Wednesday, 2 April 2003

Guitar Project: Frankenstrat


Here's a guitar I built from parts from out of my spare parts box one day last week when I was ill off work and bored out of my mind. It was not the most taxing of jobs as it was simply a case of drill a few holes here and there, use a dab of wood filler in various places, screw and bolt it all together, and solder the connections to the jack plug socket (the scratch plate was complete with pickups and controls already in place).

The body is from quite an elderly Japanese Stratocaster copy. It's not the most accurate Strat outline that I have seen, and the body contouring is interesting, but it's a nice sturdy body - solid wood with veneered front and back - and with individual routing for each of the three pickup cavities, rather than the single "swimming pool" you find on modern Strats and Strat copies.

The trem does seem a bit stiff. I don't know if I have set it up brilliantly well, but then I never was a fan of Stratocaster style tremoloes, and never used the one I used to have on my paisley Fender Strat. I tried the trem with two, four and five springs, and finally settled on three because I decided there was too much tension on it. Also it was reducing the action too much thus creating lots of string buzz on the neck. (Yes, I know I could have re-set the height of the saddles on the bridge, but after doing this initially with the trem set up with only two springs, I very cleverly lost my allen key... I suspect it may have been vacuumed up!)

The real question is, How does it sound? Well, actually it sounds pretty damn hot, and - dare I say it - even better than the real Strat that I used to own (and that was a really nice quality guitar). Actually, I was quite surprised at the output from the pickups - just when I'd all but given up on single coil pickups in guitars. I don't know what brand they are; as I said, all the parts came from bits and pieces I've been collecting over the last year or so; the pickups came with the scratchplate and look like regular Strat pickups with the staggered pole pieces. Perhaps those help. Also, I noted that the pots for the volume and tone controls were all of the 500k variety. I've heard that it's common to use 500k pots for humbucking pickups and 250k pots for single coils. Could the pots used here have any bearing on the output, I wonder? (Sorry guys, but I don't know enough about electronics).

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