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WRGKMC

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Picked up a set of these generic 59 PAF's with Alnico 5 magnets.   I have a Plexiglass Flying V needing a different set.  I had put a set of Filtertron/TV Jones Clones in there and didn't like the sound I got.  I've bought a couple of sets of mini humbuckers from this guy that sounded pretty good.  Not sure if they are Artec pickups or whether he actually makes them.  The parts used are definitely identical to others.   

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What I like most about these is how they retain a clean bright edge when gained up. They have a more aggressive touch running clean too.  I'm thinking about getting a second set of these to put in my Epi Dot.  The Dot originally had tamer/darker sounding Epi pickups which had a less aggressive tone likely based on a potted 57 PAF.  Very generic sounding and simply passible when cranked.  These 59ers have that aggressive edge without the mid boost.  Just what that DOT needs.  Their winds are vintage too with a Neck having 7.5K and Bridge 8.6K.  The set was $38 which isn't bad at all for a decent build.  They aren't Seymour or Gibson but I wasn't looking to spend that kind of money on a Novelty guitar. 

While I was out shopping I found a decent body for one of the spare Strat necks I have.  The one I bought is supposed to be Maple and have a finish.  The pic they posted doesn't look like Maple to me.  This one looks more like unfinished Popular to me but they did mention the photo looked different. Doesn't matter what kind of wood it is once its been painted.  Something like this bight be OK natural.  I have several guitars with all maple bodies and necks. The tone isn't as bright as you'd think, though the weight can be higher then I prefer. 

I had to get a bunch of hardware too, Bridge, Back plate, Jack plate  and a couple of other odds and ends.  Normally I make my own bodies but I don't have a router for doing the bridge and pickup route like this, Plus for $21 including shipping?  I cant even buy the wood locally at that price, plus the labor involved.  I got one really nice Tele  neck for a build too.  I have the wood for that one Its simply a matter of finding the time to get it done.   

 

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This seller has multiple body listings This one below looks more like maple to me.  The one above he other listings as Barrel Wood, whatever that's supposed to be.  Real barrels are typically made of Oak. Guess I'll just have to wait and see what shows up. 

As far as finish goes I'll likely do this one using Tung oil.  I have 3/4 of a can left which is plenty. It will yellow the wood for a more antique look which will match the Yellow lacquer neck I have too. I already have the pickguard and pickups too so I wont have to mess with that much.  I should be able to complete this build for under $100 in parts and have a pretty decent player when I get done. 

 

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Edited by WRGKMC

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I finally got this one built. Had several complications along the way.

First, The body really had me spooked when I first got it. I swear I never had a guitar body so light.  At first I thought someone was playing a joke on me. The thing is ,made of Candlenut Wood which is darn near as light as Balsa wood.  A normal start body weighs between 7~8 Lbs. depending on the wood type.  This one cant weigh more then 1.5~2Lbs tops.  It had me worried about whether I could actually put screws in it and have them hold but so far so good. 

I first stained it with some Blueberry Stain I got at Home Depot, then used Tung oil which seems to be my favorite lately.  I could have left the stain slightly lighter but its still not bad as is. The wood was fairly soft and it did soak up the stain quite deeply so I didn't have much of a choice besides thinning it.  Tung oil works well with oil based stain so there is no rejection.

The mounting of the electronics and hardware went as planned and uneventful.  Strats are one of the easiest guitars to assemble so long as you take a little time to measure things out. 

I had the choice or 4 different necks including a really nice Tele neck with a rosewood fretboard.  I settles using the all maple Strat neck with the large headstock.

While waiting for some additional hardware to arrive I went to work touching up the frets.  That's when I discovered something very wrong. The neck had thin SS frets and a dual action Truss Rod which means it could be pitched forward or back.  Something definitely didn't look right so I used my notched straight edge to first try and get the fretboard level but I could only get the high or low side level leaving the other side bowed back or having too much relief.  I may have been able to compensate using extra high frets and leveling them but the neck looked twisted which pretty much meant a lost cause.  

