Knotty Pine Offset Barncaster Project, Part 2: Incomplete Parts-O-Caster

Fender, Warmoth, Gotoh, Wilkinson, "62, Tex Mex, bridge, neck, pickup, Snappy bit

In Part 1 of the Knotty Pine Offset Barncaster Project, a 1991 Fender MIM Stratocaster neck was experimentally attached to a cool looking pine Telemaster / Jazzcaster / Offset Telecaster body from NoMoonLaser, along with enough other parts to make a playable prototype, and the results were very good indeed. Enough to go ahead and jump into an "Irrevocable Act", something not easily undone - locating and drilling all the pickguard and control plate mounting screw holes.

I'm kind of really particular about having the various components line up on a Telecaster type guitar, both measurement wise and visually. Do the sides of the bridge plate and neck pocket, and the extended virtual lines extrapolated from the edges of the mounted neck, all fall as nearly equally as possible to the center-line of the body? Will the cutout on the pickguard be close to square with the bridge plate? Is the control plate as parallel as possible to the right hand side of the bridge? And is the neck pickup centered well between both E strings?

One reason for building up with higher quality non-boutique parts, such as Fender, Allparts, Gotoh, and others in that class, is because they almost always just fit, period. In the case of this project, the unknown quantity is the NoMoonLaser body. The main reason I bought it was the fun factor - it looks fantastic, and it was already rustic finished in a nice transparent lacquer. Unlike higher cost bodies from Tone Bomb and Warmoth, NoMoonLaser bodies are hand made, not cut on laser guided CNC milling machines (hence the name?), so the measurements can sometimes be very slightly "off", but nothing that can't be compensated for. It's almost like working with a body that you might have made yourself - not absolutely perfect, yet very well crafted and usable, and it gives you a chance to use those brain cells, and think.

Fender, Warmoth, Gotoh, Wilkinson, "62, Tex Mex, bridge, neck, pickup, Snappy bit

In the end, the only fudging needed was minor: a small bit of sanding on one side of the neck pocket, redrilling the tops of the string though body holes (on the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th string holes) to compensate for the difference between 2 1/16" (import spec) and 2 1/8" (vintage spec) string spread dimensions, and widening the control cavity about 1/32" so the control plate sits well with the pickguard.

I also had to trim a small amount from the edge of the Warmoth pickguard's upper "horn" where it meets the neck and neck pocket. That's all, only about 30 minutes work, not counting moving the yard sprinkler and sitting with iced tea and watching the day-dreamscape of fantastically shaped huge white cumulus clouds slowly drift across a deep and clear blue Oregon sky.

Fender, Warmoth, Gotoh, Wilkinson, "62, Tex Mex, bridge, neck, pickup, Snappy bit

It was a beautiful summer day, not too hot, with a light breeze; I set up a couple funky sawhorses out on the back deck and put some well used planks across them, and put an old "camping" towel, folded once, over the planks to make a comfy padded work station. After a few minutes of measuring and thinking, then some sanding, trimming, and re-measuring, it was time to grab the trusty Snappy brand self centering 5/64" drill bit - perfect for quick, accurate, and fear free drilling of pilot holes in the body for components with counter sunk mounting holes, such as Tele bridge plate, pickguard, and control plate.

After drilling those holes with the Snappy, twisting the new mounting screws in was a breeze - slowly and by hand. * Tip: Using a real screwdriver, not an electric tool, helps to ensure keeping those screws as vertical as possible. If you use a powered drill or driver when running screws into soft wood, like old pine, it's way too easy to get them in crooked, or stripping the wood and enlarging the pilot hole. Also, when the screw is down flush with the counter-sink in the 'guard or plate, you're done - don't over-tighten, especially in soft wood.

Welp, today's work fun turned out really well. Now, there's only a few quick things left to do before we're finished with this knotty pine offset Barncaster project: wire up the switch and pots on the control plate and run a wire to the output jack, put on a new set of strings, and do the final adjustments on the string action and neck relief, pickup height, and intonation. After that, plug in and play.

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Click or tap on any picture above to see larger, higher def images.

For more about this Knotty Pine Offset Barncaster Project, see Part 1, Part 3, and Part 4.

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