Brian Cruze, Brian, Cruze, Porter, Heritage, UT, Tennessee, Seymour, Knoxville, TN,, pictures . : s t r a t p r o j e c t : .
strat project (1997)

As some of my friends know, I am undertaking the task of building my dream guitar myself. I contacted Fender's Custom Shop and they quoted me a price of close to $2500 for what I wanted. I told them "no thanks" and started weighing my options. I decided that with the help of several sources I could put together close to the same instrument that I wanted from Fender so I set out to build the guitar using as many original Fender parts as possible. Below is a visual and textual account of my endeavor to assemble the guitar of my dreams.

  • I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures here, they were taken in 1997 with a first generation Kodak DC20 digital camera which was a piece of crap.
  • Please check out my second project guitar, a replica carved top Ibanez, which was completed in 2000. This page doesn't have a running diary like this one, only pictures.
  • Please contact me with any questions you may have.

    Before I started, I located some NOS vintage Fender 'spaghetti' logos from the 50's/60's.
    **NOTE** - I got these on a tip from a guy I knew, not from an Internet site. I have long since lost the guy's phone number and mailing address, so please, no more emails asking where I got these.

    Ordered a Fender Aged White accessory kit (part # 099-1368) and Fender Original Kluson tuners (099-2040) from Dave's Guitar Shop in La Crosse, WI. The accessory kit includes volume and tone knobs, pickup covers, tremolo arm tip, and tremolo spring cavity cover in the ivory/yellowish tint that older parts made in the late 50's to early 60's acquire over time. The tuning machines are close to exactly the same tuners used on guitars of the same era. They gave me a ETA of 30 days.
    Total Cost to Date: $47.95

    Ordered Fender left handed tremolo system (035-938) from Rik's Music in Knoxville, TN. Fender rep said it was a hard to get item and gave them a 90 day ETA.
    Total Cost to Date: $115.93

    Contacted John Atchley of Weatherford, TX about doing the soldering of the control potentiometers, 5-way switch, ground wire, output jack, and pickups. He agrees to do the job as soon as I send him all the stuff. I'm starting to wonder about the order from Dave's. Still not here. *sigh*
    Total Cost to Date: $155.93

    Ordered the neck, control pots, and 5-way switch from Warmoth Custom Guitar Shop in Puyallup, WA. Neck specifics are: Warmoth Construction Method, maple neck finished in a orangish/amber Vintage Tint w/ slab rosewood fretboard, 'boatneck' neck contour, 25" scale, 12" radius, Dunlop 6100 fretwire, and clay fret marker dots. Control pots are 250k CTS brand and the 5-way switch is a CRL Original style.
    Total Cost to Date: $445.43

    Went to Rik's to get some various parts (all Fender): Strap buttons (099-2013), vintage butterfly string retainers (099-2010) and a black shielded pickguard (099-1359). I thought the retainers and strap buttons were a little high (8.25 and 6.25 respectively) but oh well. :)

    Total Cost to Date: $484.58

    Received an order from Stewart-Macdonald's Guitar Shop Supply containing Guitar Body Cavity Shielding Paint and two books: Electric Guitar Setups (Kamimoto) and Build Your Own Electric Guitar (Foley). I really thought this book would have more in it than it really does. It shows you how to set up almost every bridge available, but since I'm only gonna be dealing with the vintage's overkill.
    Total Cost to Date: $555.91

    Received another order from Stew-Mac. This time I got 2 vintage bone nuts, 5 tremolo cavity springs, 15 pickguard screws, and The Fender Stratocaster 40th Anniversary Edition (Duchossoir). Man, what a great's got diagrams, patent information, blueprints, and a lot of other stuff in it that will prove useful later on.

    Total Cost to Date: $614.35

    Received the neck from Warmoth Guitar! It's beautiful! Perfect...just how I ordered. I wish it didn't have the extra fret (22) tho, but I'll live. I'm going to have dad round off the heel so it looks better, anyhow. Also, the control pots and 5-way switch came with the neck. Now that I have these, I went downtown to Rik's and picked up a set of Texas Specials (pickups) so I can send off to John Atchley. The surprise was the pickups had Aged White Covers! Score! Actually, I'm going to take care of mailing that stuff today too. Happy Happy Joy Joy! On a side note, I e-mailed Fender a day or two ago about the Aged White Kit. They said that they have been backordered from the supplier in Japan for a long time. Elderly Instruments in Michigan said they've had one on order since December 1996 so I'm not getting my hopes up. I did, however, call a couple of Guitar Centers in California on a tip from a post I made in alt.guitar saying they have them in stock...of course, they didn't, but they offered to order me one. Wow. :)

    Total Cost to Date: $760.49

    Well, after much contemplation and personal indulgent side won out over my sensible side. I ordered the body from Warmoth. :) Also ordered better tuners (Gotoh Kluson style), jack plate, Switchcraft mono input jack, and chrome neckplate. The body is gonna be Strat-style, made of Swamp Ash and finished in a gloss clear coat over a 3-color sunburst. The tremolo routing for the left handed trem I'm gonna be putting in cost me an extra $35...ick. Anyhow, in other news. Contacted my source for the Fender headstock logos and got one more in case I screw the other two up. John A. called and said he received my package yesterday and will send all my stuff back all soldered up on Monday. I also posted around on the Net to try to find an Aged White guy says he thinks his local shop has a couple and he's gonna go check it out this weekend for me. *fingers crossed*. Anyhow...that's about it for today.
    Total Cost to Date: $1251.99

    I received the pickguard/pots/switch/pickups back from John today. It looks great! I would recommend him if working on electronic idiot's guitars was his job, but he has a day job so don't bother him unless you are a moron like myself. :) Nice work... In other news, still no sign of an aged white kit. I've experimented with making my own but they've not really been successful except for the pickup covers. I've also checked out some more possible leads on the Fender kit from Kenny 'Blue' Ray but to no avail. Oh well. No sign of the body or bridge yet either.

