Building another strat!

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Comments

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    Work on the nut, very time-consuming! Cut one of the bone blanks above in half, then sanded it to thickness using 250 grit taped to my fret-leveling beam (since this is a reliably flat surface), then sanded a 12" radius curve onto one edge by attaching 250 grit to the fingerboard to get the required shape to do this. Still have to finish the nut shaping and cut slots, but I think that's the tricky bit negotiated.

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  • LesterLester Posts: 1,581Member, Moderator
    edited June 27
    Ooh, what a lovely view of the gorgeous rosewood fretboard in the middle photo. Nice work, by the way!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    Thanks Lester! It is a nice bit of rosewood I agree - fairly dark but with some attractive variation in colour. One of the things I spotted in the ad that made me decide to buy it. There's some nice birdseye figuring in the maple too - probably not enough for it to be described a a birdseye maple neck, but I think these things still add character. :)
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 833Member
    edited June 29
    Nice nut!

    I don’t make many nuts, not enough to pay for nut files anyway, so I wrap wet and dry around feeler gauges and measure them with calipers. Works a treat! That’s the trickiest part for me. I do like sanding and final polishing tho!
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 833Member
    edited June 29
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member

    Nice nut!

    I don’t make many nuts, not enough to pay for nut files anyway, so I wrap wet and dry around feeler gauges and measure them with calipers. Works a treat! That’s the trickiest part for me. I do like sanding and final polishing tho!

    Cheers Nick, glad you approve. Your own approach sounds excellent to me - there is a lot to be said for figuring out things oneself I'd say.

    .

    Spot on! Could not agree more! :D

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    Some more work on the build, won't bore you with descriptions - first up was getting the 6 pivot screws for the trem fitted and in the right place - care and attention given to getting the positioning spot on, and also keeping the screws spot on vertical as they went it - if you get a hole threaded wrong to start with and the screw goes in wonky, it's a bugger to fix.

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  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    Swapping the cast zinc block on the Wilkinson trem unit for a nice chrome-plated rolled steel one I bought a while ago from Vanson Guitars. I've done an Eric Johnson, and used my leveling beam to sand the base of the bridge, and top of the block, perfectly flat. This means you get the best possible contact between the two - before I could see gaps and chinks of light against a window. After doing this, a super close fit - no gaps and you couldn't even get a fag paper in there. I know some of EJs ideas are out there, but this one makes sense to me, so it's something I do.

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  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    My rig for getting the neck alignment spot on, using a couple of plain strings fitted to act as guides, and marking through drilling positions on the neck heel:

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    More later, cheers! :)
  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 863Member
    I might be teaching mother to suck eggs etc. So appologies to Megi.
    But there are specialist drill bits used for locating hardware (like door hinges) which might help here. They are called self centering drill bits.
    (Just an example and no affiliation)
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gasea-Centering-Cabinet-Puncher-Woodworking/dp/B07DL6WSMD/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1531124292&sr=8-2-spons&keywords=self+centering+drill+bit&psc=1

    You use the appropriate size, clamp the hardware in position and press the bit against the hardware hole. The outer sleeve retracts but holds the bit in the centre of the hole so the drill can cut or at least mark the correct location.

    I discoverred these just a few years ago and they can be a real help.

    Carry on, as you were.

    Nice work by the way Graham.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    ESBlonde said:

    I might be teaching mother to suck eggs etc. So appologies to Megi.
    But there are specialist drill bits used for locating hardware (like door hinges) which might help here. They are called self centering drill bits.
    (Just an example and no affiliation)
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gasea-Centering-Cabinet-Puncher-Woodworking/dp/B07DL6WSMD/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1531124292&sr=8-2-spons&keywords=self+centering+drill+bit&psc=1

    You use the appropriate size, clamp the hardware in position and press the bit against the hardware hole. The outer sleeve retracts but holds the bit in the centre of the hole so the drill can cut or at least mark the correct location.

    I discoverred these just a few years ago and they can be a real help.

    Carry on, as you were.

    Nice work by the way Graham.

    Had no idea such things existed, and it's always good to be informed, so cheers ES. In this instance, I think I was fine doing things the way I did anyhow, and it would be a bit tricky to clamp the bridge unit in exactly the right spot also. But there may be other more appropriate jobs in the future, who knows.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    edited July 17
    Did not get much done yesterday, due to other demands on my time. But got the neck heel mounting holdes drilled, and was able to check the assembly fit of neck to body. Suddenly felt like I had an actual guitar, instead of a collection of parts and some wishful thinking!

