last edited by MB-Octo; May-22-2020 at 8:07pm.
    Monte

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  25. #21

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    I believe the warren ellis uses a bass bridge.

  26. #22

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    Quote Originally Posted by MB-Octo View Post
    14mm = Bass? The Warren Ellis tenor, at 16mm, feels like bass spacing. With the right strings, it could easily be converted to a short-scale bass. It feels odd enough that I'm swapping out the original bridge with a Squier Mustang plate (exact fit!) and String Saver saddles (10.5 mm) in the middle four positions. That brings it into the spacing my hands are happy with.
    My bridges are 11.5 mm and 12 mm spacing. My tenor guitars are 12mm. Most acoustic mandolins are 12mm on center between the paired strings. Standard guitar spacing is 10mm to 11 mm. I had designed, and quoted supplying, a bridge for Eastwood about 10 or 12 years ago for their electric mandolins but we couldn't come together on a price. The factory that builds their instruments wouldn't make anything different than what the factory had chosen so they were going to swap them out at their place in the US.

  27. #23

    Default Re: Building an electric tenor...

    My Fender Tenor Tele needed a full set up by a luthier, but after that it plays like a dream.

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