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#2460005 - 01/03/13 07:59 AM Yet another project guitar . . .
Winston Psmith Offline
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Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 1943
Loc: Inside the Beltway
Just for fun, I'm asking my Forum buddies for advice & input on my latest project guitar. I can't resist a piece of stupid, cheap gear, and I recently found a Squier SE Strat at my local pawn shop - got it for $65, tax and all. It's one of the Chinese models that comes in a big box, with the cheap amp, strap, and all. Looks just like this -
They just had the used guitar, not the whole package deal.

Everything worked, and whoever had it first never took the protective plastic sheets off of the pickguard, back plate, or even the backs of the tuners!?! After some cleaning, and polishing, it looked all but new - I've seen new, expensive guitars hanging up in GC that had already taken more of a beating. The neck is nice and straight, the pickups sound better than I expected, given its price point, and it holds a tune, so I figure that gives me a good starting point. My only real complaint is the fret ends. They're a little rough, though not any worse than some of the Gibson Faded guitars I've tried. I'm thinking of doing one light pass with a file on those.

I have no illusion that adding any number of parts will make this into a 'real' Strat, but I'm certain that I can make it into a better beater guitar. I'm looking to swap out the pickups & pots, to start with, and I need to go CHEAP, like Guitar Fetish cheap. If I had $300 on hand to spend, I'd have just gotten a nice, used MIM Strat.

I know Jimi's going to have some ideas & inspiration, so what about the rest of the Strat cats? Oh, and FWIW, I've named it "The Strat-O-Bastard" - I'm even looking to have a decal made for the headstock. There are just too many "Frankenstrats" out there . . .
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#2460013 - 01/03/13 08:51 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Winston Psmith]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 3176
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
I was thinking it would have been cool to make it into a HSS or HSH guitar using those singlecoil-sized humbuckers, but I didn't see any of those in GF's product line.
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#2460025 - 01/03/13 09:26 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
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Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
I don't know what your actual budget is, but there is this option:
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Lace-Alumito...amp;cagpspn=pla
_________________________
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap”.

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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#2460036 - 01/03/13 09:59 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Winston Psmith Offline
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Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 1943
Loc: Inside the Beltway
Originally Posted By: Dannyalcatraz
I was thinking it would have been cool to make it into a HSS or HSH guitar using those singlecoil-sized humbuckers, but I didn't see any of those in GF's product line.


Funny, I had the same thought, and found these after a bit of digging. Not sure how much I'd need to rout out the pickguard, though.


Edited by Winston Psmith (01/03/13 10:19 AM)
Edit Reason: further research
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"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

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#2460044 - 01/03/13 10:15 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Winston Psmith]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 3176
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
One thing GF DOES have is lipstick pickups- go for the jangle!

...or is it...Djangle? Djangle Unchained?


Edited by Dannyalcatraz (01/03/13 10:16 AM)
_________________________
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#2460068 - 01/03/13 11:46 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
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Loc: Hwy 49, California
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/emg-emg-dg20-david-gilmour-pre-wired-pickguard-pickup-set <----$299 and you'll have the best you can ask for and it will keep up with any Srat out there IMHO.

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#2460075 - 01/03/13 12:02 PM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Winston Psmith]
LeftyBlues Offline
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Registered: 05/22/03
Posts: 1541
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio
$65! Good call Winston, I'll bet e-bay or Craigslist could yield some decent yet cheat pups, maybe check your local guitar shops / luthiers to see what goodies might be lying about.
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#2460142 - 01/03/13 05:08 PM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: LeftyBlues]
Guitarzan Offline
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Posts: 14788
nice score on the squier strat. great thing about Strats is the ease of modding. i may try to snag a cheap asian strat sometime to play around with.
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#2460198 - 01/04/13 12:11 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Guitarzan]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 3176
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
You could put a tiny speaker in it in place of 2 of the pickups, like a Fernandes Nomad, and put in a single Seymour Duncan PRail. Presto-changeo, a very portable and versatile travel guitar.

And/or get fancy and install some digital modeling circuitry from a dismantled Korg Px4 (or similar device), and you have a home-made Variax.



Edited by Dannyalcatraz (01/04/13 12:13 AM)
_________________________
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap”.

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#2460239 - 01/04/13 06:24 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Winston Psmith Offline
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Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 1943
Loc: Inside the Beltway
Thanks, everyone. I've looked into a few options already, but GFS is still the cheapest.

