By | May 4, 2012

I am going to start the world of building and crafting guitars the simple way – I’ve ordered the stuff to build a pretty unique stratocaster styled design – is a custom guitar building company in Washington State that allows you to build a guitar online that they produce for you – to whatever level of finish you want.  Other places like allow you to buy a complete package but being the control freak I am I chose this route.

I started by choosing what type of guitar I wanted – the shapes aren’t all that important to me, and I found the one I wanted mainly by the top laminate that was on the guitar – that and the ability to have the guitar “Chambered” – that means that (see left) the guitar is strategically relieved of it’s wood to lighten the guitar without sacrificing needed strength.Next I needed to figure out how the guitar would function – what configuration of pick-ups (pups for short) would be in the rig, how would the controls be arranged, where would the holes be for the electronics, etc…

I settled on a rear route (to avoid damaging the maple) with three pickups –  two ‘humbuckers’ (cancels noise) and one Strat styled single coil pickup in the center.  I also wanted to get a locking tremelo and use the Stratocaster controls for it.  So the guitar (minus the real maple laminate; you’ll get to see that shortly – I was able to select a specific piece of wood that went on my body, ergo the computer can’t show the specific one when I’m reproducing the build after the fact for this article) would look like this in their website.

From there it starts getting artistic; the guitar needs to be finished, and I certainly don’t have the chops to do that myself (yet; and maybe I do but I’m scared! 😉  ) I went with an amber dye and a natural masked binding – the natural masked binding simply means they tape of the area where the pearl/white binding that wraps the edges of a guitar to mimic real binding – with the dye and the quilted maple the results should be stunning…  sadly it’s a subtle effect and doesn’t play nicely with the small web friendly images. With that I moved onto the neck – I’ve always liked the way a les paul headstock looks (the 3-3 configuration vs all six strings in a row like the SRV strat) – also I didn’t want to just copy the les paul styling, so I selected the Warmoth style.  This headstock has a nice flowing feature on the top and it’s refined, simple and it’s just pretty. The fingerboard needed to be dark – primarily because the fingerboard is not usually treated to color or dyes because it’s a high friction environment and quickly the finish would just muddy up.  So rather than having blond and amber maple clashing, I went with Pau Ferro on flame maple for the neck. Lastly were the choices on inlays for the fingerboard – again I wanted to differentiate so I selected their sharkfin style that has a slightly out of kilt triangle getting ever smaller down the frets. I’ll post again with more about the hardware and as the build progresses.
Essentially this is what my guitar will look like without it’s routing and guts….    That’s my photoshop skills showing, not a hard edge on the headstock 😉    Check out the next installment in this build!