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Peace, Love, and the FrankenStrat

by vaughn skow September 13, 2010 3 min read

FrankenStratMy main axe garners a lot of questions and double-takes.  I’ve begun referring to it as my FrankenStrat.  I’ve been inflicted with the need to hot rod guitars since before I could grow hair under my armpits.  My first guitar surgery was done in my middle-school days. Armed with a rusty old screw driver, a hammer, a kitchen knife, and a two dollar Radio Shack soldering Iron, I proceeded to install Dimarzio Super Distortion pickups (complete with phase reverse switches) in me and my buddy David Ellefson’s cheapo Hondo strat-style guitars.  Some of you may know of Dave, since he went on to co-found the metal band Megadeth, but that’s a story for another day!  I know I’m not alone; plenty share in my affliction and have torn into perfectly good guitars only to do a little tweaking under the hood.  Let’s talk about my 4 pickup frankenStrat...

First, I love the versatility of a strat ... but why not take it up a notch, right?  As we say in Nashville, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing!  So, let’s start with the guitar itself.  It’s a 1992 model ’62 re-issue.  It came from the factory with the "ashtray" pickup routing - which means I didn’t need to remove any further wood to cram in an extra pickup or two.  Now, on to those pickups pickups:  In the bridge position is a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails, this pickup sounds like a great humbucker but fits in a strat slot. How cool!  Next is the stock ’62 reissue strat pickup, for traditional strat tones.  Then comes a Seymour Duncan classic P-90, I really like the grungy blues tone of this pickup, and it’s being "almost" in the neck position helps to keep it from getting too muddy.  In the neck position is a Fender Custom Shop Texas Special - this is all about SRV tone for me, and it does a respectable job of delivering those goods!

On to switching!  The selector switch is a standard 5-way.  You will notice that I have just a master volume and tone, and in between is a small toggle switch.  What that toggle does is this:  when I’m in the neck position, the switch toggles between the Texas Special and the P-90, and when I’m in the bridge position, it toggles the hot-rails between single and dual coil, giving me a classic single coil option on the bridge. 

Is this FrankenStrat the ultimate tone machine?  Naw, probably not, but dang if it ain’t close, and it’s seriously versitale!  The 2 and 4 positions on the pickup selector get especially unique tones; the P-90 with a reverse-wired strat pick up is a blend of out of phase strat glassiness and P-90 growl that defies description.

The only other modifications are graphtech saddles and a roller nut to help me break fewer strings and stay in tune a little better.  That’s about it.  Now, how about some of yaall send me some pics and descriptions of some of your home-brew creations ... amps as well as guitars.  If they strike my fancy, I just might feature them here on this blog.   Hey, we are a serious tone-seeking bunch around here, and we can all learn from each others successes and failures, right? Kinda like a little musician’s hippy e-commune.

Peace, Love, and cool tones dude!  Until next time...

About Vaughn Peace

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