Claescaster

Tag: Mighty Mite

How to… install a treble bleed

Claescaster New, Mighty Mite bodyThe Claescaster, put together in May 2013 out of a Mighty Mite Swamp ash body, Tonerider Vintage Plus pickups, Wilkinson hardware and a cheap but fairly fat China neck.

Last night I decided to change the pots and install a treble bleed on my new Claescaster, I never liked the feel of the CTS pots I had on. I’m still not sure if I like the new changes or not, in my head it sounded better before but I stupidly forgot to record it so I can’t compare the before and after. I think it had a clearer sound with more highs, now I feel that the neck pickup is more muffled. I’m not sure if this is down to cheaper pots, the treble bleed or the wiring. I changed the wiring too from a more standard wiring to Seymour Duncan’s suggestion for a ’66 wiring which matched what I had seen for the treble bleed. Maybe it has more to do with the changes in wiring than the actual treble bleed because before I had an old 50′s vintage wiring to help with the lack of treble at lower volumes and I was pretty happy with that. I’m so confused with all the different wiring options, I have no idea who’s doing what to whom, and where? I might just have to redo it again and copy the original wiring on my Greco TL-500 or my Fender TL52-75, they both sounds great.

How to... install a treble bleed, Telecaster, ClaescasterThe new Claescaster got a treble bleed and the ’66 wiring, bottom right photo shows the original wiring on my 1979 Greco TL-500

Claescaster, Telecaster,  50′s vintage wiring
Update: December 27, 2014,
Since I had the soldering iron out to fit the electronics in my new home built Claescaster I took the treble bleed out in this one and changed the wiring back to it’s original 50′s vintage wiring

The Old Claescaster

Claescaster, Morgan TelecasterThe old Claescaster before and after the transformation, well I just changed the pickguard.

I recently did a little order from my favourite Hong Kong site, EY Guitars. I wanted to change the pots on the new Claescaster, I’m really not happy with the fancy CTS pots I got and decided to put on some Asian ones instead. I also ordered a new black pickguard for the old Claescaster for 5€, I had grown tired of the cheap looking tortoise that has been on for 4 years. I also changed the knobs for flat topped gold ones so now the old Claescaster looks just like the new Claescaster, if it wasn’t for the Fender logo and the beautiful wood grain on the swamp ash body on the new one.

Claescaster, Morgan Telecaster, Mighty Mite bodyNow I have two Claescaster’s that looks pretty much the same. Boring perhaps but I really love the look of the 1970’s Fender Telecasters with their 3-tone sunburst, black pickguards and maple necks.

The Claescaster

Claescaster The new Claescaster has been my office guitar for the last month or so and I’ve really grown to love it. I guess all new guitars needs to be broken in by being played a lot so 30-40 min a day so should do the trick. There is nothing more relaxing than playing guitar after you have eaten, well maybe sex but that would be rather awkward in a office environment. I can strongly recommend everyone to get yourself an office guitar, if don’t already have one.

The Claescaster

Mighty Mite Telecaster The new Claescaster

My new Claescaster is finally done. It was fun, rewarding and extremely annoying to build. If anyone plans to put a guitar together, make sure that you either stick to American parts or non American parts. To mix like I did was a nightmare since nothing fitted. I don’t think a single part fitted straight away, I had to make every hole bigger, or cut a bit here and sand a bit there. Anyway, now it’s done and I’m really happy with it. I just need to change the nut tonight for a Tusq and then we are all set.

Telecaster electronics Not the cleanest soldering but at least everything works

I wish the ground cables would have stuck a bit easier to the pot so the soldering wouldn’t have been such a mess. I also realised when I first plugged it in that the switch didn’t work since I had soldered 1-3 and 6-8 together, apparently 1 and 8 shouldn’t be connected.

Kluson style machine heads Kluson style machine heads from Northwest Guitars

To fit the machine heads was pretty easy. Of course I had to make the holes bigger since they were 8mm and not 8.5mm as I was first told. I used a piece of wood to keep everything straight and to make sure they lined up. Then a tiny little pilot hole with the drill and in with the screw.

Kluson style machine heads I originally wanted a 70’s decal and modern machine heads but I think I start to prefer the 50’s logo and the Kluson style machine heads

Mighty Mite Telecaster Time to fit the neck

I read somewhere that this was a good trick to make sure you get the neck in the correct angle before you drill the holes. A piece of string through the body and around the two E strings to make sure that they are evenly spaced. I marked the holes with a hammer and a screwdriver before I drilled the pilot holes and then tried my best to keep the drill straight. A lot of people claim that you have to use a drill press but it works fine with a normal hand held drill.

