Building a Strat... Resources? Advice?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by travis_38, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. travis_38

    travis_38 Supporting Member

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    I'm about to begin my first build...

    Just wondering what issues I may run in to while pulling parts together from different places? I know I've seen at least two different styles of bridge mounts while browsing through some of the finished bodies on ebay. I'm planning on getting all liscensed Fender parts but wondering what areas to pay attention in mixing RI parts with Am. Standard parts etc etc. Thanks in advance for the help!
     
  2. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Start with http://www.Warmoth.com
    and pay attention to the routing options .
    Do you know what neck profile ,radius ,fret size ,nut width. you want ?
    What tuners are you using ?size?
    Can you do fret work .Do you have fret dressing tools and nut files?
    Pickups ?bridge ? intro finish ? ploy? urethane? UV cure Urethane?
    The list goes on
    Also am std and Vintage Reish have different string spacing at the bridge.
     
  3. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    A good place to start is to write down all your ideas and then ask this question: are you building a vintage strat with some modern refinements or are you building a modern strat with some vintage cosmetics? Once you commit down one of these two paths it will be easier to make decisions. Vintage-type strats use 6-screw bridges and modern strats use 2 post. Vintage strats use different string spacing at the nut and bridge compared to modern strats. Vintage strats use a more pronounced fingerboard radius and smaller frets where modern strats use a flatter fingerboard and larger frets. Vintage strats are routed for 3 single coils while modern strats are routed for multiple pickup combinations.

    You can obviously mix and match most of these options to fit your personal preference, but just make sure you understand the relationship of the parts. For example, a modern bridge and a vintage neck can yield string spacing issues and so on.

    One last suggestion: I recommend buying the neck and body from the same manufacturer (USA Custom Guitars is my preference but there's also Warmoth, Musikraft, Glendale Guitars, B Hefner, and others). That way you can have the manufacturer check that the two pieces fit together properly. Different manufacturers have slightly different tolerances for neck heels and neck pockets which can make the final assembly tricky.

    Now, here's my recent feelings on parts guitars: I just finished my 2nd custom parts guitar (an 'ultimate' tele) and I have retrofitted several other guitars with all sorts of upgraded bits over the years. Here's what I've learned: having all the right parts doesn't guarantee a great guitar. In fact, it's just the beginning. Building a guitar is a great learning experience and will help you appreciate great guitars when you play them, but there's so much more to it than just the sum of the parts.

    So my last suggestion: investigate the cost difference between your dream parts guitar (including the cost of setup, fret dress, and nut filing) and something made by a luthier (I recommend Ron Kirn - www.ronkirn.com). After seeing his work and looking at the amount of money I have invested in parts over the years, I have come to the conclusion that I could have had an arsenal of inspiring, hand built guitars for what I've invested in parts...and it would've saved me an infinite number of headaches and heartaches.

    But since we all have to go down this road, here are my recommendations for parts suppliers:

    Bodies & Necks: USA Custom
    Hardware: Callaham (vintage style) / Gotoh-Wilkinson (modern 2 post)
    Pickups: Fralin / Lollar / Sheptone

    Best of Luck!
     
  4. LarryN

    LarryN Member

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    The best Strat pickups I've heard yet are from Curtis Novak. I walked into a club a couple of months ago and heard Jacob Petersen (formerly with Curtis Salgado) playing and it was the best Strat tone I'd ever heard. I've grown to love flat-pole Strat pickups. He also had the Callaham vintage repro bridge.
     
  5. GtrDr

    GtrDr Member

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    Now you get to do it your way! The cool part is there are so many available parts that you'll have a tough time making up your mind. All of the parts mentioned are terrific. The most critical part of the build is the last part. Dressing frets & the final set up. Unless you do a lot of it, take it to someone.
     
  6. dharmafool

    dharmafool Member

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    A lot of insight here, IMO. However, I don't think we necessarily "all have to go down this road . . . ."

    If you don't want to tinker with the build-experience personally, contact someone like Kirn, Rice Custom, or their like, discuss what you're after, ask them questions, do some homework, make some decisions about your build, buy the parts you need and pay one of them do the assembly, finish and final setup work. Their precision and general expertise will deliver tonal goods you didn't know you could get. The extra cash up front will be long forgotten when you experience how well-crafted "parts guitars" can be.
     
  7. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    Travis,

    you got mail..

    Ron Kirn
     
  8. Glide

    Glide Member

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    Go to http://www.musikraft.com

    They are a Fender authorized OEM and you can get as detailed as you like.

    Check out their order pages for necks and bodies.
     
  9. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    I wish I could have done this when I was younger. My ambition got the better of me (plus I thought I could do an equal job for way less money). In my case, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a legendary tech who helped make the most out of my partscasters and hot rod jobs, but in hindsight they still seem like toys compared to the work of a craftsman.

    BTW Ron, thanks for doing such a great job on Rob's tele and then fixing mine. What a difference.
     

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