The Infernal Machine: going back to the Old Religion

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by mudfinger, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    Good times, good times...

    When I was just a pup, still working out barre chords on my acoustic, and dreaming of owning an electric, it was the Fender Stratocaster that I lusted for. Back then, before PRS, Parker, Steinberger, and all the other boutique brands that exist now, the only real legit options were Fender, Gibson, and to a lesser extent, brands like Rickenbacker and Gretsch.

    All of my favorite guitarists from that era played Strats. Jimi, Clapton, Felder, and Gilmour immediately spring to mind. The only LP player that I was really aware of was Page, and I really, really disliked LZ back then. Mostly because I knew they were covering blues tunes that I loved to bits, without any credit to the real writers. But, that's another story.

    By the time I had saved up enough loot to get my first real Strat, EVH and the whole "shredding" style had pretty much taken over the avant-garde of guitar music. Good news for me; I once bought a beat-up, well-used 58 Strat for 400 bucks. :wow: Just to prove how stupid I'm capable of being, I sold it for the exact same price. Eh, they were just used guitars at that point.

    Long story slightly less so, Strats were the only electrics I played for years, as they allowed me to get all of the sounds that my favorite pro players could; Gibsons were way prettier, but I just didn't associate them with the kinda music I was into at that time, mostly blues-rock. But, I was a young guy, and with only a few years into playing guitar, I often struggled with various issues that only a complicated machine like the Stratocaster presents. The breaking point for me came about after I got back into being a singer as well as guitarist; I needed guitars that I could play without having to focus my mental energy on while I sang. Stable tuning, simple controls that were well away from my picking position, etc.

    When I inherited a very heavily modded '68 Custom, complete with an owner installed Floyd Rose :)shock:), I immediately fell in love with it, and the freedom it offered me as a vocalist and performer to focus my attention on singing well, and giving the crowd a good show. Over the years, I went on to refine my tastes, and ultimately found the "perfect" Gibson model for me. That would be the LPDC that Gibson came out with about the time they were suing PRS. To put it bluntly, the Gibson LPDC is the prettiest, best feeling guitar I've ever owned. Wraptail bridge for the ultimate in tuning stability, a lovely carved top, 24 frets, etc, etc.

    In fact, I've always had only real issue with Gibson's guitars; the pickups. On the one hand, it's very easy to get some really cool sounds from them, but I was never able to get some of the sounds I love most. I've known for some time that Strats and, to a lesser extent Teles, are easily capable of making those sounds, and the Tele is even able to get some convincing humbucker tones when setup right. But, as they say, a Gibson is "good enough" :laugh2:

    So, for many years, I just preferred to forego the sonic potential of Strats in favor of the looks and feel of Gibsons, and it was never clear to me until recently that it really is impossible to get some of the sounds that Strats make all day. What to do? I stuck with comfort and looks; this isn't to say that humbuckers don't sound great, or anything like that. It's just the music I hear in my head has alotta Strat tones going on.

    Fortunately, after many hours of discussion with Roman, I came to the conclusion that I would rather put up with all the things I dislike about Strats then continue to ignore how important those sounds they make are to my music. Sound trumps all else.

    I've already regaled folks on a few other forums with the tiresome tale of my painful return to the Old Religion, and this post is getting pretty epic all by itself, so I'll just point out that my return to the dark side has finally begun in earnest. This is what arrived at Casa De Lefty yesterday, courtesy of a very chill UPS deliveryman:

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]

    I'll post up the specs in the next post, along with some of the other reasons that I'm going back to Jimi's Old Religion, but I do gotta say, Warmoth makes one helluva good Strat neck. :thumb:
     
  2. WildeStarr

    WildeStarr V.I.P. Member

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    Warmoth makes great stuff. They made two 8 string bass necks for me.

    :thumb:
     
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  3. cynic79

    cynic79 Senior Member

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    That looks like a VERY big neck!
     
