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07/12/2009 @ 05:09 PM: A couple of days ago I gave new life to a custom guitar assembled earlier this year. The Red Agathis Strat, an extra-parts project I put together in January when my curiosity about the GFS VEH pickups I'd bought months earlier became overwhelming, was a surprisingly excellent sounding guitar. The process of putting it together went smoother than almost any project prior, and it quickly became a favorite for gigs and practice. The ultra-cheapie body I'd used, however, was an eyesore with its faux quilt top; and the finish was so thin it was cracking off in places. So I'd been on the lookout for a suitable replacement. I should explain that I've become something of a bargain hunter with regard to guitar parts. And so with that said it's probably understood how excited I was when, a couple of weeks ago, I discovered an eBay store selling guitar body factory seconds. (The occasional buffing mark or small scratch does not bother me if it means the price is cut in half.) I picked up a Mighty Mite sunburst flame maple ash Strat body, and thus finally had a replacement for the ailing red agathis body. In less than 24 hours I turned around the body swap, making all the necessary routes to the new body and modifications to the transplant parts to insure a perfect fit. Literally all of the parts of the existing guitar were switched over with the small exceptions being the neck plate, spring claw, and volume potentiometer. I even kept the same strings on it. Thankfully, like with this guitar's first manifestation, the assembly was smooth.

Though I'm considering this the same guitar, and it will hold the same serial number in my catalog of custom axes, I went through a small amount of contemplation to arrive at that decision. I've always considered the body of a guitar its "essence," if-you-will. It's the main tone wood, the wood grain characteristics are unique to it alone, the majority of the routing is done to the body, and of course color helps define the guitar as much as anything. I only decided this, though, after having the chance to play the guitar in its new epitome. The similarity in tone and resonance is frighteningly uncanny, which I believe lends credibility to the argument that neck wood and tremolo play a large part in the overall sonic quality of a guitar.

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

The revised parts list and new photos are below!

Mighty Mite Solid Ash/Flame Maple Top Strat Body--Translucent Sunburst Finish
Mighty Mite Maple Neck--22 Frets, 1 5/8" Original Floyd Rose Chrome 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
Bourns 500K Volume Potentiometer w/ Black Knob
3-Way Pickup Selector Switch w/ Black Tip
Warmoth 3-Ply Cream White Pearloid Pickguard
Black Tremolo Cover
Switchcraft Jack w/ Chrome Jack Plate
Gotoh Mini Chrome Tuners
Chrome Floyd Rose String Retainer Bar
Chrome Neck Plate
Chrome Strap Buttons

Sunburst_Flame_Ash_Strat_03 (262k image)

Sunburst_Flame_Ash_Strat_02 (280k image)

Sunburst_Flame_Ash_Strat_01 (252k image)

Sunburst_Flame_Ash_Strat_04 (244k 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