Here is some eye candy for any Strat lover or realistically speaking, any admirer of beautiful guitars. A hand built Stratocaster made out of raw unfinished walnut wood. Make sure you click on the pictures to enlarge them and get a really good view. The body is made out of two pieces of walnut glued together using the correct glue for guitars. Which is a matter of great importance based on many reasons suggested in that article.
Allan, who by now many of you are familiar with as a one of my good friends ( I don’t use the word friend loosely either) actually built the guitar from scratch. The two pieces of walnut wood were glued together with Titebond glue and left to dry fully for about a week. The next steps include running it through a jointer to square it up and then running it through a planer to make it perfectly flat then planing it to the thickness you want the body to be.
Every step in making a guitar from scratch needs to executed with critical precision, no room for error, but the next step may be the most important. That is to use a quality template and placing it on the squared, planed block of wood, walnut in this case and using a router to cut the body to shape. During the process you will also cut the holes for the pickups and neck and shape the body. Like Popeye the Sailor used to say “me ain’t no doctor, but me sure has a lot of patients”, you will need to exercise your patience with this job. Mess up the routing process (router) and now you will have to build a different body style of guitar.
Hopefully you went into this project with a plan. Meaning you had chosen the best neck style and hardware you want to use. There are cases where the type of pickups and other hardware may require a different routing job for that particular component. You even have several choices for the type of nut to use, I prefer a carved bone nut, although this axe has a graphite nut. The nut can be very personal for many reasons which include tone, tun-ability and string life. As you can see in the article picture, a bone nut is being shown on a Stratocaster neck.
To make a super long story long, Allan chose a Mexican made Strat neck which he got from E-Bay and used single coil pick ups that Jim Wagner (WCR) makes called the SR’s. Stock tuners and a Strat type Wilkinson bridge along with wiring the electronics together pretty much finish it out. The last thing I need to mention is the finish, this is where you will need a bunch of patience. Finish and color or clear coating the wood to show the grain is where you can make your project look professional or amateurish. No matter how much time and patience you put into the rest of the job, if you don’t prepare the surface properly and apply the finish correctly, and take the endless time needed to sand and polish the finish perfectly, you wasted a lot of time. Study finishing wood first and make some practice attempts on waste wood before you try it on your new guitar.
What is the last thing we do? We set it up properly. We all know Guitar Players Center is a big time advocate of a perfect set-up for your guitar. You will need to do this or have it done by a competent guitar maker or luthier. Allan and I spent a couple hours yesterday setting it up, we got it close, but more work is needed. One thing for sure, it sounds terrific as it stands now and plays pretty darn well. Walnut is heavier than Ash or Alder wood, which most Stratocasters are made of. I think it is a worthy sacrifice in weight for several reasons. Walnut does make a really beautiful guitar, but more important to me is that it is a great sounding tone wood.
I hope you enjoy this article, it is a really cool process to go through and very gratifying personally. Allan is and should be proud of what he created. If he isn’t, he can just hand that bad boy over to me. lol!. Enjoy.