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Why a Partscaster? – Part II

So we stablished we’ll build a Strat based parts caster… but I don’t think I explained clearly why, so here are my reasons:

  • It’s a Fun project. My intention is to build an instrument I’ll enjoy playing, nothing more. I don’t intend to save money on it, nor as an investment… it will always be a partscaster and valued as such. A partscaster is not worth the sum of its components… But at this stage, I think it will play and sound great, and I’ll enjoy that… so that is priceless… for me.
  • The guitar will be mine, I made it, to my taste and to my specs. it’s like making bread… anyone should learn how to do it… it tastes great!
  • There’s no remorse or fear when modding the guitar. I remeber when I replaced the bride on my 1988 Stratocaster Plus…. with the same part number… some background: this was my first real guitar. It was a present from my father. The guitar possibly don’t have much street value, but the emotional value for me is huge… anyway.. I remember replacing the bridge… I was so scared… would it sound the same? it did… will it look the same? it did… will it lose value? it was going to anyway…. and so on and forth… there’s no attachment to a partscaster… you’ll get attached to it if the result is good and you put the hours playing it…. as I always say, love comes through caring….
  • I love putting things together and learning new stuff. I’ve made my own bicycles, sandals… bread… pasta… furniture… a silent speaker (from 90db down to 30db)… etc.
  • Fender doesn’t offer me what I want… well maybe it does, but at Fender Custom Shop prices… seriously, the Gilmour black strat is not worth that much…. don’t get me wrong, if I had the money i’d buy it in a second… for the record, my intention is not to build a Gilmour Black Strat… not yet anyway. And how is this for irony… Gilmour’s Back Strat is essentially the world’s most famous partscaster.
  • Mongrels and adopted dogs make amazing pets…
  • Because I can.
  • and finally… why not?

So… what’s next?

First I had to get the guitar in a working state, to make sure it would be playable, that I would enjoy playing it, and worth modifying it.

I’ve been around for a while, so luckly I had enough spares to quickly get the guitar to a decent and usable state. I replaced both the tuning machines and the bridge. I installed genuine Fender tuners and vintage tremolo bridges. I also polished the frets and cleaned the fingerboard, and….and immediately I had a usable guitar.

It is a Mexican Fender Blacktop Stratocaster, looks like a Fender, plays like a Fender, and sounds like a Fender.

A good starting point.

Now what?

pickquestion

I always liked the American Standard bridge sadles, locking keys are a must, Piezo pickup not a bad idea, and love HH configuration on a Strat. So my plan is as follow (for now), not necessarily in this order:

  • Replace synthetic bone nut with a Grapth Tech Black Tusq (PT-5000-00) nut.
  • Replace pickguard with HH pickguard
  • Replace standard Fender tuners with Fender® American Deluxe Locking Chrome Tuners Staggered Posts
  • Replace pickups. While I like the I’ve Hot Vintage Alnico Humbucking Pickups, I think they are a bit too hot for what I intend to do. But single coils would be too tame. Besides, I already have another Blacktop Stratocaster, so why would I want two guitars to be the same?
  • In the short term Replace the vintage standard fender bridge saddles, or even better, replace the whole bridge with Gotoh NS510TS bridge.
  • Long term, replace bridge with Fishman VMV Powerbridge Pickup with the additional Powerchip. I have the same functionality on my Parker Fly Deluxe and I love it. It would require drilling a hole for the battery pack so I might leave that for a Warmoth Body.
  • Maybe a blower switch, I have never used one, but I think is a neat feature.

That’s it for now…

The guitar – A bad DIY

I decided to go with a cheap strat rather than starting from scratch with something like Warmoth guitars (eventually I will), but I just wanted to start with a solid basis for my first customisation job.

So the next step was to find a cheap Stratocaster… either eBay or Reverb would provide. and Reverb did.

I found a  mexican Fender Blacktop Stratocaster with Gotoh parts, rather cheap, and clearly someone else’s customisation job gone wrong.

MexBlacktop

The guitar appeared to be in fair condition, and the listing did specify the changes made to the guitar, including removing the pickup covers (in my opinion, a crime).

On close inspection things were not so good. On the following pictures you can clearly see the bridge is too wide for the guitar. The string spacing (E to E) is 56mm, while the Blacktop Stratocaster has a vintage 51mm string spacing. This results in strings nearly outside of the fingerboard. and the strings sit outside of the humbucker poles, which according to DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan is a big no.

wrong bridge

Now the tuners. The guitar came with Gotoh SG381 Cosmo Black machine heads, which as you can see, the holes did not match the Fender two post alignment holes. The previous owner didn’t even bother to screw the tuners in, so the guitar would go immediately out of tune.

Machine Heads

The guitar did sound the same as my other blacktop stratocaster. although there was a short circut at the multipole superswitch which was quickly fixed. sound wise it was a blacktop stratocaster. The neck was all you can expect of a Fender neck, although it had some signs of neglect.

In summary, the guitar had good sound but was unplayable.

Just a bad DIY. Maybe not the intention of the previous owner, but certainly as a result of his actions.

 

Why a Partscaster? – Part I

I’ve always loved Fender Stratocasters. Ever since I can recall I’ve found it be the most beautiful guitar ever. Besides David Gilmour (praise him!) uses them.

On the same token, your Standard Fender Stratocaster, is not cheap and might or might not have the features you are looking for, and when you have paid good dollars for a Made in USA Stratocaster, it’s kind of painful to made modifications to it (at least for me).

I currently have several guitars, and have had some more over the years. Some of the other guitars have features that I certainly liked, and other guitars are so out of my reach. As time passes, I always keep coming back to the familiarity of a Strat neck and balance. They are just so nice to play.

Stratocasters are very versatile and simple instruments, and they are easily modifiable, and that makes them the ideal canvas for my next guitar.