Friday, April 16, 2010

Strat All Done

Well, here it is . . .

I built this "Schallercaster" guitar as a contrast to my "Yamacaster" (Yamaha Pacifica). I was looking for a jazz/latin/blues sound and had some Schaller Golden 50's pickups lying around with nothing to do. I had bought the neck some time back, was it a Mighty Mite? - I forget. The neck is of the wider variety and pretty flat, thereby suiting my long fingers. The body was bought from the now-defunct Mars Music for 50 bucks. It was a refurbished job and I think they said it was a Cort. However the neck end had extra holes for tilt-neck adjusters, so who knows?

A quick test into the Roland Jazz Chorus 77, showed that the electric sound was as expected - very similar to Seymour Duncan '59's. The pickups have the Alnico V magnets - some find them to be "gutless" but they are clear-sounding with every string audible on chords. Because I had not completed the set-up, the bitch just would not tune up - so it sounded pretty un-musical to the ear. For example, the 3rd string played at the first fret was at least a 1/4 tone sharp. Ouch.

On with the set-up. First, the string grooves in the nut were finalized. A book I have says to have the string just touch the first fret when you push it down between the second and third frets. I stopped a little short of that and also left the wound strings a little higher because I use hybrid gauges 9, 11, 16, 26, 36, 46. Next I set the bridge heights until the strings buzzed slightly at the 12th fret because the neck has a little too much bow and I have to take the neck off to adjust the frikkin inaccessible truss rod. Following that little exercise, I adjusted the rollers on the bridge to set the string widths equal and lined up with the neck.

Next, I plugged the guitar into the trusty ZOOM 707 and adjusted each string's intonation by pinging the 1st harmonic and making the fingered 12th fret show the same. After tuning the guitar using the ZOOM's tuner, I casually struck a bottom E chord and damn near wet my pants, it sounded so good. I fretted an A at the fifth, still good and even E at the 12th - still good! All the chord shapes sounded good enough too, without that flat sound on the 3rd string when playing a bottom C for example.

As you would expect with a hard-tail bridge, string bending is easy and also using the finger to produce vibrato, like classical guitar players, works well. I notice too that this guitar has much louder harmonics on each string compared to the Yamacaster. This is good from the point of having a brightly textured sound but not so good if the strings go out of tune :-(

best regards,


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