Here’s a quick tour of the features of the guitar I just built.
One piece swamp ash body
It would be more common to use a alder or several pieces of swamp ash joined together. Because I wanted the body to be completely natural, I used a single piece of swamp ash.
Custom asymmetrical body shape
With a standard Strat template as a starting point, I kept modifying it – making templates for each design – until I liked what I saw. I was drawn to a bit of asymmetry, and also to less pronounced “horns” than would be found on a typical Strat.
Compound Radius Maple Neck
I bought a replacement Strat neck from Stew Mac (it’s actually made by Mighty Mite). The model I have has a compound radius and a maple fingerboard. I started out thinking I’d make the neck, but using a pre-built one saved me a ton of time. I was kind of in a rush to use this guitar for my lessons.
Customized headstock with mother-of-peal inlay
I couldn’t use a neck without doing something to it. So I modified the shape, created some contrast with a layer of rosewood, and installed an inlay of my logo at the top using mother-of-pearl.
I originally wanted to do a string-through-the-body type bridge, and I had visions of adding piezo ghost saddles to it. But that idea was derailed when I discovered that my drill press is not large enough to reach where the holes needed to go. I went with a great backup choice – the Schaller Non-Tremolo Roller Bridge. This bridge has excellent adjustments, you can move the string positions up and down, and also side to side. It looks cool too.
I looked at several tuner choices before settling on the Gotoh Mini-510 Locking Tuners. These are similar to the tuners I put in the acoustic, but smaller. They also have a cool locking feature – you do not wind the strings around the posts, instead you just put the string through the hole and turn the knob. The strings are then automatically clamped into place. The color is “cosmo” which is a black finish over chrome – a look that has some interesting depth to it.
Nothing too exciting here – it’s just a nice way of managing the longer string runs on the headstock. Most electrics have these.
Offset Strap Button design
This one is a result of the asymmetric body design. As soon as I cut out the body, I realized it would fall over easily when leaning against a wall. Then it hit me – simply position the bottom strap button in a spot that would cause the bottom to be level. It works great and I like it a lot! In keeping with the whole asymmetry thing, I put the top strap button off to the side too.
Dimarzio Area Pickups
After much research, I went with a set of Area pickups by Dimarzio. They are a very low noise design – sort of a humbucker disguised as a single coil – but a much better design than most other attempts at low noise singles. I’m actually using three different model pickups – an Area 58 in the neck, an Area 67 in the middle, and a Area 61 in the bridge. After playing around with them, I can say they are more than low noise, they are completely noiseless.
Copper lined control cavities
I wanted this guitar to be quiet – no buzzing or hums whatsoever. So I grounded and shielded this sucker to death. I used copper tape from Stew Mac – which has conductive adhesive to eliminate soldering each of the pieces to each other,.
You can read all about my electronics saga in this post.
Wooden control knobs
I found these cool knobs on Amazon after seeing similar ones for more money elsewhere. The maple ones are for volume (in this rev I had two volume controls, now I’m back to one), and the cocobolo ones are for tone.