    Next jobs in the pipeline are getting the spring claw for the trem bridge fitted, and then getting the scratchplate fitted - a job that requires a bit of work to ensure it sits in the optimum spot, both aesthetically, and to get the pickup alignment right. This generally needs some careful filing I've found - it will have to wait until I have a few hours clear and am feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed... :D

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  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 833Member
    £1495 for 10 days in the Alps isn't bad. Never been to Austria.

    Oh, nice work, Graham.
    Snap, those drill bits are cool! A tenner for a whole set? Cor. I'll have to keep those in mind for next time. Thanks ESB!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    edited July 17
    Thank you Nick! Just posting to say (confess actually) oops I just ordered a set of the E-dis vintage spec pickups from one of the chaps in Croatia. Mainly because there's some great-sounding demos and they really sound to be in the area of what I'd like, and have that lovely hollow woody quality you sometimes hear from strats.

    But also they have the flat pole height profile, and I have a hunch will work very well with the series options in the circuit I'm using, if I need any thicker kinds of tones. One thing I really am after is the full on vintage strat, Knopfler-esque quack tones with this build. Anyhow, I always seem to do this - have spent more than I needed to, should have gone for these pickups straight away really, knowing myself. Spare set of Vansons to sell on I guess, maybe I'll keep them for a bit, just as a safety net if the E-dis don't work out.




  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 833Member
    Those Croatians do lots of things well don’t they?!

    Lovely sounding demos. They really do have that strat sound, very snappy and Knopfler. I’ve never looked into flat or staggered profiles. Do they make much of a difference, or is it another 5% change that adds up? I have this funny idea (not sure where I got it from) that each change makes up 5% of the guitar sound, which might be pick, strings, nut material, etc.
    Come on, hurry up and finish, I’m dying to hear it!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member

    Those Croatians do lots of things well don’t they?!

    Lovely sounding demos. They really do have that strat sound, very snappy and Knopfler. I’ve never looked into flat or staggered profiles. Do they make much of a difference, or is it another 5% change that adds up? I have this funny idea (not sure where I got it from) that each change makes up 5% of the guitar sound, which might be pick, strings, nut material, etc.
    Come on, hurry up and finish, I’m dying to hear it!

    Glad you approve Nick - I have always felt that going by Youtube video demos is a bit of a dodgy game, but in this case, I do detect a certain underlying quality which I really hope has some truth to it.

    Flat poles - yes, I think there is some subtle difference as a result, perhaps less than 5% in fact, but there all the same. And especially with the 12" radius neck I'm using for this build, the flat poles do seem to make sense. It's also worth pointing out that the vintage stagger that is still used with pole heights, for authenticity - and I don't blame people at all for wanting things to look authentically like a vintage strat - was designed to balance the outputs for a vintage set of nickel wound strings, using a wound G, on the 7.25" radius vintage Fender necks. From a functional point of view, it doesn't make sense with a modern nickel-steel wound set, with a plain 3rd, on a flatter radius neck. But it is pretty subtle in terms of the difference, all the same, from what I understand - see Bare Knuckles video below:



    Re finishing - I'm hurrying, I'm hurrying! I really want to hear it too - I'm really going to have to record a demo with this one aren't I? :D Have been quite active in the last few days, and have a backlog of pics to post, see below. Edis tells me he is shipping the pickups today (Tuesday) and I really want to be at the point where I just need to get them soldered in when they arrive, in order to complete the build. I'm currently just getting the neck finishing done, using a very thin Tru Oil, taken back with 1200 grit and fine wire wool, for a natural, satin/natural wood feel - it seems to be working out well.

    :)


  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    OK, let's post some more pics...

    Fitting the trem claw and getting the trem unit properly installed. Holes then drilled, in all the right places, to fit pickguard, backplate, and jack socket plate. Getting the pickguard in the right spot, both aesthetically and functionally (fit around bridge & pickup alignment) is always a little tricky - some filing of the plate where it fits around the end of the neck was required.
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    Pickguard, backplate and jack plate fitted:
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    Forgot to take a "before" pic for this, but had to remove about a mil and a half of maple from under the 22nd fret extension, to allow the neck to fit without touching the pickguard. You can see the rosewood now, you couldn't before. Bit of a tricky job, and in truth I bodged it somewhat, using a coarse rasp type file ( :open_mouth: ) and then a sharp craft knife, and tidying up with a bit of sand paper. Not really a proper approach at all, but I got it done OK:
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  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    edited July 17
    Fitting the machine heads - more careful drilling of holes of the right size, in the right places:

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    A fret job (level, re-crown & polish, including some careful smoothing of the fret ends with a file) has been done - frets now lovely and shiny, and not catching under the fingers. Very little leveling was needed - the Allparts neck has the most consistently installed frets that I've ever come across, maybe they use some sort of all done at once, automated fret press. Very good indeed anyhow, but on the other hand, the fret ends were left very rough, with a blunt 45 degree cut, and really needed work with a file to remove the sharp edges and burrs. Needed a bit of careful work and time anyhow - I have a small file that seems to work, although not designed for the job. But as I say, care, time, and attention, and a cautious approach, and we got there.

