D.I.Y. 2002 Squier “Stratmaster”

I was in a fit of “I’m not gonna pay $1000 for a guitar!” rage when I decided to make this one.

It was late 2013. I had just seen Man or Astro Man live, and I desperately wanted the Star Crunch signature guitar. Sure, Hallmark’s Mosrite copies have an awesome reputation, but I paid $2000 for my last car.  Paying $1000 for a guitar when I’m not even in a band just seems stupid. Besides, who really wants somebody else’s signature guitar?

I’d rather make my own “signature guitar” than pay for the privilege of having somebody else’s signature guitar, no matter how good. Is that D.I.Y. or arrogance? Well, in my case, it’s arrogance to be sure, but at least I have the woodworking ability to not make a complete ass of myself.

I love my red 1993 American Standard Strat, but I wanted the sound of a Mosrite. Seems easy enough – stick a Jazzmaster pickup on there, and voila – instant Stratmaster! Route some holes, solder some wires, there you go. But the Jazzmaster pickup is huge. Removing that much wood will compromise the structural integrity of the guitar – that’s probably the reason that the Jazzmaster doesn’t have a Strat style tremolo. Plus, carving out a huge chunk of body will affect the tone. So I decided to mod a Squier instead.


I started with a bog-standard green 2002 Squier Strat. This particular Squier was made by Cort. I got it for $150 at Guitars on George.It’s a typical Squier – fit and finish is OK for a cheap guitar, bridge was OK but made from pot metal, and the pickups stunk.


First, I bought a new tremolo, Jazzmaster “hot” bridge pickup, 3 way “SG” style switch, and a humbucker/single volume knob pickguard came from Guitar Fetish. I routed the pickguard for the new bridge pickup, and also for the original Squier neck pickup. Then I drilled holes for the switch and a tone control. Then I routed the body for the switch and bridge pickup. Everything went smoothly.


Below is a pic of what I did about all the wood I removed. Normally, there is a lot of “dead” space in front of the tremolo. I usually put a block of wood in there to give my tremolo a positive stop. This aids in tuning and also improves sustain. Instead of just gluing a block in there, I glued it in place and then surrounded it with “wood fill” epoxy putty. I doubt it will help, but it can’t hurt. You can also see where I had to enlarge the tremolo hole for the massive Guitar Fetish trem.


It played and sounded great for $250, but I wanted more. I knew that Star Crunch’s guitar has a “zero fret”. I found that Goldtone makes the Zer0 Glide – a zero fret retrofit kit for guitars. $30 seemed like an OK price, so I put one of them on.


I cut the nut slots too wide and it still works. I didn’t notice much of an improvement, but I think that next time I have to replace a nut I’ll try it again. I’d recommend it if you want the benefits of a zero fret. But get the pre-slotted version! (Not sure why I didn’t. Maybe they didn’t offer them then? It was a new product at the time).

Overall, I’m satisfied with how the guitar turned out. Blasting through my Fender Twin, it really does come close to capturing the vibe of Man or Astro Man. But it’s a one trick pony. The distortion tone isn’t all that great. The pickup selector switch isn’t in a very ergonomic position. The neck pickup (which I didn’t replace) still sucks. The Guitar Fetish bridge breaks strings more often than it should. The zero fret helps it stay in tune, but it still goes out after a few songs.


Condition: 9/10

– Cosmetics: 9/10 (nothing visible to the audience)

– Working order: 9/10 (switch isn’t in the best spot, but everything works)

Playability: 9/10

– Rhythm Playabiliy: 10/10

– Lead Playability: 8/10

Sound: 8/10

– Bridge: 10/10 (Surfy!)

– Neck: 2/10 (shrill, but who uses the neck pickup for surf?)

I wouldn’t gig with this axe, but it’s great for going deaf while playing “Inside the Atom” at home

Lame Links!

I just finished taking about a billion photographs of various guitars, so I will be able to post lots of horrific updates over the next few weeks.

But instead of taking the time to write a post this week, I will try to make myself look better by linking to various guitar sites that haven’t updated in years!!

Beavis Audio – not updated since 2012! Update 6/21/2015 – gone!

