Designing Your Custom Strat

Personally, I am highly drawn to vintage Strats. I love the look, the colors, the feel and the sound. They seem to transport me to a different time. A great resource for ideas on what this sort of guitar would look like is the 'Stratocaster Chronicles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Fender Strat', which is available through many resources, and is even available at a reduced price used via

Going vintage works for a couple of reasons. Vintage Strats were finish with nitro (nitrocellulose lacquer) which is pretty easy to work with and very forgiving. Highway 1 Strats have a nitro finish and are appointed with a vintage style tremolo.

If you are thinking of a vintage style Strat, you might search Google for 'vintage strat' and choose the images option. Another great resource to get a feel for what vintage strats look like is the Strat Collector site:

Often, when I am trying to imagine how combination of body color, pickguard, and neck (Maple or Ebony, tinted or not) might look, I search for it through google and see if I can find examples.
If you are thinking of something a little more off the beaten track, more modern and more custom, you might look through the galleries from custom licensed component manufacturers like Warmoth ;

I often learn a lot about parts, resources, building trick, and other ideas by reading the notes from the guitars in galleries such as Warmoths.

So many people have tried to achieve the look of highly used vintage guitar. This is called relicing, and in fact, the Fender Custom Shop produces some gorgeous examples that are in $2,500-$3,500 range. 95% of the relicing I have seen has been very amateur and just results in a Strat that looks like it has been dragged behind a car. I would like to dissuade you from going down this road. I my opinion, it looks like some people choose relicing to disguise a poorly executed finish, when, ironically, a high quality relicing is a very advanced and highly technical execution of guitar finishing.

When choosing pickups, if you don't already have a clear opinion, you should probably explore forums that discuss the pros and cons of various choices and how the work with tube amps and modelling amps.  For example:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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