As I’ve gradually grown my collection of completed builds – I think this natural Ash Stratocaster is the one which has taught me the most. Consequently – just about every component has been swapped out, at least once, over the last couple of years. With the latest modifications however… I think it might finally be where I want it to be.
I try to make improvements to the playing “feel”, every time I set the guitar up. In fact – every time I change strings – there’s a chance to tweak things a little. I’ve already set the Ash Strat up a few times now. This time – the new body has meant there’s a better geometry at the neck pocket, and I can do away with the shim that was there previously. That provides an opportunity to really give things a good shake out.
Swapping out the body of my Ash Stratocaster seemed like one of those tasks which needn’t take too long. However – after a finishing process which took a couple of weeks from start to finish – I’m beginning to realise how much I missed it. And there’s still a way to go…
But it’s beginning to look like it might well be worth the wait…
The new body for my Ash Stratocaster is a lovely piece of timber. I’ve specially selected it from a choice of blanks, and it’s been supplied to me already well sanded to, what looks like, at least 400 grit. This is a quality body, and it deserves the best quality finish I can manage.
My Ash Strat is now a couple of years old. As I’ve built other projects, I’ve learned a lot – and I’m constantly looking for ways to refine and upgrade previous builds. This being my first real build – I’ve always been pretty happy with the way it evolved but, compared with some of the Fender bodies I’ve worked with, the two piece Ash body just feels wrong somehow, and I’m constantly reminded of the small compromises I had to make to bring the guitar together. Time for another upgrade.
The Ash Stratocaster I built last year has become one of my “go-to” guitars. As one of my first builds – I’m especially fond of it. However, with a few key components left over from other projects, I’ve had the chance to upgrade the guitar into something really special.
With all the modifications in place, I can now setup the guitar. The new setup is going to unstop the tremolo – but since that’s something I’ll also have to do for the Black Strat, I need to get acquainted with the theory and practice of properly floating a Stratocaster tremolo.
All the groundwork is now done and the guitar is ready for the new pickups and wiring. I just need to check on the scratchplate fit at the bridge first.
UPDATE: Idiot wiring mistakes identified and rectified.
It starts as a relatively simple list of things to do. Neck off – new neck on. Scratchplate out – new scratchplate fitted. Thing is – there are always a few extra little bits that need picking up along the way.
I’ve had the Ash Strat finished for a year now. Part of my approach to guitar building is to develop my own instruments, and to learn how to build and modify them as I go. There are a few bits I want to revisit. Time to upgrade.
I’ve had the Stratocaster finished and playable for about a month now. I did the project to build a new guitar, but also to learn a bit in the process. So what did I end up with? How well does it play? What do I want to change?
This is the real exciting bit. How is it going to play??
It’s almost an alchemical experience. Wood and wire finished and shaped, and all to accept a simple electric circuit. With it, a guitar becomes electric and, as Frank Zappa puts it, “the guitar can be the single most blasphemous device on the face of the earth” – “The disgusting stink of a too loud electric guitar; now that’s my idea of a good time”.
Tremolos. As a bass player I don’t actually know how to use them properly. I bend notes with my fingers. Do I really want one of them there whammy bar things?
Joining the neck and body. This feels like a momentous moment. Things need to go right.
Checking the neck for level, finishing the frets and getting ready to attach the neck to the body.
Polishing up the headstocks and fitting the tuners – ready for assembly.
As work on the Jaguar neck continues – it’s really convenient to carry out similar tasks on the Stratocaster neck at the same time.
Having worked on the finish, there’s a point when work begins to prepare to make this project into an electric guitar.
Time to catch up with the Ash Strat body, which has been curing nicely. Planning ahead. First look at fitting the body hardware.
Finishing the body with Crimson Guitars finishing oil. Keep rubbing the excess oil off, for the rest of the morning!
We all like a nice, new, shiny guitar. I just figure there’s a lot to be said in making one yourself.