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03/25/2010 @ 06:43 AM:

The AT Custom Burnt Orange Alder Strat
Serial Number: 1201023
Completed: March 2010

On March 21st I completed a custom guitar--one from a group of projects I've come to call "the three bitches." I started three custom guitars in 2007, all of which would require final finishing work. I'd never finished a guitar before (or hardly even a piece of furniture for that matter), which meant I was learning along the way. This guitar, the AT Custom Burnt Orange Alder Strat, was meant to be built with a limited budget and feature double humbucker pickups and black hardware. I would stain the body orange and finish it with a clear coat. That clear coat, incidentally, was the primary holdup (and is yet still on the other two--a Warmoth VW project and rebuilt Peavey Wolfgang project). My first clear coat attempt was with Krylon spray cans--something any person with experience finishing instruments will tell you is terrible in that it never fully cures and it also kills the resonance of the tone wood. My second attempt was with Steward-MacDonald clear brush-on varnish. Meant for professional finishes, this stuff requires that the majority of it be wet sanded down in order to attain a smooth final result. In three attempts to apply the varnish and wet sand through the various stages of rough-to-fine paper, I cracked through the clear each time, indicating I still needed to apply significantly more. Frustrated after the third failed try, I used what had become a staple on other projects: Tru-Oil. Given enough drying time, Tru-Oil (gunstock oil) can be wet sanded and buffed to a high shine. So that's what I did. My exhausted patience means the labored finish is far from perfect; up close it is rough. And I consider it an absolute inevitability that, provided I like how this guitar plays and sounds, the body will be re-finished again someday. Regardless, I do like the color, which was achieved by first staining the body orange and then later applying a light coat of walnut colored stain. Some of the "budget" considerations I first had in mind--cheaper pickups and hardware--were jettisoned. I bought a popular Seymour Duncan pickup configuration for it instead (one of the reasons I simply wanted to get the project assembled and functional), and it also has a higher quality Floyd Rose tremolo.

Pictures of this guitar in progress, along with my other current and completed guitar projects, can be found on my MySpace and Facebook pages:


Body: KNE Solid Alder; Orange/Walnut Dye; Poly/Tru-Oil Finish

Neck: Mighty Mite Maple; C-Shape Profile; 9.5"-12" Compound Radius; 1 5/8" Black Floyd Rose Locking Nut; Medium-Jumbo Frets (22); Black Floyd Rose String Retainer Bar; Satin Finish

Pickups: Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB Humbucker Bridge; Seymour Duncan SH-2 Jazz Humbucker Neck

Electronics: CTS 500K Volume Potentiometer w/ Black Strat Style Knob; 3-Way Pickup Selector Switch w/ Black Tip; Switchcraft Jack w/ Black Jack Plate

Hardware: Ping Black Licensed Floyd Rose Tremolo w/ Black EVH D-Tuna; Wilkinson Mini Black Tuners; Black Control & Tremolo Covers; Black Neck Plate w/ Black Plastic Gasket; Black Strap Buttons


Alder_Strat_13 (177k image)

Alder_Strat_14 (177k image)

Alder_Strat_15 (173k image)

Alder_Strat_17 (258k 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