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1000th Post. New Build Thread - A (not so super) Strat

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Macrogats, May 14, 2018.

  1. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Wow! 1000 posts already! And just two days short of being on board this fine establishment for one whole year! Not exactly a posting record, but I've chipped away with my opinions here and there, mostly praising some of the fantastic work I see in this fine thread.

    So as a minor celebration I thought I'd start up a thread on something I've been working on over the last couple of months. I'm hoping beyond hope that this will turn out to be one of my better builds to date, but won't count my chickens just yet. ;)

    Sometime last year while visiting a local timber mill nearby on an un-guitar related matter, I was shuffling through some of their finely cut pieces, and came across a nice couple of looking boards.

    The wood is Macrocarpa, a local tree, part of the Cypress family. The mill in question specialises in this wood - and are aptly named Cypress Timber Mill. :D

    The pieces in question were only 10mm in thickness and about 180 wide, so I knew whatever I decided to build would be a bit of a "sandwich". I also had an 18mm piece of Pine haying around, so thought I could use that in between said sandwich.

    Here's a few pics checking out potential grain matches, a Walnut stain test and the piece of Pine plank in question.

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    You can see that I was experimenting with Strat type designs at the time, although I did look at the idea of Telecaster as well.
     
    2blue2, Zepfan and Crafty Fox like this.

  2. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    These pieces sat around for quite a few months while I worked on other projects, and waited for the right inspiration of what to exactly do with them.

    I will now jump slightly ahead of the process to show you what that inspiration was.

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    This rather nice looking "hockey stick" headstock style neck showed up on our local Trade site one day, and I knew I just had to have it. I'm a big EVH fan and used to own a very nice single pup Kramer back in the day, so this bought back a few memories. And without further adieu I hit the "buy now" button and it was to be mine! Cost $109 local - about 70-80 bucks US at the time.

    When it arrived it appeared to be a pretty nice neck (I will include close up pics later). Totally unfinished and in dire need of a fret dress and most likely levelling. Frets are a little sharpish on the edges.

    My first thoughts were multi pup, whammy bar "Super" Strat style configurations. But I don't play that sort of music anymore, so things were to change over the course of events.

    This was back in about the middle of March this year, so I promptly started working on a design for this build. Previously I had used a copy of my old Ibanez Blazer as a Strat design for a previous build I had done, but I wanted this one to be a little sleeker.

    After a little bit of playing around with the design on pieces of cardboard I drew up a semi grid pattern to place my concept upon.

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    Reasonably happy with all that I proceeded to cut her out. In the second pic next up you can see the slight differences I made to what I call my regular Strat design.

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    Next step was to determine which pieces of wood to use for front, back and centre of the body. By this stage I had determined that it was going to be a lot thinner than normal - 38mm to be exact. That consisted of the 18mm Pinr in the middle. With 10mm each of Macrocarpa top and back. So all dead of using a whammy bar on this build flew out the window!

    Front (see the Tele shape dabbling I had)

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    Back...

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    Pine sandwich.....

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    New template had been sanded to the edge, traced around each piece and then they were hit with the jigsaw.

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    Looking kinda chunky, but early days yet. More progress tomorrow.
     
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  3. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I obviously didn't record the glue up, but nothing no one hasn't seen before. I don't have a ton of clamps, so I use a combination of what I do have on the outer edges and some weights in the middle.

    I also forgot to record the trim routing of the body and initial round over process. This was because the lady who lives in one of the cottages on my property is getting into a bit of wood working projects, and wanted to see how I could do certain things with my hand held router.

    So after that stage I started to hit the body with the rasp and sandpaper. I wanted to shape it to a sort of carved top and contoured back appearance, as well as shaping in a bit of a belly curve and forearm rest. I didn't want to get too extreme with these, so just chipped away at it (so to speak) until it started to look and feel right. The initial rounding over I had done was just to get things started. I think the bit I used was a 9mm or 3/8ths.

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  4. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Next step after a bit of sanding all those rough edges down to a 180 grit was to finalise the depth of the neck pocket.

    This was another process I forgot to record. Before the glue up, I measured and cut out the neck pocket shape on the top piece so that this would be easier to finish routing to depth. As with other things along the way (which we'll get to later), I quickly learned that I should do ALL routing processes while the body is totally FLAT AND SQUARE...!!!

