Semi-DIY

Koop

Strat-Talk Member
Jul 4, 2021
17
Mesa, AZ
I met Curt Mangan a few months ago in Cortez, Colorado. We had a great chat while he gave me a tour of his string factory. He convinced me that every guitarist needs a Strat or Tele in the stable. I haven't played a Strat in more than ten years. I bought my first Strat in 1976, I wish I still had it. A few others went through my hands over the years, but I never bonded with them. I told Curt I'm a Gibson guy.

But he planted a seed. I don't spend as much on guitars as I once did and Strats have gotten expensive (like everything else). I budgeted about $1,000 and then decided DIY was the way to go. By DIY, I mean more of assembling parts rather than doing a full on build. My intent was never to see how cheaply I could assemble a Strat, the idea was to maximize quality within my budget.

After some research I went with BYO. They have affordable kits with things like generic bodies and Fender licensed or Mighty Mite necks - presumably sourced in Asia. But what interested me was their Custom Shop. You can spec a body and neck and they make it right there in their New Hampshire shop. They can also apply a finish.

I went with a two-piece Swamp ash body, Black limba (korina) neck with rosewood fretboard, jumbo frets, Grover Mini-Rotomatic tuners, Wilkinson Vintage six-screw trem-bridge and so on. Kim at BYO finished the body and neck with Wudtone stain and she did a great job.

I received it on Wednesday and started assembling. I expected to have to do some fret finish work, but they came leveled, crowned and nicely polished! Like I said, this wasn't really a build as much as it was an assembly task. The finish is called Azure Sky - it looks green in the photos, but it has more blue than the photos show.

It plays great, but it's a real adjustment for a Gibson guy to find his sound with a strat. I think I'm going to like this guitar. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. BTW - with a Gator Deluxe wood frame case and shipping I came in only $50 over budget.

171987120.jPoClYFX.0921byounbx.jpg

Crappy parts pic - neck is not attached
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Wudtone finish
171987122.vuBhCoZt.0921byoncktnr.jpg

Black limba neck with rosewood
171987123.9O3Kilgm.0922byomsk.jpg

Body masked for shielding paint
171987127.MkW25Ep5.0923byoassmbd.jpg

Initial set up done - it'll take some refinement.
 
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Koop

Strat-Talk Member
Jul 4, 2021
17
Mesa, AZ
Played around with it again today for an hour and half. Found I didn't like the set of strings that were included with the kit - too light and seemed like a weird combination of string gauges. Changed to my usual 10-46 set and went through the set up process again. Still not finding the tone. I'll work on pickup height next.
 

StratUp

Most Honored Senior Member
Sep 5, 2020
7,292
Altered States
Beautiful guitar.

If you're a lifelong Gibson guy, you'll need to play just the Fender for a month to acclimate. Then it will feel like home and your ears will be calibrated. After that you can switch back and forth as you like.

Fenders/ singles need a whole different playing style.
 
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Koop

Strat-Talk Member
Jul 4, 2021
17
Mesa, AZ
Beautiful guitar.

If you're a lifelong Gibson guy, you'll need to play just the Fender for a month to acclimate. Then it will feel like home and your ears will be calibrated. After that you can switch back and forth as you like.

Fenders/ singles need a whole different playing style.

That sounds like a good plan. I reset the pickup height - they were too close to the strings - now I'm liking the clean tone.
 

eclecticsynergy

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 23, 2014
4,165
NY
Very nice indeed. I love limba necks.

You may find the longer scale makes your familiar gauge of strings feel heavier.
Sometimes a .0095 set on a Fender feels much like .010s do on a Gibson.
Obviously an entirely different animal tonewise too.
Like StratUp says, give it your all for awhile.
It will feel like home eventually.
 

msbrech

Strat-Talker
Jun 19, 2021
133
Dover, Pa
Nice finish on that body!
I've been wanting to do a kit build for a while now, and after that a partscaster build (I'm thinking strat style body with a rear route, roasted maple neck with stainless steel frets, something a bit more unique). I'm still a ways away, but to want the kit guitar to be a good playable instrument. How was BYO? I've been checking out their site along with The Fret Wire and Solo.
 

Triple Jim

Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar
Silver Member
Feb 27, 2018
8,150
North Carolina
That sounds like a good plan. I reset the pickup height - they were too close to the strings - now I'm liking the clean tone.
I don't know how much you've played with amp settings, but I often change mine when going between humbucker and single coil. That's a very pretty guitar... good work!
 

Koop

Strat-Talk Member
Jul 4, 2021
17
Mesa, AZ
Nice finish on that body!
I've been wanting to do a kit build for a while now, and after that a partscaster build (I'm thinking strat style body with a rear route, roasted maple neck with stainless steel frets, something a bit more unique). I'm still a ways away, but to want the kit guitar to be a good playable instrument. How was BYO? I've been checking out their site along with The Fret Wire and Solo.

BYO was great - they even sent a photo to my phone of the limba neck next to a maple neck so I could make my choice. The two-piece swamp ash body is book matched so perfectly that I thought at first they sent me a one-piece body. I had to look really close to find the seam running down the center of the body.
 

Koop

Strat-Talk Member
Jul 4, 2021
17
Mesa, AZ
So, I've been playing this guitar exclusively for about an hour and a half daily. I'm really diggin' it. I still need to get used to the scale length - especially the spacing of the first five frets or so. The tonal variety is mind blowing. I took a little presence off of the amp (my Trainwreck inspired build) - the Strat doesn't need a high boost like a humbucker.

To be honest I can't remember much abouth the first Strat I owned - it was 45 years ago and I only had for about two years. But I'll say I think this is the best Strat I've ever played with regard to tone and playability.
 


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