This is what happened.

In early April my Les Paul crush, which I’d had for several months, hadn’t gone away. It reached its peak with this guitar, which I actually made an offer on:

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Greg and I had an email thread going that was titled “guitarfetish”. We were talking about gear, swapping links and videos, and after showing him a link to that Les Paul, he said this:

The whole idea of customizing a guitar is what is exciting to me lately… The build-your-own possibilities are endless on the warmoth site. Have you ever checked out the Custom Build section? I go in there all the time and look at the options on bodies and necks just for fun. It’s fun to browse the existing “showcase” items, which is what the orange tele body was, but I think it would be really fun to spend a little extra and get a custom body and neck, unless they already had the neck I wanted, which they sorta do.

C’mon, wouldn’t it be fun if we both embarked on a new kit building project? We could set a price limit of $1,500 and still create amazing guitars. ok maybe 2k…. don’t. Are you REALLY thinking about spending three THOUSAND five HUNDRED DOLLARS on a guitar? Just get the body and neck you want and then order pickups and everything else at stewmac or allparts or wherever. We could compare notes along the way in the design and putting together. The basic theme could be a dual humbucker guitar of our dreams.

I spent a little while on the Warmoth site and then sent back this:

I think you might be convincing me.

I’ve never played around with that before, but I like it. So far mine comes to around $1,400, without the bigsby, pots, wiring, or tuners.

I chose a tele mahogany body with a rosewood top. Still tweaking… Chose a classic tele old neck (like a strat, I think) in mahogany with a dark rosewood fretboard… I did’t really choose all of the specs carefully. Was more interested in the final price to just see how much it would be.


Greg’s response convinced me:

Wow, interesting choices! I never thought of putting a rosewood top on a mahogany body. Sounds like a cool idea.

So you chose the solid construction, eh? Are you opposed to a chambered body? I thought you liked the carved-top design like the fano. Rosewood and mahogany could be pretty heavy as a solid body. Fender has made an all-rosewood tele body for a while. That’s what George played on top of that building.

Sheesh, look how much they’re asking for this one. C’mon.

Yeah, it gets tricky if you want a bigsby because I don’t think they offer that option. The hardest part about mounting a bridge is finding the right placement. That’s what’s good about getting the bridge holes pre-drilled. You’d probably have to do your own mounting of the bigsby, but I’m sure you could figure it out, and there’s room for error. I think what you would probably want to do is get a body with the post holes drilled for a tune-o-matic bridge (TOM) and then mount the bigsby behind it. The holes I am referring to would be the “Gotoh 510” option at warmoth, described on this page:

Typically the B5 model is used on telecasters or other flat-top guitars, which is the smaller one that just screws into the body, but the strings need to go over a TOM style bridge, like on this fano

That doesn’t mean you couldn’t try to use the other style bigsbys if you wanted to, but if you stick with the flat-top idea, then I would probably recommend the B5. I think there are two options for each model – a cheaper import model and an american model. I don’t remember the differences. I think it’s different metal. The cheaper equivalent of the B5 is the B50 I think.

I saw this link on the bigsby site.
He’s using the standard tele bridge pickup plate replacement, so skip to the end. You basically just need to line up the bigsby with strings to find the right placement. There’s a million videos on youtube.

I’ve been going back and forth between a carved top tele and the PRS style body – the VIP. I’m leaning towards the VIP. Probably mahogany back and quilted maple top. Not sure about finish. Maybe cherry burst or fire burst or maybe just clear gloss. Did you notice that you can choose the actual wood to be used for the top? They have jpegs of the unique choice woods. It costs extra of course, but not much.

This is loosely what I’ve been contemplating:


Model: VIP
Scale: 25-1/2 in.
Carved Top: Yes
Chambered: Yes
Orientation: Right handed
Wood: $440.00
Core: Mahogany
Front Laminate: Quilt Maple / Maple / Maple
Control Cavity: Rear Rout + $0.00
Pickup Rout: Humbucker (Neck) – None (Middle) – Humbucker (Brdg) + $0.00
Control Rout: + $0.00
Volume (PRS)
Tone (PRS)
Toggle (PRS)
Bridge Type: Hardtail $0.00
Bridge Rout: TOM/STP, Angled Pocket + $0.00
Jack Rout: 3/4″ (19mm) Side Jack Hole
Neck Pocket: Strat® Shape + $0.00
Mounting Holes: Standard 4 Bolt + $0.00
Contours: + $0.00
Contoured Heel
Tummy Cut
Binding Top: Ivoroid Binding + $0.00
Top Finish: Black Cherry Burst + $290.00
Back Finish: Clear Gloss + $0.00
Price: $730.00

For some reason the VIP builder doesn’t show the image.

Here’s a pre-made one with a red dye finish.

I think they put a darkening dye to bring out the grain before coloring it, which is what I did on the univox. I’m pretty sure that’s what the “dye” option is in the finishes. It’s a pricey option, as is the burst but they seem to do a good job of it. Finishing can be fun, but it really requires a space for it, and can take a long time and ultimately be somewhat costly. $290 seems like a lot, but you’d probably have to pay at least $100 on lacquer alone if you did it yourself.

That was the start of probably 200+ emails on the building process.

It ended up with a comment while we were on the phone:

Maybe we should make a web site and track the whole process…

And here we are.