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  4. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    It's freakin' huge. I love it. :laugh2: Fatback profile is what it's called on the Warmoth site. Way thicker than any of the necks on all of the LPs I've owned. Very easy on the hands, the way I play. I don't think I've ever owned a guitar with a compound fretboard radius, so I'm interested to see how that works out. I really dig the truss rod adjustment setup, too. It's hidden away in the walnut plug on the headstock; simple and elegant. :thumb:

    This is a really fine neck; the grain is nice, and stands out. The frets are 6100 stainless steel, and have a very large profile, which I like. Well-seated, too. The fret shoulders are steeper than I'm used to seeing, and the edges are of the shoulders are sharp and unfinished, but I prefer to be the one doing that, so it's actually a plus for me. :D Ready for final setup, as it were.

    The nut is black tusq, which will do for now while I build the guitar. Tuner holes are vintage type, 11/32", and the heel is drilled for 4 holes. I'll miss the last 2 frets of my LPDC, but not too bad, 22 is still lotsa neck to play with. :naughty:

    I can honestly say I like this neck better than any of the genuine Fender necks I've ever owned, just on the merits of the 22nd fret and truss rod adjustment deal. Hopefully I can do it justice during the finishing process. :eek2: Still working out the details on all of that; I wasn't expecting this thing to arrive for at least another week.

    Still on the lookout for a cheap, legit Fender body, but no rush, the neck won't be ready for a bit. :hyper: Gotta say, it's nice to have a maple neck again; I dig the way they look and feel after they get worn in. But, first things first.
     
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  5. teame1

    teame1 Senior Member

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    58 strat 400 bucks.............I couldn't read beyond that point.
     
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  6. cynic79

    cynic79 Senior Member

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    How much are you looking to spend on the body? American only, or Mexican as well (I assume Squier doesn't count)?
     
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  7. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    :laugh2:

    Paid some ridiculously low prices for gear back then; I bought a few blackface Fender Twins for 200 bucks a pop, 60 bucks for a blackface Champ, 300 bucks for a 67 dead-mint Marshall 4x12 with real greenbacks in it, another 300 for an equally dead-mint vintage Hiwatt...more equally astounding Strat deals...the list goes on....how about a totally free Rhodes 77? It was all just used crap at that point; everybody and his brother was raising money to buy Jacksons and Kramers and such. :laugh2:

    I really can't even remember all the details of every deal I made, but I was literally the only guy in my entire rehearsal complex who had any interest in what we now call "vintage sound". But ya know, I went through a few Marshalls back then, too, and I don't remember ever paying more than 400 for one; at one point, I had 3 or 4 heads stacked up by the wall of my studio, all with blown transformers. I'm pretty sure I just left them there when I moved out, along with a Leslie 147 that I had paid mebbe a 100 bucks for. :shock:

    If only I had even the foggiest clue that any of that stuff would someday be worth a fortune. If only...:(
     
  8. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    I can score an unfinished Warmoth alder body for 175, so I'm looking at MIA, MIM, and MIJ bodies with the traditional (6-screw) trem mount that are cheap enough to justify the time I'll spend stripping the finish. If I don't find anything alluring enough by the time I've got the funds to snag a set of Callaham hardware, it'll be a Warmoth, if only to get this thing put together and ready to make some noise. :thumb:

    Ebay has some great stuff going, and I know a guy with an MIA Fender that has a crushed neck, thanks to his ex-wife. :shock: He wants a bit much for it, but it might be worth it just for the backstory. :laugh2:
     
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  9. cynic79

    cynic79 Senior Member

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    Wish I'd known. I sold a MIM Strat a month or so ago for $200; I could have parted it out and sold the body to you for next to nothing.

    I'll keep you in mind if I come across a good deal locally.
     
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  10. st.bede

    st.bede V.I.P. Member

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    this will be a fun thread to watch... :thumb:
     
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  11. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    Timing is everything, ain't it? Much obliged to ya for you keeping a lookout. :thumb:
     
  12. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    Here's the hardware I'll be going with as soon as the needed funds accrue:

    Callaham Vintage Guitars and Parts (Strat Parts)

    Just gonna buy the complete kit, prolly with the custom S/N option, and the Vintage Narrow or Mexican Narrow option, depending on the body I end up with.