    Carving out nice shapes and making things look cool and smooth is not a good idea before it comes to laying up templates to engage the dreaded router! *doh*

    Here's a (pretty rough) template I rigged up to try to achieve this. It didn't sit too badly while clamped to the body, but I did have to shift it a couple of millimetres to do the other side as it was cut slightly smaller.

    This is after the first couple of minor passes. Remember - the top piece was 10mm, so I was looking to trim down about another 6.

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    (Sorry for the foot shot above there.) :p

    A couple more nervous passes and I was done. In my total relief I forgot to take a quick pic cos I wanted to fit the neck and see how she looked. :rolleyes:

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    It fit nice and snug. I could easily hold it aloft by the neck, so was more than happy with that. A little light sanding in there will give me a little "wiggle" room.

    Next couple of pics show a smoothed down body. Second one is with a hit of mineral spirits to accent the grain.

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    Then a bit of playing around with potential electronic ideas, and a little look at the projected finish colour.

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    2blue2 likes this.

  5. 2blue2

    2blue2 Friend of Leo's

    Jul 20, 2013
    Island of Oahu
    I think the 1000th post build should become a tradition around here at TDPRI.


    that headstock begs for a single hum bucker but no Eddie stripes on the cypress please.
     
    Crafty Fox and Macrogats like this.

  6. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Haha. Yeah, that's a good idea. Sort of a compulsory thing to egg more people on to build things! :p

    I did dabble with the single humbucker idea a la EVH, but I would want to do it with a trem set up, and unfortunately the body is just slightly too thin for it.

    Next progress shots about to show what I decided. ;)
     

  7. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Ok, just a couple of quick updates.

    Moving back to the 29th of April, I set up for getting the neck installed. Simply used the neck plate to line up for drilling holes from the back into the pocket. I used a pilot bit first, then enlarged to the correct size to push the screws through to make an initial impression on the neck.

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    You can see here that I need to trim the edge of the body where the pocket is just to square things up.

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  8. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Incidentally, I still haven't finished the neck pocket. I'm down to 15mm - one more slight trim to 16 should do it, but some of the guitars I've done have been down to 17 - so I'll leave it until I'm ready to do an initial set up.

    Before fully drilling the neck holes and setting it into position, the next step was to align the bridge.

    Here's my high tech system. I use a piece of fishing line attached to a screw which I insert gently into the truss rod adjustment. Then line it up along the neck and check along the fret dots for the centre line.

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    It appears to be slightly off the centre line join of the top. A slight shift of the neck position puts that within a whisker.

    Next I measure from the end of the nut to the end of the fretboard. Thankfully this one is square, which makes it easier to get an accurate measurement.

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  9. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Damn internet fritzed on me when I was trying to continue with this the other day.

    Needless to say, I straightened up my measurements from the above picture, then calculated the 477mm to the edge of the fb, added 171 to give me the required 648 or 25 1/2 inch scale.

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    Next up I put some protective tape on the hs, then fit a couple of tuners for alignment. I only tighten these by hand (or fingers), cos I won't set them correctly until I'm ready to install them all.

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    Then a couple of strings through the bridge to line up along the neck so that I can mark some initial points for screw holes. Sorry no pictures of the entire process - I've only got two hands! :rolleyes:

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    Sorry - the pic two above was wrong. I had the low E string saddle in the wrong spot! Lucky I noticed that! :D Trust me, the holes were positioned correctly. ;)

    Here's a couple of initial alignment shots.

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    The saddles are slightly askew cos I hadn't screwed them in at this stage, but rest assured I did so before I set the neck in position. Happy with that, I then proceeded to try my first attempt at drilling out a string thru set up!
     
    2blue2 likes this.

  10. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Not having a drill Press, this was a very daunting task, and one which I'm sure I would screw up. But I was prepared to live with the consequences.

    I did a couple of text runs on MDF scraps, and while initial tests were encouraging, unfortunately the final result was a little wayward.

    I did take a heap of photos of all this, but won't bore you with all of them.

    I tried the method of screwing down the bridge then drilling the two outer holes right thru, then drilling the four centre holes partially. Then flipping over, aligning the two outer holes and drilling thru the inner four to hopefully meet up in the middle.