Then I noticed the fret board got progressively thicker near the nut on the high side. It wasn't just a little either it was almost 2mm thicker compared to the other side. Whoever made this one totally botched plaining the thing properly.  I figure what the heck, it was a new challenge and I didn't like those thin frets anyway.  I cracked out my electric sander and straight edge and went to work leveling the thing. The work went better much then I had hoped. Had it dead level as best as I could get it short of using a belt sander.

Next I had to put a finish back on it.  The neck had a really nice yellow finish which I wasn't going to be able to match without buying yellow lacquer. I instead put a coat of lacquer on it followed by 2 coats of Tung Oil. Looked really good so I went ahead and installed the frets then did another coat of the Tung oil over the frets to seal their edges. Other then one small blemish near the nut I really cant complain.  I only had one fret that wound up being a little high so I removed very little material leveling and re-crowning and it plays like a dream.  Its a wider Strat neck but its not chunky.  It actually plays allot like my old LP Deluxe did.

I still have a little cosmetic work to do and I want to find some different caps for the tone controls which wound up being a bit too mild.  

Best part by far is the tone of this thing.  I knew the body would resonate quite a bit because it had a bell tone when I tapped the body. I thought the wood would make a decent Xylophone if cut up.  With it all tweaked and cranked up I quickly realized this things sounded more like a Semi hollow body then my actual semi Hollow bodies do. The sound is really bright but not lacking in full range sound at all.  If anything I call it a bright Jangle with just enough bottom end so it doesn't sound thin.  Its almost three dimensional because the acoustic sound mixes with the electric making it sound three dimensional.  Cranked up and tapping the body I can male any of the 6 strings self sustain with the A string being dominant.  No problem getting Strat Midrange Talk Tones from this one. Cranked its has excellent chime harmonics at all the fret intervals. This thing rocks plus the floating bridge is working well. That graphite grease under the bridge makes it come back to perfect pitch. 

I have some gold hardware mixed with silver.  I had ordered a chrome jack plate but received gold.  Now I'm debating on making this one gold or chrome all the way.  No rush at this point.  nothing special on the pickups either.  They are actually noiseless Squire pickups which have ceramic magnets. I know that's sacrilegious for a Strat but they actually sound quite good both clean or driven and don't have low output issues like the TX Specials have in one of my other Strats. 

In all its a tad neck heavy but it doesn't neck dive.  Its light weight makes it practically unnoticeable when strapped up.  I cant weight to do some recordings with this one and see how well it mixes with other instruments.   The most I might have to do is a little fret polishing here and there and its good to go.   

 

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4 minutes ago, WRGKMC said:

A normal strat body weighs between 7~8 Lbs. depending on the wood type. 


More like 3.5 - 4.5 pounds for a raw (unfinished) alder or lightweight swamp ash body. Seven and a half to eight and a half pounds is the typical weight for an entire strat, maybe a tad more in some cases (especially in the case of the 70s era ash bodied examples) - but you're right in thinking that a 2 pound strat body is extremely light. I've never heard of  candlenut wood being used for a guitar body before, but it sounds like it's an inexpensive alternative wood that's really light in weight - kind of like paulownia wood. 

In any case, your project guitar looks like it turned out really nice - I like the overall look of the finish - well done! :cool2: 

So... how does it sound? Does the wood feel resonant? 

 

 

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Happy New Build Day. The guitar looks really good. The combination of the finish and the tortoise pickguard turned out well.

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9 minutes ago, DeepEnd said:

The combination of the finish and the tortoise pickguard turned out well.

 

Agreed - that was a really good pickguard choice for use with that body finish IMO. 

 

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a strat body with such a large pick up cavity looks like it was tortured :)

 

but still very nice build :)

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Actually those unfinished photo's weren't delivered.  The large cavity is called a Boat route and is typically found on Squire Strats.  The vendor had a tracking number that showed delivery in Chicago and I live in Houston so I got a refund and reordered through another company.  The body I did wind up getting had a HSH routing which I actually wanted in case I wanted to try some other pickup combinations.

