The Black Strat

Aaronoutside

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So I figured that as my second build, I would step it up a few notches and build the body from scratch and do most of the neck work too. I am a huge Floyd fan, and since I don't have an extra $4 million lying around to buy the Black Strat, I decided to build one myself. Used a paper template and then made my own plywood template to get going. I started with alder 6/4 stock and glued up a body block and cut it out in a friends sweet woodshop. Seriously, thanks Steve!
IMG_4672.jpg


My first screwup was using the table router to clean up the edge. I have a nice spiral bit and the majority of the edge went well, but I ripped out the edge in two spots, and had to make some minor adjustments to the shape to get rid of the chewed up edge. I wish I had seen this routing direction pic before I did the edge. Start at the green dots, and head to the red.
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After getting the edge routed, I routed out the body cavities. Started with the template on top, and then took the template off and used the initial cuts as the template.
IMG_4847.jpg

I had to pick up a longer template bit (1in) to cut the full 1.5in depth, but a little time and I knocked it out, no problem.
IMG_4849.jpg

Routed out the edge with a quarter round bit, but should have been a little more careful not to route the back of the neck pocket so that I had the full room to add the backplate. Worked out ok, but something to learn for next time.
IMG_4867.jpg
 

Aaronoutside

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So I figured that as my second build, I would step it up a few notches and build the body from scratch and do most of the neck work too. I am a huge Floyd fan, and since I don't have an extra $4 million lying around to buy the Black Strat, I decided to build one myself. Used a paper template and then made my own plywood template to get going. I started with alder 6/4 stock and glued up a body block and cut it out in a friends sweet woodshop. Seriously, thanks Steve!
View attachment 607466

My first screwup was using the table router to clean up the edge. I have a nice spiral bit and the majority of the edge went well, but I ripped out the edge in two spots, and had to make some minor adjustments to the shape to get rid of the chewed up edge. I wish I had seen this routing direction pic before I did the edge. Start at the green dots, and head to the red.
View attachment 607472
View attachment 607469
After getting the edge routed, I routed out the body cavities. Started with the template on top, and then took the template off and used the initial cuts as the template.
View attachment 607470
I had to pick up a longer template bit (1in) to cut the full 1.5in depth, but a little time and I knocked it out, no problem.
View attachment 607473
Routed out the edge with a quarter round bit, but should have been a little more careful not to route the back of the neck pocket so that I had the full room to add the backplate. Worked out ok, but something to learn for next time.
View attachment 607471
Haven't talked about the neck yet, but I bought a neck blank from Guitar Fetish that was cheep and didn't come with frets. Had to scrape all the finish off and spend a lot of time bringing the shape closer to that I wanted, and then installed some stainless frets. Was my first fret job and I did it all without a fret press. Seemed to work pretty well, but tricky to get it right. Next one, I am going from scratch.
IMG_4354.jpg


Once I had the neck finished, I set up to route out the neck pocket. Did this by clamping two boards next to the neck and making sure they were centered, and then cutting a small block to fit at the base of the neck. Sorry, I forgot to grab a picture, but this was me lining it up.
IMG_4864.jpg

Was pretty tricky to get that nice and tight, and I could have done a better job, but overall, I am pretty happy with the placement.
IMG_4869.jpg

Wanted to make sure I didn't screw anything up too bad, so I drilled the neck bolt holes and attached the neck and strung her up to make sure that I could get intonation and the scale right.
IMG_4874.jpg

Turns out, it actually is a guitar!! Minor issues that I found were
1) I have no idea how to install a vintage floating bridge with a tremolo, so that is going to need some work. I suppose I need to route out the back cavity and install the springs to stand a chance, but still...
2) The zero glide nut system totally failed me. I loved the one that I put on my Les Paul, but the one for the strat is too thin and doesn't have a slot for the zero fret to sit, so it doesn't really work at all. Took out the zero fret to just get an idea of how it would sit, but now I need to cut a new nut. Never done that one before, so should be interesting....
3) now I have to take it apart and spend a few more months working on it before I get to plat it again!
 

Joe Desperado

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Live and learn.. When cutting out a body on the bandsaw, cut as close to the line as you can, but still see the line. This needs to be done all the way around including the cutaway. When pattern routing the body to shape (after being cut on the bandsaw) you still have to take small and shallow cuts. Not all at once. Guys who are good at this may try routing in two passes. Each about 1/2 way through. Then one final pass at full depth if needed. But even 1/4 or 1/2" depth of cut is better and make more passes. Even with a spiral bit, you have to watch routing direction but the cutaway can be confusing. Small shallow cuts until it is almost perfect.

With an 1-3/4" board, you have a ton of real estate that can grab and yank it right out of your hands. We have all had that happen to us. Sometimes more than once. The fix is to remove less wood to get to the final shape.