    Here's some test drive shots. (Sorry, I missed a couple of steps out.)

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    That's the wrong shot. This ones from the back where I anchored the bridge onto the outer string holes I had drilled all the way thru.

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    Here you can see my top side drill holes.

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    Then flipped for the picture above to try and align from the other side.

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    Didn't look too bad, so I partially drilled them out for the ferrules.

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    Not too straight at the end of all that. So I gave it another go which came out better (sorry, no pics), then decided to move onto the real thing. *doh*

    There's a lot said for top loading bridges IMO. :(

    Back with more tomorrow.
     
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  11. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Been busy with lots of stuff, so haven't got around to posting much lately. I'll try and get a few updates on this over the next few days, cos I'm actually up to putting the finish on the body!!

    Here's my rather failed attempt at string thru holes. :(

    Screwed the bridge into place, then drilled the two outer string holes right through the body.

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    Not perfectly in line! IMG_0508.JPG


    Then screwed the bridge to the back and drilled the remaining 4 holes halfway through.

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  12. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Then attached bridge back on the front and drilled through to meet the holes from the back. Used a smaller drill bit after that to ascertain they went right through, and then a string test.

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    I can't have photographed drilling for the ferrule hole. The initial string holes didn't look too bad, but once I drilled for the ferrules, everything went a little (lot) out of line!

    The two outer holes are totally out of whack, and the second one in of the middle 4 is slightly off as well. I think one slight mistake may have been using different size drill bits for the outer holes and the remaining inner 4.

    One thing is for sure - I NEED a bloody drill Press!!!

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  13. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Was having problems loading photos for this thing recently, and between helping a friend move house, a quick fishing trip and a bout of the flu, I haven't gotten around to updating much.

    I did have a heap of step by step photos for this, but most of you have seen it all before, so I'll narrow this down somewhat.

    Next few shots date back to 4th and 5th of May. I started roughing out some pick up routing templates, practised on a bit of MDF until I was happy with the fit, then proceeded onto the real thing.

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  14. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Next up was sorting out the control cavity. A quick determination of front layout, then drilled right through to ascertain rear positioning.

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    Using a couple of trusty spade bits, I started working on routing templates for both the cavity and a cover.

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  15. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    More template work, a couple of test drives, then into it!

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  16. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Routed that down to final depth.....

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    Happy as Larry, then went to pick it up - lifted from the neck pocket end, reached around to the front to grab between pick up cavities and THIS happened! :(

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    Oh well, made it easier to drill through for my wiring holes.

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  17. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    25th May at this stage.

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    Then it was onto sorting out control cavity cover.

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    A little lose, but happy enough with that. New finishing plans are gonna tighten that all up and hopefully make it look a little tidier.

    Front control holes drilled out to size.

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    Wiring harness set up.

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  18. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    So this was how she was gonna look. But a few slight changes have been implemented since then!

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    Next up was the jack hole, which turned out to be a complete screw up. Trying to drill nice and straight without a drill Press on an already contoured body is NOT a good idea! You live and learn, and my biggest lesson on this project is to do ALL routing, drilling etc BEFORE you start shaping the body!!! :rolleyes:

    Coming from mostly all hollow body projects, no wonder I completely got this wrong! Anyway, I did a bit of shaping and filling, and decided I could live with mounting my jack input around the other way. With a little more tidying up and final finishing, I think it will work Ok. I can live with the input piece sitting "outside" the body so to speak.

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    Believe me - it looks a hell of a lot better now. But I'll update that at a later stage.
     

  19. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    And finally for the moment, onto the 26th May.

    Tried raising the grain, then applying first application of Walnut stain.

    Before...

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    Thought that looked pretty nice. And here's after...

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    Looked too blotchy, and a lot of grain figure lost. :(

    This did my head in at the time, so I had to leave it for a few days to figure some things out. Then a bit of an inspirational change popped up before me, but we'll get onto that tomorrow! :p
     
    Crafty Fox likes this.

  20. Smiff

    Smiff Tele-Holic

    582
    Oct 1, 2017
    UK
    Looking good.

    You should look at my Thinline Build thread before deciding you’ve done a poor job! :lol:
     
    Macrogats likes this.

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