#1
I've been in need of a guitar specifically for high gain in Drop-C tuning for a while now.
I wanted a simple, stripped down guitar -- 1 high output bridge humbucker, 1 volume, 1 tone -- with a classic body shape (think G&L Superhawk instead of the pointy Ibanez RG), but preferably with a basic hockey-stick headstock.


Then I saw this pic on a Facebook group for sales/trades of musical equipment:





According to the owner (and the headstock), the guitar manufacturer's name was "Country" and it was from the early '90s. It had some cosmetic damage, electronics issues and a broken tuner.
It also was a 3/4 size guitar, which is great since I wanted a really light weight guitar -- hence why I'm going to give it the "Superleggera" name (italian word for "superlight", it comes from the car world, another thing I really enjoy).
He claimed to be the original owner, and was asking 40€ for it.

Since I have a friend who's a woodworker, who built his own electric guitar from scratch and helped me customize my Strat (see "VMC" link in my signature), and who can fix almost anything and is always ready to help me with my projects, I saw right away in that guitar lots of potential.

So I contacted the seller, and since he lived almost 400kms away I arranged for my mom to pick up the guitar when she had to go there.
Once my mom picked up the guitar, she sent me these pictures:





When I looked at them, I thought "Hey, it's actually in pretty good shape. The seller's description was a bit exaggerated on how bad it was.".
A couple weeks later, when I finally got my hands on the guitar, I immediately noticed that the obvious flaws the seller advertised just didn't show on the pictures my mom took.













The finish has multiple scratches and dings -- it's fine, I want to refinish it with a custom paintjob anyway.
The "Tone" knob is heavily damaged; the tuners are old, creak, work badly, and 1 of the 6 gears is missing -- also fine, I want to put almost 100% new hardware on it anyway.
Squier "VMC" Stratocaster
PRS SE Singlecut
tc electronic polytune
CMAT MODS Signa Drive
Blakemore Effects Deus Ex Machina
DIY gaussmarkov Dr. Boogey
EHX Small Clone
Mooer ShimVerb
DIY Beavis Devolt
T-REX Fuel Tank Chameleon
Ampeg GVT52-112
Last edited by Linkerman at Oct 3, 2014,
#2
On the back, the plastic cover for the electronics cavity didn't sit flush with the body, and the edges seemed to have been sanded/carved.

So I took it off and noticed that the back of the cover was perfectly flat, but covered adhesive paper. Maybe an attempt to have some sort of electrical insulation...?
The adhesive paper came off easily by scratching with my fingernails, leaving me with a perfectly smooth and glossy surface.
When flipped over it fit the electronics cavity perfectly, flush with the body, and looked excellent (without any scratches or blemishes). I don't have pictures of the piece after completely removing the adhesive paper, but it'll show up on the final pictures since it's one of the few original parts that'll be returned to the guitar.









Before taking it apart, I put some old strings on it to test it.
It worked and didn't sound bad at all (I'll probably use the original pickup on another project someday), but it was impossible to intonate it. Even after removing the saddles' springs, some of the strings were still a bit off.

Time to assess the situation with my friend. We started measuring, and reached the conclusion that the neck was about 1cm too close to the bridge for its scale.
We took the guitar apart, and realized that the body had been completely butchered.

The bridge and pickup routings were irregularly carved. Shoddy work. But that wasn't the worst part.
The neck pocket had been badly carved to fit that neck, and there was a mess of screw holes (8 in total).
That neck definitely wasn't the guitar's original neck.
I just wonder if the seller lied (and either he wasn't the original original owner and bough it used, or he modified it himself a long time ago) or if "Country" just did a really bad job and tried to put together one guitar with a body and a neck of different origins.


Once we knew what we were dealing with, time to start the real work.
Sanding revealed a 3-piece maple body.
The bridge and pickup routings were rectified and repaired. The mess of holes on the neck pocket was repaired as well, by opening 4 bigger holes and filling them to create a blank neck pocket.
The holes for the tremolo bridge back cover were filled, since I'll leave that cavity open.





Then, the neck pocket's sides were reinforced with new pieces of wood and they were carved to fit the neck tightly. The carve was also made 1cm further away from the bridge to fix the intonation issue.
The input jack was moved from the top of the body to its side and recessed.
The electronics cavity was filled a bit with a piece of wood to allow recessed volume and tone knobs.
The original volume knob hole was filled. The tone knob hole became the new volume knob hole, and the input jack hole became the new tone knob hole.





Right now the body is pretty much ready for the new paintjob, it should be ready for assembly by the end of next week.
Squier "VMC" Stratocaster
PRS SE Singlecut
tc electronic polytune
CMAT MODS Signa Drive
Blakemore Effects Deus Ex Machina
DIY gaussmarkov Dr. Boogey
EHX Small Clone
Mooer ShimVerb
DIY Beavis Devolt
T-REX Fuel Tank Chameleon
Ampeg GVT52-112
Last edited by Linkerman at Oct 3, 2014,
#3
Cool stuff.
"This one is machine and nerve, and has its mind concluded
This one is but flesh and faith, and is the more deluded."
#4
nice
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#5
This is the hardware that's going into the guitar.
A few things are stock, most of it is brand-new and comes from Axetec. I wanted to keep the cost low, but at the same time I knew I needed lots of things to make the guitar fit my specs -- and the Axetec hardware seemed to be great value for money, with very positive reviews.





Here's the list of hardware in the picture, roughly from left to right:

Quote by STOCK HARDWARE

  • Blank neck plate, chrome;
  • Blank control cavity plate, black;
  • Tremolo claw & springs;
  • Tremolo bridge & saddles.



