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Custom guitars, pickups n wood


(@simonhome-co-uk)
Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 678
Topic starter  

Hey,
So I'm thinking about tryin to see if I can assemble (not build) a pretty darn good guitar for not too much money. I'm gonna buy one of those cheapo DIY guitar kits, but buy a separte (and beautifully smooth) neck, some great pickups and do a custom paintjob on the body myself. Other things like quality of the trem system and the other electronics are secondary concerns...But what I really need to know is what effect the wood would have, and how much (if at all) I should take it into account.

Now I know some ppl make more of fuss about how much wood affects tone than others. The body will be basswood. Will that affect the trebbass balance enough to make me take that into account when choosing a pickup? Afterall, I dont wanna buy a pickup and find its sounding muddy because the wood has made it too bassy, for example.

Oh and one more thing - If i get a strat style body, will any old strat style neck fit?


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(@scrybe)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2246
 

strat-style body....it depends, but you should be able to get neck pocket dimensions off fender.com and also off the place you're buying from for a comparison. I think (emphasis on the think) that the strat neck pocket is around 56mm (but that maybe teles, its a bit late).

for bodies an necks you might wanna try mercasystems.com - a bit pricey, but the custom jobs seem pretty good (and you can change the pricing to UK pounds via the button in the top right corner...that took me a few visits to realise, lol).

if you want a strat tone....I'd say yeah, the body makes a hell of a difference. you don't wanna use basswood, get alder or ash. I'm currently doing a strat project using a swamp ash body and a rosewood fingerboard. it depends how close you wanna get to genuine fender strat tone......but if you want that, I'd look for an alder body made from 2 or 3 pieces, pref. 3 as thats most common. fender also used ash on some strats, but I think it was more to do with the finish, the decision as to which strats got ash and which got alder. Jeff Beck once had a strat he loved to bits, but the body got snapped. he thought he could just drop the neck and electrics in a new body and be laughing, but said it never sounded as good - this was in an interview he did, he said anyone who tries to downplay the role of tonewoods on electric guitars doesn't know what they're talking about.

I always assumed basswood=cheap and therefore = crap.

that isn't strictly true. a lot of low-end guitars use basswood, but its also favoured by many shredders and considered an integral part of that sweet synthy lead tone many shredders have. its used a lot on ibanez axes as a result, and I believe the steve vai signature uses it. so crap it aint, but if its gonna give you the tone you want......well, that depends on the tone you want. incidently, basswood is (I believe) the american term for what is known in europe a Lime Tree, so looking on Ebay for a body, there a bunch of nice stuff coming from german shops like stratosphere that will sometimes list bodies as 'lime wood' - its the same as basswood. and I've seen some translucent paint jobs where the basswood/lime wood has a really nice grain to it, too, so it aint necessarily ugly either.

hth

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


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(@scrybe)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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this might also help - http://www.jemsite.com/jem/wood.htm

i'm sure I had some other ones bookmarked, but I'm not finding them right now.

I'd say spend some time getting the woods right......you can always mess around with pup and hardware upgrades later, but the wood you're generally stuck with, once you've chosen it.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


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(@dogbite)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 6353
 

I think wood makes a big difference. a solid mahogany Gibson SG will sound different than a maple topped mahogany LesPaul
(pickups aside of course). that is a close comparison. in general terms the harder the wood the brighter the sound.
maple, ash, alder are harder and have a different cell structure than mahogany; which is warmer or softer in tone.

I have made a couple of lap steels out of solid wood. one maple, the other mahogany. with the same pickup being used they each have a distinctive tone and sustain. the hard maple is bright and has incredible sustain. the mahogany is mellower with a round, woody shape to its tone.
a spruce top on an acoustic sounds different than a cedar top. the cedar top yields a softer tone.

so woods make a difference. and so do the electronics. there is a marked difference between pots and pickups.
the neck is another story. the neck has several profiles. it would be good to know how that effects playing styles.
bolt on and neck thru are possible. however, the neck joint is critical. you want a good tight fit.
doesn't Warmouth sell body parts and kits?

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


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(@greybeard)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5899
 

The Warmoth site will give you a lot of information as well as a severe case of GAS. They have a page on various tonewoods, unfortunately basswood isn't included, as far as I remember.

Warmoth is not cheap, but they have some superb Strat bodies and necks.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
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(@simonhome-co-uk)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 678
Topic starter  

Thanks for the replies guy.
I found this great link http://www.jamesbisset.com/blog/guitar/basswood-versus-alder/
Check out the sound clip which compares alder and basswood sounds (a before n after of the same guitar).
Yeah many shredders do use basswood, but I'm after more of a bright strat tone. I have a mahogany ESP so I don't really need another all-out metal guitar. Alder is definately the right choice for me...
I thought the need for alder was gonna add too much to the cost but I've managed to find (haven't bought yet) a £65 Stagg guitar with an Alder body and just a gloss finish - perfect! Remove the gloss, do the paintjob etc etc.

As for the neck, is there any reliable sign of quality to look out for when buying em online? I'm looking for a maple neck with the best playability possible, without going over £100.
Some of these look real nice quality http://www.axesrus.com/axenecks.htm but I can't be sure and they are quite cheap.
Also can anyone explain the difference between thin C, round C and soft V profiles? Would I have to get the same profile as on the Stagg?

Then as for pickups I was thinking
bridge - Dimarzio HS-3
mid - Fender Lace Sensor Gold
neck - Dimarzio YJM
...crunch at the bridge, vintage bell tones in the mid, Malmsteen-esque smooth lead at neck is what i'm looking for.


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(@scrybe)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2246
 

oh btw, if you're gonna do a paint job on it, go with the nitro paint stocked/sold by the manchester guitar tech dude. I'm sure I had him bookmarked, but google "nitro paint manchester guitar tech" and it should come up.

this might also pique your interest..... http://www.nscustomguitars.net/info2.htm

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


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(@slejhamer)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 3297
 

Thanks for the replies guy.
I found this great link http://www.jamesbisset.com/blog/guitar/basswood-versus-alder/

That was good. I've also been told that pickups that sound good with mahogany (e.g. Duncan '59) might be very shrill and trebly with basswood. Alder should be a good choice.

As to your pickup options, keep in mind the impedance values. The YJM pups are VERY high impedance, and very LOW output (that lead tone comes from clean guitar into a high-gain amp, not from high-output pickups.) They may not match well with the Lace, with has a low impedance value.

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


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