Strat Parts, Gilmour Black Strat, Loaded Strat Pickguard

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The Fat Strat® Project

Born on the 4'th of July, 2009

Before I get into the details, I feel an introduction is in order on how it came to be...
Be sure to read it all, it's important to understand the concept behind the
Fat Strat® Project and why it's so unique.
It's no ordinary "Fat Strat", that's why it's unique!

July 4, 2009 - 00:45

I'm pretty sure most of you are here because of your interest in Fender® Stratocaster® guitars and also in reference to the Gilmour Black Strat®. Well, I have something new in store for you. But I'll get to that in a moment... Most guitarists are probably already familiar with Gilmour's Black Strat® and possibly the little recessed mini-toggle switch pickup selection modification which is recessed into his pickguard which allows him to select the neck pickup by simply throwing this switch, so in effect he can have a total of 7 pickup selections. With this modification in addition to the typical standard 5 pickup selections you can have two more selections. One of these additional pickup selections is to have the bridge and neck pickup selected together, like a Telecaster, or you can have all three pickups selected together. It's not a unique or unheard of Strat® modification, it's one that has been around for many years, but I believe the intrigue behind this particular modification is how the physical switching mounting is achieved. Normally when you mount a mini toggle switch there is a hole that is drilled in the material that it is to be mounted (in this case the pickguard) in order for the cylindrical threaded portion of the toggle switch to protrude through then a flat washer goes on the top side along with a hex nut to fasten it into place. But in effect, with the standard mounting of a toggle switch you end up with a toggle switch that protrudes at least 1/2" above the pickguard surface. You then have an ugly chrome flat washer along with the chrome hex nut to secure it in place all on the top side of the pickguard. So, with this typical mounting of this switch which is used to perform a pickup selection modification it is very easy to bump this switch into the activated or deactivated position without your knowledge simply by playing your guitar and accidentally bumping into it with your knuckle or fingers while strumming away.... Sure you could use a push/push or push/pull pot for this same modification and eliminate that problem but were talking about aesthetics, creativity and uniqueness in the way a modification is presented. So, to make a long story short, as Gilmour and/or as his guitar tech Phil Taylor have devised a little trick to mount/fasten this mini-toggle switch on the under side of the pickguard with a unique bracket and then only have a small slot in the pickguard for the mini-toggle switch lever to protrude through to the top side for activation or deactivation by you, the player. By mounting the mini-toggle switch as such, below the pickguard, you lower the profile of the switch by at least half, you remove the ugly chrome flat washer and the hex nut from the top side of the pickguard. With the mini-toggle switch mounted below the pickguard you will now only have about 1/4" or possibly less of just the toggle lever protruding above the pickguards surface which in effect basically eliminates the possibility of activating or deactivating this switch by a bump of a knuckle while playing, it's profile is just too low to accidentally switch on or off. With it mounted underneath the pickguard this switch is only activated or deactivated when you want it, not on accident, you won't bump this one... The small slot that the mini-toggle switch protrudes through in just wide enough for the width of the toggle lever and just long enough to accommodate the amount of throw the toggle switch exhibits. (0.135" x 0.310").

If you don't already know this, we have been producing custom Black Strat® kits since March 2009, these products include the basic kit for the do-it-yourselfer which includes a recessed mini-toggle switch mounting bracket and a mini-toggle switch so you can route their own pickguard of choice to accept this bracket. Or for the less adventurous we have a Black Strat® pickguard assembly kit which includes everything except the pickups, knobs and switch tip, the 1 ply black pickguard is already pre-routed for our recessed mini-toggle switch mounting bracket and includes a mini-toggle switch along with all the potentiometers, tone capacitor, 5-way switch, wire, etc. to assemble yourself, just add your favorite selection of pickups and knobs and away you go. Then we offer the complete fully loaded Black Strat® pickguard assembly where you choose from a number of pickup selection options for us to assemble for you. This option is for those that simply want to drop it in, solder a couple wires in place and start jammin'.  We also manufacture a short 4-1/4" Gilmour style tremolo arm, we make ours out of 303 precision ground stainless steel for strength and a fine finish. These arms are very popular with many guitarists, not just Gilmour fans...

Ok, now with that out of the way, we're going to provide you with a few quick links to check out what we've been talking about above in case you are unfamiliar with some of the products and it will also help you visualize the features we have built upon for this new Fat Strat® project.

