By | May 12, 2012

Oh yes, I named her already…  It’s bad….

I failed the last post to outline where I’m going with this build diary/journal thingy – let me rectify that now.

1 – Picking my body, neck and equipment (double entendre intended)

2 – Selecting the guts inside the fair lady (this post and next)

3 – How to wire a three humbucker (H-S-H Sizes) Stratocaster style control with my added flavor

4 – Receiving and cataloging gear as it comes in

5 – Build Step 1 – Add the big bits and make it look like a guitar

6 – Build Step 2 – Routing and wiring and soldering, oh my!

7 – Finish work (knobs, switch caps, tuning machines, etc)

8 – First time making noise!

9 – Problem solving

10 – Final product..

If my luck holds and my estimating skills are decent I’m at the end of 10 with a coprophagia grin that is etched on my face!  Onto installment #2 (more dbl entr)…

After placing my order with Warmoth, I was onto the business of figuring how to make the guitar sing.  This means choosing how the sound will eventually get from the strings to the output jack (and out there…).  Starters were the pickups – for the uninitiated (and maybe some of the old timers) pickups are nothing more than magnets, copper wire (mostly) and a housing to make it work in a gorilla pawed customer base.  The special thing about pickups is the WAY in which those components are selected, what order they are built in and the rules used when winding the wire around the magnets.  Over the history of the industry, the pup-wonks (pickups are abbreviated as pups, pu’s or pup in this world) have literally wound millions of pickups and designed I’m sure in the thousands of variations that  make the cut to the marketplace.  Crazy art associated with the mad scientist and modern engineering manufacturers use.

Enough of me gushing – Bertha has a three pups design (Neck, Middle and Bridge – named so as it’s just above the component called the ‘bridge’).   Before I begin, let me preface to avoid a veritable storm of h8rs my way – pickup selection is as personal as which operating system, church, political party or any other purely optional choice.  There are those who are incapable of seeing choices beyond their own as OK – I’m not writing FOR you; I’m sharing WITH you and if it’s not content befitting you eyes please take appropriate action (re: cya).  (whew)

After much toil and search I chose the Seymour Duncan company over DiMarzio and a host of others – not primarily because product is better because there’s just no way to know before you’ve played them yourself.  It was mostly based on experiences I’ve had with SD in the past, and I figured it would be a good start.

Typically (in my experience) pickups in the neck have the most bold tone in the pickup package.  Think of “Freebird” and the heavy rhythm work starting midway in that Lynyrd Skynyrd song – I’d describe the neck pickup as the chunky guitar in the slight background just killing the chords to underpin everything else going on.  They are thick sounding pups compared to the other two positions.

Next I’m going to jump to the Bridge pup position – this is the selection that we all see soloists or lead guitars take when they want to take hold of the audience;  the sound is thinner and can be nasally in some models.  Bridge pickups are by far the biggest group of pup available from the manufacturers where guitarist want to replace their stock pickup for something with more hair, boost, upper tone and other features mass market pups just won’t have (cuz it’s expensive to build quality most times).

Middle pickups are mostly found in standard Fender Stratocasters where the config is three single coil pups (also shown as S-S-S).  At some point, crazy people (descriptive, not pejorative – I’m crazy!)  started installing and building models with three humbucking pups (also shown as H-H-H) into guitars (See the Gibson Black Beauty Les Paul as reference).  This middle pup is in my eyes a chance to blend tones from the heavier, think tone of the neck pup and the sharp, bright tone of the bridge.  This pickup is used for all kinds of reasons however and they range with the level of loony-ness of the builder/client.

After that explanation I should inform you of my choices – I selected for a chambered Strat; Maple on Swamp Ash. The neck is a Maple w/Pau Ferro fingerboard and a Schaller locker. H-S-H routing (all that stuff matters apparently):

For the Neck – SH-10 Full Shred (7.4k resonant freq; EQ – Treble-8; Mid-4; Bass-4)
For the Middle – SHR-1 Hotrails (10.8k resonant freq; EQ  – Treble-4; Mid-7; Bass-5)
For the Bridge – Dimebucker (16.25k resonant freq; EQ –  Treble-8; Mid-5; Bass-6)

The pickup pictures are posted in the final guitar picture.

(Whew – to keep it managable, the rest of this post is located here – thanks for taking the time to check it out!)

click for full size

Lateness and laziness kept from the perfection pickup photoshop inserts; there’s a better composition shot in the next post. Again, thanks for reading!