More info on my "Signature Model" projects

More info on my Squier Thin Body projects

Under construction...

Rush's Alex Lifeson with his red Stratocaster on the 1982 Signals tour
the red Stratocaster with mirror pickguard and cream bridge humbucker
my version, with a cream Fleor Dual Extra Hot Rail in the bridge
mirror pickguard with silver/black bell reflector knobs and reverse jack plate
3-way bridge pickup (series/split/parallel) mini switch
body back

Under construction...

Ritchie Blackmore playing with Rainbow, 1981
Rainbow's Straight Between The Eyes (1982) and Deep Purple's Perfect Strangers (1984)
Fender's Ritchie Blackmore signature model - note the scalloped fretboard and the dummy single-coil pickup in the middle position
my Tokai Springy Sound Strat with a scalloped Mighty Mite neck

The main differences between my version and the official Fender Blackmore edition are:
    --mine has a standard rosewood fretboard instead of scalloped rosewood fretboard
    --mine has a working middle single-coil pickup instead of a dummy
Guitar Madness .25 Caliber Alnico 5 pickups
Ritchie Blackmore signature waterslide on the back of the headstock
Blackmore harness (along with Fender Blackout Stratocaster harness) - XGP 330k pots, Oak Grigsby 5-way switches, Orange Drop tone capacitors, and a Switchcraft jack

Under construction...

Under construction...
history of Eric Clapton's Stratocaster, "Blackie"
Clapton with Blackie, circa early 1980s
Blackie close-ups
Blackie headstock
Blackie, front and back
saw Blackie at the "Play It Loud" exhibit at the NYC MET in September 2019 1 2
Fender Squier body with All Parts maple neck
white pickguard with G.M. pickups
nicely aged body
G.M. Smooth Velvet Alnico 2 (neck and middle) and Premium Alnico 2 (bridge) single-coil pickups
Eric Clapton "Blackie" signature waterslide
body aging on the back
-20036 custom neck plate
All Parts maple neck figuring
red paint on the steel trem block

Under construction...
history of David Gilmour's Black Strat
Black Strat, front and back
Gilmour with the Black Strat, circa early 1970s
recent Gilmour with the Black Strat
Black Strat close-ups
Fender Squier body with Mighty Mite maple neck
black pickguard with G.M. pickups
classic black pickguard with white pickups and knobs
black pickguard with G.M. Premium Alnico 2 (neck and middle) and Hot Alnico 5 Strat (bridge) single-coil pickups
David Gilmour signature waterslide
38979 custom neck plate
custom shortened tremolo bar

Similarities between these two Fender tribute projects:
--both have thin, black Fender Squier bodies (1 9/16")
--both have maple necks (All Parts & Mighty Mite)
--both have aged wood and hardware
--both have custom sets of G.M. (Guitar Madness) single-coil pickups (white covers)
--both have steel base plates installed for the bridge single-coil pickups
--both have harnesses with CTS 250k pots, Oak Grigsby 5-way switches, Orange Drop tone capacitors, and a Switchcraft jack
--both have steel GFS "shorty" trem blocks (39mm)
--both have narrow Fender-stamped saddles (2 1/16")
--both have aged white Strat knobs
--both have aged chrome Schaller strap buttons

I always thought it was cool to see Jimi Hendrix (a lefty) play a right-handed guitar essentially upside down. So here's my take...

We've all seen the old pictures - Jimi Hendrix with an upside-down, right-handed sunburst Fender Stratocaster. Fender has wisely marketed a right-handed (reverse headstock) Fender Hendrix Stratocaster - sunburst with rosewood fretboard (note that the bridge pickup is reverse slanted) so players can get that Jimi vibe. You can even pick up the colorful Fender Hendrix Stratocaster - Monterey Pop Edition - also with the reverse-slanted bridge pickup. But these guitars aren't really what Hendrix did with his Strat. These are right-handed bodies for right-handed players and the only thing that ties them to Hendrix in that way is either a reverse headstock or the slant of the bridge single coil. Fender knows that it would be way too uncomfortable to play something upside down. The output jack would be stabling you in the forearm and the controls are designed to be down and out of the way - not up in your chest. But I wanted to play a guitar upside down, so I tracked down a used lefty Fender Squier body with a nice sunburst finish. Here we go.

OK, so I had a left-handed body. The next question was - do I stay with the lefty tremolo (like Stevie Ray Vaughan), or do I want to go with a standard right-handed trem? It obviously would have been easier to stick with the stock left-handed trem, so of course I decided on swapping it with a right-handed one. I had to add and remove wood to account for a right-handed tremolo in a left-handed body (as on SRV's Number One) - front and back - but it turned out pretty clean (front and back).

I picked up a used Fender Squier neck (rosewood board, 21 frets) and sanded down the headstock and added Fender and Jimi Hendrix signature waterslides. The tremolo is a GFS model with a big steel sustain block and Fender-stamped saddles. I added locking tuners and Schaller strap buttons, and a chrome Fender neck plate. I debated between a black or white pickguard, and ultimately went with the black one. More on that in a second.

For the pickups, I went with a set of white US Tone Works VS60s, which achieve 1960s "Vintage Strat" tone with the aid of Alnico 5 magnets. They sound just fine and they weren't too expensive. I wired everything up with CTS 250K pots, a CRL switch, a .022 tone capacitor, and a Switchcraft jack. And the white pickups with the black pickguard... The farther I got along with this project, the more it resembled SRV's guitar than a Hendrix instrument. So at this point I added an SRV-inspired Custom decal behind the trem. I guess this axe is a tribute to both of these guitar heroes who died way too young.

This project was actually a lot of fun - especially re-shaping the tremolo cavity. And I can totally see why Fender and other guitar manufacturers don't market upside-down guitars - not comfortable at all to play! Oh well. It allows me to appreciate Hendrix even more!

May 2019

Under construction...

Under construction...

MC5's Wayne Kramer with his American Flag Strat
Fender Wayne Kramer Stratocaster, 1969
my black & white version
unique Fleor pickup combination, with the 5-way switch and the on/off switch
body back
would have preferred the red, white, and blue version but my black & white version looks pretty cool

Under construction...

Matthias Jabs with his striped Gibson Explorer, circa 1984
Matthias Jabs with his "Trouble" Strat - 1963 Fender Stratocaster body and 1964 neck, Floyd Rose, and Bill Lawrence L90XL box humbucker, circa 1986, with close up
Jabs with his "Trouble" Strat, circa 1982
Jabs with his "Trouble" Strat, circa 1984 1 2 3
Scorpion decal on the headstock
arranged black duct tape and a G.M. Railbucker pickup

Under construction...

Under construction...

Make sure to also visit the following pages for related Fender and Signature project stories:

Fender Projects
Signature Charvel / Jackson Projects

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