The Tango Strat

A Guitar I Assembled from Parts

First of all, let me explain why I call it the “Tango Strat”. Sometime during 2016 I became obsessed with a colour I had seen on some special-run and custom shop Fenders – Candy Tangerine, a metallic orange. Also the name of a chemically-laden orange soda drink in the UK.

It just looked so amazing and different from the usual look that I normally would go for that I just wanted a candy tangerine Strat. It just so happened that my local store had some cheap tins of paint labelled as “Candy Orange” and I had just successfully refinished a Squier Telecaster in Candy Apple Red using the same brand of cheap paint. I was on a roll!

With a trip to the UK planned in September, I decided to put the project in motion by sourcing some parts and bringing them back home to Thailand in my suitcase. The magical treasure trove of Ebay was to be where I sourced all the parts!

I have already posted about this guitar and made a couple of videos:

The Goal

The task was to build a Strat that was close to my main axe – the “Sonic Strat” (Squier Classic Vibe 60s, modded extensively), so that it would serve the same role as main, workhorse guitar and either one could be backup for the other. That also had to be done with the lowest budget I could possibly meet, being financially challenged!

I already had a second set of identical pickups to the ones in the Sonic Strat – Tonerider Alnico II Blues, so that was already a saving.

The Parts

I wanted to find a body that was very light because the Sonic Strat is light. I wanted to build a Strat that was even lighter than that. I found an unfinished Strat body made from Paulownia wood, which fits the bill. It weighs about 1 kg unloaded. The price was ideal too (see the parts breakdown at the end of this article). I believe it came from one of those kits that include all parts necessary to build a Strat. The seller was selling the parts separately and most likely making more money that way. Not a bad idea really because the other parts in those kits are not of the spec that I normally want.

A rosewood neck was also a requirement; one of a similar profile to the Sonic Strat (a modern ‘C’ shape I believe). I like slightly fatter necks as a rule, but this project was about re-creating my most-used guitar as closely as possible.

I found just the thing with a couple of bonuses: The neck had been finished and it also came with vintage Kluson-style tuners installed. Again, competitively priced. I believe this neck may have some with a kit and the seller had shaped the headstock, finished the neck with a nice. tinted lacquer and installed tuners. It has a 12″ radius, similar profile to a modern ‘C’, maybe slightly thicker and 1mm wider than the Sonic Strat’s neck, making a significant difference to how big the neck feels, but a great feel nonetheless. The nut needed replacing, but that was no big deal.

I went really cheap on the bridge. It was a great price, but alas it was just not up to the job and really not good enough at all. I ended up getting a Mexican Fender bridge, which pushed the budget up a bit, but still a very reasonable price.

Pickguard and plastic parts were the bargain of the century and the rest of the parts were easy to find on Ebay and not expensive at all. After all that though, all those small things do add up. All in all the final cost was exceptional considering how great the guitar feels, plays and sounds.

There is definitely another partscaster project in my future!

Parts List (with approx. prices in £)

  • Paulownia body – £36
  • Maple/Rosewood neck – £64
  • Fender Mexico bridge assembly – £20
  • Pickguard and all plastic parts – £6
  • Bone nut – £4
  • Copper shielding tape – £5
  • Neck plate – £2
  • Strap buttons – £2
  • Jack socket and plate – £1
  • 4-way switch – £6
  • CTS pots (one no-load) – £16
  • Jupiter yellow 0.05µF Tone cap – £4
  • Cloth covered wire – £3
  • Spray paint (primer, colours and clear coat) – £10
  • Grain filler – £4

Total: approx. £183. If I needed pickups I would have ordered the same alnico 5 set I got from Ebay for another Strat project at just £15 instead of the Toneriders I already had (which cost £79). Total with the cheap pickup option would be almost exactly £200.


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