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    Also, in the interests of honesty, I nearly made a major boob by trying Colron Danish Oil on the neck. Trouble was it gave a peachy red tint to the wood, which the next day, I realised looked horrible against the yellowy gold of the body. I was lucky in that I was able to sand the finish back to remove the colouring effect, and that it was still possible to then apply Tru Oil, which does have a more yellow/amber tint itself. Trust me, the issue is now sorted out and things look great, but below is a pic showing the near disaster that was Colron danish oil (would be fine on mahogany or another dark wood - on maple, my advice is don't do it!).

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  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    edited July 17
    So to do today (after I've gone back to bed - insomnia is a terrible thing) is shielding the body cavity and back of scratchplate, and possibly some of the wiring, so I'm ready for the pickups when they get to me. Oh yes, and I still have the strap buttons to install - a super easy one, since the body came ready drilled for these. And of course that bone nut I started some posts back needs finishing off. And there will be the string tree to fit, but I always leave that until the guitar is assembled and strings fitted, so I can get it positioned just right. And the neck finishing of course - I'll have to post a pic or two to show that, but it's nearly done now. :)
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    The neck finishing is already done! - this morning, after a second, very thin coat of Tru Oil had cured for 36 hours, I just took the shine back to more of a satin, using 0000 wire wool. It's very slick feeling, with a bit of the old enhanced natural wood vibe about it. Anyhow, this is good for me, so job complete. :)

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    Copper foil shielding underway at the mo... :)
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 833Member
    So so exciting! A satin feeling neck is a beautiful thing. I bet that tru oil feels amazing! I love the sporadic birds eyes on the headstock too.
    Hope you sleep as much as you need, but selfishly hope you get this done too!

    No...sleep first ....!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    edited July 18
    Tru Oil is brilliant stuff - especially for a hobby builder like me, with limited skills. You can build up with lots of thin coats to get a nice glossy finish, or use it to get the natural, open-pore kind of finish, and it works great as a neck finish too. Can easily be taken back to a satin finish with wire wool or similar. Mistakes are easily rectified - just sand back a bit and try again. And it's really easy to apply just using paper kitchen towels.

    I like the areas of birds eye too, and there's some subtle quilt figuring in places also. Probably not enough of either for the neck to have been sold at a premium, but it does add character.

    Sold the Vanson pickup set yesterday and have just posted them off - so burnt my bridges there, and can only wait for the E-dis set to make their way from Croatia. A tracking number was supplied, so kind of fun in a way. Sent Edis a pic of the unfinished guitar, and he replied to say it looks good, and also that he's made partscasters of his own, and knows the various trials and tribulations involved. Nice chap definitely.

    Am going to have a look at finishing that bone nut off today - I'm doing me nut!. :)
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 833Member
    Guess I’ll have to buy some Vansons of my own to find out how they sound!!

    I’ve never tried tru oil, just tung and danish. Both seemed easy enough. Ok, dead easy.

    Have fun with the nut!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    Cheers Nick. Still doing me nut today, didn't have much time yesterday as it turned out...
  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,874Member, Moderator
    Love the look of that guitar. I like the "cool" gold as against the usual "warm" colour. Really goes well with the Ivory scratch plate and black accents. How many builds have I missed?
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    Jocko said:

    Love the look of that guitar. I like the "cool" gold as against the usual "warm" colour. Really goes well with the Ivory scratch plate and black accents. How many builds have I missed?

    Thank you Jocko! - nice to have my old guitar build sparring partner back on the forum. I think this is the only build I've taken on since you were last around, the one before this being a walnut body strat. So this is my 3rd strat build - obviously a design I'm partial to. And glad you approve of the colour scheme - I always wanted to do something with a pearloid pickguard, so this one scratches that itch. Re the gold, I do agree, although it's a happy accident - I think I was originally hoping for something more of a "champagne" kind of gold, but this is very good, and as you say, a bit different from the usual. :)
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