c.2014 Antebellum Electric "Esquolin" Bouzouki

Today was "one of those days." The store was dead quiet which should have meant a lot of work would've gotten done except for the fact that I fired up the Volvo to go fill the tank this morning and get some sandpaper in town and I got a bunch of bogus error messages lining up in my dash LCD. There was much swearing while I then sorted out what the heck was going on and gave my ABS module a lobotomy over the next many hours...

At any rate the day perked up when the postman arrived with a couple "blank" Telecaster-style control plates which let me finally put a cover on the exposed control cavity of this project I've had done for a few days now... and now I can eat a bowl of fresh homemade ice cream and vent a little shade tree mechanic frustration for a bit with this thing turned up!

After passing along my newly-modded Squier Mandocello to a friend of mine I really had the fifths-tuned electric bug sparked in me. I had an extraneous maple Strat copy neck hanging around so I ordered a lightweight blue sparkle Tele body (I never was a Strat guy to be honest) and set about using whatever parts I had on hand to put this thing together. It turned out as a 1-humbucker "Esquire" sort of build with the bare minimum needed to make delicious sounds. This is how I like my electrics... plain!

This instrument is intonated and strung for GDAE (octave mandolin/zouk) tuning with gauges 36w, 26w, 14, 10.

New bone nut... extra import sealed tuners... and one more string tree.

The neck feels pretty good even though it's spaced wide. The previously mentioned Strat Mandocello had a 1 5/8" nut and a thinner-profile neck which was perfect for my preferences (I don't like how most bouzoukis and octave mandolins have cramped side-to-side but thick front-to-back necks... it kills my left hand) but this 1 11/16" nut width neck gets the job done. I like it but tonally I tend to enjoy rosewood boards more so I'm already getting bad ideas about ordering a short-scale 1 5/8" nut Warmoth Tele neck to finish as I please and go with this instead.

So... this has 1 volume control and a parallel/series wiring humbucker mini-switch. This is incredibly useful because in one position you have an excellent, lightweight/sweet sounding chord-jangle sound and in the other you have a nice, thick, cutting lead sound. I seriously loved it when I had an original '56 Danelectro and in the mid position the pickups were in series... it let me skip using a volume pedal to boost for lead work. Plus... series just sounds different.

The pickup is actually a Strat double-rail humbucker that's been hard-mounted to the body. At some point I may swap out for an actual Tele pickup (hah hah) with rails, of course.

I made this saddle rather quickly out of scrap round steel stock. It works great and provides a big, fat, sustained sound. I think it complements the lightweight body a lot because the body gives this thing an almost semi-hollow sort of tone right off the bat. This is a good thing! ...and the big steel one-piece saddle then ramps that sustain right back up. I suppose overall it has a Tele thinline sort of vibe (this instrument, fully loaded, weighs in at 5lb 11oz).

I've had the Tele baseplate hanging around since I pulled it off my Mexican-made Tele (now long gone) years ago.

Oh, right... gotta plug those holes, too!

The finish is a royal blue that's been splattered with holographic sparkles similar to the old 60s black-and-sparkle Danelectro finishes. I love it. A lot. But you have to like ridiculous to enjoy something like this. My friends haven't handed me an Elvis suit... yet.

Note the two reversed tuners -- hey, they were spare...! Reuse, recycle.

...and yup, a tummy cut.