I built this Joe Strummer relic project, partly for the hell of it – but also as a gift to a close mate, and lifelong Strummer fan. I’ve had a good deal of fun playing the guitar in, and I’m genrally pleased with the way the build has gone. The guitar will be moving on soon – so I’ve got a last chance to look it over, and make any final tweaks and adjustments.
A Joe Strummer telecaster, relic project seems to be a bit of a “right of passage” for self-builders. It’s somewhat liberating to be able to put a guitar together whilst having a bit of freedom to “rough up” the finish along the way. Over the last month or so, I’ve managed to finish both the Jaguar and the Strummercaster. It’ll be interesting to see how they match up against each other.
Seems like it’s setup week in Garageland. Both the Jaguar and Telecaster projects are nearing completion at the same time. With thoughts turning to possibilites for the next project, it’s time to setup the Tele and see if it sounds in keeping with its’ looks.
The Telecaster control circuit is about a basic a circuit as exists for electric guitars. There’s an additional modification in this case – the addition of a treble bleed – but the circuit is simple, and ideal for a relative beginner in guitar electronics like me, to get to know how things get connected
The pickups need to be screwed into place so they can eventually be wired into the guitar circuit. There are a few bits and pieces of hardware to follow up as well, before I need to move on to building and connecting up the switching circuit.
The “Ignore Alien Orders” sticker on Strummer’s guitar is iconic. Whilst I’m not out to make an exact replica – I want this crucial part of the build to look authentic.
With the neck, scratchplate, body and now hardware, all having been “aged”, and with other bits and pieces in various states of preparation – a couple of days focus should see the Strummercaster finally start to come together.
The neck and body have been evolving and developing separately. I’m keen to get to the point where I can join everything together, and start to work on the guitar as a whole. It makes sense to dress the frets while the neck is off. It’s cold in the workshop – and I can get this done on the kitchen table, where it’s warm.
The hardware for the telecaster is a collection of old re-used, newly purchased and the odd faux-reliced piece from eBay. The hardware needs to look like it’s been around the block a few times – and needs to be in keeping with the look of the build. Time to see if I can work out how to age metal.
I figure the body is about 75% of the way done. It’s a good idea to bring the whole project along to the same level – so I want to concentrate on the neck and scratchplate to bring them up to speed.
Having taken a brand new Telecaster body, and faked a bit of a paint job on it – I now have to find a way to convincingly reproduce 40+ years of use and abuse. Of course, I could just sit and play the guitar for 40 years – but I want faster results than that. Could I do it in a day?
I didn’t like this decal from the off. I’m pretty sure it isn’t right for a ’66 – but I don’t like the look of it anyway.
It’s a refreshing change, and the pressure’s off – not having to get everything finished to the best possible standard. Since I’ll eventually be beating the finish up to simulate age, there seems little point in worrying about minor imperfections. But then, those little imperfections only ever seem to show themselves when I’m really, really trying hard to keep it perfect.
It’s an odd sort of way to go about things – trying to replicate years and years of guitar work. Literally hundreds of thousands of guitar strums probably – and I’m trying to do it as quickly and efficiently as I can.
There’s little point trying to recreate every coat of paint, every mark of the original. Instead, I’ll try to focus on applying paint in the right places, and then focussing on a general ageing process to bring out specific details.
The body blank for the Strummer Tele came with no pre-drilled holes to attach the bridge, and therefore no way to use through body stringing. I need to go back to first principles and work out a way to locate the bridge and drill the holes in the right place.
I need to get the main components in hand, so I can lay out the front of the guitar, and eventually work out exactly where the bridge goes. one of the main parts of the design is the iconic stickers, including the famous, “Ignore Alien Orders”. Thank goodness for the Interweb!
Experiments in fucking up a nice, new, shiny guitar body. Full marks for spotting the Mescaleros reference in the post title, by the way. (From 1999’s, “Rock Art and the X-Ray Style”).
Having spent most of my time trying to make the best job out of everything – eliminating every stray bit of dust, polishing bits until they shine – I now look forward to taking shiny, new parts and letting go a bit. No more Mr. Nice Luthier.
Surely there’s room on the planet for just one more Strummer replica Telecaster? For me – the Fender tribute series just don’t cut it for proper, authentic gnarliness. Can I make one myself, that’s authentic looking? Truly fucked up, yet still playable?