DIY Strat – The Return of the Legend Part 2: Choosing a paint scheme and more…

So, I have an old Aria Legend strat copy in pieces and the almost unlimited inspirational resources supplied by Google. How should I re-paint the Legend? Initially, I felt a DIY Van Halen style Frankenstrat would be the way to go. Then I discovered www.flametopper.com – a man with an awesome guitar collection. Vintage style would have to be the way to go, especially after scrolling half way down the page and seeing this:

Lake Placid Blue, white stratchplate & switchgear, with rosewood (well, mahogany) fingerboard. Sorted.

I would, of course, have to replace the pots and switches – it’s been over 10 years since I played the Legend, but I can still remember adjusting the tone and volume to the “sweet” spot to eliminate the crackles. So, more Googling and a recommendation from a friend brought a couple of retailers selling replacement items, but why stop there? Surely the sound could be improved upon by replacing the cheap, stock pickups? Probably. Somewhere at this point, I decided that a bridge humbucker (with coil tap) would make my vintage-inspired strat-o-copy something slightly different.

Now “Fat Strats” are nothing unusual, but I wanted more than just the standard coil tap. Being able to choose which coil on the humbucker to “tap” would surely lead to a wider variety of tones and sounds… some further Googling brought me to www.gmarts.org, a website with a simply stunning depth-of-knowledge, presented in an easy to understand way. And so I learnt about pickups, wiring schemes, 3-way coil taps and phase. Whilst not wanting to be overly ambitious, the Advanced Wiring section contained something too good to miss: a Sweet Switch to instantly knock-off some brightness. Notes were taken, and a plan devised to include it in the final scheme.

This just left the choice of pickups. In order to perform the coil tap, I would require a 4-wire humbucker – Google didn’t disappoint: Tonerider seem to be a relatively new company, but I can’t find a bad review. Best of all, they’re cheap.
I didn’t want anything too hot, so have settled on the Classics humbucker with Alnico IV magnets and nickel covers.

The wiring scheme will require 2 extra switches; one for the coil tap, and one for the sweet switch. The only dilemma is where to mount them… here aesthetics and ergonomics clash – it remains an unsolved problem…

Continue to Part 3

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