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Hacking a Strat

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

  1. robt57

    robt57 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    Portland, OR
    I have a Strat body laying about for a few years. This may have sparked me. And I have some mini humbuckers I've not used the second of two sets yet either.

    My one lone Strat is Strat perfection to me and just never thought I needed a second. Unlike the myriad of Teles and variants the tdpri has infected me with bench compulsions to cobble...
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
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  2. Billnchristy

    Billnchristy Tele-Holic

    814
    Sep 21, 2017
    Georgia
    She's looking good, can't wait to see the final product.
     
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  3. Sconnie

    Sconnie Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    26
    May 1, 2017
    Denver, CO
    I love Tru-oil, good choice! Be careful around these parts, it goes on thinner and protects better than nitro ;)
     

  4. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    37
    92
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    And you can work at the kitchen table!
     

  5. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    37
    92
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    Yeah, the milk paint can be sprayed but it needs to be thinned and strained and on top of that I don't have equipment or a space and it's 35 degrees outside. Plus I didn't want a smooth look. I used a bristle brush for a more textured look. Foam would yield a smoother surface. I plan on doing a lot of layers of oil on top with sanding between which should hopefully keep some of the dynamic appearance of the finish while adding a degree of smoothness.
    To your other point, I agree. I'm kind of bored by the same old guitars. This isn't as much of a departure as I'd like to try but it's a start. At any rate, I had the thing sitting around, may as well have some fun with it.
     

  6. robt57

    robt57 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    Portland, OR


    Milk paint? So why did you add water instead of half&half?? :cry:
     

  7. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    37
    92
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    I do get the joke, but for info's sake, I guess the stuff is made with casein (milk protein) and lime as the primary ingredients. So, if you want to make a vegan mad, paint their house with it.
     

  8. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    37
    92
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    Finishing update. Maybe about a dozen layers into tru oil application. That number is a little fluid as I've been sanding back in between. IMG_7670.JPG
    I was going for a textured look that shows the grain and I'm really pleased with the result. In the right light, the blue is very slightly translucent as well. IMG_7675.JPG

    The neck I think is done, just need to smooth out the edge along the tape and also I like to hit the back of the neck with steel wool just to knock it back a touch for a naked, frictionless feel. Oil brought out a little flame but only in half of the neck. IMG_7672.JPG IMG_7671.JPG
     

  9. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 26, 2014
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Wow! That looks really amazing!

    Love the color and the sheen you have so far. Really looking forward to your next update!
     

  10. samuelmorrissey

    samuelmorrissey Tele-Meister

    Age:
    26
    140
    May 12, 2017
    Dublin, Ireland, Earth
    Looks really great!

    The grain really pops through, looking forward to seeing the finished product!
     

  11. Minimalist518

    Minimalist518 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    56
    Mar 5, 2017
    Albany
    +1! It’s one thing to cut an old body into an interesting shape, even when really well done from a strictly woodworking standpoint.
    It’s quite another to have the eye to see the *right* shape and the aesthetic instincts to carry the lines of the body shape through the other elements as you’ve done with the pickguard, headstock and your pickup choice. Good design like good music requires rhythm.
    Well done sir, well done indeed!
     
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  12. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    37
    92
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    Many layers and episodes of sanding back later...
    I didn't count, but the end result has quite a few layers of tru oil. Probably at least 25-30 applications. In between I did various degrees of sanding and steel wool. This was all very unscientific. My goal was to preserve some of the textured look but leave it with a nice smooth feel. Kind of a happy side effect was that the color seems to have taken on a nice variety of hues due to variations in the sanding and oil penetration. Very dimensional. Overall I'm very pleased with the experiment.
    (And finally a sunny day for photos!)
    IMG_7689.JPG IMG_7690.JPG IMG_7691.JPG IMG_7694.JPG IMG_7693.JPG
     

  13. Kriticaster

    Kriticaster Tele-Meister

    Age:
    41
    407
    Nov 5, 2017
    Crete, Greece
    Very nice! She’s coming along well!!

    Await with bated breath for the final assembly and catwalk show!
     
