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Sonic Blue Strat Warmoth build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Mistercharlie, Dec 21, 2017.

  1. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    I've been obsessed with sonic blue Strats for quite a while. A few months ago I started checking out what was available, and I came down to two guitars a Suhr Classic, or a Fender Classic Player. Quite a difference, price-wise, but neither of them was quite there.

    I was almost set on the Fender, but I wanted a nitro finish that would age along with me. I though maybe I'd play it for a while and then refinish it in the future. Then I started looking at Warmoth's options.

    Fast forward a few months and I'm getting close. I have ordered and received a neck and body, and the body is at the car paint shop (more on that later).

    But first, here're the essential that I couldn't find in an existing sonic blue Strat:

    - Super light weight. I mean really light.
    - Roasted maple neck.
    - Nitrocellulose lacquer.
    - Stainless steel frets.
    - Modern fretboard radius.
    - 2-point trem.
    - It has to be light. Did I mention that?

    I ordered up a basswood body, and a roasted maple neck with ebony board (CITES makes rosewood hard to import to Europe, and Pau Ferro can be too light, color-wise). They were showcase parts, and they arrived a week after ordering!

    Here they are, fresh out of the box.

    757F1799-9985-4B7C-85A7-D376409ACCBA.jpeg ECB60B38-09EF-4A08-82DD-2A52F88B011C.jpeg CC745B5E-D217-48CA-853E-40DF2BAC243B.jpeg 4F9AE9BB-97EF-41AC-A434-B424AA6618EB.jpeg
     
    mux164, DaphneBlue and the-woey-man like this.

  2. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    For the hardware, I ordered up some Hipshot tuners, a Switchcraft jack, and a lightly reliced jack plate. I'm not doing a relic build, but I'd like to have the guitar look lived-in from the beginning.

    The trem is a Wilkinson, a nice 2-point that I'll float. It's not very vintage looking, but I don't care too much about that. I hope that the guitar itself will be so full of vintage that it won't matter.

    As for the electronics -- I wanted to use the same Custom Shop pickups as in the Classic Player. What I didn't want to do was spend €220 to buy a new set. I found a nice old Squier Strat for sale on the local eBay classified site, and it included the entire pickguard from a CP 60s Strat. Result! The guy had replaced the pickups in his CP 60s Strat with Seymour Duncans, and was selling off the old loaded pickguard. I bought it, for €279.

    When it arrived, I gave it a quick setup, and it was actually a pretty sweet guitar. The pickups are KILLER, but the neck is nice too. It's a 1996 model Affinity, made in Taiwan, and with a thicker neck than you today's Affinitys. A full-thickness body too. I actually played it a lot for a few days and really enjoyed it. I've never owned or really even played a Strat before, so this confirmed I'd made the right choice ;)


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    The tuners have been replaced, too, for a set of Klusons. They’re very well done, with the old holes plugged nicely.
     
    DaphneBlue likes this.

  3. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    As you can see from the pickguard photos, the previous owner had made some mods. I contacted him to confirm my guesses, and I was right -- there's a treble-bleed, and the bridge pickup has been wired to the middle tone control. I would have done both of these anyway, so that saved some work.

    916BB45F-B5E9-43C7-931C-E713C9B8D6A1.jpeg
     

  4. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    Onto the neck. I rubbed it with Birchwood Casey tru-oil, and gunstock wax, the same stuff that Music Man uses on its amazing necks. Just a single pass with each, rubbed in, then immediately wiped with a second, clean paper towel. I did a double coat of oil on the headstock. The plan for the headstock is to have my girlfriend write her name on there with a sharpie.

    E9421B6D-0922-41A1-8291-CEEC81C975C9.jpeg CA87D5EC-F00D-4F80-9DAB-AB90B99C4583.jpeg A32DFA28-AAD5-41BF-9D42-DFC5A216A371.jpeg

    And here are those cool Hipshot tuners:




    F332BBEC-A670-4FEE-97AA-A4182FC5672A.jpeg
     

  5. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    Before we get to fitting the tuners, I’ll mention the weight. I don’t have any need for light guitars other than that I much prefer the feel of them. I picked basswood because it was the cheapest way to get an ultra-light body. Warmoth also has some super lightweight roasted swamp ash, but that is double the price, and needs extra prep for painting. The body I ordered was 3lb 1oz. A good start. And then I measured everything else on my kitchen scale:

    Neck 556g

    Body 1,411 kg

    Trem 390g (in bag)

    Tuners 214g

    pickguard 360g

    neck plate 18g

    neck screws 13g

    jack plate 18g

    pg and jp screws 5g

    jack 8g

    strap pins 12g

    Total 3.0kg or 6lb 9.8oz
     

  6. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    That’s pretty light weight! The paint will add a little more, as will the strings, but this will be a very light Strat.

    Talking of paint, I ended up taking it to a local car paint shop. It specializes in cool custom paint jobs, so they were cool about the project.

    The guitar places I spoke to wanted as much as €500 plus materials (GuitarDoc in Berlin), and from 2-3 months, because of course they couldn’t start in the middle of December (!). The auto shop wants €350 and two weeks. The downside is that you can tell a guitar painter that you want sonic blue nitro and they will just do it. The auto painter needs paint codes, and instructions on not spraying in the neck pocket etc. Happily, they were cool with old Cadillac duco paint codes. I guess I’ll find out next week if I saved time and money, or wasted it.
     

