Let’s start by saying I have a habit of underestimating the time it takes to finish a certain project, and not just guitars. It only took me another 10 months or so to finish this one. Luckily finding a neck for this Strat wasn’t such a big endeavor as the Ronald Jones Jaguar, however the refinishing and rewiring took a lot longer than expected. Although, I did finish the guitar two weeks ago, so I could have been quicker if wasn’t such a procrastinator.
Quick recap; I had the idea for a Corgan-inspired Stratocaster for quite a while. The Fender signature guitar would have been a nice alternative, but why make it so simple? Also the DiMarzio’s weren’t really authentic enough compared to the original 90s Smashing Pumpkins lineup of guitars. Although I really like those pickups, I’m not gonna swap them for Lace Sensors on $1000+ signature guitar.
Originally I had bought a ‘set’ of late 80s Lace Sensors, with a Dually Red humbucker in the bridge position. Not really what Corgan used back then but I figured it was a tribute, so what. After coming across a Fender Duo-Sonic (check out the blog on that one) I used 2 of the Lace Sensors to add to that guitar. I wasn’t pickup-less for long as I found an original Red-Silver-Blue Lace set from the early 90s, just as the man himself used. Because of this I could also change the pickguard. I had bought a Black Pearl HSS guard to fit the Dually Red humbucker. Not really enamored with this color from the start I opted for a simple white SSS pickguard.
The final ingredient was the neck. Luck turned in my favor as I found an early 90s American Std. Fender Stratocaster for cheap. I’m not an expert on the exact specifications of different models from Fender from this era, but this particular neck is a strange hybrid it seems. The tuners and string trees are non-original and the neck has 22 frets which was standard back then. The weird thing is that the fretboard is curved at a 7.25″ radius. I am used to this radius as this is the same radius found on old Mustangs, Jaguars and most other vintage Fenders till the late 70s/early 80s. As far as I’m aware Fender didn’t use this radius much after that period, only more recently on certain reissues. I could be wrong though, I would be interested to hear someone with more knowledge on 80s/90s Fender to fill me in!
The reason it took longer to finish this guitar was because of the finish (pun intended). I had to sand the body down to remove the previous lacquer which was one of the ugliest sunbursts I have seen. I knew a guy who could refinish it for free (minus the cost of the paint). He was pretty busy with other things and I should have brought it to him earlier. More my fault than his, but it’s done and he did a lovely job so I’m not complaining. The body is finished in nitrocellulose clear coat, followed by a few layers of vintage tint and more clear coat. I wanted to keep the nice grain of the ash body visible but give it that vintage 70s amber-like clear tint. I’m really pleased with the end result.
How does she sound? You can get pretty close to the classic Corgan tone. I am no virtuoso on guitar but with my favorite distortion/fuzz pedal I’m as close as I’ll ever get. Maybe I should get some floral paisley shirts to match the rest of the Corgan outfit haha. It also excels at its clean tones and takes modulation effects like a champ. I noticed a very Adrian Belew-esque tonal quality to these Lace Sensors, very responsive to your picking. I installed a CTS Blender pot instead of the second tone pot in order to blend in different pickups, like the neck and bridge pickup for that in-between Tele sound or all pickups at once. I’m really glad I chose this instead of a useless second tone knob, it adds a lot of extra versatility.
Glad I can finally take this one of my list of projects, but it was worth the wait. Let’s see what’s next on the menu… The Bass VI is almost done, I have all the parts to finish upgrading the bass. It wasn’t a big endeavor to begin with, so it should be done in the next few weeks. Same applies for the Ibanez (ripped-up) Ripper, although more long term probably. I have found a second mudbucker and all the other parts are in as well, I just have to figure out how I can fit the electronics in this bass with such limited space available. Any ideas/suggestions are more than welcome!
One project finishes, yet another starts; recently I bought a quite rare Shergold Masquerader 12 string electric from the late 70s for cheap. I’ll be tackling that one in the next blog soon, so stick around. I’m also going to start a new segment called ‘Guest Guitars’ as a companion to ‘The Low End’, in which I’ll discuss a weird or rare guitar model. Or maybe highlight a specific interesting guitar me or someone else owns. We’ll were this format goes, I do have a particular guitar lined up for part one.