Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

Hacking a Strat

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by mrpants, Oct 7, 2017.

  1. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    36
    83
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    So, my first guitar was a Mexican Strat. I modified a few things, messed up a few others and generally put it through the trenches throughout my teenage years. It was a solid guitar and served me well, but as I got a couple other guitars that suited my playing style better, it ended up sitting in a corner untouched. It needed work, lower frets grooved up, middle pickup not responsive, tuners installed crooked, intermittent output jack, various other forms of abuse and decay. It has a great neck though and it seemed a shame it was just sitting there, wasting away. IMG_5564.JPG
    At first I was just going to strip it and refinish it and clean up some of its issues. Took a heat gun and scraper to it.
    IMG_5915.JPG IMG_6615.JPG
    Then one day I saw this picture in an online builders group. IMG_5911.jpg
    I decided to try something similar. (Using a hand saw and a Shinto rasp)
    IMG_6665.JPG IMG_6666.JPG
    I continued to refine the shape and contours IMG_7095.JPG
    IMG_7097.JPG
    Cut a tentative pickguard template out of paper.
    IMG_7101.JPG
    Then there was the question of that pesky trem rout. I really prefer a hardtail. Haven't used a tremolo in over 20 years. And it seems silly to have one for no reason. So... I did some more saw and Dremel work.
    IMG_7274.JPG IMG_7300.JPG
    I decided to revamp the headstock too. Played with some printed strat outlines and a pencil to see how I could make something that didn't look like it was just a strat with the ball cut off... Then got out a coping saw and did this.
    IMG_7293.JPG
    Drilled and dowelled the misaligned tuner pin holes
    IMG_7273.JPG
    Sanded the finish off the rest of the neck too.
    And I've gotten to the point where I'm starting to shop hardware and think about finishes. I ordered a Schaller hardtail bridge for it which has arrived now and here's the project in its current state. IMG_7335.JPG
    Currently researching fret leveling/crowning and waiting on a few ordered supplies so I can fix up the neck.
    I'm still unsure of the finish. I've only ever done dye and oil, but the state of the body on this one means I need a solid color, so I'll probably attempt something with rattle cans. I'm honestly a little intimidated by that at the moment, but I've surprised myself along the way with this project at how well things seem to be falling in. Currently thinking to throw a pair of Novak gold foils in and maybe do like a dark blue with lighter blue racing stripes off-center on the bass side of the body. Get sort of a funky vibe going. I don't know for sure though. That last bit may all change yet. It's a slow paced project as I only get to work on it once a week or so, but I'll update as things progress.
    What do you all think so far?
     
    stnmtthw, Kriticaster, Ekko and 11 others like this.

  2. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Tele-Holic

    748
    May 29, 2016
    Kansas
    That looks amazing. If I saw the after picture first I wouldn't have known or started as a strat. But most strat like guitar knockoffs always look cheap somehow. I like your headstock.

    Check out Ron kirns guide on fret leveling here on TDPRI. I think it's called "fret leveling yer Tele 101" I went from a novice to a "pro" after reading it. Not really a pro, but his instruction made it easy, it had confidence in what I was doing and I've gotten great results several times.

    Keep it up!
     
    nojazzhere likes this.

  3. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    36
    83
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    There's a Crimson Guitars video on YouTube where he does basically exactly what I need to do on a PRS. It seems easy enough. Just a little intimidating to mess with stuff like frets where you can take too much off and ruin the whole thing.
     

  4. kkphoto

    kkphoto TDPRI Member

    Age:
    57
    44
    Sep 4, 2017
    Hilo, Hawaii
    Looks amazing! Can't wait to see the progress.
     

  5. 5595bassman

    5595bassman Tele-Meister

    Age:
    69
    460
    Oct 4, 2009
    Montreal Canada
    So far so good!
    I like it!
    Waiting for the final result.
     

  6. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    67
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    Wow! That looks cool!

    I've done my second guitar with rattle cans. Automotive spray. Not an issue, as long as you have time, space and an extra rattle can (at least one more than what you think!). Wet sanding afterwards and finishing with clear gloss spray (also automotive). Again, wet sanding and polishing.

    Just be mindful, with spray, you won't be able to cover any wood dings or dents, no matter how small, so make sure it's nice and smooth. I found that a coat of clear (brushed) as base helps.

    My 2c's worth.

    Curious to see how it ends!

    Cheers,

    Albert
     
    Bill Hubbard likes this.

  7. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    36
    83
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    Thanks man. I've been doing some research and I've encountered people using a bit of superglue to fill the occasional ding with positive results.
    At any rate, I definitely have some more time with sandpaper in my future before laying down the finish. It's in pretty good shape, but you're right, those little imperfections really show up once the finish starts going on. I've resigned myself to the fact that this may end up looking a bit "homemade"
     

  8. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    That was sort of distressing to watch in the first few pictures, but it's coming around! :D
     
    Huddy, nojazzhere, Joe Sailor and 2 others like this.

  9. betocool

    betocool TDPRI Member

    67
    Jan 11, 2016
    South of Perth, WA
    Nothing wrong with "homemade". I still cringe a bit about the finish on my first two (only two so far) guitars, but the neck on the second one turned out amazing for playing after all.
     

