pre-Tender Ozcaster (Stratocaster) build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by cdscarter, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. cdscarter

    cdscarter Senior Member

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    So, even though I told myself I wasn't going to building anymore guitars until I had completed/overhauled my last two builds and a restoration and even more so because I am away from home, I have somehow ended up building another guitar for myself whilst assisting in the build of a second guitar.

    The plan came about after I began giving guitar lessons to a guy who lived nearby. During the lesson he'd mentioned he wanted to build a guitar and that he had some 50 year old mahogany planks in his garage along with some some Victoria Ash/Tasmanian Oak (he wasn't sure where it came from - same thing though). After mentioning I had built a couple of guitars, we decided we were going to dive in.

    We decide we were both going to do neck-thru designs, I was going to base mine off my Stratocaster and he was going to use it for the neck dimensions and routing but has decided to make his own shape which I am yet to see. Ultimately the only differences between our guitars will be the 'wings'. At least how the plan is at the moment.

    Current specs for me are going to be:
    Hard Tail Bridge
    Pickguard mounted Brian May Burns Trisonics
    Locking tuners

    We began by cutting the Ash plank into 50mm wide planks. We plan to use three each for the neck/body part with the centre piece being a slightly thinning piece of Ash. Mixed in with some 20mm thin Mahogany and it should look pretty decent. We came to the 50mm based on the thickness of the guitar we're working off and then adding a bit extra for error and also because we are playing around with the idea of some semi-hollow wings.

    pre-Tender Build 1.jpeg

    You might be able to see that some of these planks look quite 'pink' in colour (maybe a bit better in the next picture) and we have tried to match them as best we can so both our necks will be pretty uniform.

    pre-Tender Build 2.jpeg

    I think this next picture is the bit of mahogany that was thinner and we ended up cutting four planks from it to make up the five piece neck. Once we sanded them back a bit, they did look gorgeous.

    pre-Tender Build 3.jpeg

    And this is where we ended up as of Sunday. We would have gotten a bit further but the glue we had planned to use had gone off in the heat. Hopefully it got glued up today and will be ready for some more work on it tomorrow.

    pre-Tender Build 4.jpeg

    Until next time..
     
  2. Skyjerk

    Skyjerk Meatbomb Silver Supporter

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    Its kinda funny that all my builds are neck-through with laminate necks with the sole exception being the Stratocasters I've built. All my builds are my own designs, again with the sole exception being the Strats. I love Strats. I have two in progress right now...

    I've probably not done a neck-through Strat yet because I enjoy the simplicity of building Strats. Two pieces, flat top, no binding, bolt-on neck, etc. So much easier than my own designs...Always intend to do a neck-through Strat but I never seem to do it....

    I'll be watching your progress with interest :)
     
  3. cdscarter

    cdscarter Senior Member

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    That's a shame because it was actually going through some of your builds that made be decide on going for a neck thru :rofl:

    This is going to be quite a new challenge for me, having never made a neck thru and also because we don't actually have any proper templates, everything is being measured off my Stratocaster and decisions are still a work in progress and will be made on the fly. We're hoping to get everything glued today, possibly begin cutting the wings and begin making some templates. Also get to see the other design tonight - should be interesting. But any advice throughout this build will be greatly appreciated.
     
  4. Stinky Kitty

    Stinky Kitty Senior Member

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    Love neck through, string through! Can't wait to see your build unfold..
     
  5. cdscarter

    cdscarter Senior Member

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    So just a quick update on where we're at. All the parts we need to progress with this build have now been ordered from Stewmac. No idea how long they will take to get to Australia, it says between 1-4 weeks so we could be waiting a while. We've decided on Maple fretboards for these two guitars as, thanks to CITES, we can no longer get the rosewood in pre-slotted without extortionate prices here and the ebony was a bit too expensive. We have also tentatively decided that we may need to raise the board a bit higher on the neck for us to not need neck angles so we have some 4mm thick Austraian hardwood veneers which are nice and dark and would look very nice under the light board.

    One question I do have is to do with making the Stratocaster build a semi hollow body. It occured to me that I will still need to do the arm and stomach contour on the guirar, especially as I have made the guitar a bit thicker. Is this going to cause issues for carving these out, or am I just going to need to make a very small chamber?
     