I used to sell the Nomads - they weren't bad, just funny-looking - and someone had given me one of those Mattel/Synsonics guitars with a built-in speaker, which I passed down to one of my nephews. Not quite what I'm looking for, although I have thought of using Velcro to attach a mini-amp to the Squier Mini, and having that as a porta-guitar.

The Gilmour EMG harness is a thing of beauty! The store I worked in sold EMG's, and if I had a much better Strat, I'd consider that option. On a guitar of this (low) quality, though, I can't see adding a $300 pup rig.

I've also considered gutting a cheap guitar, and dropping in some electronics, like a Kaoss Pad, but I really do want a working Strat, even if it is some bastardized assemblage of random, cheap parts. Maybe the next project . . .
_________________________
"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

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#2460253 - 01/04/13 07:43 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Winston Psmith]
pinkjimiphoton Offline
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Registered: 06/28/10
Posts: 2417
Loc: new england, usa
spend some time on them fret ends. or they will shred your hands. also, invest in some decent pickups, and you should be good to go.
the real budget squire pups are worse than chinese crap ya get on ebay for 10bux a set.

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#2460297 - 01/04/13 10:30 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Winston Psmith]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 5507
Loc: Hwy 49, California
Originally Posted By: Winston Psmith
Thanks, everyone. I've looked into a few options already, but GFS is still the cheapest.


The Gilmour EMG harness is a thing of beauty! The store I worked in sold EMG's, and if I had a much better Strat, I'd consider that option. On a guitar of this (low) quality, though, I can't see adding a $300 pup rig.



I like this option the best regardless of the cheap-0 you start with. You can save the old pickguard and when you upgrade to an MIM, American or maple fretboard, etc., you take the Gilmour with you each time you progress as it won't take 20 minutes to switch it back before selling the old chinese one. This is considering you are actually going to play this guitar till you get another great deal on an upgrade...by the time you buy 3 decent pups and EXG & SPC you'll spend the same amount and won't have to know how to wire anything but the plug-in. Don't mount the battery under the pickguard...I routed out the wood under the spring plate and used just 2 springs...makes it much easier to change the batteries once a year (if needed)...it's a lifetime investment as you can take it with you!

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#2460391 - 01/04/13 04:44 PM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Larryz]
Terrell Offline
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Registered: 07/28/08
Posts: 1722
Loc: Austin, TX
What music are you going to play on this Bastard?

Depending on your answer:
Scalopes might be in order with Marzi Srcreamers
Fat Pole Texas honkers with a nut change
LOL!

If it were mine, I would upgrade the P/Us and Bridge, push/pull pots, Super Switch, bridge and locking tuners.

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#2460425 - 01/04/13 08:35 PM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Terrell]
harvey Offline
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Registered: 04/05/09
Posts: 968
Loc: Sydney, Australia
$65...bargain! Those Burns/Brian May style GFS pups look interesting.
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#2460435 - 01/04/13 10:49 PM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: harvey]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 3176
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
Here's another expensive suggestion for your cheap guitar ( grin ): install a Sustainer! I would be like having a Secret Santana when you hold a note forever, playing with harmonics & overtones...

Most are HB sized, yes, but Fernandes also makes a single-coil sized one as well.


Edited by Dannyalcatraz (01/04/13 10:51 PM)
_________________________
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap”.

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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#2460453 - 01/05/13 04:11 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
harvey Offline
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Registered: 04/05/09
Posts: 968
Loc: Sydney, Australia
I wonder what the routing is like under the guard. My school's squire had a HSS route under a SSS plate...might open up the options a bit.
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#2460458 - 01/05/13 06:04 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: harvey]
Caevan O'Shite Offline
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Registered: 04/05/02
Posts: 22339
Loc: The Great Spirit's Handprint o...
Before you start buying parts and putting money into the guitar, spend a lot of quality-time listening to and adjusting the pickups; it's amazing how much improvement can be realized by simply optimizing the height of the treble and bass sides and balancing the perceived output of the three pickups relative to one another.

Straighten the neck via the truss-rod to be as straight and flat with as little relief as you can get away with. Strats in particular seem to benefit greatly from this; too much relief and the neck begins to act like a sort of 'acoustic bow', soaking up and sucking away sustain, attack, and TONE.

Put some D R Pure Blues 11's or 10's onnitt; they'll warm it up and make it sound like you put vintage-y boutique or custom pickups in it. Re-adjust the heights of the pickups again if you'd already done that with your previous strings.