Single Coil Dot Com – not updated since 2013!

GM Arts! – Not updated since 2010!

Tim Escobedo’s Circuit Snippets – Mirror only – not updated since 2006!

Late 1960s Teisco ET-460

Teisco was founded blah blah blah steal the info from Wikipedia like last time


This Teisco is branded Silvertone, which was the Sears house brand. I bought this can opener beauty in the early ’90s from Guitars on George, back when it was called We Buy Guitars. Yes, the guy who sold Live all those goofy clothes they wore on SNL back in the day. But don’t hold that against him! I paid roughly $80 for it. It was in marginally better condition, then.


The guitar was originally blue, but it has aged to a wonderful teal. Probably some combination of lacquer yellowing and bar smoke. It has dot fret markers, rather than the square edge markers seen on some others.

Somebody offered me $600 for this guitar once, and I turned him down. We were both idiots!

I played this axe as my main “surf” guitar. This may be a later Teisco – if so it lacks the super-hot Moserite inspired pickups, but it gets the job done. A little squealy under high distortion, but who plays surf music through a fuzz box? (Just me? Thought so.)

The thin, quirky tones are about what you’d expect if you’ve ever played an old Japanese guitar. There’s a certain rawness about it that you just can’t get from some boring guitar like a Strat. Then again, anyone who would willingly choose this as their main axe over a decent Strat or Les Paul copy is delusional. I love this guitar’s triumph of style over substance, but I don’t think I’ll be selling the Strat anytime soon.

This Teisco has all the signs of “ex-lover” neglect. I played the hell out of this thing for years, then got bored with it and set it aside as a dust collection device. Don’t scroll if you hate grunge!

Silvertone grime


Two of the odd hex-shaped slotted pickup screws are missing, there is major dirt and grime everywhere, the switches have gone from barely-functional to non-functional, the chrome is flaking off the whammy bar, ugh. I love it too much to part with, but not enough to ever play it, so it never gets cleaned. I smell a restoration project!

Silvertone headstock


The guitar has a “zero fret”. A lot of older cheap guitars came with zero frets because it relieves the manufacturer of the responsibility of learning how to properly manufacture a nut. However, the zero fret is not evil. Generally, the action is a bit lower with a zero-fret guitar, and open strings sound pretty much like fretted strings, giving the guitar a more “balanced” string to string response when playing open chords. A few high-end guitars come with zero frets for those reasons.

The neck is very flat. I hate flat fretboards. They just don’t agree with my hands. The frets are also loose and worn. That, and the failing electronics, are the reasons this guitar got set aside. Well, that plus the fact that I bought a 1963 Fender Jaguar 😛


The tuners are not original. In fact, this is just a 3 on 3 set that somebody “repurposed” as a 4 on 2 set! I used to see these tuners all the time for around $10 a set. Worthless. It’s a wonder this guitar stays in tune at all.


There is a big chip beside the neck. You can also see how poor the neck joint is on this guitar. The neck will shift if you press on it, no matter how tight the screws are. I have no-name Chinese guitars that are better made than this.


Here’s a good shot of all the knobs and switches. The 4 switches under the pickups aren’t phase switches, they are just on/off switches. The big chrome switch on the bottom right is a bright switch. It has one volume and one tone. The tone is wired backwards. It has a roller bridge, but it still doesn’t stay in tune. See above about the tuners.

Playing this guitar is odd. The balance is way off. You have to use your left hand to hold up the neck to keep it from hitting the floor. I find myself hitting the pickup switches during songs, and the knobs are obscured by the whammy bar. Not exactly ergonomically designed, and that’s most of the charm!


Condition: 4/10

– Cosmetics: 6/10 Major dings, missing pieces

– Working order: 2/10 Electronics, needs a fret job

Playability: 5/10 Fretboard too flat, poorly balanced

Sound: 6/10 A real one-trick pony. Thin, raw, and quirky

Restoring this guitar has been on my ‘to-do’ list for about 10 years. I doubt I’ll get to it anytime soon.