Item # 4022, "Custom Black Strat® Style Recessed Mini-Toggle Switch Mounting Bracket and Switch Kit".
Item # 4031, "Custom Black Strat® Style Pickguard Assembly Kit".
Item # 4035, "Custom Black Strat® Style Fully Loaded Pickguard Assembly".
Item # 4027, "Custom Black Strat® Style Super Short 4-1/4" Stainless Steel Tremolo Arms".

Now back to the Fat Strat® Project.... And slightly away from the Black Strat® Project....

Ok, now that you are up to speed on what we have done to produce a facsimile of the Black Strat® pickguard assembly we are taking it one step further... One might ask, how can you take it further, the Black Strat® stands by itself.... Yes it is most certainly does, and it is a most wonderful musical tool that has been used to create some of the most magical music of the 20'th century by the hands of a master. But a tool is exactly what it is, and in the hands of one that knows how to use his tools effectively, creativity can flow and wonderful things can come about....

Ok, here we go....

What we have done is to incorporate the feature or characteristic of the recessed mini-toggle switch and applied it a bit further. With your Black Strat® the recessed mini-toggle switch is located in-between the volume potentiometer and middle pickup tone potentiometer and half way out in-between the 5-way switch. Now, we have come up with two recessed mini-toggle switches on a Fat Strat® pickguard, the upper most recessed mini-toggle switch (closest to volume knob) will perform the exact same function as the Gilmour pickup selection modification and the lower recessed mini-toggle switch (closest to neck tone knob) will give you a number of different options that are of your choosing. The most appropriate switching modification will be to switch your bridge Humbucker to activate the two coils in parallel with each other for that great single coil tone and still retaining hum canceling. You could also use this switch to split the two coils of your bridge Humbucker into a single coil pickup, either the north or south coil, you choose. The choices of this second or lower recessed mini-toggle switch are up to you and your creativity...

July 3, 2009

I routed the first pickguard with the two recessed mini-toggle switches, everything went according to plan. Tomorrow I plan on constructing the jig required for drilling the recessed mini-toggle switch mounting bracket which will now mount two mini-toggle switches. The tolerances are that much more tighter than with the single mini-toggle switch so accurate design and construction are critical.

This project guitar is built with a beautiful Candy Apple Red 2002 '62 re-issue Japanese Strat® body (purchased used) with a Seymour Duncan SL59-1b ("Little '59") single coil sized Humbucker mounted in the bridge position which will incorporate the lower recessed mini-toggle switch to switch the bridge Humbucker from series or parallel between the two coils for that great single coil tone but with hum canceling. A Fender® Custom Shop Fat '50 middle pickup (reverse wound/reverse polarity) will be mounted in the middle pickup position which will offer additional hum canceling with the 5-way pickup selection switch position 2 and 4. A Fender® Custom Shop '69 pickup will be mounted in the neck position. The upper mini-toggle switch will perform the typical Gilmour type modification of activating the neck pickup. The pickguard will be a '62 black/white/black 3 ply and all pickups will have black covers. All the electronics will be top of the line with CTS pots, a CRL 5-way switch and a 0.022 uF Sprague Orange Drop tone capacitor. The neck will be a wonderful used but in near mint condition 2005 Fender® USA Deluxe Rosewood fingerboard with a LSR roller nut and Fender® "F" logo locking tuners. The bridge will be a '57/'62 USA Fender® vintage style.

In the coming days when this project has been completed I will have more details and photographs to illustrate this new project inside and out.

July 4, 2009 - 15:25

I just finished the first prototype pickguard and recessed mini-toggle switch(s) mounting bracket assembly a few minutes ago for the double recessed mini-toggle switch modification. It is a lot harder to get everything all lined up as opposed to just the single recessed mini-toggle switch. It takes a lot longer to produce in making sure everything lines up perfectly, there is absolutely no room for the smallest variation in measurement. Every measurement, every hole and every bend in the bracket has to be perfect or it just won't work and line up correctly with the two small slots in the pickguard.

