The “Strummercaster”. Getting the look, and sourcing those stickers.

A little bit more time sourcing parts, and online shopping turns up an off-white pickguard which I can paint up to go with the body. First, I need to check the fitting of the pickguard, together with the control plate and bridge. The control plate position depends on the location of the control rout, but also of the pickguard – where they butt up against each other. The pickguard fits right up to the neck join – so it also helps to have the neck fitted, so that the plate fits, and I can then locate the screw holes. I might as well drill those in early. It’ll help give an idea of where I’m working on the front of the body, at any particular time. It’ll also help suggest the general location of the bridge, where I need to eventually drill the holes for the fastening screws, and the holes and grommet recesses required for the through-stringing.

I’ve got an old Mexican Fender bridge plate knocking around, from off the Nashville Telecaster I’ve had since my days in the Citizens. I swapped the plate out a while ago in favour of a three piece, brass saddle bridge – preferring that to the six piece we have here. Joe appears, at some point to have gone the other way, and swapped out what would have originally been the traditional three saddle bridge, for a six saddle one. I’ll try and swap out the steel saddles for brass ones, like on Joe’s, at a later opportunity. Together with a blank pickup bobbin in the pickup slot, I can check the bridge position over the pickup rout, and ensure that the plate sits in roughly the correct position to provide the necessary pickup clearance, scale length and intonation adjustments. I’ll double check and mark out the bridge drilling later on – for now I just mark the position of the pickguard. After sinking the holes for the scratchplate and the chrome control plate. I screw both down with some screws I have set aside for the project.

The guitar now has the, reasonably authentic, look of a sunburst Telecaster.

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I turn to sourcing the two stickers. I find one UK supplier on eBay and they supply two, correctly sized stickers – one of which will definitely do the job. The “Trash City” sticker looks almost like a photocopy or photograph of the original, and although the surface is smooth and newly printed, it shows scuffs of age in the print. The “Ignore Alien Orders” sticker, although showing the same printed wear, tear and erosion as the original differs in one, critical detail. The original sticker was apparently printed on a metallic vinyl. This is just a matte, grey approximation. I’m going to have to shop around again, but at least the stickers give me a chance to preview the initial layout.

Eventually, I find the only supplier of a metallic IAO sticker to be Axetreme Creations in the US. Their dispatch and shipping is no-nonsense, and in a few days, I have a second set of stickers. Both of these are brand new, and will need ageing to look like the originals. At the moment, It looks like I may use the first version of the “Trash City” sticker, with its’ printed wear and tear – using that as a guide to add my own scuffs, after it’s applied. For the IAO sticker, I’ll use the metallic version from the US – with the first version as a template to show how the shape has been eroded around the edges and scratched across the face. I’ll have to work out later, how to approximate the look, with a combination of edge trimming and other, more abrasive, means.

All of the metal components on Joe’s original Telecaster are seriously corroded. There’s apparently a good market for “pre-reliced” components – but I’m keen to dish out my own ageing treatment wherever possible. This job is all about DIY, wherever possible. I had a business contact, years ago, who used to provide metal bits for various interior fit-outs. Things like copper panels for the fronts of trendy barfronts, and counter tops in uber-posh boutiques and cocktail bars. He had great fun devising ways to wear, stain and otherwise tastefully patinate different sheet metals including, as he would tell customers with relish, “soaking them with horse urine, and leaving them out in the yard”. All of the metals on this job – including the nice, shiny bridge and control plates are going to have to suffer enough of an ageing effect to render them rusty and grey – but still, ultimately, playable. For that reason, I’ll probably buy in a set of pre-aged tuners – so that they’re still properly lubricated and functional. For the rest of the kit – I’m now looking for ways to create the dirt of ages in as short a time as possible. Even if it ends up I have to pee on them. Readers of a nervous disposition – look away now.

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