HERE’s How to Put Strat Neck on Telecaster Body (And Vice Versa!)

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The Stratocaster and the Telecaster are both guitar models created by Fender. Fender created the Telecaster model in 1952 and it became an instant classic. 

The Stratocaster, which came out a few years after, was in many ways an upgrade to the original Telecaster model.

It features a double cutaway design, a larger headstock, three pickups, a contoured body, and a tremolo bridge. 

Overall, the Telecaster is much more simple and straightforward than the Stratocaster. While the Stratocaster is more comfortable to play and has an attractive look. 

Below is a brief comparison of the neck and body of the Stratocaster and the Telecaster:

Strat Neck vs Tele Neck

Both the Strat neck and the Tele neck feature 22 frets, a 25.5” scale, and the same nut width and fretboard radius. The Strat and Tele necks are similar, but not the same. 

The main difference lies in the headstock of the two guitars. The Tele headstock is more of a square shape, while the Strat headstock is rounder and larger. 

The round shape of the Strat headstock provides greater comfort when holding the guitar, which makes the Strat ideal for beginners.

Strat Body vs Tele Body

The difference between the Stratocaster and the Telecaster is obvious when you look at their bodies.

The Telecaster has a single cutaway design and no body contours unlike the Stratocaster. 

The Stratocaster features an upper horn, which makes it easier for players to access higher notes. The body contours also add to the comfortability of the Stratocaster. Not to mention the sleek look it gives the Stratocaster.

The square and flat body of the Telecaster can make it uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time, but it usually isn’t a problem for experienced players. 

Both the Strat body and the Tele body are constructed of the same materials. Both guitar models use Alder tonewood with a gloss polyester finish.

Will a Strat Neck Work on a Tele Body?

A Stratocaster neck will fit on a Telecaster body, but the same isn’t true the other way around. 

Though a Strat neck technically fits a Tele body, the fitment isn’t perfect because the Strat neck is rounded and the pocket of the Tele body is squared. There will be small gaps around the edges of the Tele pocket. 

However, these gaps are no big deal because they don’t impact the intonation of the guitar. They can also be easily covered up through the use of a pickguard or a fretboard.

On the other hand, a Tele neck will not naturally fit on a Strat body. Because of their differing shapes, a Tele neck will not go all the way in the Strat pocket. Basically the Tele neck and the Strat body will not connect or intonate. 

The only way it could work is if you modify either the Tele neck or the Strat pocket. This means that you would have to reshape the squared heel of the Tele neck and make it more rounded. Or you can square up the Strat body pocket. 

If the modification is done correctly, then there should not be an issue putting the Tele neck on the Strat body. If you are confident in your skills, you can perform this adjustment on your own or you can have a professional do it. 

It is important to note that not all Fender Telecaster necks are interchangeable. However, Fender does claim that most of their necks will fit on any Fender body. 

The only way to make sure is to check that the scale lengths, dimensions, and shapes all match. Especially pay attention to the shape of the neck and the shape of the body.

As we saw, the Strat and Tele guitars are the same in scale length and dimensions, yet their differing shapes make the Tele neck incompatible with the Strat body.

How to Attach a Strat Neck on a Tele Body

You may be wondering why people decide to mismatch different guitar models. Why not just attach Tele necks to Tele bodies and Strat necks to Strat bodies? 

Although this is a common sentiment, there are valid reasons to mix different guitar models. 

Most people simply do not feel that Tele necks are comfortable to play. This is mainly due to the square headstock of the Tele. 

At the same time, many players appreciate the versatility in sound the Tele provides. So, they do not want to give up the Tele body for a Strat body. 

Essentially, by combining the Strat neck with the Tele body you get the best of both worlds. At least this is how many players who mismatch different guitar model parts see it. 

Luckily, the installation process of a Strat neck on a Tele body is fairly easy. Both Strat necks and Tele necks are bolt-on necks, which makes for a quick procedure. 

Below is an overview of the general steps to take when attaching a Strat neck on a Tele body. This also applies to all bolt-on neck installations.

Step 1: Gather all your materials

In most cases, you will only need a screwdriver and four screws. However, since the fitment of a Strat neck on a Tele body isn’t perfect, you might need additional tools. 

It is recommended that you have a sanding block, a hand drill or drill press, a C-clamp, and some tape and wax.

Step 2: Check the pocket of the Tele body

You want to make sure the pocket is free of debris or stickers. We want the Strat neck to fit as tightly as possible on the Tele body.

If you notice some debris, you can use the sanding block to clean it out.

Step 3: Place the Strat neck in the pocket

It is very important that you do not slide the neck inside the pocket. Instead, you want to hover the neck above the pocket and let it fall in.

At this point, you will get a clear view of how the neck fits on the body. Since it’s a Strat neck on a Tele body, you will likely notice the two gaps around the edges.

Even though this isn’t an issue, you can choose to reduce the gaps if you’d like. To do this, you can use wood filler to fill in the gaps.

If the gaps don’t bother you as much, you can simply cover them with the pickguard.

Step 4: Mark the drill holes

You want to hold the neck in the pocket and flip the guitar over. You will see the four holes on the back of the guitar where the neck plate goes. 

You can use a screw to mark where the holes need to go on the neck. Simply, pass a screw through each of the four holes located at the back of the guitar. This should leave four faint marks on the neck.

The holes on the back of the guitar need to align perfectly with the holes on the neck. This step only applies if there aren’t holes already drilled into the neck.

Step 5: Drill the four holes

To drill in the holes, the easiest tool to use is a drill press because it will ensure you don’t drill in too deep. 

