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New Strat Project


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Hello, all.

 

I’ve been collecting parts for a Red Strat build. I know it’s not technically a Hentor, but Alex’s Candy Apple Red Strat with the mirror pickguard is my favorite guitar from that era. In an odd coincidence, I was browsing the used gear at Guitar Center’s website, and stumbled upon a Fender Powerhouse Deluxe Stratocaster that someone had already modded. I got it for $599 plus tax and shipping. I probably overpaid somewhat, but it appears a lot of the work has already been done. On the plus side, it has an alder body, as most 70s Strats had. (I know the white Hentor is ash.). And this has a rosewood fretboard, as the original has.  This guitar was built before Fender switched to Pau Ferro fretboards. 
 

The guitar survived a terrible packing job, and managed to arrive safely. I only had time to spend about 30 minutes with it so far. It plays really well, and is in pretty nice condition.  There are a few issues that I definitely need to address though. First of all, I think this guitar sat around for quite awhile without being played. The frets are crusty and in desperate need of a good polish. I’m going to have to trim the pickguard a little, as the Floyd fouls on the back edge of the pickguard, preventing full dive bombs. 

 

As far as electronics, I have no idea what the singlecoils are, as I’ve yet to dig into it yet. I’ve already purchased a pair of Dimarzio FS-1s, including a RW/RP for the middle position.  I’m really interested to see what’s in there, because the single-coils don’t sound very good, but the guitar is really quiet, regarding 60-cycle hum. The bridge pickup certainly looks to be an authentic l though I’m probably going to swap it for a black “Bill & Becky” L500L I purchased awhile back.  I know Alex used a cream pickup in his red Strat, but I just don’t think the cream looks right. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that whoever put this guitar together used the original 250k pots, as it sounds just a little muddy to my ears. Of course, it may just be a case of incorrect pickup heights. I’m really eager to tear into this puppy and see what all is inside.

 

The big issue for me is the neck.  As I’m sure you know, Alex’s guitar has the big CBS headstock.  This one has the smaller headstock and vintage Kluson-style tuners.  I’d normally just leave it as is, but evidently a blind drunk applied the headstock logo.  It’s completely crooked, and looks like crap!  I should point out that I bought a WD neck with ebony fretboard and paddle headstock awhile back. I could have it routed for a locking nut, get the CBS headstock shaped, and have the headstock painted. But I think that would be a pricy proposition.  Or, I could just try to sand the clear coat enough to replace the decal and call it good. Decisions, decisions…

 

 

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Edited by Brad737
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I love the red with the mirror guard.  I hope this axe serves you well.

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Posted (edited)

I’m sort of in a quandary with this guitar. I know that Lerxst replaced the covered Gibson humbucker with a double-cream Bill Lawrence L500L. And the previous owner dutifully fitted the correct bridge pickup. But I’m going to be brutally honest and admit I think the guitar looks funny with the double-cream. I’ve already purchased a double-black L500L with the chrome surround, which I think would look a whole lot better. Would you guys go with the “correct” double-cream, or go with what you think would look best?  
 

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Here’s a quick representation of a black pickup in the bridge…

 

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Edited by Brad737
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Posted (edited)

I’ve been working on fixing some of the issues with this Strat. Honestly, it’s a cool guitar, but it’s obvious the prior owner was pretty much a novice when it comes to working on guitars. The headstock had a really poor paint job upon close inspection…lots of overspray, poor masking, etc.  And I already mentioned the crooked decal.  At some point, I’m going to replace the neck with a proper CBS headstock.  But I’m going to just slap another logo on it for the time being. 
 

The body had some issues as well.  The pickguard didn’t fit around the Floyd, so I had to trim it to allow full trem travel. Also, the previous owner cut the pickguard funny around the bass side of the trem.  The intonation was really far off, but now it plays in tune, and I can dive bomb with the best of them.  Of course, I had to replace the knobs with correct SG “reflectors”.

 

Electronically, the guitar was a mess. The first thing I did was apply copper shielding to the cavities. Next, I replaced the gnarly single-coils with two Dimarzio FS-1s, the middle being RW/RP.  I had to completely rewire it. The previous owner used a 2-pickup switch, instead of the correct 3-pickup selector. I was getting the Neck & Middle pickups on two of the positions.  Now, I have Neck, Neck/Middle, and Bridge positions.  I added two 500k pots, as the previous owner reused the stock 250k pots. I added a 470k resistor so the single coils see 250k, but the L500L sees 500k. It now sounds great in all 3 positions, and the Volume and Tone work well.

 

All in all, it’s not a very accurate replica, more of a tribute really. But now, it plays and sounds great. This is my favorite of Al’s guitars, and it was a fun project.  I’ll probably play it like this for a little while before tackling the neck replacement. 

 

 

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Edited by Brad737
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I think that the cream pups give it character.     Having said that, you're not building a frankenstrat. This is a slick red Strat, and the black pups would be more suitable. IMO.

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This is a nice red Strat. Make it one that pleases you and you feel good playing. I wouldn't mind a little Frankenstrat feel to it. The black PUPs are easier on the eye but make the guitar lose some of its charm. 

Edited by Sun & Moon
typos
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