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Discussion in 'DIY Strat Forum' started by nutball73, Apr 8, 2020.
In a parallel universe, Brian May decides he could have made a better Red Special...
This was my approach to making a similar plate. What the videos don't really explain – with 8 years' hindsight – is how I used objects from around the house that happened to have the right radius (ie 2ltr water plastic bottle) to wrap my abrasive paper around*. That enabled me to achieve smooth curves that are otherwise very hard to achieve.
*Actually, I make it pretty clear in the second video, about 2:10 onwards.
Back from the Easter break (those chocolate eggs won't eat themselves, you know).
The Wilkinson bridge turned up. Fitting wasn't completely straightforward, because the posts on the Wilkinson bridge are much beefier than the Gibson, so fitting the bridge to the Gibson studs was sloppy. Wilkinson are metric threads, so the posts don't screw into the original body inserts. Pulling the Gibson inserts was easy for number one, but a bit of a pain for number 2, but that just needed some inventive thinking. Then it turns out that the OD of the Wilkinson inserts is actually slightly smaller than the Gibson, so the holes had to be dowelled and drilled...
Anyway, that done, next was to test fit the bridge pickup, and cut down the Tele bridge so it fits between the stop tail studs and mounts hidden under the bridge.
I managed to find some 1.2mm stainless sheet on Amazon (it's a door push) so I hope I'll be able to fabricate a control cover from that rather than the mirror plastic I have.
I think I'll get that done and fit everything up Esquire mode before I start hacking holes in the body for the neck pickup.
Here's the test fit - the pickup plate isn't screwed down yet, but you get the gist...
Stainless steel is a swine to work with, because the added chrome makes it really hard. Hope you're good at sharpening drill bits!
Yes, I've used stainless before and I agree. But it polishes up nicely and doesn't turn your fingers black like ally!
I have some Cobalt jobbies that seem to be pretty good for drilling - we'll see.
While I wait for the stainless, I thought I'd assemble what I have and check action, alignment etc.
All is good - the action is down to 1.6mm bass/1mm treble tuned to pitch and with the intonation in the ballpark without buzzing. So I can go up no problem, maybe to eliminate any fretting out. That's way better than with the stock Gibson bridge.
The pickup polepieces line up pretty well too (better than some Tele's I have!).
I'm not happy with the black pickguard finish but it will act as a good template for the Mk2 version when I can get some more material. I'm still tempted to go white, maybe 5 ply (or at least thicker 3 ply).
Playing wise it's great, although the Tele bridge sides are parallel to the body, which means they are at an angle to the strings, which looks odd but doesn't make any difference to playing. Maybe Mk2 will have a flat bridge plate and I'll keep the width by just cutting around the studs, to eliminate the gaps.
I really admire your attention to detail, and the high standards of your work. Before you reach for the router, have you considered these guys? https://www.guitarfetish.com/GFS-Metal-Foil-Single-Coil-Alnico-V-Surface-Mount-Chrome_p_27756.html You'd keep the full length of the neck tenon that way.
They look like fun, but I don't think there's enough height under the strings for one of those. And also that means spending money, which is a bit against the theme. So far I've only had to buy £10 worth of stainless plate (I was getting the bridge anyway) - everything else was just laying around.
The routing for the neck pickup won't be too drastic - the height of the Fender noiseless isn't actually too bad at all.
The stainless plate has just arrived, so I think that'll be the job for tomorrow...
Look forward to the next episode!
A few years ago, I made a replacement part for a vintage DeArmond Rhythm Chief using an old stainless steel knife. It's often the cheapest source of raw material if you don't happen to have a workshop full of the stuff. But it was hard work.
Below is the picture I sent the eventual buyer from Japan, so he could see exactly what was original and what had been replaced.
I've been a bit waylaid with hunting and gathering for the family, so progress has been slower than if I was working on this full time. But I seem to have plenty of time, so what's the rush?
I wasn't happy with the angles on the Fender bridge, so I fabricated a pickup mount out of the cheapo bridge I had laying around - it's flat, so it looks a lot better. I've roughed out the stainless control cover, so next for that will be drilling for controls and screw mounts. I managed to cut it out using a hacksaw and flap wheel attached to a flexible drive and drill - I think it turned out pretty well.
I'm still not happy with the plastic pickguard, so I have some more material on order (Vintage white, just to be different).
Here's how it is so far...
Last one for today. switch and pots in, control plate screwed down.
So far everything I've done is non-destructive, i.e. other than a few screw holes (that would be covered by the scratchplate) there's nothing to stop me going back to how it was.
The next few days... drilling and routing the body for the neck pickup and the jack socket. No turning back from there!
Big respect for the standards you're working to!
Thanks Simon - it's not so good when you look up close! But getting everything in the right place is the important thing. Remaking scratchplates, getting a set of matching screws etc. is no big deal to finish it off.
Well it's all in one piece - a few gremlins with the bridge earth wire, but guess what? It sounds just like a Tele (no surprise there...).
The vintage white scratchplate looks rubbish, so I have some nice thick black stuff coming next week and I'll redo it. Other than that, it's all done - a slight popping when I touch the control plate (I think the bridge pickup is actually responsible - it gives up intermittently, which is why it was in my spares box) but I'll track that down.
Time will tell whether I've weakened the neck joint enough to make it fold in half... oh, and interestingly the neck is maple, which I didn't realise until I hacked away at the tenon!
I might swap the bridge. It's good, but the intonation is still out and I had to swap the adjustment screws for longer ones, because the leading edge is used for the saddle rather than the mid-point on the Gibson.
One last pic, and this thread is over. What next? Maybe strat pickups in my Les Paul Less+? (only joking @Mansonienne).
And for my next trick, I'm going to run XP on my MacBook.
(Actually, my missus runs XP on her iMac to access some legacy software, so it isn't a stupid idea.)
Now that you've put in the work, how do you feel about your creation? A useful alternative to a Tele or a LP DC, or just a fun project?
PS – I agree the black plate looks classier.
Looks better than the original.
Looks good... interesting...
@nutball73 well I take back my previous reservation s ln this build , nice job there. How's it sound does it do what you wanted it to sonically. Also sorry I agree with Simon that the Black looks much better than the White .