Quote by AXETEC HARDWARE

  • Copper screening tape for the control cavity;
  • IronGear Steam Hammer bridge pickup (high-output, passive, black);
  • 6 locking tuners, black;
  • 22AWG hook-up wire with heavy duty insulation for the pots & jack;
  • 22SWG tinned copper wire for earthing between pots & bridge;
  • 500K Ohm Linear & Log potentiometers;
  • 600v .022uf Sprague "Orange Drop" capacitor;
  • Humbucker mounting ring, chrome;
  • Roller string tree, black;
  • Fender style graphite nut, black;
  • 2 Tele style dome knobs, black;
  • Input jack socket, black;
  • Schaller style strap locks, chrome with black felts.




Right now the guitar body is painted (yellow with black racing stripes) and ready for the clearcoat finish, which will have a little bit of pearlscent effect.

It's hard to tell from this picture, but the actual color is between light green and yellow -- like Bumblebee in the Transformers movies.
If you put it right next to a yellow object, the guitar looks green.
If you put it right next to a green object, the guitar looks yellow.

Next to it is my 10+ years old skate deck, which I'm restoring and has been painted with the exact same paint and simpler, offset racing stripes.





Hopefully both the guitar and skateboard will be assembled in the next few days (I'm just waiting for the new bushings, riser pads and wheels for the skateboard to be delivered via mail).
Squier "VMC" Stratocaster
PRS SE Singlecut
tc electronic polytune
CMAT MODS Signa Drive
Blakemore Effects Deus Ex Machina
DIY gaussmarkov Dr. Boogey
EHX Small Clone
Mooer ShimVerb
DIY Beavis Devolt
T-REX Fuel Tank Chameleon
Ampeg GVT52-112
Last edited by Linkerman at Oct 16, 2014,
#6
nice so far
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#7
I've had a couple of problems.

My friend hit paint while polishing the clearcoat, so he has to isolate that area, paint again, and reapply the clearcoat.
Currently awaiting delivery of more clearcoat to finish the body.

And as I was installing the locking tuners yesterday, the head of the last screw broke off, leaving the screy body inside the headstock:





It was extremely hard to get it off. I had to seek an uncle's help, and he had to "butcher" the wood all around the screw to remove it.
Today I'm going to leave the neck back at my friend's factory so that he can fill the damaged bit and reapply matte varnish.


Can't wait to see this project finished and working, but it takes a lot of time that neither I nor my friend have...
#10
Quote by -MintSauce-
Thumbs up for the Axetec goodies and Steam Hammer!

Thank you! I'm super curious to hear how the Steam Hammer sounds.
#11
Quote by Linkerman
Thank you! I'm super curious to hear how the Steam Hammer sounds.


You won't be disappointed, especially for sub £30
#12
Just went to my friend's house to assemble the guitar.
Tomorrow I'll drop it off at the music store to load it with some D'Addario EXL117 (.011-.056) and give it a proper setup. I'll be using a different string gauge than .009-.042 for the first time, but for drop-C a lighter string gauge would probably feel and sound "floppy".


When I get the guitar back I'll try to do a NGD thread over on EG, with a proper video demo, but for now I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of my friend's awesome job on the wiring:







And a teaser of the complete project (the pickup still even has the plastic film):


Squier "VMC" Stratocaster
PRS SE Singlecut
tc electronic polytune
CMAT MODS Signa Drive
Blakemore Effects Deus Ex Machina
DIY gaussmarkov Dr. Boogey
EHX Small Clone
Mooer ShimVerb
DIY Beavis Devolt
T-REX Fuel Tank Chameleon
Ampeg GVT52-112
#14
wow very nice
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#15
I won't lie, after looking at the before pics and reading about the intonation issues I thought this was a failed project in the making. To my surprise, it turned out great. Hope it plays as good as it looks, nice work!
#16
I went to pick the guitar up from the store on Saturday before band rehearsal.
The store owner/guitar tech asked me to bring the guitar back after the rehearsal since he wanted to lower the action a bit more, but after the rehearsal the store was already closed, so I had the guitar for the whole weekend (dropped it off earlier today).

I really connected with it.
It's very light, I got the brutal and punchy tone I wanted out of it super easily, and while it took a bit to get used to the wide fat neck (it feels even thicker than my PRS SE Singlecut's baseball-bat neck), now it feels super comfortable.

After spending some more time with it I'll post a proper review on an NGD thread over at EG, including a video demo, and I'll leave a link to that thread in this one.

Quote by von Layzonfon
Very nice. Love the paint job.
I've been very pleased with everything I've ever had from Axetec.

Thank you!

I'm really pleased too, the pickup sounds great. To my surprise it's more than capable of doing cleans as well, I was expecting a one-trick pony, high-gain machine.

And the electronic components, the wiring job and cavity insulation must be really good, because the guitar is extremely quiet.

As far as the other components go (straplocks, tuners, nut, etc.), if they prove to be reliable in the long term as much as they look good, they're awesome.

Quote by Dave_Mc
wow very nice

Thank you very much!

Quote by J_W
I won't lie, after looking at the before pics and reading about the intonation issues I thought this was a failed project in the making. To my surprise, it turned out great. Hope it plays as good as it looks, nice work!

The intonation is flawless now. The neck has been repositioned in the right place relative to the bridge, now it has zero issues.
I got along just fine with this initial setup, the action isn't high at all, but since the tech wants to fine-tune it further, I guess it'll feel and play even better!
And thank you for the kind words!
Squier "VMC" Stratocaster
PRS SE Singlecut
tc electronic polytune
CMAT MODS Signa Drive
Blakemore Effects Deus Ex Machina
DIY gaussmarkov Dr. Boogey
EHX Small Clone
Mooer ShimVerb
DIY Beavis Devolt
T-REX Fuel Tank Chameleon
Ampeg GVT52-112