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23 hours ago, Phil O'Keefe said:


More like 3.5 - 4.5 pounds for a raw (unfinished) alder or lightweight swamp ash body. Seven and a half to eight and a half pounds is the typical weight for an entire strat, maybe a tad more in some cases (especially in the case of the 70s era ash bodied examples) - but you're right in thinking that a 2 pound strat body is extremely light. I've never heard of  candlenut wood being used for a guitar body before, but it sounds like it's an inexpensive alternative wood that's really light in weight - kind of like paulownia wood. 

In any case, your project guitar looks like it turned out really nice - I like the overall look of the finish - well done! :cool2: 

So... how does it sound? Does the wood feel resonant? 

 

 

I don't disagree.  I think those weights may have been for a loaded body.  Warmouth says the average Strat body weight is 5 lbs. and the complete guitar 8lbs which sounds about right.   One thing for sure, if a regular Strat is 8 lbs,  the one I built is half that weight. 

I played it again all last night for about 5 hours tweaking its settings to as close to perfection as I could get it.   I have the tremolo floating with 2 springs and can wobble the chord and have it come back to perfect pitch.  Playing chords is a dream on it too. 

I do have the high E and B strings hanging a bit.  I used cloned Kluson style tuners (without the split shaft)   I think the cheap plastic adaptor bushings I used  are pinching the tuner shafts a bit and the thin strings aren't producing enough pull.  I'm going to smooth and lubricate them when I change strings and see if that helps, if not I'll get some better tuners.  I went with the Kluson type for a reason. The strings angle down close to the headstock which produces less friction on the string trees. This helps reduce string binding and seems to help with the tone too.  Between that and having Traditional l Fender Bent steel bridge saddles really bring out the fender tones in a string.  Those thick metal saddles have a different tone to them. 

The other thing is I used the cheap plastic nut that came with the neck.  Didn't cost me anything and I can decide if I want to go with Bone, Brass, or graphite nut.  So far the guitars tone has been telling me bone is the ideal match for this one. 

 

The Tortoise shell pickguard did wind up being a good match on this one.  I was tempted to try something like an orange sparkle, but got lazy.  I already had this one with the pickups loaded so it was mounted first.   I got a set of locking strap locks for $2 and used those as well.  I figured with a guitar this light it might slip playing so locking its own strap on there wasn't a bad idea. 

Like I said, I'm in no rush to do any more at the moment.  I'm going to just play it for a month or two and let the finish cure till its rock hard then give it one more sanding to make the body smooth as glass then give it one final coat of Tung oil so its as smooth as a factory guitar.  As of now the finish has some grain lines which create highlights.  I have enough coats on there now where I can sand it smooth as glass then apply one last coat for a mirror finish.  After that I can simply use some swirl remover and paste wax to finish it off. 

I like using Tung because of its durability.  It doesn't scratch or chip like Lacquer does when you ding it. 

Its as darn near as hard as poly when you get enough layers on there. Poly cant be easily patched or sanded when it gets beat up.  Removing its a PITA too.   Tung is not as easily repaired as Lacquer is where you melt the new layer into the old, but since it does have allot of varnish in it and even if it goes on like layers of an onion it covers up what's below quite well so its second on my list for musical instruments.  I just wish they made in an aerosol can so you could spray it on like spray paint.  It would be allot easier to apply without the use of foam brushes and dealing with drip and brush marks. 

 

 

 

 

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I went and weighed the guitars on a digital scale. Surprise, surprise.  I used my Les Paul just to confirm the scale was working right and it weighed 11Lbs as the specs for that model are published. 

I next weighed my 80's Made in Japan Strat.  It came in at 9 Lbs.  It may have been a few ounces lighter before I replaced the neck with a large headstock replacement but also given removed that Fender version of a Floyd  tremolo It likely broke even at 9 lbs. 

After that I weighted a Squire Strat. It has a Boat route so the body has less wood, but its also got a fatter then normal neck.  That one came in at 8.8 Lbs. 

Then I weighed my new light body build. 4.4 Lbs.  That's half the weight of the others. 

 

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