Good luck
 

smk506

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Haven't talked about the neck yet, but I bought a neck blank from Guitar Fetish that was cheep and didn't come with frets. Had to scrape all the finish off and spend a lot of time bringing the shape closer to that I wanted, and then installed some stainless frets. Was my first fret job and I did it all without a fret press. Seemed to work pretty well, but tricky to get it right. Next one, I am going from scratch.
View attachment 607475

Once I had the neck finished, I set up to route out the neck pocket. Did this by clamping two boards next to the neck and making sure they were centered, and then cutting a small block to fit at the base of the neck. Sorry, I forgot to grab a picture, but this was me lining it up.
View attachment 607477
Was pretty tricky to get that nice and tight, and I could have done a better job, but overall, I am pretty happy with the placement.
View attachment 607479
Wanted to make sure I didn't screw anything up too bad, so I drilled the neck bolt holes and attached the neck and strung her up to make sure that I could get intonation and the scale right.
View attachment 607480
Turns out, it actually is a guitar!! Minor issues that I found were
1) I have no idea how to install a vintage floating bridge with a tremolo, so that is going to need some work. I suppose I need to route out the back cavity and install the springs to stand a chance, but still...
2) The zero glide nut system totally failed me. I loved the one that I put on my Les Paul, but the one for the strat is too thin and doesn't have a slot for the zero fret to sit, so it doesn't really work at all. Took out the zero fret to just get an idea of how it would sit, but now I need to cut a new nut. Never done that one before, so should be interesting....
3) now I have to take it apart and spend a few more months working on it before I get to plat it again!
Regarding the zero glide, I’ve installed 4-5 of these now, mostly on fender style necks. It sounds like yours is defective if it’s too thin for the slot and doesn’t have the step for the fret to rest on. Maybe try calling or emailing the manufacturer for a replacement. I love the the system personally. I’m debating on sending one LtDave for my neck he’s building me, but I kind of want to try one of his hand cut bone nuts too so…
 

Robert Parker

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A thought on your statement about rounding over too much at the heel for the plate:

Consider a sculpted heel and counter-sunk mounting screws instead of a plate. It'll be MUCH more comfortable on those upper frets. Sure, it's not "Vintage Correct" but it works so much better, and you're already partway there!
 

Aaronoutside

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A thought on your statement about rounding over too much at the heel for the plate:

Consider a sculpted heel and counter-sunk mounting screws instead of a plate. It'll be MUCH more comfortable on those upper frets. Sure, it's not "Vintage Correct" but it works so much better, and you're already partway there!
I like that idea. I was already going to use a plate that was angled so that I could sculpt the neck some. Care less about the vintage correct part, and more about how it looks and feels.
 

pavel

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The routing direction diagram with dots predates modern spiral router bits. Doing "downhill cuts" with the large spiral bit has it's own problems.
As Joe recommends, get as close to the line as possible. After the bandsaw, you can get closer with a spindle sander or a Robo Sander.
If you leave about 1mm or so to route off, should be able to do the whole body in one direction in a single pass.
 
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Robert Parker

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I like that idea. I was already going to use a plate that was angled so that I could sculpt the neck some. Care less about the vintage correct part, and more about how it looks and feels.
This is the heel from one of my Teles to give a visual.
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mudface

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Fender Custom Shop
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I like it..... very comfy to play.
 

Aaronoutside

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Made some progress finally. Spent a ton of time sanding and shaping and it looks pretty good.
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Then I started working on the sunburst that is going to go under the black. Well, that isn’t completely true, I am going to do the red and amber and not worry about anything else. Just want a little of the color to pop through when I distress the black paint.
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Now the question is do I put some clear lacquer on top of the color before I spray with the black? I am nitro lacquer and paint so I assume adhesion should be fine and might give me a better chance of seeing the red how I want it. Thoughts?
 

Aaronoutside

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Got the black paint on, this week and it is starting to look sexy a hell.
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Also finished up the neck and wired the electronics. Went for the Gilmour wiring setup with the extra switch so that I can select neck and bridge or all three pickups at once. Also installed a treble bleed circuit so that I don’t get the treble roll off at low volume. I am sticking with the SL5 on the bridge, and some older Fender American pickups for the neck and middle. This is the wiring diagram that I am going off, and my attempt to recreate it.
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Aaronoutside

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Lots of work the past week on this one and it is mostly put together. Still needs a little fine tuning, but I am really liking how well it has come together. I have to say, it was pretty odd beating the crap out of a guitar that I just spent months making perfect. Love the look and feel now though. Plus, that first ding isn’t even going to be noticeable.

Here it is after the paint and finishing was done. I did about 8 coats of nitro, but used semi gloss on the last few since I was going to Relic this. I then wet sanded 1500-2400
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and it was looking pretty smooth.

I used a knife and sand paper to get the wear marks similar to the original. One mistake that I made was that I stained the burst finish on, so it was hard to get down to raw wood. Ow well, I like the red peaking through everywhere even though the original is more yellow. All the electronics are shielded as well.
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Once I scratched off the surface, I went back and sanded up to 3000 to make sure that there weren’t any rough spots, and the finish on the rest of it looked well used. Overall, I am super happy with the result. Still have a little setup to do and really put the electronics to the test, but so far, it sounds great, and looks killer.




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