Over the past several years I’ve made several upgrades on my tele and I never took the time to write about it. I recently switched my saddles again and I figured now would be a good time to document this.
My tele started with a standard Gotoh tele bridge with modern “strat” style saddles. These bridges are excellent and it served me well for ~10 years. …until I played a Suhr tele w/ the Wilkinson (by Gotoh) WT3 bridge and it spoiled me. …a lot.
At this point the build is turning out great, but I did hit a few snags on the electronics.
I wasn’t able to install the L500XL at first because the pickup ring was intended for a Lesson Paul. The team at Wilde pickups promptly sent me the ring I needed at no cost. ….but seriously who wants to wait for USPS to take a test drive?
As I’m trying to stay true to a lot of the elements that made the N4 a great guitar, I did a bit of research on how the finishes were done. On the Washburn forums there are several threads that detail how the finish is done. Then I found this post on the stephen’s extended cutaway facebook page which details how the original batch was done. Essentially they used two coats of tung oil and used steel wool between coats. I planned on doing two coats like this and then for the final coat I was going to warm the oil and melt some beeswax in it. This would make the finish more durable and still stay true to the original design. I also decided to apply the oil with a fine grain sandpaper to get an even smoother surface.
For a the past year or two, I’ve been wanting a nice shredder guitar. Two of my favorites on the market right now are the Washburn N4 and Guthrie Govan Charvel. If money wasn’t an object, I’d likely just purchase several of each. …but …..yeah, not going to happen. Since my last attempt to merge the characteristics of two guitars worked really well (strat & jaguar), I thought I might get exactly what I want by trying to merge these two.
I kind-of been in a blogging mood lately, and I think I may write some posts about some of the previous guitars I’ve owned over the years. Anyway, I’ve had N4s on my brain for the past year so this seems appropriate.
A couple weeks ago I placed a thread on The Gear Page about how the luthier I hired to build a guitar for me basically stole my money and wasted a lot of my time. This resulted in me connecting with someone else who ordered an N4 neck & body from the same guy. He did eventually receive his order, but it was a painful process. This nice gentlemen was looking to get out of this project and sold it to me for almost nothing. I’m really looking forward to getting started on this one as there’s a lot to be done.
tl;dr Please, please, please, use caution when dealing with this guy. My 10 month stint dealing with him was quiet painful. He lied (a lot), stole from me, and then disappeared. The police know him by name and are actively looking for him. His parents are disappointed in him and say he’s “having problems”. If you are considering working with or interacting with this person, please use caution and protect yourself. Do not make the mistake I made by trusting him.
The following combination of strat mods is simple to install and greatly increases the tonal palette of the instrument IMO. This requires giving up the traditional 3rd position (middle pickup), but that’s a small price to pay.
Tone knob assignment – Connect the first tone knob to the neck & middle pickups and dedicate the second one to the bridge pickup.
Super switch – Replace the standard 5-way with a super switch or 2-pole 5-way w/ the following wiring: N, N+M, N+B, M+B, B This preserves all the “good” strat sounds and adds the “tele” middle sound.
Strangle Switch (aka high-pass filter) – Basically just a .003 capacitor on a push pull potentiometer. This will cut out low-end frequencies and make the guitar sound so funky.
Treble Bleed circut – Add a 560pf cap & 300k resistor to the volume pot to preserve tone while using the volume knob.
I’ve really been enjoying my fake Klein for the past year; it’s a solid guitar and incredibly comfortable to play. That said, I have this personality flaw where once I notice that something is less than ideal, it grates on me ….badly, until I fix it. Thus was the case with the bridge and factory frets.
Since I opened this kit, I’ve know that some fret work was going to be required. Historically this is an area I’ve avoided and sought professional help, but after spending some time on youtube, I decided I am capable of doing this. …….I just needed to acquire some tools first. The main videos I tried to model/emulate were this, this, and this. Most of the supplies came from Stewart MacDonald. I found a lesser expensive notched straight edge and fret rocker on Amazon, and the Meguiar’s polish and buffer wheel were from an auto parts store where I had a gift card.
The finish is now complete on the Klein. Ultimately, I’m happy with it, but in the grand scheme of things I’d rate it as a C- (or if you’re a Futurama fan a C minus-minus). Continue reading “Klein Copy: Part IX”
My replacement JCustom headpeice arrived on Thursday from the good folks at HeadlessUSA. They were incredibly helpful with the few questions I had, and for a couple of reasons I’d recommend buying from them via phone rather than ebay like I did. While I’m not crazy about the extra length this will add to the guitar, the quality easily makes up for it. So far it’s easily been worth the money.
The whole time I’ve been working on this guitar the question in the back of my mind has been: is this cheap thing going to actually sound, play, and function like a “real” guitar? I’m at a point where I can’t make any real progress for a week or two but I this afternoon I thought maybe I should mount the bridge and neck, string it up, and see what she’s like. So I did.
I did a little wet sanding on the satin clear coat this week. …..and sure enough I went right through some of the clear coat and white stain. I was really frustrated when it happened, but honestly it’s not too bad and I’ve decided not to sand any further and re-stain the area.