  7. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    The only other thing I could do before the body is done was to fit the tuners. This went very easily. I had Warmoth still for Schallers, and the holes are the perfect fit for the Hipshots. I lined 'em up, marked the holes, and drilled pilot holes with my giant hand-held power drill. I did a test on some scrap wood to check the pilot hole size. Roasted maple is brittle, so Warmoth recommends drilling all pilot holes a size bigger than usual.

    I eyeball the drill bit against the screw shaft, so I just erred on the generous side. The 2mm bit was just right. Snug, but not too tight. I rubbed the screws on a candle before driving them in. I also backed off half a turn for every full turn driving - just like tapping a thread, which I guess was what I was doing.

    A2ECE14D-AE39-418E-8758-1DB433DDC1F4.jpeg
    Test hole.



    8C2BAD9F-37B3-40D9-A734-AF560CE52608.jpeg

    A slight countersink on the holes with this dremel bit, twisted in by hand, to make sure the tuners sit flush.




    2A342D82-BBC9-4AE8-B73A-320766E694DC.jpeg

    Holes!


    46B416AD-DB4B-407C-BE97-87974C0358B4.jpeg 22275BBF-27ED-4B55-A664-79C7D3570368.jpeg

    And that's it for now. Any questions or suggestions are welcome.
     
    fenderchamp and DaphneBlue like this.

  8. DaphneBlue

    DaphneBlue Tele-Meister

    Age:
    31
    245
    Jul 22, 2017
    Switzerland
    can't wait to see it growing up! GOOD job dude!
     
    Mistercharlie and Wahoo like this.

  9. Tremster

    Tremster TDPRI Member

    10
    Mar 23, 2012
    Berlin, Germany
    Hey Charlie,

    This is turning out nicely!
    I told you I'll need to play that guitar when it's finished .....


    Cheers
    Andreas
     

  10. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    You're on! As long as I can hook it up to your FrankenAmp.
     

  11. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    One question for experienced builders.

    I often hear about dribbling thin (liquid) superglue into screw holes to fix the fibers of softer woods, preventing screw tear-out. As this is a basswood body, I'll probably do that for the strap lock, pick guard, and trim-claw screws. But how do you do it? If I just squirt the glue in there, won't it block the hole?

    The glue I gave doesn't have one of those fancy long applicators, either. It's just a regular tube.
     

  12. mux164

    mux164 Tele-Meister

    348
    Jul 28, 2013
    australia
    I'm digging sonic blue strays as well I'm doing a Rivers Cuomo style strat in as close to sonic blue as I can

    Good luck from what I seen t looks great
     
    Mistercharlie likes this.

  13. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    The neck plate is currently aging in the cutlery drawer:

    E84A4877-89AE-4702-9197-30C6050E2663.jpeg
     
    RodeoTex, FrontPU and mux164 like this.

  14. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    The body was supposed to be painted and ready today, but when I called the paint shop the guy said another week. I'm actually pleased about that, as the original two-week estimate seemed to fast to do a proper job with nitro.


    In the meantime, I decided to shield the pickguard properly. It comes with only the switch and knob section shielded. I bought some copper shielding tape, with conductive glue. I will line the pickguard, as well as the cavities in the body.

    Here’s the stripped pickguard.

    255918B2-6F87-4390-8263-299FC94D662B.jpeg


    The tape, roughly cut to size.


    167CF31A-137F-49D8-9EDF-E4ACC03D0084.jpeg


    BF7604F7-D080-4F9C-855B-B7D076CC2D03.jpeg

    Cutting to shape and sticking in the corners: E869AB1D-06B1-4359-B948-1893B5B9ABF3.jpeg
     

  15. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    The tape is very easy to work with, unless you remove a big strip from the backing all at once. Then it just wants to stick to itself, and tears when you separate it. Don’t ask me how I know.

    Next up, trimming the excess tape from the various holes.

    32CED1E2-A124-4AFB-BBF6-97F0564B4F82.jpeg

    It’s easy to trim out from the front of the guard using a box cutter. I also kept a small screwdriver handy for clearing the little holes once I’d cut the tape. The result looks fairly competent.


    D3983936-B196-4E0B-AC54-EB23C8F0BD43.jpeg
     

    Attached Files:


  16. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    Here it is, reassembled. I discovered that my multimeter doesn’t have auto power-off function, so I dug out a new battery and did a continuity test on the shielding. It does indeed have conductive glue. Everything is connected. I also tidied up the wiring a little while I was in there.

    D11A8BB3-1E28-4D6E-B6F0-75C5735C464D.jpeg
     

  17. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    I realized I haven’t posted any photos of the Wilkinson tremolo. I shall remedy that now.


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    I plan to fit this with two springs, and float it. I like a bit of shimmer. Hopefully two springs will be enough to balance a set of 10s.
     
    mux164 likes this.

  18. Deeve

    Deeve Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Dec 7, 2009
    Ballard
    Looks great.
    Slow & steady. . .

    Peace - Deeve
     
    Mistercharlie likes this.

  19. richiek65

    richiek65 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Loving this!
    I have a CP60 in Sonic Blue. I bought it second hand, and not sure if the pickups were the original 69s, but I replaced them with some Donlis and they are a big improvement.. now what to do with the pickups I took out?
     

  20. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

    730
    Apr 28, 2015
    Germany
    Sell ‘em to somebody making a partscaster!
     

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