The Amricabronita

Year: 2020
Finish: Purple Haze Metallic
Origin: China and California
Acquired: 2020
Mods: All of it
Still owned: Yes

After the relative success of the Amricaster, I wanted to build another guitar, but with higher quality parts. I liked the idea of the Cabronita, a Fender Custom Shop creation that blended a Telecaster with Gretsch pickups and a hot-rod ethos. Kat’s parents got me a stunning Cabronita body for Christmas in 2019, and I spent the next month sourcing parts for reasonable prices — but not cheaping out this time. I wanted this to be a premium build.

The body was a gift, but for the record, retails for an extremely reasonable $85; it’s made of white poplar and it came finished in that amazing metallic purple (which is rather hard to photograph accurately, I’m afraid). Any Telecaster neck would work, but I wound up catching a sale on a birdseye maple Mighty Mite neck for $165 shipped. I’d always liked the look, but birdseye is pricey since it’s uncommon. This time, I figured I was making something really special, and the sale price made it possible. The neck I received featured great figuring all over, front and back, the entire length of the piece. It makes me smile every time I see it.

For the pickups, I really indulged. I could have gone with very affordable Filtertron-style pickups, but Fender’s Cabronitas were designed with TV Jones Classics, so I scoured gear vendors looking for some used ones in chrome. Amazing, I found a new set for the bargain price of $240. The remaining top-shelf hardware — CTS pots, a Switchcraft toggle with a Gretsch chrome tip, some cloth wiring, a jack, and some super-badass chrome Gretsch-style knobs, without logos — probably totaled about $50. So all told, my outlay was somewhere between $450 and $500 — thousands less than a Custom Shop Cabronita, and about half the price of a US production-run Fender, but on par with a used Mexican-made model. Thing is, those MIMs look boring to me in three classic cliched finishes — black, sunburst, and “white blonde.” Fender never made ’em in purple! I built exactly what I wanted.

To that end, I decided not to install a pickguard; I wanted the finish to have maximum impact. Weirdly, the only plastic on the guitar is the control cavity cover on the back, which I cut on the Glowforge; I settled on mirror acrylic to match the shiny chrome. My friend Brian showed me how to make a “no-load” tone pot, so if I turned the tone control all the way up, it removes itself from the circuit completely — I wanted to be able to run the pickups flat-out. The neck needed a fair amount of fret leveling (seems most Mighty Mites do — that’s why they’re affordable) but I love the look, the C shape, and the comfortable satin feel.

All told I’m super happy with how this turned out. I didn’t want my name on the headstock, but I signed the inside of the control cavity cover.

The Amricabronita