Warmoth.com darrenriley.com Amplified Parts Lollar Pickups

Warmoth.com darrenriley.com Amplified Parts Lollar Pickups Guitar Pickups

Warmoth.com darrenriley.com Amplified Parts Lollar Pickups Guitar Pickups

Join Strat-Talk Today

Back to Blue... a tale of two strats

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by KCStratman, Nov 29, 2015.

  1. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    When I found my number one CS strat it was hanging in a poorly lit guitar boutique where some fool had traded it in barely two years old. It looked to be black metallic with gold hardware and pearl pickguard, a '50's style reissue with the most gorgeously shaped deep soft V neck I had ever felt. Custom shop strats were still quite rare around '91 and all the very knowledgeable dealer could tell me was "it is a custom strat similar to a Clapton but not a Clapton, call or write to John Cruz at the Fender custom shop." I plunked down my cash - way less than a grand (yes, grown men weep). I carried it outside in its tweed case, laid it on the hood of the car, and opened it up to the bright daylight. It glittered and shone a deep metallic gunmetal blue color with hints of surf green. Wow, and I bought it thinking it was black! I pulled the neck as soon as I got it home and found the stamps and signatures of Art Esparza and Carlos "C.D." Sanchez on neck and body. I quickly dashed off a note to Art asking for any info on this serial number and especially on the paint color. The next Monday the phone rang, "Hi, this is Art from Fender..." couldn't have been nicer, told me all he could remember, they made half a dozen or so in that color, looked great with gold hardware and the pearl guard, some with lace sensors, some with CS 54's or Texas Specials. Basically a '56 type reissue with the deep soft V neck. Two years later I saw one on ebay that appeared to be identical, I quickly sold two nice mics and bought it. It turned out to be a matching twin with serial number a few away from my first one and dated a week apart, dead mint unplayed, for less than a grand (grown men continue to weep). Such is history. These guitars had lightweight alder bodies with very deep forearm bevel and tummy cut, custom color lacquer finish, deep soft V maple neck with light amber lacquer, and gold vintage style hardware except Schaller strap lock buttons that were hot at the time even on vintage style custom strats.
    [​IMG]
     

  2. Hammer 4

    Hammer 4 Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    69
    Apr 26, 2013
    So. Calif.
    Did you buy Lotto tickets soon after you bought those..? :D

    They both look...well, Great!!!..Nice score on both strats..I hate you...:mrgreen:
     

  3. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    In the long term quest to replace at least one of my former pair of '89 CS Stratocasters, lost to the crush of debt and heart surgery following the '08 triumph of the money moguls, I was faced with two choices: come up with five grand or so to order a new one to the same specs, or build it myself. Given my present finances, the former option was out of the question, but over the last twenty years I had become proficient at rebuilding strats from the ground up including finishing my own necks and frets, so I really just needed to expand my skills at body finishing. Fast forward to this past summer, I had acquired an HVLP gun and the desire to spray lacquer. I had done plenty of touch ups over the years and had misspent enough of my youth in a hot rod shop to know how to wet sand lacquer, but had never done a whole body from scratch, so I figured no time like the present before the weather turns too cold as this would be a driveway job, no booth or inside space available. I settled on materials: nitrocellulose sanding sealer and acrylic lacquer, and set about learning to mix my ideal metallic blue. I looked extensively at colors from DuPont and Ditzler/PPG both vintage and contemporary, checked their prices, and quickly settled on mixing my own. I started with Duplicolor's Pro Paint Shop series lacquer in Midnight Blue and metallic pearl additive from PWP Paint With Pearls. The Duplicolor lacquer is inexpensive and easy to work with as it is pre-mixed with thinner. The PWP pearl and metallic pigments are nothing short of incredible with the most eye dazzling jewel colors and ghost pearls imaginable and are safe in everything from automotive lacquer to vinyl tool handle dip to makeup and body paint. I used equal parts Midnight Blue Nightshade and Green-Blue Nightshade (black pearlescent) metallic pigment in the Midnight Blue lacquer base and mixed into clear lacquer as the pearlescent mid-coat, then clear lacquer top coats.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     

  4. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    I started with an extra lightweight one piece alder vintage style strat body from Warmoth and began by extensively sanding down the forearm bevel and tummy cut to more closely mimic an early 50's reissue like an EJ.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     

  5. Guy Named Sue

    Guy Named Sue Beer me up Scotty Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 11, 2015
    Sweden
    Didn't you sell both? Grown men keeps crying:D man everytime i see that picture I start drooling it's the coolest stratocaster specs for me nothing beats them.

    Aah cool!! I do that to I buy already shaped and routed and sand the the cutaway and armrest extra sleek.
     

  6. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    Next, prepped tjhe body with two good coats of nitrocellulose sanding sealer and sanded it smooth to 800 grit.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     

  7. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    Next, four coats of midnight blue base with pearl metallic added, then two mid-coats of clear with pearl metallic, then four coats of clear.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     

  8. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    After wet sanding and buffing out, body gets copper shielding, holes drilled and countersunk for pickguard and output jack, and bridge and tremolo assembly installed.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     

  9. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    The brand new Fender "pure vintage" series bridge had fairly poorly finished surfaces on the underside of the top plate and top of the tremolo block with coarse milling grooves and unlevel spots, so I ground them flat with my fret level beam. I wanted to use a genuine Fender bridge assembly just for nostalgia, but a Callaham would have much finer quality machining and better quality block.
    [​IMG]
     

