Christmas 1998:  Like all 15 year old lower-upper-middle class white males who don’t care for sports, I needed an electric guitar.  I tried many low end starter guitars and settled on the Fender MIM sunburst Stratocaster. It not only played well (how would I know, I only started playing?!) but it was an actual “Fender.” Hacking my way through Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, and Metallica, I rocked it with this gem of a $250 guitar. I hope these posts will help you understand the possibilities and limits of guitar modifications.


Under the advise of an actual guitar player, I took my guitar to a guitar tech to do a proper setup.  three major changes:

1) The tremolo really made tuning stability impossible. I rarely used it, so the tech put in extra springs to pull it down flat to the body

holding down the tremelo

2a) Adjusting the action. Generally, it was lowered and contoured to the neck radius.

2b) INTONATION! I wasn’t a good player and understood very little about guitar physics, but I could tell that I somehow sounded better with good INTONATION!

3) The truss rod needed a tweak to level it out; less fret buzzing on the mid frets, symptom of a bowed neck.

I’ve since learned a few more licks and tips to make a guitar better. Every guitar needs to be setup properly, so try fiddling with these things before going nuts.



Posted: 06.8.2013 by doomthings in Design, Workshop
Tags: , , , , , ,

Finally! Let us begin with the neck.

Just making sure stuff fits!

So, yeah… I’ve been seriously delinquent on keeping this updated.  Life happened and progress slowed down, although progress was, in fact, made.  We do have a list of casualties though:

  •  Broken neck plate screw. [Solution: Use three screws and glue the neck in place]
  • Split wood somewhere (Yeah, I’m lazy and don’t want to get off the couch to look at it).  [Solution:  It should be OK with everything else in place – it’s a hairline crack]
  • Hole too wide for the tailpiece. [Solution: Woodfiller]

Soooo, there are a few issues, but despite these things, we still think it will turn out OK.  Basically, as long as it looks cool and I’m able to play Metallica on it, I’m happy.  So this post is seriously boring, but the next one will be better.  It will be about paint!  WOOT!

The Gang’s All Here

Posted: 02.8.2013 by doomthings in General, Workshop

All the pieces came!  Now we just wait for a few tools we ordered.  And then…  IT BEGINS!

All the things!

All the things!

We buy things!

Posted: 01.27.2013 by doomthings in General

Things be purchased!  Although we used Amazon because it’s waaaay cheaper than going through the sites we found what we needed on, it’ll take up to a month for anything to get here.  Ugh!  That’s probably a good thing though.  We can step away from it for a while and come back fresh at the end of February.

And now we wait…

The design is almost complete, I just need to finalize the hardware so we can get the first wave of stuff.

To Buy Now:

  • Tailpiece (chrome)
  • Bridge (chrome)
  • Tuners (3×3 Grover-style)
  • Truss Rod Cover (V-style black)
  • Pickguard (Flying V-style, white, although we may use it to make our own transparent one)
  • Jackplug (Circle, chrome)
  • 3 volume/tone knobs (chrome, no decoration)
  • Pickup Rings (chrome or solid red)
  • Strap Locks (Schaller type locking style, chrome)
  • Neck Plate (Square, chrome)

To Buy Later:

  • Humbucker Pickups & Covers (Flat-Plate, chrome)
  • Pickup Toggle Switch (chrome)
  • Electronics

What’s Next:  Making the neck fit into the body.


Watching: Samurai Champloo

I finally found a place for our guitar making experiment to hang out.  And by found a place, I mean I dismantelled our old kitchen table (that was in our extra bedroom upstairs acting as a “craft” table), dragged it (literally) to the basement, reassembled it and ta-da!  A table for the guitar.

workshop table

Repurposed workshop table. We are not advertising ProGear, it just happens to be in our house and useful.

Noticed that snazzy strap on the left?  Oh yeah, they make Rainbow Dash guitar straps.  WHAT!

rainbow dash strap

Aw Yeah!

Listening To: Korn

For reasons I can’t quite remember (besides the fact that I like the TV show), we decided on a Rainbow Dash (“My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic“) inspired design.  I should mention that we came up with this a while back, before I knew I was getting guitar parts for my birthday.  After successfully creating the template, I scoured the internet for Rainbow Dash Guitar (you’d be surprised how many images of Rainbow Dash with a guitar comes up) and found some images we liked that resulted in some promising results.

initial sketches

Initial body sketches; we settled on the lower left design.

Rainbow Dash has a lightning bolt as her “cutie mark” which we decided would look neat on the headstock.  How awesome is a lightning bolt for the headstock detail.  Pretty epic.

Headstock sketches; we settled on the lower left on the right-hand-side page.

Headstock sketches; we settled on the lower left on the right-hand-side page.

I then had to some up with placement for the knobs and switch, which I was definitely overlooking until Ryan pointed it out.  Because the hardware is put in from the front, we’ll have to install a plastic bit (with or without a pickguard under the strings) which will have some bearing on the final design.  It is still a work in progress, but at the very least, I came up with an initial placement plan, which will undoubtedly change once we purchase the hardware, and we still have the issue of the pick guard.  From the sketches, you can see I tried to come up with a lightning bolt pattern for the knob area, which would take up too much of the guitar, so we scrapped that.  Ryan researched custom guitar design and recommended looking into painting over the pickboard to keep the flow of the design or a clear pickboard.  Either way, the paint job will look slightly altered, so we’ll have to practice on crap wood and plastic before we get to the real thing.  What I do know:  we will be able to cut our own pickboard.  Rock.

Our favorite design with pickup and knob detail.

Our favorite design with pickup, bridge, and knob detail ideas.

Listening To: The Faceless

Template Time

Posted: 01.15.2013 by doomthings in Design
Tags: , , ,

So, pretty much immediately I started drawing up designs for my new guitar.  But first, I needed a template, so while my husband was getting dinner ready, I took the opportunity to bolt upstairs to attack my craft supplies looking for suitable template-making materials.  After extracting some fancy cardstock I’ll never use again, an exacto knife, carbon paper (yeah, I have that lying around), and tracing paper, my nerd + engineer side (which is most of me) whipped out a template so I didn’t have to keep re-drawing the body outline.  I knew having random art supplies would come in handy one day.

Body template.

Body template.