We are going to completely remake an inexpensive Chinese-made Squire Telecaster. We will change the bridge to a string through body, add a boost curcuit, a tapped Humbucker with its selector switch, and a Kent Armstrong P90 pickup The separate volume and tone controls will be replaced with a dual concentric pot to make room for the boost amp and its control. We also need a place to put the battery for the boost amp. We had lots of parts and no place to put them.
We start by stripping the guitar. You can see that we had previously shielded the cavities with conductive paint. We also applied tin foil (real tin, not aluminum) to the underside of the pick guard. We used tin because we could easily solder a ground wire to it.
Now off comes the neck. I'm checking to see if my top mount flush trim bit is long enough to enlarge the cavity under the bridge for the larger Humbucker pickup.
I outline the shape of the enlarged neck pickup cavity with scraps stuck to the guitar with double-sided carpet tape..
Now I can rout the cavity. I do it in three passes, a bit deeper each time.
A quick check to see if the pickup will actually fit.
We repeat the procedure for the battery compartment. We decided to put it under the pickguard because we don't have a battery box, and because the battery lasts so long the owner won't have to go through the incredible hassle of removing the pick guard very often. I guess if he complains we can always add the battery box later.
And here's the result:
And once more for the bridge cavity. I later decided to rout the enlarged area to the same depth as the existing part to provide a little more clearance for the pickup. Otherwise I would have had to change the springs and maybe the screws, too.
Now the through holes for the strings. There are existing pilot holes, so this is easy. First the holes are drilled with a 7/64ths bit from the front.
Next comes the counterbore for the ferrules. I'm using a slightly undersize bit. Note the sophisticated depth gauge.
Now a final sizing by hand.
A bit of gentle persuasion seats the ferrules. I put a drop of super glue on each one just to be sure they don't pop out.
Now its time to put the neck back on. First we reposition the original shims. (They're pieces of plastic strapping - how cheesy can you get?)
Then the body goes on and the screws go back in.
I temporarily mount the pick guard so I can enlarge its opening for the P90 pickup with my router and a bottom bearing guided flush trim bit.
A bit of hand filing to fit the pick guard to the new bridge.
Now there's room for all the parts.
The wiring is pretty straightforward because I drew a schematic before I started. I find them much easier to follow than a pictorial.
Looks like everything fits pretty well. Too bad I don't have the bezel for the Humbucker, but I guess it's OK the way it is.
Here it is, a truly one of a kind custom guitar. And it works, too!