  6. mux164

    mux164 Senior Member

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    Eric Johnsons new signature is a thinline strat but I have no idea how they did it with the carves
     
  7. Skyjerk

    Skyjerk Meatbomb Silver Supporter

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    Someday I'll make a neck-through Strat. I just have too damn many guitars I want to build :)
     
  8. cdscarter

    cdscarter Senior Member

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    Just some pictures from the progress we have made so far. Not a lot happening at the moment due to work and different schedules between me and my co-conspirator but the necks are out of the clamps. We used a resin glue between the multiple pieces. Seems to have worked nicely with no gaps in between each piece.

    Lots of clamps to make sure nothing is moving. They look a bit of a mess here and things weren't quite as equal as we had initial hoped. However, we made these extra deep for this exact reason, we have plenty of wood to put through the thicknesser.

    preTender 443.jpeg

    This is after we did one face with an electric plane. Really pleased with how it looks, think it will look amazing when the neck is carved out of it. One thing we have realised is that we probably made the middle three pieces a little too thick as we believe we're going to end up with Mahogany on the outside of the neck by the first few frets that then blends into the Victorian Ash. Either going to end up looking awesome, or rubbish. We will see.

    preTender 445.jpeg

    Also thinking that it isn't going to be practical to make a semi hollow Stratocaster whilst maintaining the contoured body. I have looked at a couple of examples of a non-contoured body, but all had double binding which isn't something that is available to me at the moment. What are other people's views on this? I do already have a Stratocaster so should I go with something a little different?
     
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  9. cdscarter

    cdscarter Senior Member

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    Just quick update - internet has been down at home for two weeks now so no ability to upload pictures (work breaks are a blessing for accessing MLP right now). Pictures will follow, but all the parts we needed to continue have turned up, truss rod channels have been cut and we have glued and rough cut our 'wings'. The grain on the mahogany looks beautiful under the wet glue so hopefully that will follow through when we clear coat them.

    Now a quick question - it won't be too long before we're getting to the point off adding some hardware, I'm planning to test fit everything before I go to finish the guitar. But I have no idea what to purchase first. The bridge + tuners so I can actually locate the bridge or the pickups as I don't currently have anything to use as a template for the pickup routes but I do have an old hardtail bridge (non-through body) that I could potentially use until I purchase mine. Any suggestions? Pickups or hardware?
     
  10. cdscarter

    cdscarter Senior Member

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    So our internet is finally up and running and a fair amount of work has been done on the guitar - I certainly feel that I could have planned things a little better, maybe been a bit more prepared, however I am happy with how things are going at the moment.

    This is the maple board I am using - we realised that we are going to have to raise the board a bit higher as the neck is level with the body and we'd either have to raise the board or lower the bridge, raising the board being the easier and somewhat more sensible option.

    guitar build 2.jpeg

    Also managed to get the truss rod channel cut and it fits perfectly and the neck has been partially cut out. Final cuts are going to be completed once we have got the sides on. As you can see, I made some fret markers - I used really fine mahogany dust from the guitar sanding and mixed with some epoxy. I am quite happy with how they came out, however one or two are slightly off centre. Really hoping that, with the frets in and strings on, it won't be so noticeable.

    image3.jpeg

    Stratocaster guitar - with a firebird-esque headstock, should look sexy. (Excuse the feet)

    image4.jpeg

    Pickup routing - using the old pickguard as a template.

    image5.jpeg

    And they still need a bit of clearing up.

    image6.jpeg

    And now this is where we left it as of last night. The wings are glued on now so tomorrow I plan to route out the actual shape of the guitar and start sorting out control cavities etc.

    image7.jpeg

    All in all I am very happy with how things are turning out. Finally beginning to look like a guitar to me. Also, my hardware turned up yesterday so I now have:

    Gotoh Locking Tuners (gold)
    Gotoh String Through Hardtail Bridge (gold)

    Plus a lot of small bits including the nut, a string tree and the output jack socket.

    Now I have to decide pickups - any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. My initial plan had been to go with the Burns Trisonic Minis - especially after seeing Queen the other night in Brisbane (it was amazing might I add). However a) they are very difficult to get hold of in Australia and b) they are silver, which I'm not sure will look very good when I have all gold hardware. I just don't want something that is going to sound like my Stratocaster - I really want something that is going to be different to my other guitars. Other ideas have included the Xotic 50's single coils or Seymour Duncan Stratbro 90 (I do love a P90 sound).
     
  11. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    This looks great, once I've finished my LP build then I'm going to have a go at a straight-thru something :D Loving the look of that laminate ..

    One (possibly very daft) question - would the height of the fretboard not already be enough clearance for the strings to the bridge without raising it?
     
