Jimmy Page “Dragon” Telecaster

Jimmy Page “Dragoncaster”. Upgrading to a Fender neck.

Earlier on this year, I finished off my “Dragoncaster” with a HOSCO neck. This was always a compromise. Due to the CITES restrictions then in place, I didn’t have much of a choice when it came to vintage style, rosewood boarded necks. Fortunately, the CITES restrictions have recently been amended, and I have a chance to upgrade to something much more suitable.

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Jimmy Page “Dragoncaster”. Setup (with HOSCO neck)

My “Dragoncaster” project has taken more than a year to get to the point where I can add the finishing touches, setup and finally get to hear those revered Don Mare pickups. I’ve had to solve a couple of technical problems along the way, but I’m really happy with the way the guitar has turned out. With every setup I do, I seem to get a little bit better at refining the playability of my builds. It’s fair to say I have more than high hopes for this one.

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Jimmy Page “Dragoncaster”. Wiring the “Dark Circuit”.

In building my “replica” I have to take a little bit for granted, here and there. I don’t know exactly what kind of innards Jimmy’s original Dragoncaster had. I’ve put this build together to capture the look of Jimmy’s original paint job. The pickguard is as close as I can get to the spirit of the original. The pickups are hand built to capture that distinctive sound. All I can do, is take an educated guess at the wiring circuit.

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Jimmy Page “Dragoncaster”. Making my definitive “production” scratchplate.

There’s plenty to get on with, and this lockdown thing means I have plenty of time. Putting the 50’s “Hank Marvin” Strat together has given me a bit of confidence, but I have to balance what I can achieve, with my current visual handicap, against the need to get technical and design elements just right. In some cases – it’s all about technique.

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Jimmy Page “Dragoncaster”. I think I just worked out how to do the scratchplate.

I’ve just taken a break for a couple of weeks. But even then – I’m still thinking about my various projects. It’s remarkable how solutions to problems often present themselves when you least expect. The other day, I just happened to watch a TV programme about vinyl wrapping supercars. Nothing at all to do with Telecaster scratchplates.

Hang on a minute…

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The “Dragoncaster”. Second attempt at a scratchplate. And a possible finish?

I’ve done some running repairs to the “Dragoncaster” scratchplate template. I’ve also had a chance to offer it up against the body – to try and get the neck pocket deviation sorted out, and straightened up. With lessons learned from my first attempt at cutting my own scratchplate – I’m keen to see if I can improve my technique. I’ve also researched and sourced a possible candidate material for the scratchplate finish.

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The “Dragoncaster”. Cutting my very first scratchplate. Lessons to learn.

With my newly completed template for a scratchplate – I just have to try it out. I’m sure there is plenty to learn – in terms of both process and technique. I need to be able to try a few different finish techniques, to get the right “diffraction grating” effect. I have a piece of 3mm polycarbonate kicking around the workshop, from a previous framing job. It won’t matter if I mess things up.

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The “Dragoncaster”. Making my own scratchplate template. Fun with a router!

Whilst the lacquer on the Dragoncaster body does its’ thing – I need to start looking for a solution for the scratchplate. I’d originally planned to have a couple of plates custom made – so I could experiment with finishes. However, the logistics at this stage are troublesome. Because of the crucial geometry between the neck pocket, pickup cutout and control panel rout  – the plate needs to be accurate. I might have to do look at making the whole scratchplate myself.

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Back to the “Dragoncaster”. Making a template for a scratchplate.

The scratchplate for the Jimmy Page “Dragoncaster” needs to be custom made. So I can test the fit, and make sure the end result matches nicely with the lines of the painted design, I want to try and mock the finished plate up before I commit the design, and clearcoat the body. I also need to show the scratchplate maker what I have in mind.

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Research. Planning. Shopping. Drawing.

As with most of my projects – I just don’t have the resources to go out and buy all the parts in one go. The way the projects tend to come together over several months enables me to phase the project, and get parts in for when I need them, for any particular task. Obviously – each project is different. The “Dragoncaster” is a case in point. I want the parts to be high quality and as period accurate as possible. That, and the distinctive artwork takes quite a bit of detailed research.

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New Project. New Jimmy Page Dragon Telecaster.

In a way – the Dragon Telecaster made famous by Jimmy Page, is the perfect partscaster project. In fact – Jimmy’s original was pretty much a partscaster itself, having undergone extensive modification and restyling over the years. When I was looking for projects last year – I decided on the Strummercaster, and put a Dragoncaster to the back of my mind. But it’s the time of year again, where shopping lists can be drawn up – components researched and bought in – plans made.

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