    Callaham likes stainless steel, and so do I. :thumb:
     
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  13. teame1

    teame1 Senior Member

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    Hey, you got to use all that stuff = result in my book.
    Money ain't everything.......although I bet you wish you still had the 58.
     
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  14. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    That's exactly what I tell myself whenever I wake up at night in a cold sweat. :laugh2: From an investment perspective, ya, it's the guitars I miss the most.

    As a player, I do miss the vintage Strats I've owned generally, but that Hiwatt and Marshall cab is what really haunts me. This:

    [​IMG]

    Dig the extensive pedal setup, just a wah! :thumb: If I recall correctly, the guitar in that pic is an MIJ body with an early 60s pre-CBS neck. :shock:

    But, like you said, the opportunity to own and play all that vintage stuff, most of which I wouldn't actually want to use at this point...extremely valuable experience. Priceless, even. :D
     
  15. st.bede

    st.bede V.I.P. Member

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    From the little I can see that looks like a club that I could of been to, I can't remember the names (Gazaries (?) ) off of sunset blvd. I went down there a few times but the music that was typically being played in those clubs was not the stuff I dug. The only club band I remember seeing in LA was sweat love hogs (?), it was a long time ago and I typical ended up at bigger venues except for jazz... I did see Scofield at the rainbow room (?), that was more my style. I ended up more at The Baked Potato, and that little club upstairs on Ventura blvd... those were ten minutes from where I grew up... whoops, I wrote a lot just to see if that was somewhere I had been... peace

    also A lot of gear here is cheaper (Fresno) so if I can be of help just ask... matter of fact, I should send you some stuff that I have to see because I would be able to sell them for a better price down there... that might be too much of a hassle, just a thought... all good

    (I even miss your Hiwatt)
     
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  16. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    You may be right, Saint; I remember it as a place called "The Cattle Club"...played there many times, knew the folks there well enough, and saw Stevie Ray Vaughan for the first time there. Roman remembers it as "Rajji's", which also sounds real familiar...:laugh2: A good portion of my 20s is lost in a drug and alcohol induced haze, and from what little I do remember of music and culture in the 80's, I'm totally okay with that. :shock:

    Baked Potato is still in business as of a few years back, never played there, but heard some great jams when I lived up that way. If you have some gear to sell, and the difference in price is worth sending it my way to handle the transaction, just lemme know, and we'll sort something out. :thumb:
     
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  17. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    Internet led me to discover this little gizmo. I have zero interest in it, but I did get a kick out of how intricate it was:

    [​IMG]

    Supposed to do everything from keeping your guitar in tune to doing the laundry.:rolleyes:

    The mailman came bearing gifts today in the form of a package from Northern California that arrived at my doorstep this afternoon. :cool: Some very nice items inside; a 3-ply pickguard, knobs, switchtip, tremolo arm tip, a 5-way switch, stainless steel neck screws, and a bone nut blank. :D

    This is turning out to be a very special build, indeed. I can feel the mojo gathering around it already. Also, to my surprise, I'm totally digging the "mint" tint on the guard and knobs, did not expect to like that quite so much. :laugh2:

    [​IMG]

    I spent several hours yesterday restoring order to my workbench, rebuilding the broken lamp, and generally getting ready for the next series of projects, which includes this guitar and the custom battery supply for my pedals (loving the prototype. :D).

    [​IMG]

    Damn, I am loving the look of this plastic, hope I can find pickup covers to match it. :thumb: Did I mention that I'll be winding the pickups for this guitar? :naughty:
     
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  18. Penny Dreadful

    Penny Dreadful Banned

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    Warmoth necks are fantastic. The Strat body they sent me was a 7/10 at best.
     
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  19. Strato

    Strato Banned

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    great trip through time Mudfinger. Nice to remember the good ole days brother. Hope this turns out great for you.
     
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  20. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    I've heard similar things from others; everyone agrees the necks are top-rate. I've only ever ordered 2 bodies from them; one was a mahogany strat body that was 9/10, the other was an alder P-bass body, only 7/10. One thing that tempts me about the Warmoth bodies is the fact that they come unfinished, which would save me the trouble of stripping paint.

    So far, so good. :D This is gonna be a fun build. :slash:
     

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