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Title: A look at some past builds
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Posts: 64
From: Canada
Registered: 06/30/2006
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(Date Posted:10/10/2015 22:07:47)
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I thought I'd share a look at some of my non-Tele projects from over the last ten years that I've been building (or more properly assembling) partscasters.After I built the Tele mini-bass, I wanted to try something different, so I put together a Strat. I had this notion that I could assemble a swiss-army-knife guitar that would do anything I might want. I ended up with an aftermarket cherryburst body mated to a 1986 Squier Contemporary Strat neck. These were Japanese-made necks made in the FujiGen factory that became Fender Japan.Beyond the basic body-neck platform, I tried to buy good stuff that would satisfy long-term, and I really nailed it with the pickups. I bought a set of alnico American Standard pickups, and sent them to Tom Nerkowski to have a pickguard assembled. At that time, the best thing he had was called an Ulti-Mod Strat harness....a master volume with bleed kit, a TBX tone control, a three-position rotary switch in the third knob location. Each position on the rotary tone-bank switch makes the five-way lever switch do something different, so there's a broad cross-section of series and parallel options in addition to the standard Strat layout, with a Gilmour mod (N+B or N+M+B). There were other electronic additions....one was a built-in Atlantic Designs electronic tuner that's incorporated into the output jack. (Just ground the output boat jack to the bridge with your hand and it'll turn on, and automatically shut off after 90 seconds) I'm on my third battery after eight years. I also wanted an add-on mod that would beef up the tone. I considered the StewMac Black Ice, but ended up with the Villex passive mid-boost. It's been great sound-wise, fattening up the single coils quite dramatically. I mounted a mini-toggle next to the volume pot to switch it in and out of the circuit. I also decided I really wanted a built-in wireless transmitter. (I loved going wireless, but the body packs were a pain in the ass). I ended up with a Samson VHF channel 3 unit that came with a huge beefed-up antenna on the receiver. I dismounted the transmitter board from the casing and remoted the switching for Power and Mute to a pair of mini-rocker switches that are flushed into the pickguard. Since I'd decided I wanted a hardtail, I used the pre-routed tremelo spring cavity to mount the trasmitter board and secure the 15" antenna coil. I routed a twin 9-volt battery box into the back of the body next to the spring cavity, and use two high-test 9 volt batteries in parallel for the Samson wireless. I change batteries omce or twice a year, and I get lots of notice when I need to change.....Having two batteries in parallel makes the unit play, slightly noisier and harsher, for a couple of hours before the power supply is drained, so it dodges the bullet of sudden mid-gig failure.I decided to use a Custom Shop Parts bridge, partly because it has a large footprint that covers the old tremelo rout. It's a great bridge in my opinion, and it's top-loading which is what I was after. I decided that if there was a place to splurge, it was on tuners. I'm really OCD about precise tuning, so I went with the Steinbergers. They're locking, gearless, and have a 40:1 ratio. Final touches were a pair of roller string trees, a lazer-engraved neckplate with my name, a set of Dunlop Straploks, a deluxe Fender 60th anniversary strap, and a new black tolex amp-logo Fender case.I think I've built almost twenty partscasters since then, but that cherryburst Strat is still the finest guitar I've ever played. Because it was one of my first builds, it took me about 15 months, but it's been worth the time and money invested. This is my go-to guitar.....





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Posts:64
From: Canada
Registered:06/30/2006
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RE:A look at some past builds
(Date Posted:10/11/2015 13:19:26)

