CUSTOMIZE YOUR MEXICAN STRATOCASTER
Would it be worth it to assemble my own Strat style Electric Guitar vs. buying something from Fender? When I started this project I had previously only assembled one guitar from parts purchased from Warmoth and a loaded pickguard from 920D Custom. I spent just over $1,000.00 and the results were great and the process was satisfying. Not much time had past and I had the itch again.
I wanted to make a guitar that was inspired by SRV's #1 Stratocaster. I didn't want to make an SRV replica Strat but rather something unique and use his as a loose model. For instance I wasn't going to relic the guitar to match his but I did want a nitrocellulose finish so the guitar would age with use quicker than a poly finish.
I started looking for Fender 60's Lacquer Classic Series in three tone sunburst (3TSB). I found one reasonably priced body with stock pickups on eBay. I found a gold Fender vintage bridge on Amazon. I didn't want the lefty version with the tremolo bar inserting at the low E string so it was easy to get the right handed version. I also found on Amazon the gold Kluson style vintage tuners and gold output jack. I don't like gold hardware unless it's complete with the pickguard screws, pickup screws and selector switch screws. I made sure i ordered these I think from Stew Mac.
Now the pickguard! Well like Stevie I wanted something unique. I found all sorts of options at Decoboom.com. I contacted the company and asked if they had a mint green version of the art deco styled "Streamline" pickguard they offer. The owner Chris said he could do it.
The Neck had to be quality. Well I've had a very good experience twice with Warmoth so I thought I'd give Musikraft a shot. Ordering with them is pretty simply through their online system. They have many options especially when it comes to neck profile. I ordered an unfinished maple neck with the following options:
• Graphtech pre cut and slotted nut
• unfinished maple neck with a Brazilian rosewood slab
• 22 stainless steel (SS) 6105 frets
• Truss rod adjust at the headstock
• Clapton "V" profile
• 7.25" - 9.5" compound radius
The Neck arrived from Musikraft five weeks later and I am still super impressed with it. It's one of my faves. If I was to order one again I'd go for a slightly beefier profile. the rosewood is gorgeous and dark and the maple has nice grains to it.
I don't think i had to do this with the Musikraft neck but look at your guitars and consider using a Scotch Brite® and / or a sanding sponge to work the fret edges and fretboard edge. Get those fret ends comfy like that relic'd Fender Custom Shop you tried in the store.
Pickups: I bought a set of Vintage hot US Toneworks pickups. They have flat polepieces which i prefer and I think are fine for 9.5" radius. Remember this neck is compound from 7.25" to 9.5" which means near the pickups the radius is 9.5". The pickups are voiced to match Seymour Duncan SSL series. US Toneworks offers a Vintage and a Vintage Hot. I've tried them both and they are great for under $50.00 for the set!!
The control harness i got from Obsidian Wire. These are great for easy of installing or swapping pickups since it's mostly a solderless system. One still has to solder the output jack. The one I purchased is the blender control. You can add the bridge pickup to any configuration by turning down the second tone control. This gives you the option for neck and bridge pickup configuration or all three pickups at once. What a great thing to add a couple of more tone options to your Strat.
I love this guitar and it turned out better than I expected. I learned a lot about neck profiles, pickups, harnesses installing vintage tuners and custom pickguards on this assembly. If I was to alter anything to make it perfect it would be a slightly beefier neck, slightly wider nut width and the black version of the Decoboom "Streamline" pickguard.
Thanks for stopping by,