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01/28/2009 @ 11:48 AM: After a long break from completing a custom guitar, my first one of 2009, completed on Monday, January 26, is an "extra parts" project assembled in just a little more than one week.

For a couple of months I had a set of GFS "VEH" humbucker pickups sitting on my desk and no guitar for which to install them. Realizing I had an entire guitar in parts all around me, I opted to assemble a parts-o-caster for the sole purpose of satisfying my curiosity about the rumored awesomeness of these pickups. Now with every custom project, there is always one or more sticking point that bogs the assembly process down; often parts need extra routing in order to fit together, and sometimes whole pieces need to be abandoned and replaced simply because they won't function together at all. Not the case with this one--it was almost a turnkey project. Parts almost literally dropped in, and the measuring and drilling processes couldn't have been easier. Its greatest setback came when the original neck I'd picked for it, a stunning one-piece flame maple neck I'd bought off eBay last year, split open on the backside when I tightened the truss rod. Another builder responded to the incident by saying: "That's why I don't buy from garage luthiers." (His point was well taken.) I pulled a Mighty Mite hard rock maple neck I had in storage and completed the guitar with it instead. There's a bit of irony in that most of the parts of this guitar are top-notch. Everything, that is, except the body, which is a $30 cheapie I bought off eBay. The "quilt" top is in fact a foto finish (fake), and it was actually a little difficult to identify the type of wood it was made from (at one point I'd been saying poplar). But the thing sounds damn good, actually. In its first day of test-playing I was pretty hard on this guitar--working the Floyd Rose trem hard and generally pushing its limits. The axe did well, and I was indeed quite impressed with the pickups.

Pictures of this guitar in progress, along with my other guitar projects, can be found in the photos section of my MySpace page:

UPDATE: 07/12/2009: Click here to see and read about the July 2009 body swap that transformed The Red Agathis Strat into The Sunburst Flame Ash Strat.

The parts list and photos are below!

Solid Agathis Body--Transparent Red Finish
Mighty Mite Maple Neck--22 Frets, 1 5/8" Original Floyd Rose Locking Nut, C-Shape Profile, 9.5"-12" Compound Radius, Medium-Jumbo Frets, Black Inlays, Satin Finish
GFS VEH Humbucker Bridge & Neck Pickups
Ping Licensed Floyd Rose Chrome Tremolo Bridge w/ EVH D-Tuna & Oversized Brass Sustain Block
500K Volume Potentiometer w/ Black Knob
3-Way Pickup Selector Switch w/ Black Tip
Warmoth 3-Ply Cream White Pearloid Pickguard
Switchcraft Jack w/ Chrome Jack Plate
Gotoh Mini Chrome Tuners
Chrome Floyd Rose String Retainer Bar
Chrome Neck Plate
Chrome Strap Buttons

Red_Agathis_Strat_09 (247k image)

Red_Agathis_Strat_10 (220k image)

Red_Agathis_Strat_11 (212k image)

Red_Agathis_Strat_12 (238k image)

thumbnail 001thumbnail 002thumbnail 003thumbnail 004Photo Chronology: 1996 to Today
thumbnail 005thumbnail 006thumbnail 007thumbnail 008Please feel free to peruse these memories from the AT photo archives.

Andrew Thomas