My version of David Gilmour’s famous “Black Strat” has taken a long time to put together – but I’ve relished every minute of this project. Essentialy – it’s a kit job, but many of the parts have taken a fair bit of investigation and sourcing. The build is a sort of, “New, Old Stock” approach – rather than a faithful, cosmetic replica. The guitar certainly has the look, but it’s a bit of a player too!
I’ve been side-tracked with the bass cabinet project recently. And all the time – the Black Strat project has been sitting there, waiting for strings and a setup. I’ve been itching to get round to it – but I wanted to make sure I had enough spare time to do a proper job. Finally – today’s the day.
The last stage of the Black Strat wiring process, and the last bits of hardware to assemble. From here on in – it should be all about the setup. All I need to do, is hook up the pickups, lay the Gilmour modification wiring, and do some initial tests, to make sure everything is wired up correctly.
Stage two of the Black Strat wiring process. Breaking it down into stages like this makes it more logical. It’s easier to understand what I’m actually doing, and also lets me focus on doing a proper job. With the pots and switches now in place, and wired together, I can now fit the pickups. But first – there’s a bit of prep.
It’s easy to get intimdated by electrical wiring diagrams. I know. For years, I always left the maintenance and wiring of my guitars to others. When I began to put my first guitars together, I still sought pre-wired scratchplates – but the more I’ve got involved with planning my own, and building my own projects, the crazier the decision to leave the wiring to someone else became. This wiring job will be a modified Stratocaster circuit – but it’s built upon a classic, basic schematic. I need to break the tasks down into easily managed chunks – because of time pressure on other things – so it’s a good opportunity to break the wiring process down into logical tasks, and to appreciate how simple it all really is.
I’ve now got all the remaining bits of hardware to finally complete my version of Dave Gilmour’s iconic Black Strat. The specification draws heavily on a suggested parts list put together by Craig Wells at Overdrive Custom Guitar Works, in Stockton California. For my project, Craig has supplied one of his custom built acrylic scratchplates, which are faithful reproductions of Gilmour’s original. I need to drill the holes in the body, so that I can install the plate – and that also means fitting the pots and switches in place. It’ll then be ready for the pickups, and the wiring circuit.
I’ve got a growing number of boxes, from all over the world, arriving at Garageland. I’ve waited until I have a few, key components before I start the build. Neck, tuners, body and tremolo bridge will be the first to be assembled together. Then I can check the scratchplate sits properly, before I drill the screwholes and fit the plate. All the components on this build are genuine Fender, or specifically custom built for the job. So I’d hope that all the factory pre-drilled screwholes are accurately placed and dimensioned. Let’s see how easy it is.
The trouble with building a “parts” guitar – is that you have to base a lot of your plans on the specification and performance of various components. Until the guitar is assembled – you can’t actually hear what it’s going to sound like. Like all kit-build projects, all you can really do is assemble the components and trust they live up to their branded promise. That’s definitely the case when it comes down to a guitar’s pickups.
The first parts for the Black Strat. project are starting to arrive. This is going to be a long project, since many of the parts are pricey, and some have to come from abroad. But it’s possible to push things along and do a little ground work to save time later on. This time – it’s with the body. I can do the copper shielding and get the grounding side started early.
Research, research, research. And a shopping list comes together. It’s ambitious, and will almost certainly take a while to fill – but it’s the recipe for, what may well turn out to be, my ultimate Stratocaster. For this year anyway…
I started out on last year’s Ash Stratocaster project, with David Gilmour’s iconic Black Strat as a major inspiration. With this year’s Christies pre-Auction exhibit, I had a chance to look at the real thing for reference, and build my own replica. The only question is – do I try to model an exact aged replica of the real thing, or do I concentrate on the specification?