Last summer I spent a lot of my time designing and assembling one sexy hunk of wood. I had two guitars before starting this project: an Epi Les Paul and a Squier fat Strat. As any guitarist knows, these are the low-end versions of the most iconic electric guitars ever built. Having played these, and a variety of other guitars, I embarked on a journey to design a guitar that was both aesthetically and functionally beautiful. Of all the guitars I had played I still loved the feel of my good ol' Chinese strat. The pups were noisey and harsh, tuning machines were cheap and didn't stay in tune, and the countless layers of black paint and poly-U were chipped and cracked. I thought I'd use the body of this beast for familiarity's sake and for sentimental reasons. This post is a rewritten account of what was presented in this forum. Enjoy!
I've been playing for about four years now and I decided a while back to sell one of my guitars and an amp to rebuild my squier strat (first guitar). So, armed with $350 and a computer, I threw together a couple of models and made a few investments (soldering iron, wire, wood, all that jazz). The first few pics show it with a rosewood pickguard. I later found out after visiting a hardwood specialty shop that I would have to sell my soul to pay for a good chunk of Indian rosewood, so on my way home I picked up a 2'x4' oak veneer at kent for $3. The knobs are going to be boxwood dome knobs, and all the hardware is going to be gold. although, I'm going to try to carve a jackplate out of a piece of oak...Which probably wont work. but it would certainly look neat . Pups will be cream hot gold lace sensors, and the controls will function as follows: master volume, master tone/passive overdrive push/pull pot, and a blender pot. all 500k pots, standard 5-way switching, and a 0.022uF tone cap + volume kit.
This is my first attempt at making a pick guard. it went okay. That wood chips like something horrible though. I've made three since then, and several neck plates and trem covers
Back side with neck plate and incomplete trem cover. I think I'm going to put some gold string ferrules in there.
That's all so far. Still have to buy lots of parts. I doubt the neck plate will work at all if I leave it like that. What I'd really like to do is take the veneer off the plywood, glue it to the neckplate, then put the Fender "F" on there with gold leaf.
This is a schematic of the wiring I did a while ago. Pretty sure the wiring for the switch is wrong, don't remember, but it gets the point across. I took a picture of my white board, so it's not too clear. The Blender pot has six leads, black is top, blue is bottom. red things are caps, green thing is a resistor, and the black box is the overdrive thing.
The program I used is called Rhino3D (http://www.rhino3d.com/). Any 3D modeling app is a great start to any design project. if you're not sure how your car will look with that new spoiler and hot pink paintjob, you can always model it first
I just got my neck and pickups from Warmoth. Still have to wait a while for the hardware (gold vintage tuners, bridge, screws, maple bell knobs), but I thought I'd put this up here. I've decided to finish it with tru-oil to keep it as raw feeling as possible, but protected.
Those gold frets are mighty high and narrow (0.090"x0.055"). A LOT taller than the frets on the squier neck. It'll take some getting used to, but I'm pretty excited to try it out. While this guitar was in pieces I attached a piece of plywood to one of the pick guards that didn't turn out so well and stuck a humbucker in there. Played pretty good for an electric pickguard!
I've changed my mind about the wiring. I am going to use the passive overdrive, but it'll be a little different. One push/pull pot will turn it on, and another will switch between symetrical and asymetrical clipping. It's a mod of this, which is a mod of the black ice overdrive. and I'm thinking of making a varitone instead of using a blend pot. Anyone ever make one of these/find them useful?
Okay, finishing is done. Couldn't find any tru-oil, so I went with Minwax tung oil finish. It's oil, varnish and mineral spirits, the closest thing I could find to tru-oil. I ended up guilding my nut because the white stuck out a lot. I just threw it together for a test fit, and to see how everything looks. still need to drill the tuner holes a little bigger, so they're not in there yet. I had to rout the cavities a little deeper because I dreamed up this complicated wiring with two push/pull pots and a six way rotary switch.
Pushpot 1:normal (parralel wiring)/series wiring (all three in series, neck and bridge in series)
Pushpot 2: middle pup out of phase
6-Kill switch, maybe?
This should give me a total of something like 39 different sounds, all within what looks like a normal strat.
The wiring worked the first time, no problem, which made me very happy because it was hell to wire. The two p/p pots were facing each other and I had to fit wires, two orange drop caps, and a resistor onto 18 lugs within a little more than an inch (tweezers came in handy).
I'm taking it into music stop tomorrow so that they can adjust the intonation and action, because I have no clue what the hell I'm doing with truss rod and saddle adjustment. Other that that, She's done.
NOTE: Adjusting the truss rod and saddles is not that difficult or dangerous. after I got it back from musicstop I found that not only was it not done properly, but I was out $60. Just take your time with it and you'll be okay.
WARMOTH neck - $208 pups - $150 (on clearance)
GUITAR PARTS RESOURCE - bridge, tuners, picks, misc parts - $281
STEWMAC - electrical components, hardware (screws, jackplate, etc) - ~$200
All and all...too much. There's stuff I got along the way like a soldering iron, poly-U, tung oil, gold leaf, other tools and stuff, but it's stuff I'll use in the future, so it's all gravy. Probably around $1000 in the end. Which isn't bad, it was my entertainment for three months. Plus I got to learn everything there is to know about passive guitar electronics. If I ever run into some cash I'd like to go for a second build.