Get some Archer Brand clear Teflon gel lube from Radio Shack; if you need, I can get you the part number. Apply a tiny droplette dab to the bridge-saddles, fulcrum-points, springs, claw, inertia-block,and nut-slots (very little in the back of the nut-slots, just enough, towards the tuners-side, so that excess lube doesn't wick into the winding of the bass-strings and dull their sound when played open).

Install an EMG SPC "Strat Presence Control" EQ/Mid-Boost module in place of one of the Tone pots, and make the other a Master Tone control for all three pickups. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. Check this out.

If you must replace the pickups, consider the Golden Age line from Stewart-MacDonald; Very nice pickups! Nice price!
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#2460486 - 01/05/13 08:58 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Caevan O'Shite]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 3176
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
FWIW, I have Golden Age pickups in one of my favorite guitars. They are kind of Goldilox-esque: not too hot, not too bland, but just right.


Edited by Dannyalcatraz (01/05/13 11:04 AM)
_________________________
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap”.

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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#2460523 - 01/05/13 12:42 PM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Winston Psmith Offline
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Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 1943
Loc: Inside the Beltway
Sorry I haven't checked back in until now. Man, so many good ideas, and good questions. Let me see . . .

@ Jimi - The pups aren't the worst I've ever heard, but almost anything will be an improvement. The pups on the Squier Mini are better.

@Larryz - If I thought there was a real Strat in my future, I realize that any upgrade parts could move on, but the Strat-O-Bastard is probably it, for now. Any serious guitar money from here out is going towards a double-neck.

@Terrell - I figure a pawn shop Strat was made to play the Blues, don't you? I expect to change the pots, along with the pups, and add a couple of springs. If I were going to go for a major upgrade, after that, I'd probably buy a slightly better trem, which is still less than $40 from GFS.

@Harvey - It was marked at $100, but this place will always bargain down for cash. I haven't looked under the pickguard yet, but some cheap Strat bodies have the "swimming pool" routing, which will let you drop anything in there. Which leads me to . .

@Dannyalcatraz - I'd love to outfit one of my guitars with a Sustainer, but probably not this guitar. I really am looking to make this into a better beater, and that's about all. There's no way it's ever going to be a tone machine, given the basic components. I also have a handful of Sustain/Feedbacker/Freeze effects available at any given moment.

@Caevan - Already gave it a quick check-up, Caevan, including a set of DR Pure Blues .010's, of course. Usually, if it comes from a music store, there's at least half a chance they did something to make it playable, so it would sell. With pawnshop guitars, who knows? The neck is nice and straight, with very little relief, the electronics all work with no problems or mystery noises, and it stays in tune. In the meantime, no amount of balancing nor adjustment is going to give these sad pups cojones - that's Spanish for 'tone', in case anyone was wondering, yeah, that's what I meant. I'll look into the Golden Age pups, too - weren't those installed on some of the Heritage guitars?

Thanks, everyone! I'll let you know what I wind up with.
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"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

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#2460528 - 01/05/13 12:59 PM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Winston Psmith]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 5507
Loc: Hwy 49, California
Good luck with the Strat-O-Bastard WP, it will be better than what you started with, I'm sure... wink

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#2460533 - 01/05/13 01:09 PM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Winston Psmith]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 3176
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
Originally Posted By: Winston Psmith
@Dannyalcatraz - I'd love to outfit one of my guitars with a Sustainer, but probably not this guitar. I really am looking to make this into a better beater, and that's about all. There's no way it's ever going to be a tone machine, given the basic components. I also have a handful of Sustain/Feedbacker/Freeze effects available at any given moment.


Honestly, I DO understand what you're trying to do. I'm actually trying to help...but my halo is tangled with my horns! wink

You could do a multiple guitar swap-out. If you have another guitar with a singlecoil, give IT the singlecoil sustainer, and use that replaced pickup in your beater...

That way, you can justify the cost as upgrading 2 guitars!


Edited by Dannyalcatraz (01/05/13 01:11 PM)
_________________________
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap”.

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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#2460536 - 01/05/13 01:16 PM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 3176
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
On a slightly more serious note, these lipstick pickups run in the $65 or less range- might be kinda fun...

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Seymour-Dunc...amp;cagpspn=pla

http://www.teslapickups.com/?products=vr-lt
_________________________
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap”.

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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#2460560 - 01/05/13 04:04 PM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
picker Offline
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Registered: 06/13/04
Posts: 13136
Loc: Near 12th Street and Vine...
What do the sustainers cost?
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#2460569 - 01/05/13 05:44 PM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: picker]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 3176
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
Originally Posted By: picker
What do the sustainers cost?


