Showing posts with label 1. Introduction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1. Introduction. Show all posts


I have always desired to have something unique, and of my own making, rather than something that anyone could buy. Also, I am very value-conscious and as a result, have rarely paid the same prices that others typically pay. I have been purchasing new and used guitar parts and have been building my own custom Strats for years. I enjoy every aspect of this process, but most of all, I love to play a one-of-a-kind Strat that I built myself.

My objective in putting this site together (including the accompanying resources) is to document my learnings and share them with others such as yourself. It is my hope that I can provide useful information as well as inspiration to you so that you will go beyond just wishing you could build your own dream custom Stratocaster.

My approach is to present this information to you in the easiest and most concise form possible, including outlines, lists, links, photos and diagrams. The order of this material is in a linear (mostly) and logical sequence from beginning to end (best accessed using the navigation on the right of the page).

Here is the outline of the site:
  1. Introduction
  2. Planning and Design - Custom Stratocaster Project
    a. Considerations - Look, Feel, Sound, Durability and Resale
    b. Components – Fender USA and Import, Licensed
    c. Constraints – Tools, Skills, Workspace and Time
  3. Purchasing - Custom Stratocaster Parts
    a. Budget - new or used, finished or unfinished
    b. Resources - retail, Web stores and auctions, eBay, pawn shops, swap meets, friends
    c. Purchasing Strategy
  4. Preparations
    a. Body - sanding, filling, priming, painting, clear coating, wet sanding, polishing
    b. Neck - sanding, staining, finishing, hardware, decals, frets dressing
    c. Electronics - layout, soldering, testing
  5. Assembly and Setup
    a. Action - Neck Angle, Truss Rod,
    b. Tone - Intonation, Action, Pickups
  6. Related Topics
    a. Cases - hard or soft, vintage or modern
    b. Resale - ethics, pricing, marketplaces, ads, photos

You Can Build This Custom Stratocaster

Here is one example of the sort of custom Strat you can design and build for yourself. It is more possible than you might think. Sure you will probably make some mistakes along the way, but you will learn so much, you will know your guitar inside and out, and you will be better equiped with the skills and knowledge to further refine your custom Strat until you get precisely the look, sound and playability that you are seeking.

Don't say, "I could never build a custom Strat"

I would really like to communicate this one thing, if you take away nothing else from this site. You absolutely can build a custom Strat.

I will also add that most of us are lacking in the skills and experiences to do this well right from the start. The Strat you see pictured above (daphne blue) was my first project. It was incredibly cheap, and I made mistakes (almost catastrophic ones) along the way.

I acquired all of the parts to build my first (proof of concept) custom Stratocaster for around $250. This was really cheap stuff. You can tell by looking at the body that the contour for the arm relief was not as smooth and subtle as it is on a genuine Strat. I bought the body including the bridge/tremolo and neck plate (with screws, more on that in a moment) for $109. I bought the pickguard with switches and pickups, complete, for $25, I found the neck for $69., and got a steal on the tuners - 3 sets for $40.

The parts were all import and non standard, so I was lucky to buy the body, body hardware and loaded pickgaurd from the same guy on eBay. The neck was my first attempt at a vintage nitro finish with a waterslide decal and it came out pretty good. When I went to attach the neck, however, the screws that came with the body were little larger than standard and when I screwed on the neck, it cracked, all the way through to the fretboard. I took it apart, squirted superglue in the hole, the measure the screw shaft and depth so I could redo the holes in the neck. I also respray the neck fretboard, and then did my fret cleaning and polishing. It looked good and the crack was almost invisible, though I did declare it when I sold it on eBay.

My point is that there will likely be mistakes. Don't worry about it though. Most of them will be recoverable, and there will be lessons learned from each mistake. I have had tons (mistakes and lessons learned). My favorite was when I tried to move a freshly sprayed body, actually, the very last clear coat, and had it slip off the hanger I was using to suspend it. The body crashed to floor, bouncing all over the place, pickup up all sorts of disgusting bits of debris along the way. I had to completely sand it back down to bare wood, fill in the little dents and scratches, then paint all over again. However, I must admit that my second paint job was even better than the first.

So please don't limit yourself. You can do this. Start out small, make some mistakes, but of course, learn from my mistakes first (please). Many of my little tricks listed in this site are my resolutions to prior issues. I would be truly honored if my site could help you be more successful in building your own custom Strat.