The Strat-ish-Caster is coming along. It’s slow work, mainly because, at least at this point, I’m not using any power tools. It’s also too cold to work in the garage – even with the space heater (it doesn’t make large amount of difference when the air temp is 4…) – so, I’ve been working a bit inside which, as you know, is a dust nightmare when filing/sanding. So…I’ve been taking it slow. That’s not to say that I haven’t made progress, it’s just not as quick as I’d like. Since there’s no way I’ll be priming or painting for at least 3 months, I’m not in a huge hurry.
Neck and Neck
One thing I’ve started to investigate is headstock shape. I’ve got a 21-fret Strat neck and, honestly, I’m just not a huge fan of the Strat headstock/pegboard. As such, I’m looking at design options and how I would achieve the look I’m going for. It looks quite obvious that I’m going to need a coping saw and keen and steady eye/hand coordination.
The other consideration for the neck is that it’s not pre-drilled. This is to be expected, of course, since hole placement is not universal. So, I’m pondering the best way to go about this. I’ll figure it out. The only thing at this point is to keep all of this in mind while I’m working on the neck pocket, as well, since there’s a LOT of excess paint in there and I want to make sure everything still fits hunky dory after stripping that out.
As mentioned previously, or at least I hope I mentioned, the curve on the horns of this strat thingo were not to my liking. I don’t know why, exactly, I just didn’t like how they looked. So, I set about fixing that. I’ve been working on the lower horn, since that’s also where the contouring will be happening, but I figured I should give you a before shot of the upper horn and from it you’ll be able to extrapolate what the lower one looked like as well as see it before I modify it. You can see it’s a little longer and thinner as well as a bit more hooked inward. Not a fan, really. Again, I don’t know why, but, again, it’s how it is and it’s got to go, at some point.
Sometimes I have a clear idea of what I want going in. This was not one of those times. I wanted a) a shorter, rounder bottom horn and b) a contoured cutaway neck access. Yes, I know, a 21-fret neck on a strat body does not require extended neck access. Guess who doesn’t care? This guy. This was about proof of concept and making a go of something that I would probably want to do in the future and wanted to learn techniques, pitfalls, and so on. On the right, you can see the obverse (front) of the guitar. Don’t ask why I’m using numismatic terms. It’s my blog, I’ll do what I want. As you can see, the horn is filed and both shorter and not hooked. This makes me happy. I have also started filing flat across in order to give it the proper bevel I want as well as accommodate the pickguard, which I’m still a little on the fence about. I’m not sure the best way to go about the look I want…so…I’ll work on the back.
On the reverse (back), I started really working on the contoured sweep back between the neck and the horn, itself. The access is about the right depth from neck pocket to horn and depth from where the original curve started and where it is, now. I know that’s a crude way to put it, but I’m not sure of all the terminology. You can see that the approach, or maybe, transition to the neck pocket, still needs a bit of rounding and smoothing. Part of that is the angle from which the picture was taken and part of it is that it does, really, need a bit more love. Thankfully, though, it’s not a lot of work left, there. The cutaway contour is coming along nicely and this is where the “not knowing what I’m looking for but knowing it when I see it” comes into play.
I started just creating the access cutaway and making sure it had depth and was smooth and rounded. Then I started noticing that the horn transition to the back of the guitar was becoming more pronounced. I like it, a lot, so it’s something I’ve now been working to enhance and while making it more obvious, not making it, well, dumb looking by cutting away far too much wood. Cutting is probably a misnomer, since I’m using a file and only a file for this project, so far. As you can see in the picture, it’s shaped along the grain of the wood. I will be fading it into the body in, probably, another 1/2 inch. Also in that plan is to look into making a small, but usable, knee cutaway. I just want about 1/4” deep contour for my knee, when sitting. I know, I know. It’s what I want, though, so if it works, it will be cool. If not, I’ll be the first to admit that it was a mistake.
Oh, and about the paint – I’m leaving it on and working through it because a) it’s noxious and b) I want to be able to see where I’ve been and keep in my head what I’m doing. Trust me, I need this.
What are going to be the next steps? I hope to finish the bottom horn and contouring revolving around it, soon. I will then move to the upper horn and remove the curve/hook. I’ll also sand back the strap button hole and fill it. The strap button on the back of the horn is a lot more comfortable and I tend to inadvertently pop the strap a lot less. From there, we’ll see.