After the cherryburst Strat, I did a couple of Tele's, and then ended up doing another Strat. It was a projected that developed a life of it's own, that started innocently enough.....I traded away a pair of vintage Gibson mini-humbuckers for three Lindy Fralin pickups - a Tele Blues Special set, and an Unbucker. The Unbucker is a two-coil pickup, with one of the coils wound high and the other much less hot. They still make a credible noise-resistant humbucker, but splitting the larger coil to use on it's own produces a much more convincing single-coil than most standard 'buckers. I considered using the Blues Special set in another Tele build, and perhaps building a single-pickup guitar around the Unbucker. Eventually, I got around to the 3-pickups=Strat idea. I was doing a lot of eBay buying then, and over time, acquired another 24 3/4" scale MIJ 86 Squier Contemporary Strat neck and a set of the Steinberger locking gearless 40:1 tuners that I loved on the first guitar. So, the neck was finished before I bought a body. I'd decided to use the UnBucker at the bridge, and the Tele Blues set for the middle and neck, so I knew I'd need a custom guard. I ended up having it made by Terrapin.....Black, red, black plies, with the Tele neck pickup hole in the neck position, the Tele bridge pickup hole where a Strat middle pickup would normally be, but angled , and the Unbucker hole in the bridge location. The guard turned out well. I kept the three control layout because I wanted to use a master volume with bleed kit, a master tone, and a Fender no-load pot as a spin-a-split variable single-coil control. There's a standard five-way switch. Aside from building in an Atlantic Designs electronic tuner, and adding Dunlop Straploks, I was down to choosing a bridge system and a specific body. I knew that I didn't want a Strat vibrato system, but finding a way to hardtail it and cover the vibrato rout was challenging. I happened to be net-surfing for gear one night and happened to find the ZZ Guitarworks site. He was selling a kit to retrofit a Strat with a Bigsby. It made some sense to me, partly because it used a VibraMate-style mount that would make the mod reversible, and more importantly, his Space Bridge which mounts to the Fender 6-screw hole locations and covers the hole for the block and bar perfectly It has three compensated saddles. I ordered the kit, and began the search for a body. I wanted a traditional-looking body, so I bought a three-tone sunburst on eBay. I thought it was alder. Assembling the guitar was easy in some respects (neck fit perfectly) and the main challenge was getting the guts to fit a body that came with three single-coil routs. I knew that a swimming pool rout was the right thing, not just for the bridge 'bucker, but also to accomodate the slanted middle pickup, and something else. I've always heard that the Tele's twang was from the metal of the bridge. I amputated the back of a modern Gotoh Tele bridge and mounted it *under* the pickguard, surrounding the slanted pickup. The project came together over several months while I shopped for the parts, and then a couple of weeks of all my spare time, to button it up. Some reflections....It sounds great. The Tele Blues Specials are some pretty fine pickups, and the UnBucker with the variable coil-split is a lot more versatile than most Strat bridge pickups. The Bigsby takes some getting used to, and it's at it's best used in a subtle way. A Chet handle on the Bigsby would make the bar a bit longer too. Right now, you can only hang on to the bar if you're playing close to the bridge. My only reason concern is how heavy it is. This is, without a doubt, the heaviest guitar I've ever played, lol. Anyway, this is how it turned out...
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Rank:none
Score:64
Posts:64
From: Canada
Registered:06/30/2006
Time spent: 0 hours


(Date Posted:11/14/2015 12:35:53)

After I'd assembled a few guitars, I thought I was done buying anything off-the-rack.  Then, one day I was wandering through my favorite pawn shop, I came across a Duosonic....a Classic Vibe in Desert Sand with the gold anodized guard....that just spoke to me.  I negotiated a good price (140.00 out the door including taxes, and brought it home.  By the time I'd spent a few hours with it, I was wishing I'd spent more time playing with....I really didn't like the maple board and loathed the big frets.....but since I was stuck with it, I decided to try and set a few things right.  The three saddle bridge limited my ability to intonate it, and a set of Telecaster compensated saddles didn't sound right (Not surprising, since the Duosonic was 24" scale, not 25.5). I decided to put a six saddle Strat hardtail bridge on it, and was really pleased with how much more musical the guitar sounded properly intonated.  But, I still wasn't comfortable with the neck.  I ended up buying a 71 Musicmaster neck on eBay and decided I wanted better tuners, even if I had to drill the headstock out.  I picked up another set of the Steinberger 40:1 gearless lockers, and put it all together.  It's turned into nice player!  I got the rosewood board and vintage frets I wanted, with the 7.25 radius I'm most comfortable with, and with the six saddle bridge and the Steinberger tuners, it plays in tune and the tuning is stable. Other than a set of Dunlop Straploks, the rest of it's pretty much stock.  After playing with the height of the CV alnico pickups, I decided they sounded pretty good and were keepers.  I don't play this guitar a lot, but every time I pick it up, I rediscover just how comfy it is. 
 
This was taken the day it came home from the pawnshop.....



.....and this was after some mods.....


 





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Rank:none
Score:64
Posts:64
From: Canada
Registered:06/30/2006
Time spent: 0 hours

RE:A look at some past builds
(Date Posted:11/14/2015 12:48:18)

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