    Total Cost to Date: $1251.99

    I have located an Aged White kit! I posted a message on the Texas Flood mailing list about not being able to locate one and someone mailed me and said the place where he worked had them in stock and to call and ask for Joe. So I called and they sent me to Joe who had no knowledge of the e-mail or what I was talking about. So I told him what I needed and he said they had 'em. So once we got all the weird phone call stuff out of the way, he agreed to hold me one and ship it out when he got my check. I dropped the check in a Priority mail envelope today so I should have more news within 2 weeks...possibly sooner if they don't wait on my check to clear.
    Total Cost to Date: $1276.99

    Whoo hoo! I received the Aged White kit from Music Land! It's sweet...the knobs are not yellowed, but mottled. Discolored here and there to look like they've really been used. I had a couple other leads on the kit and I'm going to try to get at least 1 or 2 more of them for future projects. I also sent a friend to Rik's to pick up some Original Fender Pickguard Screws. The ones I ordered from Stew-Mac were gonna be too big. These are really nice...

    Total Cost to Date: $1283.99

    I contacted Warmoth today to check on the status of the body and they informed me that everything got sent out on the 16th. My stuff should be here before the end of the week!
    Total Cost to Date: $1283.99

    It's here! The body finally got here and it is gorgeous! The grain of this thing is unreal! I cannot say enough about Warmoth Guitars. Everything I have ordered from them has been top quality all the way. I am especially impressed with their finish and paint department. I was wary at first because it wasn't the cheapest place in the world, but you get what you pay for and for my money, nobody does it better. I will DEFINITELY be buying from them in the future. This package had the Gotoh Kluson-style tuners which I installed in the neck right away. Real nice looking Kluson replicas, and better quality, too.

    Total Cost to Date: $1283.99

    Rik's Music called today and told me that my Fender Left Handed Bridge that I'd ordered came in! Things are starting to come together quickly! I'll go tomorrow and pick it up. I'm kind of leary about installing it just yet. I really wanna shield the body with some conductive paint but the paint I have doesn't seem like it'll work very well. I contacted Alembic about some silver based shielding paint...this is supposed to be the best you can buy.
    Total Cost to Date: $1283.99

    Cool! I finally got my hands on the left handed bridge! I'm kinda disapointed with it tho. I think it's defective because the arm hole is angled *way* bad. I ordered another one from Music Land to see if the angle is consistant. Also, the only thing included was the assembly. When I ordered it I was led to believe that it included the main assembly, trem screws, trem arm, springs, spring claw, and claw screws. Instead I had to buy all that separately from Rik's. Sounds like a load of crap to me. We'll see what the kit from Music Land looks like. I got a reply on my inquiry for the shielding paint from Alembic. It's $80 a 'bottle'. Not sure how big that is and I didn't ask, but they said enough for 2 guitars and that's all I need.

    Total Cost to Date: $1452.68

    I was looking at my pickguard assembly a couple days ago and realized the bridge Texas Special had a broken wire. I went to order some replacements but started looking at other pickups instead. After looking at some Van Zandts and Lindy Fralins but one set just caught my eye really good...Seymour Duncan Antiquities. These pickups are supposed to be the best vintage stye replacement pickups you can buy. Anyhow, they're hand wound and aged...even the cover has dirt in it. So I ask Dave's if they can get em for me. They can and they'll give me $70 for my Texas Specials...but the Antuquities are $79 each! Man, that's steep, but I took the plunge. I ordered a Custom Bridge for the bridge (imagine that) a Texas Hot (reverse wound/reverse polarity) for the middle and another Texas Hot for the neck. Should be here in a couple weeks. I'm just going to send my pickguard assembly to them and let them take the TS's out and put the Antiquities in.
    Total Cost to Date: $1619.68

    The Silver paint finally got here and guess how big the bottle was? .5oz! Half an ounce for $80! That's almost like gold! Anyhow, I got the control cavity painted and it looks rather nice. I also sent my pickguard to Dave's this week.
    Total Cost to Date: $1619.68

    I ran across some replacement Vintage Tremolo Blocks made by Callaham Guitars in Virginia in the new issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine. They had a website listed so I went to check them out. These things look pretty nice and they only cost $45 so I figured, 'What the hell' and ordered one. Also, Dave's mailed me back and said my pickguard and picks were sent out on Thursday (6-26-97) so they should be here next week!

    Total Cost to Date: $1664.58

    Woo! Good day! The doorbell woke me up with two deliveries: my pickguard (with the Antiquities installed) and the new bridge from Music Land. Unfortunatly, the trem block has that angled arm hole, too. I sent Callaham a money order for $45 via UPS Next Day Air so it should get here on Tuesday provided they ship it out tomorrow. I did screw on the pickguard assembly to the body so at least that part is done. So, as it stands now, by Friday the guitar should be at the shop getting the neck set, the nut cut, and the action and intonation adjusted . I'm almost done!

    Total Cost to Date: $1664.58

    I got the guitar back from the shop today and am very pleased with it. It was finished and set up wonderfully by the guys at my local guitar shop. Below are some pictures of the finished product.

    Final Cost: $1764.58

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    Brian Cruze, Brian, Cruze, Porter, Heritage, UT, Tennessee, Seymour, Knoxville, TN,, pictures