Create Your Own Vintage Stratocaster Guitar Kit
- Nov 10, 2010
- in Guitar Kit Builder - Electric Guitars
There are many electric guitar kits available but some kit builders will want to purchase their own components and just need a parts list to make sure they get everything needed. This article does just that - gives you the parts list needed to build a vintage-style Stratocaster guitar kit. We want to thank Dave Shepherd of Mojo Musical Supply (www.mojotone.com) for providing us with a parts list. First we'll review each of the parts needed. At the end we'll give you the full parts list with links of where to find these items on Mojo's website. There are numerous other suppliers for these parts and as always you should comparison shop and choose carefully. All prices were accurate as of November 2010. OK, let's get started.
BODY - Unfinished Alder Style with Tremolo Route $160.00
This is probably the most widely used wood in the 60's for three-pickup single-coil style guitars. Rich and full, Alder is strong in the lower midrange. It is medium to light in weight and takes well to sunbursts and some transparent colors. The body specified here is a three-piece. An alternative would be to consider a two-piece or one-piece body for aesthetic and tone reasons, and expect to pay more for one. You can also choose a finished guitar body in black or sunburst for $240.
NECK - Unfinished Half-Paddle One-Piece Maple Neck with 22 Frets $130.00
This is a 12" radius neck with a 25.5" scale, 1-5/8" nut-width and 22 medium-jumbo frets in solid rock maple. It's a standard "C" shape profile and has a vintage-style truss rod.
NUT - Fender Pre-Shaped, Pre-Slotted 9.5" Radius Bone Nut $8.50
Purists might want to make their own bone nut from a blank, but we don't all have the skill, time or want to deal with the dust. The alternative is to purchase a pre-slotted and pre-shaped nut made from high-quality bone that has been accurately machined. These are 1-23/32" long by 7/32" high with 1/8" thickness and a 9.5" radius on top and bottom. Mojo says they leave the nut unbleached as bleaching makes the bone more brittle and likely to chip. By the way, here's a brief video from Mojo on how to install one of these nuts. It begins with how to remove the old nut, which won't apply for our nice fresh kit.
PICKGUARD - '57 Stratocaster White One-Ply Pickguard $14.99
This is an eight-hole shielded pickguard that fits most American, Mexican, and Japanese made 57' Fender Strats. By the way, the "holes" referred to by the "eight-hole" designation are the eight mounting holes for the pickguard, not counting the holes used for the pickups and selector switch. More modern Strats use an 11-hole pickguard.
TONE KNOB - Stratocaster Tone Knob in White $2.60 (need 2, at $1.30 each)
You'll need two of these tone knobs to complete your kit. Wiring of tone controls varies across Strat models. In some the neck and middle pickups are each wired to a tone adjustment knob, incorporating a single, shared tone capacitor, whereas the bridge pickup, which is slanted towards the high strings for a more trebly sound, has no tone control for maximum brightness. On many modern Stratocasters, the first tone affects the neck pickup; the second tone affects the middle and bridge pickups; on some Artist Series models (Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy signature guitars), the first tone is a presence circuit which cuts (or boosts) treble and bass frequencies, affecting all the pickups; the second tone is an active midrange booster which boosts the midrange frequencies up to 25dB (12dB on certain models) to produce a fatter humbucker-like sound.
VOLUME KNOB - Stratocaster Volume Knob in White $1.30
Identical to the "Tone" knobs except with the word "Volume" and only one is required. The volume level on all three pickups is controlled by a single volume knob. The placement of the knobs allows for relatively easy manipulation of the sound with the right hand while playing.
SELECTOR SWITCH TIP - Stratocaster Selector Switch Tip in White $0.50
This goes on the end of the selector switch. This part fits both Asian and American switches, and are nicely rounded on the top much like the Fender ones. The bottom of the tip has a slot that fits over the selector switch arm.
MOUNTING SCREWS - Mounting Screws Stainless #4 x 1/2" $3.00
One bag includes 20 stainless-steel screws that won't rust or corrode. Screws are used as follows: 8 or 11 for the pickguard (depending on type); 6 for the back plate and 2 for the output jack mounting plate.
WIRING KIT - Stratocaster 5-Way Standard Boutique Wiring Kit $35.00
This is the Standard kit for Statocaster guitars and will work with most Mexican or American Fender Strats with no modification. The kit includes three CTS 250k split-shaft potentiometers (for volume and tone), one Oak Grigsby 5-way selector switch, one Switchcraft 1/4" mono input jack, one orange drop .047uf/100v capacitor, 22 gauge stranded cloth covered wire in white and black, a ground tab, roundhead non-counter sunk screws and wiring and control diagrams. Most wiring kits will come with a manufacturer's disclaimer to protect them from a user who damages a part during installation and tries to return the part as defective. Make sure you are aware of the disclaimer and test the parts yourself before removing the safety tape. For example, here is Mojo's disclaimer:
Mojo Musical Supply thoroughly tests each assembly prior to final packaging to verify that no defective parts make their way to our customers. Each pickup, switch, potentiometer, jack, capacitor, resistor and solder connection is evaluated and tested prior to shipping. If, for any reason, the safety tape has been removed or broken, Mojo will not be held responsible for any damaged or nonworking components that may be a result of mishandling or abuse.