@$250. They come in singlecoil and humbucker styles.
_________________________
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap”.

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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#2461536 - 01/09/13 09:56 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Winston Psmith Offline
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Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 1943
Loc: Inside the Beltway
After looking at too many websites, and far too many cool & expensive options, I finally settled on this from GFS. It's cheap and easy (make your own joke), and it's a quick drop-in, with almost no soldering involved. I would have liked black knobs & pup covers on the tortoiseshell, but I can always spring for those, later. The black 3-ply pickguard, with black knobs & covers, didn't grab me, somehow. Maybe on a nicer guitar, w/gold hardware.

Instead of a decal, I've thought about going to a place that makes trophies, name plates and such, and having a little Strat-O-Bastard plate made up for the headstock. The "SQUIER Strat, by Fender" logo came off with some gentle effort, and a little help from a plain pencil eraser, although you can still see a very faint imprint. The Crafted in China decal on the back of the headstock seems like it will last a while.

OTOH, if I ever do get a Strat worthy of some serious (read;$$$) upgrades, I know where to look now.

I'll have photos as soon as there's anything to see.

BTW - the Fernandes sustainer kit costs around $250, on its own, installation is another $100+, depending. I'd gotten quotes of around $200, to install it in an SG-style body, and that was some time back.
_________________________
"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

http://4-4-2music.bandcamp.com/album/figures-of-speech

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#2461568 - 01/09/13 10:53 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Winston Psmith]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 3176
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
Good idea about the trophy shop! They should be able to do that with a nice cursive flair and some black enamel to make it show.

If they won't do it, or not for the price you want, go to a sign shop. They make little plaques all the time.

If that's still too pricey, go to you hardware store- they'll have something about the right size & shape. Perhaps a sample of some kind of laminate material. They may even be willing to trim if for you. Then get out ye olde engraving tool and inscribe it yourself. Maybe just some caveman-esque "S-O-B".


Edited by Dannyalcatraz (01/09/13 10:56 AM)
_________________________
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap”.

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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#2461700 - 01/09/13 02:10 PM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Winston Psmith Offline
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Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 1943
Loc: Inside the Beltway
Here's a more obvious link - GFS Pre-wired Tortoiseshell pickguard w/Alnicos.

Dannyalcatrazz, thanks for the idea about a regular hardware store, that's my closest stop, I'll check that out. Not so sure about my own woodcarving skills - primitive at best.


Edited by Winston Psmith (01/09/13 02:11 PM)
Edit Reason: photo failed
_________________________
"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

http://4-4-2music.bandcamp.com/album/figures-of-speech

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#2461721 - 01/09/13 03:33 PM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Winston Psmith]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 3176
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
Primitive might be just what the SOB ordered, though!


Edited by Dannyalcatraz (01/09/13 03:33 PM)
_________________________
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap”.

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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#2463321 - 01/17/13 08:49 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Winston Psmith Offline
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Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 1943
Loc: Inside the Beltway
Quick update on the Strat-O-Bastard. It turns out, the SE model Strat has the same body depth as most of the MIM Strats, and among folks modding Squiers, it's a very popular model to start with. Almost any after-market parts that fit a MIM Strat, will drop right in to the SE Strats.

From what I've been reading online, I may have to give those pickups another chance, too. The general consensus is that these are sleeper instruments, with better parts and specs than the Affinity Strats & Bullets that we see everywhere. Some folks have gone totally nuts, and spent more money modding these guitars than they would have spent to buy a decent MIM Strat - not sure I want to go that far, but I feel a lot better about my find, now. Parts are on order, so I'll start posting photos this coming weekend.

One thing I'm still debating. The neck looks like a decent piece of wood, but the stain!?! Barn-door brown, at best. It might have looked nicer dipped in shoe polish, or left unfinished. Any quick and easy fixes? I'm not about to strip and re-finish the neck, but I though a light sanding, followed up with some heavy polishing might improve the look a little. Otherwise, a decade of heavy playing should wear down some of that stain, and I figure I've still got ten or twenty good years in me.
_________________________
"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

http://4-4-2music.bandcamp.com/album/figures-of-speech

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#2463345 - 01/17/13 10:14 AM Re: Yet another project guitar . . . [Re: Winston Psmith]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 3176
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
Cover it with duct tape?

Probably nothing quick & dirty will really be effective.
_________________________
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap”.

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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