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  14. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    37
    92
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    I can't leave well enough alone. The gloss on the finish was a little much for my taste the more I looked at it. So I took a little steel wool and knocked the shine down a touch, then gave it a thorough rub down to "semi-polish." I've been trying to get a good shot of the complexity of the colors and texture going on and got some good light today.
    IMG_7740.JPG
    And an outdoor shot. Overcast today. IMG_7741.JPG

    In other news...
    I've been keeping an eye on Reverb for a good deal on the real deal vintage Dearmond/Rowe gold foils. A loaded guard from a '65 Harmony Bobkat showed up the other day and I jumped on it, scoring a set of the S cover foils. IMG_7738.JPG IMG_7739.JPG
    After some nerve wracking drilling to remove the rivets, it was mockup time! I'm undecided on angled or straight pickups. Thoughts?
    IMG_7744.JPG IMG_7745.JPG
     

  15. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

    687
    Jan 26, 2012
    Troy, MO
    First of all, this is a really cool project and I really like the shape you came up with on body, headstock and pickguard. You have good design sense. It doesn't scream "WEIRD!!!" at you, but it still looks just whimsical enough to be quirky and interesting.

    I used to play a beat-up Melody Maker that I got without pickups, and I tried a bunch of stuff (humbuckers, strat pickups, tele pickups, a Rick single-coil) and the winner for me was some random strat single-coil I found in my parts box, installed so it was closer to the bridge on the bass side. Seemed to do nice things for twangy, tight low-string runs and it made the treble strings sing a little more smoothly. Not sure if that would work for you or not, but I'd recommend trying the pickups slanted either way and straight, maybe with double-sided tape holding them down before you commit to cutting and drilling.

    In my case, the Melody Maker looked like someone before me had routed it for two humbuckers and Les Paul wiring, possibly using a round-point shovel. It had this huge amoeba-shaped cavity, with the pickup height screw clearance holes drilled so deep they almost came out the back. The pickguard was an irregularly cut mess with two humbucker and four potentiometer holes in it, plus the output jack hole.

    I rigged up an output jack and volume knob and left the pickguard off, and in order to try the various pickups at varying slants and bridge-to-neck positions, I made a plastic "subfloor" for the pickup cavity out of a plastic VHS cassette box, so I had a flat surface to screw to without further messing up the mahogany body. At this point all I had to worry about lining up was polepieces and strings.

    Every pickup, orientation and position I tried did something cool but was kind of a one-trick pony. When I tried the back-slanted strat pickup, it was blindingly obvious that the guitar sounded snarly, balanced, and generally pissed-off and badass. It was easier to get varying tones by where I picked on the strings. It won over the other configurations by about 4,000%. It sounded good really distorted with a cranked up Rat, it sounded good soft, clean and gentle through a little turned-down Valco tube amp, it sounded good all skronky and nasty through a cranked up old SS Peavey. It sounded good in standard tuning. It REALLY sounded good in Drop D.

    Once I'd settled on the pickup position, I found that I could install the pickguard again because the pickguard's bridge pickup hole fit over the strat pickup fine. I covered all the unused holes with band stickers and community radio station stickers, including one with a strat-pickup-oval-shape in it, so I had the pickup sticking out of what appeared to be a bumper sticker. It was pretty ratty but turned out to be dead-reliable, had great tuning stability and was what I gigged with for a couple years. Well worth the effort and I grew to like how ratty it looked.

    My point is, finally, I think if you try moving the pickups around you are going to hit a configuration that is obviously best for you with some patience and listening. I look forward to seeing where this ends up.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
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  16. tfarny

    tfarny Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Subscribing! Love this project, as others have said, great work all around, especially the shaping. Why don't you mount the pickups on a wood block in the cavity without the pickguard and play with them in different locations and angles, see how it changes the sound? Looks wise, I like it angled but you might as well experiment, at this point.
     
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  17. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

    687
    Jan 26, 2012
    Troy, MO
    mrpants, is the trem cavity filler block just shaped and glued into place, or is it drilled/screwed/pinned or something besides the glue?
     

  18. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    37
    92
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    It's shaped, tight enough I had to hammer tap it into place, glued with titebond.
     

  19. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

    687
    Jan 26, 2012
    Troy, MO
    Thanks for the info; I have a strat body I've been thinking of trying to "hardtail" before turning it into somethig. carry on
     

  20. mrpants

    mrpants TDPRI Member

    Age:
    37
    92
    May 16, 2017
    Chicago
    I think there's a pre-fab part for the purpose. Not sure who sells it.
     

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