Mighty Mite Telecaster Last thing to do, fit the pickguard

Of course the pickguard didn’t line up perfectly in the end so I had to cut out a bit more around the control plate. I used a knife and then smoothed it out with sandpaper around fat marker pen. I probably should have used a drill to make the pilot holes since the old nail and hammer tended to crack the lacquer in some places.

Mighty Mite Telecaster Last screw being marked out with a hammer and a nail

Mighty Mite Telecaster The Claescaster is finally finished

The Claescasters The old and then new Claescaster together

Look at the grain on the top one, the new swamp ash Claescaster, amazing. It weighs around 4.5 kg so a pretty fat little baby but it feels amazingly solid and nice around the neck. The old one, which is most likely basswood, weighs around 3.2 kg.

Earlier parts of the Claescaster story can be found here 1, 2, 3, 4.

The Claescaster

Claescaster
This is what the final Claescaster might look like

Last week I started to put the new Claescaster together. I have never built a guitar before so there has been a bit of figuring stuff out. I decided to go for CTS pots since they are supposed to be the best but regretted my decision as soon as I got them. It turned out that CTS pots, and I guess most things made in the USA, doesn’t fit things made in Europe or Asia. The shafts of the pots was too big for my control plate so the first thing I had to do was to drill the holes bigger. That worked out quite OK with the help of my boss Ralf, someone had to hold while the other one drilled. However, since the shafts were bigger than all the other pots, washers and nuts I had lying around at home I couldn’t take any spare parts to make sure that not too much of the shaft was sticking up. It wasn’t too much work to force on a push on knob, but a lot harder to remove it. I went for a normal import 3-way switch since it cost 3€ and seemed solid and reliable. I bought all the electronics from Stringsfield in Valencia, really cheap and quick delivery.

Claescaster
Fancy CTS pots from the USA that turned out to not be Asian friendly in size

Next problem I had to face was the size of the holes on the back where the strings come through. All my other strings through body guitars has 8 mm holes to fit a 8.25 mm string ferrules but not Mighty Mite. They decided to go for the rather unorthodox 7 mm holes so neither the small 6.3 mm or the big 8.25 mm string ferrules would fit. Thanks a lot. I stupidly tried to drill the hole bigger, which of course cracked the lacquer and made a complete mess. I’m not sure if I used the wrong drill or if the wood is harder than stone but since it was only 1 mm difference the drill just dug in and got stuck in the hole and of course cracked the lacquer when I tried to get it out again. I first tried sandpaper on a pen that made very little to widen the hole. Then I found this round file in the kitchen drawer at work, it looked like a knife sharpener but it’s actually a round file. It took some time and it was hard to make all the holes equal and straight but it worked. I managed to gently tap in the string ferrules with a block of wood over to protect them and a firm stroke of a hammer. It doesn’t look perfect and I wish I would never have thought about trying to drill them bigger but hey, you learn from your mistakes. Or like Bob Ross put it, “we don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents”. I’m pretty sure the back will soon have plenty of buckle rash from my big country belt buckles and other battles scars from being happily used over the years. Who looks a the back anyway?

Claescaster
I had to slowly and painstakingly file the holes bigger to fit the 8.25 mm wide string ferrules

Claescaster
The damage done, cracked lacquer and some missing gold

Claescaster
Tonerider Vintage plus pickups in gold and Wilkinson Vintage telecaster bridge

It was pretty straight forward to fit the bridge and control plate. I had to put the pickguard on and a neck to keep everything in place and then just make sure it all lined up. I drilled pilot holes for everything since the wood seems really hard to screw in. To fit the neck pickups was a bit more of a nightmare than I first expected. I think I will have to redo it once I get the neck so I can fit the pickguard and make everything line up properly first. I hope that the Tonerider Vintage Plus pickups are going to sound amazing because I wasn’t overly impressed when I realised that the came with chrome coloured screws and no plastic on the neck pickup. I had to tape it with cello tape not to scratch it when I fitted it. Luckily I had some gold pickup screws lying around so that was easily changed.