Drowning in Guitars: ET-460

Teisco Twanger’s Paradise

Wikipedia on Teisco

Guitars on George

1984 Westone Concord SX

Up first is a 1984 Westone Concord SX in blue. Everything is blue, even the fretboard. Apparently, this particular model was only made for 1984. I believe blue is the most common color. It was also available in red, and possibly black. It’s sort of a “Super Strat meets Gibson SG” thing. It evolved into the Spectrum series.


Matsumoku Industrial was a Japanese woodworking company established in 1951. They began making guitars in the mid 1960s to diversify. At first, “Uncle Mat” made guitars as a subcontractor for various companies like Epiphone, Univox, Aria, and Electra. Then the Westone brand name was started around 1979 to sell directly to the public. In the early 1980s, St. Louis Music decided to discontinue their Electra brand in favor of the Westone name. Apparently Matsumoku were making most if not all of their Electra models by this point.

Matsumoku went belly-up in 1987 when their parent company, the Singer Corporation, faced a downturn in sales because people suddenly realized that it was the 1980s and you didn’t have to make your own clothes anymore. Apparently the potato sack dress went out of fashion? Plus, most of Matsumoku’s major guitar customers had started their long “screw quality” march and moved their overseas production to Korea.

I picked this guitar up on Ebay for $350. I had my eye on it for over a month before deciding to take the plunge. It seemed awfully expensive for a no-name guitar in mediocre condition. Then, when I went to buy it, I saw a similar model in red for less than half the price. Then I bought both because I have a credit card!

This particular model is missing the volume control pot. A previous owner has helpfully put a small pen cap or something in the original hole to plug it – how thoughtful! The first tone control has been rewired as the volume control, and the second pot doesn’t always work. The original knobs are long gone and the 5 way switch is finicky.

Overall, the guitar sounds… nice. Not thrilling, but nice. This guitar allegedly has the UBC – UnBalanced Coil humbucker. Maybe someday I’ll measure it to find out if it actually is or not. Right now, I’m surprisingly happy with that pickup. Most humbuckers sound lifeless to me, but this one is punchy, with lots of definition. You can actually hear the different strings! Too bad the single coils are hopeless. And oddly shaped too – good luck getting decent replacements! Lace Sensors are the only ones I like that will fit with no routing, but they don’t even look close to stock. I’d rate the bridge pickup around 8/10, and the shrill single coils around 2/10.


This is the Bendmaster FT locking trem. The string’s ball-ends simply slip into place from the top – nice. I don’t have the arm for it, so I have no idea how well it works. At least it stays in tune during my heavy-handed pummeling.


The neck is completely blue, just like the body. It feels fantastic. Very similar to a quality Fender. The neck is properly wide, but not very deep, like an 80’s Ibanez, or a Warmoth “Wizard” profile. But it feels like it has a more Fender-style radius. I haven’t measured it, but I’d guess it’s around 9 or 10 inches.

Mine only has a single white dot position marker, which appears to be a vinyl sticker. I guess the others peeled off. What’s left are small black dots, like the other Matsumoku guitars from the period.

The frets are very small. Hammer-ons and pull-offs can be tricky, limiting this guitars usefulness to shredders. That’s an odd design choice, given this guitar’s “Super Strat” leanings. I don’t mind – I’m all about bar cords. For me, I’d rate the playability 10/10 for rhythm, but only 6/10 for lead.


The locking nut is missing. Well, it was not a proper locking nut – it was simply a string lock that mounted behind the nut. The tuners have been replaced with non-locking Sperzels. There’s no string tree, but the high strings don’t seem to be popping out.


Condition: 7/10

– Cosmetics: 8/10 (nothing visible to the audience)

– Working order: 6/10 (electronics problems)

Playability: 8/10

– Rhythm Playabiliy: 10/10

– Lead Playability: 6/10 (small frets)

Sound: 6/10

– Bridge: 8/10 (great sound, but a little weak)

– Middle: 2/10 (shrill)

– Neck: 2/10 (shrill)

With a little work, this will be an excellent axe.

Err, Yes

I don’t have my camera with me, so I was going to start by using some photos I already had of my guitars, maybe some from my old site, maybe some that I took for the Couch, but they are all HORRIBLE.

Instead, here is a picture of LBJ holding a beagle by the ears.


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