American Standard Strat Transformation

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by SchizoidDan, Feb 3, 2016.

  1. SchizoidDan

    SchizoidDan Member

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    I have a 2001 American Standard Strat: 3 tone sunburst alder body (actually looks like it may be one piece), maple neck. I want to totally transform this guitar into one that better suits my playing and aesthetic (jam/jazz fusion/shred). Many strat aficionados may call this sacrilege, but this is going to be my workhorse guitar and I want it to be a bit different. I cannot afford a boutique or custom shop strat with these specs. I was wondering if any luthiers out there would know a ballpark price for what I want to do, would it be able to be done, or whether it would be worth just buying another guitar. Just anybody's thoughts on this project really.

    -I want to have the poly paint job on the body stripped and repainted with a thin skin nitro finish (either surf green or a cream color I have not decided yet).
    -Neck sanded down so that it has an unfinished feel to it.
    -Single coils replaced with two Duncan '59 humbuckers (like Jimmy Herring's strat).
    -I have always had a problem with hitting the volume knob with my pinky when I play (for the past 15 years) and I would love to get rid of that volume knob and just have a three way switch with one volume and one tone where the two tone knobs are now (this would require a new pick guard)
    -New bridge, bone nut and locking tuners.

    This is what I want to do with my current american standard. It will be a bit unique to me and cater to how/what I want to play. I love the feel of a strat, but like the smooth darker sound of buckers. I also really want a thin nitro finish that will age as I play it. I am not sure which bridge or tuners to get yet but Callaham seems to be recommended a lot here.
     
  2. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

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    Sound like a good plan.I wouldn't change the bridge; but some bent steel Callaham saddles for it is a nice change/upgrade.
     
  3. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Build a parts caster instead it will cost about the same or less and you could get a Warmoth roasted maple neck which will remain stable without the finish .
     
  4. SchizoidDan

    SchizoidDan Member

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    I have heard that warmoth builds can either be awesome or sub par and one doesn't know until it's fully built. I don't know if I want to take that risk while I know that the stray I currently have feels and plays great, I just want to make a few mods.
     
  5. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    That is not a few mods.
    Warmoth builds are only poor if specked out badly and not finished. Anybody who could do your mods well could easily build it.
     
  6. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    Sounds lie a waste of money to me. Buy the one you want.
     
  7. SchizoidDan

    SchizoidDan Member

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    Well this particular strat was given to me by a dear friend a while back who passed away so it has sentimental value to me (and he would have loved for me to do this project because he was a fan of modding all of his guitars. This project would be like paying homage to him in a way). Like I said above, I sold all of my other guitars and like the idea of just having one awesome workhorse guitar. The pickups I can wire and put in myself, and I can hold off on the tuners, nut and new saddles for right now. The thing that I want to take care of first is the refinishing. I have no plans of selling the guitar ever, so I don't care about resale value diminishing. My first plan of action is to find somebody who will strip my sunburst body finish down to the bare wood and repaint it with thin coat of surf green nitro. I also want the back of my satin poly maple neck finish sanded off and treated with oil for a bare-wood smooth feel and the fretboard refinished with nitro so that it will age nicely. I suppose I could buy new parts from warmoth but this guitar is special to me and I want it to be able to age gracefully. I also heard warmoth doesn't do nitro finishes. Anyone know a professional that I could ship my body and neck to who does quality nitro refinish jobs?
     
  8. Doom Man

    Doom Man Member

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    Heh, too many get precious about stuff on this forum.
    It's an Am Standard, seriously, it's not some rare museum piece. Ultimately the value will be the enjoyment you get out of it and the smile on your face matters more than resale value ever could. If I had an Am Standard I know I'd want locking tuners on there at the very least.
    There are some people that have fitted their Clapton model with jumbo frets. Blasphemy to some, but others like myself consider that a vast improvement and would be much more likely to buy that over someone else's more stock guitar.
    Although I agree with Blix, leave the bridge, the Am Standard bridge is already good, any new bridge isn't going to yield an improvement proportional to the money spent on it, if any improvement at all.
     
  9. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    that doesn't make much sense, the fretboard surface should typically be done the same way as the neck overall. if you dig the bare-wood oil-finish feel, do it to the whole neck.

    either way, the stripping and refinishing will be by far the biggest part of the project; many folks report better luck getting the fairly thick poly off with a heat gun and a paint scraper. this is the part that may end up costing as much or more than just buying another guitar, or at least getting a new neck and body already done up like you want.

    the herring-style two humbucker thing is easy, that body may already be routed for two full-size buckers.

    +1 to no point in changing the bridge or nut, both are top-notch.

    not quite. warmoth parts themselves are top-notch; the disappointment happens when people spec out weird wood and hardware combinations with no regard for expected tone, often ending up with heavy tone dogs that just look pretty. stick to the more "classic" recipes and you'll get a winner every time.

    also, you'll want to professionally level the frets, warmoth jams nice frets into nice wood, chops the ends off and sends it out the door; the pro fret level is the difference between "OK" to "decent" and "great" or even "perfect".
     
  10. SchizoidDan

    SchizoidDan Member

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    As far as the neck thing goes, you're right, I'd actually just prefer the whole thing done with the bare wood/oil. I looked a bit around the site by searching and the most expensive price I saw for a strip and refin job was $600, and that was for the hassle of dealing with a guitar with a neck that couldn't detach and the op wanted the whole thing stripped and refinished in nitro. I did a pseudo build of a Warmoth strat on their site the way I'd want it, and it's around $1000-$1200 plus shipping and then paying somebody to put it together, level the frets and set it up properly for me. If I could pay around $500 and just get my neck and body stripped and refinished in nitro and then buy 2 Duncan 59's at $175 a piece I'd be at just under $900 with a guitar that I already love the feel of and know plays well without a doubt, but now with a cool new paint job that will age nicely and some new 59's. I know the poly heat gun technique is the way to go but I wouldn't leave it up to myself to do the job. I was reading that guys say it took them around 3-5 hours to get it all off using this method, and then sanded the undercoat to the bare wood. I wouldn't trust myself to do this but I'd pay a luthier who does refins extra to do this.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
  11. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    duncans like that sell for more like $75 apiece.

    ping @B. Howard, he does beautiful refinishing. no idea if that price is even in the ballpark, though.
     
  12. SchizoidDan

    SchizoidDan Member

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    Will do... Thanks. Also yes, I meant $75 not $175. I'm going to contact B. Howard as well as a few other guys I've seen that do this kind of thing as see what kind of price I'm looking at. At this point, I can wait on everything aside from the refinishing. I really want to get that done if it's possible (unless I end up having to pay 900-1000 for it... Then I'd have to really think about getting an already finished body and neck. )
     
  13. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    as far as that goes, there's really no benefit besides getting a different colored body out of it.

    you can easily de-gloss the back of the neck with the same steel wool for a more "satin" finish feel without actually removing the finish, and any talk of nitro having a different tone is pretty much internet nonsense.
     
  14. Mincer

    Mincer Member

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    I am all for adjusting the tool to fit your needs, rather than conforming to the tool. If it makes ya happy, and you'll pick it up and play awesome music, go for it.
     

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