Claescaster
The solder inspector came around to make sure that I was doing my job

Down to what I like best, soldering. I’m glad I bought cloth covered wires, they are really stiff and nice to work with. I fitted a TAD Vintage Oil Cap 0.05uF which I think might go well with the CTS 250k pots. I decided to go for two audio pots in the end, instead of one linear and one audio. I hope that was a good choice. I also bought a backup Orange Drop 0.033Mf just in case I don’t like the oil cap. I did the 50′s vintage wiring, as I did on the old Claescaster since it keeps the treble pretty well when you turn down the volume. I’m not sure if it’s my soldering iron that doesn’t get hot enough but I had some problems soldering the ground wires to the top of the pot. I even sanded it before, maybe the material is different on the CTS pots because I didn’t have any problems with the Alpha pots on the old guitar. The solder inspector, my cat, didn’t approve either so I eventually gave up and decided to try again this weekend when I hopefully have the new neck and machine heads too.

The Claescaster

It’s finally here, my new Claescaster! The Mighty Mite swamp ash body that I ordered from USA just arrived to my office after spending a month in Spanish customs. It’s not as bright and lovely looking as in the eBay picture but I didn’t expect it to be either since it was a photo taken with flash. It still looks really nice, the grain is just amazing, the 3-tone sunburst is even and the weight is great, it feels really heavy and solid. Now let’s see if the neck from the old Claescaster and all the new hardware and electronics I bought fits. I ordered the Tonerider Vintage Plus pickups from Northwest guitars about two weeks ago but they managed to send out a pair in nickel so I had to send them back. Hopefully the new gold ones will arrive this week so I can spend the weekend putting the Claescaster together. Happy times.

Mighty Mite Swamp ash Tele body Mighty Mite swamp ash body

Update: Tuesday 23rd April 2013
I have slowly started to put the Claescaster together, pretty much everything is fitted now except pickups and neck, I’ll try to get some images up. I had a lot of problems with the neck. First I thought I could use the old Claescaster neck until I could afford to buy an Allparts TMNF-FAT, they cost around 280€, but it didn’t fit. I carved off 1 mm on the bottom side and managed to get the neck to fit in the pocket but the holes didn’t line up. To fill and re-drill the holes felt like too much work, especially since I eventually would like to put it back on the old guitar and still have the original Claescaster as a backup. I took off some of my other guitars necks but nothing fitted, maybe it would have been weird with a big headed Strat head on it anyway. I searched eBay high and low for cheap necks but the big problem as always is the decal, I kind of like to have the fake Fender logo on them and people tend to charge a lot for fitting a decal, if they can do it at all. I guess I could have fitted one myself but since I want a layer of lacquer over and I don’t know where to get that here it was easier to find one with a decal already fitted. I emailed First Avenue Guitars, the kind Yorkshire lad that I bought the old Claescaster neck from, he did a great job with the decal last time. He managed to dig this neck out of the basement for me, 50’s decal fitted and 8.5 mm holes for the machine heads so I can fit vintage Kluson style tuners. It’s a 22 fret 2-piece neck of Canadian maple, I would have preferred a 1 piece without the overhang but for £58 (70€) including shipping there wasn’t any point in arguing. I got some gold machine heads from Northwest guitars and now I just hope that it will arrive before the weekend so I can finally get my new Claescaster up and running. I received the Tonerider Vintage Plus pickups this morning so I might fit them tonight if I get a chance.

First Avenue Guitars The new Claescaster neck from First Avenue Guitars

Claescaster I managed to fit the old neck back on my original Claescaster and patch up the damage pretty well. The part I carved out to fit on the new body has been painted black and then filled with some black tape to keep it snug in the pocket.

The Claescaster

A quick update on my new Claescaster. The Mighty Mite Swamp ash body that I ordered from USA back in the beginning of March might finally be on it’s way. I saw this update when I tracked it this morning, “Customs clearance processing complete”. I presume that means that they will finally send me my body that has been stuck in Madrid since the 14th of March. How can something take a month to clear? The thing that annoys me the most is perhaps not that I had to wait for more than a month, but that they charged 40% on top of the original price including shipping. A body that cost $150 that I paid 170€ for including shipping and then I had to pay an extra 68€ in import tax and custom fees. I have imported two guitars straight from Japan without any problems so I couldn’t even in my wildest imagination think that it would be this bad just because the package came form USA. The Japanese guitars I bought, on two separate occasions, were delivered with DHL Express, cost $125 and was here within 48 hours and the tax was only about 18-20% of the actual price, not price plus shipping. I think I paid around 70-80€ when I imported Nancy, a Fender Telecaster ’52 re-issue Made in Japan from 1987-1989, but she cost six times more than the new body did. Well at least now I know that you can’t buy things from USA if you live in Spain.

