Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fiddling with my Highway One Stratocaster

I spent Monday night making some tweaks and modifications to my Stratocaster. As it arrived, it had 9 gauge strings which are a little to spongy for me on a non locking guitar and it also had the standard floating trem, something else I'm not a fan of. There were a few cosmetic tweaks I wanted to make also. So I dug out the house tool-kit, found the Phillips screwdrivers and set to work. The guitar started out like this:

Highway One Strat Before

After a couple of hours I had flattened the trem against the body, added two extra springs to the trem block and screwed the trem claw further in so that the trem doesn't pull up even when I bend notes. Having done this and put a set of 10s on I needed to adjust the action and intonation accordingly. Whilst I had the strings off I took the opportunity to swap out the stock white knobs and covers for some after-market black ones which I think complement the big 70s style headstock and make it a little more individual. Once all this was done and the guitar was tuned up it was too late to give it good session through the amp so I had to wait until last night when I got home from work at a reasonable time and T was out having dinner with friends. This is what it looks like now:

Finished Body

I poured myself a whisky and played for a good two hours. I declare myself more than satisfied; I'm really chuffed with the sound and way it plays now. The extra mass in the trem and the fact it doesn't float anymore have really improved the sustain and beefed up the tone, something which the heavier strings have also helped with. The feel is much better with the guitar offering a little fight now in both the strings and the trem - just how I think a Strat should be. The extra benefit, which I hadn't counted on, was how good the guitar sounded with the volume backed almost all the way off through the Cornell amp. The tone cleans up really nicely, something which humbucker-laden guitars just don't do, and I was able to twang away once my overdriven Trower/Hendrix/Beck urges had been satisfied. It's really an absolutely super guitar now and I'm so pleased I made the effort to make those tweaks to make it "just so".

T is off to a big industry conference in a couple of weeks so I intend to use those evenings to maximum effect. I might even try and record something. Have mercy.

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