Custom Shop on a Budget!
Something I have wanted to do for quite a long time is to build my own guitar, ultimately I’d love to actually make the neck and body from scratch, but maybe that’ll be possible another time.
For now I am happy to have assembled a guitar of my own from parts, all sourced separately and based on a list of specifications that I chose – in effect, my own custom shop guitar concept to fit my restricted budget.
I’m glad it took me some time to get to the point of being able to do this because by the time I was ready I was very clear about what I wanted to build in terms of specifications and also the concept behind my very own, custom-made guitar.
I already had a blueprint in the form of my Squier Classic Vibe 60s Strat (which I now refer to as the “Sonic Strat” on account of its sky-blue colour. It has been subjected to two refinishes, several pickup changes and various other abuses, but over the course of this year has evolved into exaclty the kind of working guitar I desire. It has a non-standard pickup switching scheme, nice pickups and a performance-car type feel and playability whilst giving up a classic/contemporary set of tones.
Of course I know that no two guitars are ever the same, even when they are “the same”, but you get my drift right? I basically wanted a double in a striking colour that I fell in love with this year: “Candy Tangerine”, giving birth to the concept of the “Tango” Strat!
“Tango” is the name of a ghastly orange soda drink in the UK, full of chemicals and probably no real orange juice at all.
I had two sets of Tonerider Alnico 2 Blues pickups. One in the Sonic Start and one in my Squier Vintage modified 70s Strat (now refinished, re-wired and renamed the “Electric Starat” on account of its electric blue finish). This made it very easy to duplicate the guts of the Classic Vibe without having to go over budget and the Tango Strat has exactly the same wiring setup as the Sonic Strat, right down to the brand of tone capacitor and pots.
As you can imagine, the two “twin” Strats don’t sound identical, but they are comparable in terms of feel, weight (the Tango Strat is even lighter than the Sonic Strat) and tone.
The Tango Strat weighs 2.8kg (6.1lbs) compared to the Sonic Strat at 3.4kg (7.5lbs). They make a great pair and look striking together.
I now want to build another one with two PAF-style humbuckers and a simple, 3-way switching. The tough part is deciding what colour to paint it!