Fender Telecaster TL52-75, '52 re-issue Made in Japan, FujiGen 1989 Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue Made in Japan, FujiGen 1987-1989. There is no way to find the production year of these A-serial Telecaster with the serial number on the bridge plate. However, it must have been made between 1987 and 1989 since it’s a TL52-75. They were called TL52-70 between 1984-1986 and then changed to TL52-700 in 1990

The Claescaster

Late last night I bought a new body for the Claescaster, or rather I got the first part of my new Claescaster. The idea is to build a new guitar from scratch with the best bits I can afford after the specifications of a Seventies Fender Telecaster. I have thought about this for a while and I really don’t like the grain and look of my Morgan Telecaster, especially not now when she has darkened so much since I moved to Spain, and now I found my ideal body. It’s a Mighty Mite Swamp ash body in 3 tone sunburst and I haven’t seen any Mighty Mite bodies, not even on their website, in this lovely red sunburst.

ClaescasterMighty Mite Swamp ash Telecaster body in 3 tone sunburst

It’s quite heavy for being a modern body, around 3.2 kg, which I really like. Most modern bodies I’ve seen weighs 1.5-2.5 kg, does all guitarist have back problems or why doesn’t anyone want heavy guitars any more? Or maybe it’s just the quality and density of the wood that has changed over the years and you can’t find proper wood nowadays. I’m going to build a nice blackguard Seventies Telecaster out of this with gold hardware, just because I love gold. I can’t afford a real Seventies Fender so the best I can do is to create my own, and I think I might enjoy building it too. I bought it from AZGuitarParts a US eBay seller so let’s see how it goes with import tax to Spain, I shouldn’t have to pay anything since it cost under 150€ but you never know. I bought all the gold hardware for the Claescaster from the US 2 years ago but that was a smaller package so it slipped through customs just fine, I just have to wait and see how it goes this time. I can’t afford to buy a new neck, pickups and all the hardware now so this is going to be my ongoing project over the spring. First I’m going to just change the body, meaning unsolder and move all the hardware, pickups and pots from the Claescaster and take that neck too. Then when I get some more money I will start to collect and exchange all the bits with parts I really like. Cloth covered wires, CTS pots, Oak switch and some swanky pickups, I was thinking of the Tonerider Vintage Plus, in gold of course. I also think it could be a good idea to practice soldering on the old Morgan pots and pickups so I don’t buy anything new and expensive and ruin it straight away. Then in a couple of month I will suddenly have two guitars, my Morgan Telecaster in it’s original form and the new Claescaster, a Swamp ash 1970’s Fender Telecaster copy built from scratch by me. My secret plan is to force my first born to learn how to play guitar on my old Claescaster and when they turn 20 they will inherited the new Claescaster. “Here is a guitar that I built 20 years ago and have been playing heavily ever since just too keep it warm, I built it for you”. How nice would that be, damn it, why didn’t my dad build me any guitars.

Fender Telecaster Sunburst 1977Fender Telecaster Sunburst 1977, the inspiration for the new Claescaster

Update May 6, 2013:Claescaster This is what the final Claescaster came to look like

Electric guitar tonewoods

If you want to know what the tonal qualities are in different woods, what’s the best body wood for your next guitar building project, or maybe you are just curious to figure out what your guitar is made of. Then check out Alan Ratcliffe’s wood guide. I think my favourite is still Swamp Ash, probably just because the name sounds so awesome. I’m planning to build a new Claescaster soon, from scratch this time, and therefore I’m researching different suppliers of “licensed” Fender replacement parts, Warmoth, All parts, Musikraft, WD, Mighty Mite etc. It seems like US eBay is the best option for bodies, but then you might get hit with unnecessary import taxes and the shipping to Europe is quite high. I found this quite cheap UK seller but they only sell unfinished bodies and I would prefer to have it finished. I’m not sure if I trust this Hong Kong seller but that would be the cheapest option without any doubt, 107€ including shipping. The search continues…

guitar woodBasswood, Swamp Ash, Alder, Birdseye Maple