Prior to removing or breaking the tape, it is critical the customer evaluate the assembly for any shipping damages that may have occurred. If pickups are part of the assembly, the customer should measure each pickup for DC resistance before breaking the safety tape - pickups can only be returned if they are found to be damaged *before* the safety tape is broken. Also, the customer should check to see if any connections or components are broken from shipping. After the tape has been removed or broken, no damage claim can be filed and the customer will then be responsible for all shipping costs and materials required to fix or replace the assembly.
Mojo recommends highly that all assemblies should be installed by a professional technician who has experience in guitar electronics.
BACKPLATE - Vintage Stratocaster 1-Ply White Backplate $5.00
Many famous players - Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Gilmour - removed the backplate from their Strats. Some players claim they hear a tone difference with the plate removed. Others just think it makes it easier to change strings. So why do you need one? We don't know, it's completely up to you. We suggest you get one and keep it in your case if you take it off.
NECK PLATE - Gotoh Chrome Neck Plate with Screws $5.00
It's your basic neck plate at 51.1mm x 63.8mm x 1.77mm, in chrome with chrome screws.
BRIDGE - Gotoh Vintage Style Chrome Tremolo Bridge w/USA Threads $60.00
This unit is a direct replacement for Fender USA vintage style tremolos. It features a steel block and steel saddles and is of high quality and precision. It includes the tremolo unit, springs, claw, mounting screws/posts, and tremolo arm.
STRING GUIDES - Vintage Strat String Guides in Chrome $1.50
String guides or trees are usually present on Stratocaster headstocks, and are intended to increase the behind-the-nut string angle of the B-string and high-E-string.
TUNING MACHINES - Gotoh Vintage Style Six-In-Line Tuning Machine Head in Metal Nickel $35.00
Direct Drop-in vintage style machine heads with press in bushings. These are exactly what Fender uses on their American Vintage Series Guitars. High quality and precision, with a 15:1 gear ratio. Gotoh has been making tuners for over 50 years and generally gets high praise for being smooth and precise.
STRAP BUTTONS - Vintage Fender Style Chrome Strap Buttons $2.50
These strap buttons will give your instrument a vintage look, but we'd recommend a strap-lok type or Fender's new strap button design to keep youR new instrument from falling off your strap and onto the hard floor.
JACK FERRULE - Gotoh Chrome Strat Jack Ferrule $5.00
Ahhh, the Stratocaster jack ferrule. This was a totally unique design, with the cable angled so that for convenience the lead could be inserted on the front of the guitar, but would not be hanging out at a 90 degree angle and risked being broken when bumped into something (as on the Gibson SG). The angle of the socket on the body also followed the line of the guitar lead to allow it to wrap gently under the guitar strap.
PICKUPS - Custom Wound Classic Strat Pickups (Set of 3) $180.00
Classic wound pickups for the Stratocaster represent superb examples of that 50's clear and glassy tone. These are stock with staggered alnico 5 magnets, and vintage spec heavy formvar wire. These pickups are carefully calibrated so that the neck, middle and bridge are balanced in volume and character throughout all positions. The neck pickup is clear while the middle pickup is Reverse-Wound and Reverse-Polarity (RWRP) to achieve hum-canceling in positions 2 and 4. The bridge pickup has excellent output and punch compared to most vintage pickups. Some options available include flat poles (recommended for flatter radiused necks), alnico 2 magnets (More midrange, softer attack, spongier bass), and 5% Overwind (less treble, more bass and mids).
STRINGS - Ernie Ball Guitar Strings Regular Slinky 10-46 $4.50
Don't forget to buy strings for your new guitar. Mojo suggests these Ernie Ball strings for a vintage Strat. Fender says "No matter what gauge of strings you use, for the best tuning stability we recommend using Fender Bullet® strings. The patented bullet-end is specifically designed for all styles of tremolo use, from extreme dives to smooth vibrato passages. The design allows the string to travel freely in the bridge block channel during tremolo use and return afterwards to its original position, seated snugly in the bridge block. This is accomplished by eliminating the extra string wrap and the ball-end (the ball end doesn't fit properly into the string channel). The bullet end has been shaped and sized to match the design of the bridge block channel." But in practice we find little support from guitar players for Fender's claim that the bullet-end does anything special.
PARTS LIST WITH LINKS Back Plate - $5.00 Body - $160.00 Bridge - $60.00 Jack Ferrule - $5.00 Neck - $130.00 Neck Plate - $5.00 Nut - $8.50 Pickguard - $14.99 Pickguard Screws - $3.00 Pickups - $180.00 Selector Switch Tip - $0.50 Strap Buttons - $2.50 String Guides - $1.50 Strings - $4.50 Tone Knobs - $2.60 Tuning Machines - $35.00 Volume Knob - $1.30 Wiring Kit - $35.00 TOTAL - $654.39