I’ll be honest. I’m not a huge Strat guy. I’m not a big single pickup guy. I’m not a Strat tremolo kind of guy. I’m not a pickguard kind of guy. Most of all, I’m not a pickguard kind of guy. I don’t know why. I know…it’s heresy. Bear with me, though, because I may – now don’t get your hopes up, too much – I may be a changed man. Now, don’t get too excited, but, I do ask you to share in my excitement. I’ve wired and set up my first Strat pickguard. Here’s the sad part, however…it doesn’t, in any way, fit the body. But, it was wired. Now, I’ve taken everything out so I can start measuring, drawing, and figuring out what to do with it.
Again, there’s some mighty ugly gouging, at first, but the wood is soft enough that through love and sandpaper (mostly sandpaper), most of the damage inflicted smoothed out quickly and easily. That made me happy, especially since the majority of the reduction of the horn involved a “multi-tool” saw – a lot like making scrambled eggs with a hammer. That did, however, allow quick and easy removal of roughly 1/2” of wood. It sanded down, nicely, though, and looked pretty much how I envisioned it. That meant, however, that it was time to start working the contours and shaping the horns the way, again, I have them in my head. I also started getting inspired by builds and examples around the web (My first foray into Pintrest – jibbers crabst what a rabbit hole!), as well as just things I like…since this is what this all about – what I want.
Here are looks at the horns:
One thing I did notice was that apparently, the router was a little wibbly. It looks like hesitation wounds, honestly. It’s all good, really, but it just made me chuckle, a little. I’m not the only one who may or may not have the best control over the power tools at hand.
With a final push, all the rest of the sanding finished fairly smoothly. I must say it was a welcome sight when all the paint that was left was in the cavities, which I really, honestly, couldn’t care less about, at this point. It meant that I could finally kind of progress. The winter months certainly make a dent in progress. Between the sander and doing hand sanding as needed, I got the body to a point where the sanding wasn’t to remove paint, anymore, but to work on the contouring in various places around the body. I specifically wanted to work on a bit of a “knee cut” much like the “belly cut,” but on the bottom. That allowed me to do a little monkeying around, and had pretty decent results both with the knee cut, but also in shaping the lower horn a little more, giving it some beveling. Doesn’t look too bad, if I say so, myself.
Now what’s the problem with custom contouring of a strat body? You now have a pickguard that no longer fits or looks quite right. So, with the modifications to the pickup holes, the horns, the electronics cavity, and pretty much every other part of the body, it was necessary to either hire out and have a custom pickguard made or, as was the route I took, customize and reshape the pickguard. I had no idea what to do, mainly because I’ve never had anything with a pickguard, ever, so I had no idea what went where, what held what together, all those weird thoughts that come with unfamiliarity.
So, I’ve been procrastinating, awfully, about writing and further documenting the process. “Why?,” you ask. Because of things that aren’t really pertinent to the story and because of the weather, that’s why. Things tend to screech to a halt when temperatures dip below the “your paint will look awful” threshold. It had been that way for many moons and I was getting stir crazy, so I started working on these other things to keep me sane.
[Finally, however, progress is being made. It’s been a gorgeous day, allowing what will end up in Part V to take place: painting!]
So, in the meantime, however, I had gotten the pickguard to a point where it would, indeed, fit the body. Now, I’ve been of two minds, but ultimately went with not drilling the guide holes for the incoming accessories until after painting/clearcoating. May bite me in the butt, might not. We shall see. At any rate, after carving, beveling, and sanding, the pickguard looks a little different than it started. I had initially scuffed it so it had this fuzzy grey/black look to it and a neat texture. However, I didn’t know how that would hold up, ultimately. So, I went ahead and hit it with clear coat. It actually brought the pearloid “grain” back out, which was interesting. I didn’t quite polish it, but I didn’t leave it just clearcoat. It looks pretty nice and with the hardware strapped in, I’m looking forward to putting it into the guitar body. Interesting to note, however, that I hadn’t decided on a color when I was picking hardware, so it has a bit of a motley look about it. That’s OK. Hardware can be swapped later. For now, I just want to get this beast roaring.