Next project: Jazzmaster vs Cabronita vs Snakehead Tele

In pondering what my next project would be I knew I wanted to get back to making a six string. I have a bit of a penchant for Fender’s offset guitars, the Jazzmaster and Jaguar, but I really like the look of La Cabronita style Telecasters – particularly that clean and simple look with a single Filtertron in the bridge position.

When I was in Nashville last May, Clint Searcy gave me a maple neck that he had taken off a First Act. Despite its budget origins it is a very well made and fretted neck. I stripped the original finish from it and found a pleasant, but not extreme, curly figure under the black poly lacquer. The neck is going to make a good starting point but it is a 3+3 headstock which is not very Fender-y – until I remembered the original Snakehead Telecaster, which has recently been reissued for the Telecaster’s 60th anniversary.

For those who haven’t seen one, here is a picture of a La Cabronita;

I did find that a few people have built Jazz shaped Cabrionitas, aka Jazzbronita, like this one;

And finally, for reference, here is a Snakehead Telecaster;

Some of the other details of the build;

  • Jazzmaster shaped body, in sapele, with black binding on the front edge and a 1/2″ roundover on the back.
  • 25.5″ scale maple neck with maple fretboard and 3+3 “Snakehead” style headstock.
  • Chrome hardware.
  • Strat hardtail bridge.
  • Master volume, master tone, and mini toggle on/on/on pickup selector.
  • Rear mounted controls.
  • Two FilterTron style pickups – I’m leaning towards a pair of Swing-Os from The Creamery. I love the idea of the single pickup guitars, but as I proved with the Rockmangle, I am unable to live with them. I need a neck pickup just as much as a bridge.
  • Danish oil finish.

Some of the design decisions I have yet to make;

  • A body as big as the Jazzmaster, made out of a dense timber like sapele, is going to be a real beast. Should I chamber it from the front and top it with a 1/4″ cap, or just man-up?
  • Pickguard or naked?
  • Keep or replace the currently installed black plastic fret markers and side dots?
  • Bolt on or glued neck?

4 thoughts on “Next project: Jazzmaster vs Cabronita vs Snakehead Tele

  1. And within minutes of posting I’ve already made those remaining decisions;

    • I’m going to man-up.
    • The pickguard is not structural so naked to start with and then I may cut a pickguard to see how it looks.
    • Replace – but I’m not sure with what yet.
    • Glued. So I can carve the heel.
  2. Here I was about to say chamber the bejesus out of it
    A pickguard like the one you showed above looks pretty great
    Keep the markers and see how they look finished
    Bolt-on neck for future swaps should the desire come up


  3. I agree with “chambering” it! I have a chambered Warmoth strat body and love it. The half finished body blank for my tele project is already a beast and I am scared of it.
    Also, will you fill in the existing holes on the headstock and reshape it to look more like the snakebite headstock? Or just use the existing headstock shape and tuning machine holes?

    • I think I might chamber it then… if I can find reasonably priced hardwood cap for it. I’ll be phoning up my timber supplier tomorrow and see what offcuts they’ve got.

      Yes, I will be reshaping the headstock. I’m going to drill out and dowel the existing holes, reshape it and put a veneer on the face to cover up the plugs.

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