However, you can drill in the holes manually as well. Use a drill bit to estimate the halfway point of the neck heel. 

You can place a piece of tape around the drill bit to mark where the halfway point is. So, when you manually drill you will know when to stop.

You can place the neck to the side and drill all the holes. Or you can drill the holes while the neck is resting in the pocket. If you do this you will need a C-clamp to hold the neck in place as you drill the holes

Step 6: Attach the neck to the body with the screws

Once all the holes are drilled, there isn’t much more work to do. Simply, place the neck in the pocket if it isn’t there already, and flip the guitar to the back side. 

Place the neck plate over the four holes. Before you get ready to place the screws in the holes, you should apply a little bit of wax to each one.

This functions as lubrication for the screws and makes it easier to screw them in. Lastly, place all four screws in the four holes and use a screwdriver to put them in. 

Make sure the screws are in tightly, but not too tight because that can bend the neck plate and ruin the finish. 

There you have it- a half Strat, half Tele guitar that is ready to do its thing!

Stratocaster vs Telecaster Sound

One of the most evident differences between the Stratocaster and the Telecaster is the way they sound.

The sound of the Telecaster is usually described as “twangy”, while the sound of the Stratocaster is described as “scooped.”

In general, the Telecaster has a punchier tone than the Stratocaster. The Stratocaster tends to have a more thin and bright tone.

This makes the Stratocaster great for playing rock or funk music. On the other hand, the Telecaster is ideal for jazz, blues, and country music.

Most of the differences in sound between the Stratocaster and the Telecaster have to do with their distinct pickups. Below is a comparison of the Stratocaster and Telecaster pickups:

Strat Neck Pickup vs Tele Neck Pickup:

All pickups in a Strat are the same size, while the neck and bridge pickup of a Tele are different sizes. 

The neck pickup of a Tele is smaller than the neck pickup of the Strat. This causes the Tele to sound a little flatter and muddier than the Strat.

The Tele has a dark tone while the Strat has a bright tone. Some players feel that the dark tone of the Tele neck pickup is dull in comparison to the Strat pickup. 

Fortunately, you can put a Strat neck pickup on a Tele. You might have some difficulty fitting the Strat neck pickup into the Tele pickguard hole, but it can be done.

You can easily change the pickguard of the Tele. You can also buy a Tele neck pickup that sounds just like the Strat neck pickup.

Strat Bridge Pickup vs Tele Bridge Pickup:

Perhaps the Strat is superior in its neck pickup, but the Tele bridge pickup certainly wins. 

The Tele bridge pickup is known to be more powerful and aggressive than the Strat bridge pickup. 

The sound of the Tele is heavier while the sound of the Strat is lighter. The Tele also has a warmer sound.

This is mainly because the Tele bridge pickup is attached to a steel plate, which boosts the bass and low midrange. 

The Strat is mounted to a plastic pickguard, which creates more clean and bell-like tones. The Strat also has an additional pickup between the bridge and the neck.

Tips For Customizing Your Guitar

Customizing your guitar is always an exciting and sometimes nerve wracking thing to do. It is the opportunity to create your ideal guitar perfectly suited for your needs.

Since we have been discussing guitar customization, let’s go over some things to keep in mind when altering your guitar.

These tips apply to both minor alterations as well as building a guitar from scratch.

Tip #1: Do your research.

This might be the most important thing to follow. Always do as much extensive research as possible when thinking about customizing or building a guitar. 

You want to make sure all the parts you want to include on your guitar are compatible. This means learning the ins and outs of every part of a guitar. 

This also means learning the art of discernment. You are likely to find many sources online that contradict each other, which is naturally going to leave you confused.

This is why it’s important to read up on as many trustable articles and watch as many videos as possible. This will help you see the full picture of the situation.

And if you are ever seriously confused on something, try to speak with a professional who can guide you.

Tip #2: Only do what you can handle.

If you have never modified a guitar, then maybe building a guitar from scratch is not the best decision. You want to start small.

It can be tempting to jump into full-on guitar building when you have no experience. Though guitar building is definitely fun, it also takes a certain level of skill and knowledge.

It is best to start with small projects, such as changing your guitar neck or installing a new pickup. These small projects will help you gain the skills and knowledge necessarily to tackle bigger projects.

Tip #3: Get clear on what you want.

Before you begin anything, it is helpful to have a plan. You want to feel as confident as possible in your plan/design before modifying or building your guitar. 

This will prevent trivial mistakes that could have been avoided if you had revised your plan. Always give everything a second thought, and take time to figure out what you want in your guitar. 

A good way to do this is to look at examples of things similar to what you want. This will provide you with inspiration and the clarity to move forward with your plan.

Tip #4: Know your parts and tools.

This kind of goes back to the first tip about doing your research, but there is added emphasis on knowing what parts and tools to use.

The parts and tools you use will be the basis of your guitar project. You want to get a good grasp of the function and quality of each part and tool you are planning to use. 

Definitely do not go over the top with the tools you buy, especially if it’s your first time modifying or building a guitar.

You want to buy just enough tools to complete your project.

Tip #5: Don’t hesitate to experiment.

There is only so much research and preparation you can do. At the end of the day, the main thing is to have fun and learn something new.

So, don’t be afraid to try new things occasionally. You never know what can come out of it. 

Sure, you’ll mess up now and then, but that’s how you learn. Afterall, there are such things as happy accidents.

Final Words

Mixing guitar models is an excellent way to create the guitar of your dreams. This is especially true for the Stratocaster and the Telecaster. 

Both guitars have special features that set them apart from each other. They are legendary guitars that are bound to withstand the test of time. 

And when these two powerful axes are combined, they are nothing short of amazing.