One of my favorite things about guitars is that you can customize them in almost any way.
Don’t like those stock Humbuckers? Take them out and pop in some Seymour Duncan’s. Want to turn your guitar into a fretless with a mirror for a fretboard? Well, as a friend of mine proved, you can do that.
Replacing pickups or turning a mirror into a fretboard is one thing, but what about combining two different guitars? Could you take the neck of a Fender Strat and put it on a Tele? Will a strange Frankenstein’s Monster of a guitar live?
Coming to the topic, will the neck meant for a Stratocaster fit the body of a Telecaster? Here’s what you need to know.
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Why You Might Want to Replace the Neck
Why would someone even want to put the neck of one guitar onto the body of another? There are three main reasons: tone, feel and looks.
Guitars are all made differently. Even if the guitars are made from the same materials, with the same neck shapes and dimensions. Much like Stratocasters and Telecasters.
This means that they all sound and play distinctively. You might like the sound of one guitar, but prefer the way the neck plays on another.
Then there’s the aesthetic aspect. Telecasters typically have smaller headstocks than Stratocasters. Some people prefer the bigger headstock.
Being able to replace the neck means that you can get the look and feel you want without having to give up the tone.
How to Replace the Neck
It is important to note that there are two types of guitar necks:
Bolt-on necks are made from a separate piece of wood from the body, and are then attached to the body with screws. A bit of a misnomer, but this is where the term ‘bolt-on’ comes from.
Neck-throughs instead are made from the same piece of wood, making the neck and body one thing.
The reason it’s possible for us to put a Strat neck onto a Tele body is because both guitars have bolt-on necks. You can easily get hold of a brand new Fender-made Strat neck on Sweetwater. Necks with both Maple, Rosewood and even Pau Ferro (Rosewood alternative) fingerboards are available.
It is simply a matter of unscrewing the back of the guitars, where the neck and body are attached, and taking off the necks. Then you replace the Tele neck with the Strat neck and fasten the screws again.
Fender also has the following video on their official YouTube channel if you would like a visual example.
Things to Consider if You Want to Do It
Even though swapping the guitar necks is pretty simple, there are a few things to keep in mind.
It’ll Fit, But it Won’t Be a Perfect Fit
This also means that their pockets, the part of the body they fit into, are also rounded and squared. Because of their different shapes, there will be slight gaps where the neck and body meet.
This isn’t a big issue since the guitar will still intonate fine. If you’re worried about having gaps visible at the front of your guitar, it is something to keep in mind. I have seen people put pickguards onto their Telecasters to cover the gaps and is a good solution.
I would avoid using a wood filler or something similar as that might ruin the guitar. It will also make removing the neck in the future more of a pain than it needs to be.
To summarize, Stratocaster necks do fit telecaster bodies, albeit leaving some slight gap in the place where the neck is joined with the body of the guitar.
Strat Neck, Tele Body
The biggest thing to remember is that this only works with a Strat neck and a Tele body. Unfortunately, Tele necks won’t work on a Strat.
This is again because of the way the necks are shaped. A rounded Strat neck will fit in a squared Tele pocket, but a squared Tele neck won’t fit a rounded Strat pocket. The squared Tele neck won’t sit right in the Strat pocket, causing the guitar to intonate incorrectly.
To Sum Up
Even though, at first glance, guitar parts don’t seem to be interchangeable, that doesn’t mean we can’t swap out certain parts.
If we want to change the look or feel of our instruments, we have the freedom to do so. As long as you keep certain things in mind, swapping out guitar parts is a fairly easy process.