  10. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    Wiring up the pickups and controls. I went with my usual J taper CTS volume pot and A taper CTS tone pots hand picked to 250K +/- 1k, easy by the dozen, .015uf Russian PIO cap (to spite our adversaries I incorporate their technology) on the bridge tone and a beautiful collector grade .022uf glassine sealed Sprague Vitamin Q cap on the neck and middle pickup that works no better or worse than any other .022uf cap dead on spec, just for nostalgia. For pickups, same as the bridge assembly, I wanted to at least start with Fender factory goods for reference and originality, so I played Eric Johnson - not his music I can't even come close - sorting through several sets of CS '54, Fat 50's, '54 Anniv, and Texas Specials to come up with the sort of combination I had in mind: 50's A5/Formvar neck, 60's A5/Enamel middle, 60's A5/Enamel bridge. After testing several combinations, the Texas Special A5/Enamel bridge pickups were utterly unuseable, such harsh mids and hot oputput. However, one TS middle with fairly low output was one of the best sounding strat middle pickups by itself I have ever heard. I settled on a great sounding CS 54 for the neck and the best CS 54 I could find to match with the middle. (and yes, I did press down the G and D pole pieces quite a ways on all three, not for the squeamish.)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    So, I ended up with Neck: CS '54 5.95k, Middle: CS TS 6.05k, Bridge: CS '54 6.35k. Tone control 1 on Neck and middle with .022uf cap, tone control 2 on bridge only with .015uf cap.
    [​IMG]
     

  11. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    Body assembly ready for neck. The neck I have ordered won't be finished for a month or two, so I temporarily borrowed the neck from my son's strat project which has exactly the same specs: Warmoth vintage/modern one piece flame maple boatneck profile sanded down to deep soft V, 1 - 5/8" nut width, 10-16" compound radius, 22 - 6105 vintage jumbo frets. I gave the frets the once over with my leveling beam and crowning files and polished them out to mirror finish with micro mesh pads, then installed a new set of Kluson Supreme 18:1 high ratio vintage style tuners. Oh my, these are the smoothest vintage style tuners I have ever turned! I have several sets of the Gotoh straight and staggered tuners on other strats and these Kluson Supremes are indeed supreme.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The fit of the Warmoth neck to the Warmoth body could not be tighter period. It required liberal waxing and a firm shove to seat the neck into the pocket and the screws dropped through the holes into perfect alignment. The proverbial cigarette paper could not begin to slide into any seam of the pocket.
     

  12. Guy Named Sue

    Guy Named Sue Beer me up Scotty Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 11, 2015
    Sweden
    Really impressive work! Top notch detail work.
     

  13. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    All together now. The color is close enough to my old guitar and by my own hand, so I am content. The neck by my own hand is the shape I have grown to love with low and silky action and unique hand rubbed finish. The sound is 50's Fender Stratocaster tried and true. For this I am thankful, to be back to blue.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    This guitar approved by Billy.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Uncle Mui likes this.

  14. shovelmike

    shovelmike Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 26, 2013
    Missouri
    Very nice work, KC Stratman!
     

  15. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    Thanks, guys, it has been a journey!
     

  16. Paperback Rocker

    Paperback Rocker Nitro-mancer

    Sep 18, 2014
    Victoria TX
    Awesome story and nice work. Enjoy it!
     

  17. Hammer 4

    Hammer 4 Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    69
    Apr 26, 2013
    So. Calif.
    Really nice work. I too use the vitamin Q pio caps..anyway, just a quick question for you, you painted the body which looks great. just curious why you left the trem cavity unpainted..?

    Congratz on a very nice strat.
     

  18. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    I left a couple of spots plain wood to show the lack of center seam on the one piece body and under the bridge just the two coats of sealer virtually nothing. If I fully execute the Royal's World Series theme, I will add custom decals as commemorative.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     

  19. The Guy

    The Guy Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 23, 2015
    Ex "El Principe"

  20. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    Notes on the sound quality after quick test, pos 1 neck CS 54 sounds excellent rich and pipey but a tiny bit on the bright side, pos 2 neck/middle very good very glassy but bass rich, pos 3 middle excellent very rich bassy almost like a second neck pickup, pos 4 middle/bridge very good to excellent glass and quack close to my ideal of Clapton on Let it Rain, pos 5 bridge CS 54 excellent bright and reedy but not too obnoxious and correct highs edge to blend with the middle pickup for the all important pos 4 because I seldom if ever use the bridge pickup by itself. Because the TS middle pickup is hotter and so mid-low rich it has to be set way down to balance with the other two in pos 2 and 4. I think a Fat 50's around 6.0k in the middle may end up being an easier balance with the two milder pickups. I must say this combo has a very glassy on-the-edge-of-pick-harmonics sound and overall is very good to excellent but not absolutely outstanding balance and smoothness. Compared to my EJ with Fralin 54s A3/Formvar that measure N 5.8k, M 5.8k, B 6.4k side by side into my 5F2A princeton head and 61 Jensen p12Q the Fralins are just a bit smoother richer high mids, better balanced from one pickup to another without big height adjustments, and just as hot output, bright and stratty in all positions just a bit smoother and richer than the A5 Fender pickup assorted set. Like I say, going to a different middle pickup that matches better like a Fat 50's may be my ticket to better balance, because the RWRP TS middle is very quiet in the combo positions just too low-mid heavy and too hot overall. The CS 54 middle pickups are not RWRP is the only reason I avoided them. I really wanted to try actual Fender factory pickups, but I think I see a set of Fralin Vintage Hots in my future...