  12. cdscarter

    cdscarter Senior Member

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    To be honest I’m not 100% sure. On my stratocaster as other similar guitars, the fretboard/neck is about 7mm (I think - don’t hold me to that) above the rest of the body. Now the bridge I have sits a few mm high from the base plate so I feel like I’ll need to raise the fretboard just a bit. At least the same height as the base plate.

    Ultimately my main train of thought here is that, if it was too low then I gave a big problem from a playability standpoint. If I make it a bit higher, I can easily raise the saddles a bit more and still have a low action.
     
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  13. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    I was just thinking that a raised fretboard might look a wee bit odd and then I thought that maybe a recessed base plate would look incredibly cool :)

    I have no experience with neck through designs so I'm keen to see your work as it progresses!
     
  14. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    Are you mounting more modern strat singles....because obviously the vintage type with the triangle bottom will need a lot more routing work.
     
  15. cdscarter

    cdscarter Senior Member

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    The recessed bridge is something we are considering for both the guitar being built, but we haven't come to a full decision yet. A lot is still being done as we go along.

    As for the pickups, the plan is still to mount some Burns Trisonic Mini Pickups. The routing is not completely done however. Because of the nice looks of the wood, we decided not to go with pickguards, so I am routing a larger cavity in the back (like a normal Stratocaster) and the pickups will be put in through there as there is no tremolo. This will then be covered by a piece of wood made from leftover neck so it should be fairly seamless. Fingers crossed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  16. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    Nice idea.

    Another option for pickups is perhaps an '8bird' from Zhangbucker. Its an Alnico 8 rod pickup that kind of sounds closer to a Firebird than a strat.
     
  17. Zhangliqun

    Zhangliqun Senior Member

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    I came up with the idea thinking it would be just a beefy Strat bridge pickup without needing a heavy wind. But it actually does sound, so oddly, like a Firebird bridge. You never know what you're going to stumble into when you try something new in the shop.

    Made a couple with A6 rods too, they were kinda bland. Maybe a different wind will bring something out of the 6...
     
  18. cdscarter

    cdscarter Senior Member

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    Certainly an interesting idea on the 8bird, but how well do they work as a set? Again though, are they going to be a pain to get here in Australia - that has been my biggest hurdle so far.

    Now for my first update - completely changed my mind about the shape, after some deliberation, I have this now...

    image1.jpeg

    I kid, I kid - that is actually the other guitar that we are building alongside the Stratocaster. I quite like it, wasn't sure on the design when my co-conspirator tried to explain it to me, but after seeing it, it is growing on me. Like a pointier, really small SG.

    As for my one - progress.

    Parts have arrived!

    image4 (1).jpeg

    So much gold. I think, with the mahogany hopefully going quite dark with the lacquer, the gold will look really nice on it.

    And after a bit of sanding and cleaning up, we are left with this.

    image5 (1).jpeg image6 (1).jpeg

    Also did some routing on the back of the guitar for the electronics and also to relieve a bit of weight - after all, I do have to transport this back to England with my other two guitars. The first cut clearly wasn't as square as we had hoped however it will be covered by the back plate which matches the laminated mid section so no one will ever know... apart from me, my friend, anyone who opens it and any of you who read it. Other than that. Shhhhhh, it's a secret.

    image9.jpeg

    We also had a slip up when routing the outside of the guitar. We also has one on the top part, but it wasn't as bad and we could sand it out with only a slight alteration to the shape. This one is a bit too deep. My plan is to use a slightly larger radius on the edges and sand it back a small amount and see where that leaves me. If it is still an issue, then I will have to fill it with a scrap piece, but seeing as this will be a clear finish, I am not sure how good it will look.

    image8.jpeg

    Hopefully more will get done tomorrow. Certainly hoping to get the truss rod channel cleaned up a bit and the fretboard glued on. But we shall see.
     
  19. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    Unless the pickups are in Aus already.....then you will have to have them shipped here. I think $16 or $20 is his international shipping which is about the same as a parcel sent interstate. As to how the set would work together - well he's a custom winder so custom winds sets to sound good together.

    Guitar making here generally requires international shipping of a lot of things......that tends to make 'a pain to get' threshhold a lot more troublesome than merely 'not just walking into a shop and buying on the spot'
     
  20. Zhangliqun

    Zhangliqun Senior Member

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    Would not recommend A8 pickups for the neck and middle, A8 has extra string pull.
     

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