  10. reddy2300

    reddy2300 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    48
    70
    Aug 25, 2017
    Dublin, Ohio
    Great mods! I don't typically like "alternative" body styles but this one looks awesome! Sort of like the love child of a Strat and an SG. I even like the headstock. Great job!

    I have done a lot of painting with and without rattle cans. Your best bet is to true-up all of the body imperfections (like betocool said) with automotive spot putty. It's nitrocellulose. Then, once it's PERFECT, use Dupli-Color automotive aerosol from the parts store. It's acrylic lacquer so it's really easy to work with. (And forgiving.)

    As far as the frets are concerned, they CAN be replaced. No need to fear working on them. Might be a chance to learn how to re-fret. Lol.
     

  11. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 26, 2014
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    This is looking really nice! I love what you did to the shape of the body and how you filled in the tremolo route!

    You can use CA (superglue) along the edges of the wood you filled in... this will help a bit to make the transition smoother. You could also use 5 minute epoxy very thin along these edges.

    To fill the little dents and dings (as long as you are painting it a solid color) you can use Bondo Glazing and Spot putty. It dries quickly and you can apply layers to fill some slightly deeper scratches.

    http://www.autozone.com/sandpaper-a...oz-red-glazing-and-spot-putty-tube/167010_0_0

    I've had really good luck with Duplicolor paint (you will need to use some kind of primer. Shellac or spray primer to seal the wood.) But the only clear I would use is the Minwax brand Lacquer clear. You can get it at Home Depot.

    Can't wait to see how this turns out!
     
    fenderchamp likes this.

  12. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 26, 2014
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    That's funny... we were writing at the same time!
     
    reddy2300 likes this.

  13. jvin248

    jvin248 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI
    .

    You have a balanced design going!

    Since the bridge is covering the trem plug on the front, I'd stain the front lighter and use a dark burst at the edges and back.
    Or do a solid satin color with a tort pickguard like this PRS I keep eying. Satin will be easier to do with rattle cans than a high gloss.

    When you get to the pickguard cutting stage ... make several blanks so you can load up different flavors for this guitar when you change strings. Make the center bathtub large enough to fit P90s and Jazzmaster pickups and you'll have a perfect platform.

    Of course you could always do the Steve Morse Music Man model, as the pickguard shape looks a little similar already.

    .
     

  14. hemingway

    hemingway Friend of Leo's

    Mar 14, 2012
    London, UK
    I don't particularly like it, simply because I find the strat body shape so ergonomic to begin with - but you've done it really well.

    The guard is a really nice design that fits it really well.
     

  15. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    36
    83
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    No worries, mate! Appreciate the genuine review and the fact that you can compliment the execution of something without liking it.
    When I posted about the project on some other platforms I got an amount of blowback about "ruining a strat" and "killing resale." I had to laugh, like there's some kind of shortage of strats in the world or like a heavily (and amateur-ly) modded Mexican strat will ever be "worth" anything...
     

  16. danlad

    danlad Tele-Meister

    185
    Mar 24, 2015
    Here and there
    ;););) Well if you'd just said you wanted a Westone Concord...
     
    Ekko, Dan R and Zipslack like this.

  17. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    36
    83
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    Sadly, the bridge comes a little short of covering the plug on either side... suppose I could work something out. But I'd also be worried with a stain that it wouldn't absorb evenly due to remnants of the seal coat that was under the poly finish. I've sanded it down decently well, but you never know.
    I DO really like the matte textured finish look (though I wouldn't likely do black) but again I worried a little about what kind of scars would show through... in any case, I wouldn't likely go for high gloss.
    The Music Man resemblance on the guard was either a subconscious ripoff or a total coincidence, but someone pointed it out to me at one point and I was like, yeah. I totally see that! My goal was a tele like top and minimize the space it occupies on the bottom while still covering the big hole. (I'd go no guard if possible)
     
    John Nicholas likes this.

  18. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    36
    83
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    Wasn't familiar with the model, but looking at it, it's pretty far off from what I've got in terms of overall aesthetic. More angular and extreme, closer to a teisco than a strat.
    I'm not trying to claim any sort of pioneer status. I know that pretty much any shape you make a guitar (excepting the most outlandish crazy departures) is going to be "close" to something that already exists. I like the subtle offset and the less extreme horns. It still has the comfort of the strat but it's a little more dynamic.
    Really this project is a bit of an experiment to get me closer to a scratch build. Get some experience shaping and doing a bit more of the design/setup side than a kit build or a partscaster.
     
    John Nicholas likes this.

  19. Zipslack

    Zipslack Tele-Meister

    231
    Jun 8, 2011
    Mississippi
    Glad to see I'm not the only one who immediately thought "Westone".
     

  20. Dan R

    Dan R Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    59
    Mar 17, 2003
    Charleston, SC
    I'm sorry to say I don't like it, but it's yours to do with as you wish. It seems like you went to a lot of trouble to ruin a perfectly good guitar. Just my opinion.
     
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