I’ve started trying to learn how to play fingerstyle guitar. Fingerstyle is a technique in which the high strings are plucked by the first three fingers and the thumb plays the bass line on the lower strings. The aspect of this technique which I find interesting is that  it allows playing the melody and the bass line simultaneously. Very competent musicians can also add in rhythm parts: playing rhythym, bass, and melody all at once. Here’s an extreme example – a video of Justin Johnson playing a three string guitar:

Although fingerstyle is often played on an acoustic guitar, I have also been trying some exercises out on an electric rig and what I find is that the pickups get in the way of my fingers! On a Strat, there are too many pickups and they are too close together. Somehow, Mark Knopfler doesn’t have the same problem although that might be because he is one of the best and most under-rated fingerstyle guitarists of all time.

And on a Tele, I find the front pickup also gets in my way. Therefore, I have decided to build a guitar specifically for my own style of fingerstyle – a telecaster with a bridge pickup and no neck pickup, to provide the maximum amount of room for fingers to pluck. Kind of like a Fender Esquire.

The next question to answer: with only one pickup, which one to choose? I found a very interesting choice in the Seymour Duncan P-Rails. This is a P-90 and a rail-style single coil combined into a package the size of a standard trembucker which allows switching between either the P-90, the rail single coil, or both in various combinations. This is what the pickup looks like:

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And here is the “Triple Shot” mounting ring, with switches that control the pickup selection. Options include serial humbucker, parallel humbucker and various others, depending on how everything is wired.


Going with a single pickup means custom wiring so that is the next step – drawing a wiring diagram. In this diagram, I have assumed the P-Rails leads (white, black, red, green, bare) are all connected to the color coded pads on the Triple Shot mounting ring. So all I need to do is to treat the P-Rails/mounting ring as a single pickup and then use the leads coming off the mounting ring. Here we go:


In the neck department, I ordered from Warmoth and it’s a special neck. They displayed it in their showcase and it caught my eye because it had no dot inlays in the fretboard. At first this seemed a little odd to me but it is a cleaner look, it shows off the wood fretboard, and there are smaller dots on the side of the neck facing the player. I’m hoping I won’t have too much trouble getting used to this. Here is the neck.


And here is a close up of the Ziricote fretboard, unadorned by inlays.


The body is made of mahogany with a Black Korina veneer and a satin (not glossy) finish.


Here is the rear-routed mahogany body:


Before I can assemble this guitar, I need to find some potentiometers for the volume and tone controls, which have an extra long shaft. The standard CTS pot shaft doesn’t extend far enough when passing through the mahogany body and the korina veneer.







2 thoughts on “Fingerstyle!

  1. Front dots are obviously useful from the seated position (if one is hunched over the guitar), but they’re much harder to use while standing (hence the side dots), and this makes me wonder why front dots are so popular, as it could be argued that people should only use the side dots, for uniformity? Finally, I believe that a classical guitar will have no more than one [side] dot, but usually zero (?), so I think that you’re set. 😄


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