When we last left our rocket surgeon and brain scientist (yes, really, both of them) he had successfully transplanted the head and neck from one Oscar Schmidt Delta King to another. (Because the another had a broken neck and has Stephen Stills and David Crosby's autographs on the body, is why.) That left me with a body complete with decent electronics and a head full of Grover tuners. About that time the local thrift store had a First Act single pickup solid for sale for $20. Showing them that the nut was broken and unable to hold the low E, I got it for $10.

So, apart comes the First Act. The nut from the O.S. fit perfectly, but got a bit of sanding down to lower the action anyway. Applying a rat tail file to the neck, I trimmed the profile down about 20%, sacrificing some sustain for playability. I made it an asymmetrical V profile, with the peak right about between the A and D strings. So it's really more of a V profile. I like this shape because it gives a good solid base for the heel of my thumb but allows the fingers to wrap around farther and fret the lower strings better. The frets got about 25% filed down for lower action too. And of course the Grover tuners replaced the cheapies it came with. But not until after finishing the neck.

The body is gloss black and I wanted the neck to match. My favorite paint for aerospace applications is appliance epoxy. It's as shiny as the plastic lacquer stuff and far more scratch resistant. On metal you don't need to prime, but on wood you do. A couple coats of automotive primer (after masking the rosewood very thoroughly) and it was ready. Epoxy paint has such a load of solvent to keep it flowing, and forms such a dense surface layer, that you have to recoat within 30 minutes or else wait a week for outgassing, otherwise the surface crazes into something that looks like alligator skin. My best technique is a light coat, wait 5 minutes, another light coat, another 5, etc. I used the whole spray can on the neck in about an hour. Hey, $6 for a great finish, why not? When it was dry, on went a sealing coat of polyurethane, sanding with 400 grit, another coat, 600 grit, another, 800 grit, and a final coat rubbed on with cotton. I topped that with maybe 8 coats of furniture polish, rubbed in with cotton. Very shiny, VERY slick.

On to the body. The single pickup was very close to the bridge, so I placed a frame from one of the O.S. pickups (matched Washburn series 400; 421 neck and 423 bridge), traced it, and routed out a neck pickup position. They were close enough that I was able to drill through the piece between them so I could route the neck pickup wiring along the bridge pickup wiring, and then through the separation into the neck pickup position. The what wiring? The original being a single, I needed to install a neck/both/bridge pickup selector switch. I put the selector toggle that came with the Washburns between the volume and tone controls. I also picked up a heavy, low profile DPDT slide switch from The Shack and mounted it just north of the volume control. It's low and close enough that it can't get hit accidently. Wire the corner posts together diagonally in an X, run the wires from the neck pickup to the center posts, and run a pair from the two posts on one end to the neck pickup's connections on the selector switch, and we are now in/out of phase selectable. For now I'm sticking with one volume and tone control. If I decide to later I'll install the second matched pair that came with the O.S., but since that means a lot of routing to fit another pair of controls, and not a lot of use when I use guitars that are wired that way, I don't expect to. Likewise the non-locking synchronized (ie. Strat style) tremlo bridge; it's plenty adequately adjustable, heavy duty and well seated as is, so I don't see much need to change to a Rose or some such. Again, we'll see. An issue worth noting, since it slipped by me and caused a backtrack: the humbucker frames from the O.S. were two different heights due to the curvature of the face of the semi-solid OE-30. The taller one had to be removed and sanded down. Luckily the routing was deep enough so it didn't need redone.

In the final put-together, the neck bolts were a loose fit, and the O.S. bolts were too long. I got screws the diameter of the O.S. screws but the length of the F.A. screws, and drilled the holes out slightly. When I was sure they'd work, I put some Plastic Wood filler into the holes in the body, as a substitute for using threaded inserts. I used the screw plate from the O.S. because it came with a plastic back piece that helps spread out the tension and being slightly resilient, acts a little like a locking washer, keeping the screws tight. To camoflauge the toggle and slide switches and to cover the inevitable garage rash nicks from doing intensive guitar surgery, I applied some gloss black nail polish as needed. Since due to some nasty accidents and reconstructive sugery, I can't hold a pick for even one song, and I play almost entirely with my thumb (tip, side, nail as needed). I considered using the black polish on my thumb nail, but decided that was a bit much. I got silver for it, and also for painting on screws and such. Nail polish is a plastic lacquer that works very well in preventing loosening of parts. All you other Tele players out there who are tired of tightening your loose cord jack and mounting plate should pay particular attention. And, clear works just as well -- no need to try to match colors. Unless you're just really into that. I'm certainly not. Any old silver works for my thumb nail.

For the moment the original pick guard (cut to fit the neck pickup) is in place. As soon as the very thick poly coating dries, I'm going to cut one out of a sheet of twill weave carbon composite cloth laminated to 1/32" aircraft birch plywood (more rocket junk), and will also cut a cover for the backside opening to the tremlo workings and string seating, solder a couple wires to the ground connection on the tremlo frame that the pickups are already wired to, and run them to one of the screws on the carbon pick guard and back plate. Glad you asked -- because not only is carbon composite stronger than steel, and coated with poly nearly scratch proof, and not only is it one awesomely cool looking pick guard with its flowing weave and 3-D depth effect, but it's conductive. Carbon fiber cloth is essentially thousands of tiny antennae woven together into a tight mesh. Properly grounded it is a nearly impervious EM shield. Now that the F-117 stealth fighter is retired, it can be told. It's simple to make but not cheap; if you're interested in instructions and sources, email me. Sorry the picture is lousy, I'm working the bugs out of a Linux camera driver at the moment and can't get decent resolution yet. When the new pick guard is on, I'll come up with something better.

So it's 49% Washburn/Oscar Schmidt, and 49% First Act, and 1% Radio Shack and 1% aerospace leftovers. What the bleep is a "Sanford"? Simply, it's a Fred Sanford, as in "Sanford and Son", wherein Redd Foxx played the owner of a junkyard. For you on the old side of The Pond, we took "Steptoe and Son", made them black, and placed them in Los Angeles. The junkyard motif holds, and thus the reference.

Guitar, $10. Electronics and tuners, free for doing the neck swap. $4 for epoxy paint, $1 for neck bolts, $3 for a switch. Add a set of D'Addario ProSteel .008's, and the decibel level just improved here for $25.