July 4, 2009 - 20:45

I just took a few photographs of the front and back side of the new double recessed mini-toggle switch modification pickguard. My prototype was done with a Fender® 3 ply 11 hole Black/White/Black '62 pickguard with the typical '62 style 0.012" thick aluminum shielding plate. (photographs below)

July 11, 2009 - 16:08

I finished assembling and wiring the pickguard this afternoon and took a couple photographs of the finished assembly. (photographs below)

July 18, 2009 - 17:43

I finished assembling the complete candy apple red custom Fat Strat® this afternoon. I performed all the setup procedures and gave it test drive and it was good! Both of the modifications with the newly designed double recessed mini-toggle switches worked flawlessly. The upper mini-toggle switch for the neck pickup selection worked as it always does by activating the neck pickup and adds it to the selection position of the 5-way switch. The lower mini-toggle switch for the SL59-1b mini Humbucker in the bridge worked great too, with the mini-toggle switch in the down position both of the coils of the pickup are in series with each other, which is the normal Humbucker sound and with the mini-toggle switch in the up position it switches the wiring of the two coils of the Humbucker in parallel with each other for that great single coil sound but with hum canceling.

July 18, 2009 - 21:23

Ok, I braved the heat and finished the photography this evening, scroll on down for the newest imagery.

The photographs turned out real nice, but for some reason they just don't portray the "candy" appearance of the finish, it almost looks like a solid red color in the photographs, but it is definitely a candy apple red finish.

July 19, 2009 - 13:33

Well the entire project took just about two weeks from the time I got the idea in my head until the final construction and setup. The project turned out very nice, I'm quite happy with the overall appearance, it's vintage tone and how it feels while playing. The neck is a 2005 vintage but has absolutely no fret wear at all, so it is basically new. The 2002 vintage body is absolutely wonderful, the finish is superb with only one very small ding on the back side near the tremolo cavity cover and I've photographed it and described it on the very last photograph below. It's basically a non-issue, it's on the rear, but none-the-less it is there.

Custom Candy Apple Red Fat Strat® Was Built With The Following Components

  • Used 2002 Fender® Japan '62 Re-Issue Candy Apple Red Stratocaster® Body.
  • Used 2005 Fender® USA Deluxe Neck, Rosewood Fingerboard, 22 Fret with LSR Roller Nut and Abalone Dot Inlay.
  • Fender® USA '57/'62 Re-Issue Vintage Tremolo Bridge (2-7/32" String and Mounting Spacing).
  • OverDrive Custom Guitar Works Custom 4-1/4" Stainless Steel Shortened Tremolo Arm.
  • Bridge Pickup: Seymour Duncan SL59-1b (Little '59) P.A.F Voiced Single Coil Sized Humbucker.
  • Middle Pickup: Fender® Custom Shop Fat '50s (Reverse Wound/Reverse Polarity for Hum Canceling).
  • Neck Pickup: Fender® Custom Shop Custom '69.
  • Fender® USA '62 Black/White/Black Pickguard (Custom Routed For Double Recessed Mini-Toggle Switch Pickup Selection Modification).
  • Fender® USA Vintage Style (6 Hole) Black/White/Black Tremolo Spring Cavity Cover.
  • Fender® '62 0.012" Aluminum Pickguard Shielding Plate.
  • Control Potentiometers: CTS 250K Audio Taper (3).
  • Pickup Selector Switch: CRL 5-Way.
  • OverDrive Custom Guitar Works Custom Double Recessed Mini-Toggle Switch Mounting Bracket.
  • SPDT Recessed Mini-Toggle Switch (For Custom Shop '69 Neck Pickup Custom Enhanced Pickup Selection).
  • DPDT Recessed Mini-Toggle Switch (For SL59-1b Bridge Pickup Series/Parallel Custom Enhanced Pickup Selection).
  • Treble By-Pass Filter or AKA Treble Bleed Filter.
  • Vishay/Sprague 0.022 uF Orange Drop Tone Capacitor.
  • Dean Markley Blue Steel Cryogenic Activated Strings (Regular 010, 013, 017, 026, 036, 046).
  • Black Pickup Covers, Volume/Tone Control Knobs, 5-Way Switch Tip and Tremolo Arm Tip.
  • Fender® "F" Logo Chrome Locking Tuning Keys.
  • Fender® Vintage Style Strap Buttons.
  • Fender® Vintage Style Neck Plate.
  • Stainless Steel 18-8 Mounting Screws for Pickguard, Tremolo Spring Cavity Cover and Output Jack.

The only visible scratch on the 2002 body.
As pictured above it is just to the left of the tremolo cover and centered vertically.
The size of this is about 1/4" long and about 1/32" wide.

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