SRV "No. 1" Tribute Guitar Project - let's go!

whammy_bart

Squier Talker
Aug 9, 2021
81
UK
I finally have some time to devote to my project to convert my Squier partscaster to a Stevie Ray Vaughan "No 1" tribute guitar.

I initially purchased a 1996 YN6 series Squier Strat for £85 the full thickness body, but the frets had some pretty severe wear in the cowboy chord area, so I've swapped the neck out for Bullet Strat neck with minimal fretwear.

Since this is my first real rebuild project, and is therefore mostly an experiment, my goal is to not spend too much (maybe around £300 total) and get a decent SRV tribute guitar, that:

1. Looks good
2. Sounds good, and
3. Plays good

I'd like the guitar to look as much as possible like Stevie Rays' #1, but I'll have to exclude the below items because of cost or their being beyond my technical skills:

1. No left handed tremolo, as this requires routing the body and the only router I own is the WiFi type
2. No relicking. I'm not anti-relic necessarily, but to do it right is a lot of work and I don't think it looks very good when starting with a poly finished body like this
3. No pearlescent tuning keys. I just can't find the right style at a fair price
4. No expensive pickups. I will swap out the pickups for something slightly better but Seymour Duncans or similar would blow the budget.

I'd be glad to take advice along the way but can't promise I'll implement everything as my time is limited and my woodworking and soldering skills pretty basic.

Hope you'll come along on the journey with me. Remember though, this is an SRV tribute guitar, not an exact replica!

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whammy_bart

Squier Talker
Aug 9, 2021
81
UK
The downside of using a newer neck is... it looks too new, so I'm going to need to tint it amber and refinish it. This may be the trickiest part. The previous owner of the neck had put aftermarket tuning keys on it so drilled new holes for those. And none of the holes line up with screw holes of the tuning pegs I'll be using. So there were 17 holes to be filled and then I sanded down the whole neck to bare wood. Also taped off fretboard to keep dust out of wood grain.
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Lanaka

AKA GhostGuitars
Platinum Supporting Member
Feb 11, 2020
3,187
Honolulu, HI
I finally have some time to devote to my project to convert my Squier partscaster to a Stevie Ray Vaughan "No 1" tribute guitar.

I initially purchased a 1996 YN6 series Squier Strat for £85 the full thickness body, but the frets had some pretty severe wear in the cowboy chord area, so I've swapped the neck out for Bullet Strat neck with minimal fretwear.

Those post 95 necks are a lot better generally than the pre-96 necks. I'd look at that as an opportunity to learn refretting which is really not much harder than doing fret setups. I'd recommend on the next parts strat you get, to try practicing refretting on it ..unless that neck is even more desirable, LOL! I originally bought my Starcaster with it being a parts source in mind but decided against parting it out after realizing its a very good guitar for how much I paid for it (35$). 😆 So I bought another parts guitar ...only to find out that its a superior guitar in every way and is better being used as a basis for a project than being cannibalized for another project (60$ Stage CS-327).

Since this is my first real rebuild project, and is therefore mostly an experiment, my goal is to not spend too much (maybe around £300 total) and get a decent SRV tribute guitar, that:

1. Looks good
2. Sounds good, and
3. Plays good

300 is a reasonable budget, irregardless the currency used ($ or £). Ye can get a lot done for that much! Altho no big name brand pups as those can easily gobble most if not all of the 300.

I'd like the guitar to look as much as possible like Stevie Rays' #1, but I'll have to exclude the below items because of cost or their being beyond my technical skills:

1. No left handed tremolo, as this requires routing the body and the only router I own is the WiFi type
2. No relicking. I'm not anti-relic necessarily, but to do it right is a lot of work and I don't think it looks very good when starting with a poly finished body like this
3. No pearlescent tuning keys. I just can't find the right style at a fair price
4. No expensive pickups. I will swap out the pickups for something slightly better but Seymour Duncans or similar would blow the budget.

No arguments regarding yer limitations. I like the idea of using a lefty trem (it's outta way of the use of the controls). Those arguments saying that a lefty was only one available to install is bull as it takes a LOT more time/effort to rout a lefty and correctly install the trem components than it is to just get a correct ritey trem. I believe that using a lefty was a conscious choice made on the part of SRV and/or his Tech.

Relic work IS more skilled artistry than just randomly banging up on the guitar as seen so many times on YouTube. 🙄 It IS hard to make it look right and natural because ye gotta understand HOW those wear get there and why. That takes a long time studying real guitars that has been worn and beaten up over the decades of real use. This is actually the EASY part. The harder part is learning the skills to duplicate those wear patterns and apply them in a convincing way to make a brand new guitar look like it's a decades old war horse. That's why those Relic Reissues are so danged expensive, a bigger chunk of the price is going to the master craftsmen who worked their magic on the guitar (and of course, a corresponding larger cut going to the owners/shareholders of the company). 😆

Don't give up on finding those pearloid keys, sooner or later you'll find a source for a decent set at a decent price. Who knows, maybe someone here will know of a source and point them out to ye. One place I'd keep an eye on is Stratosphere, they sell a lot of discontinued models that hasn't sold in retail stores by stripping them down and parting them out. Lotsa American parts shows up there.

LOL, I figured as much based on yer self-imposed 300£ cap. Altho, don't write the brand namers off yet. Remember, ye can always upgrade them later down the road after ye have completed the rest of the guitar. I've gone this route before too. Building a guitar while still retaining the original pups and getting the desired aftermarket pups later after I'm done with the major portions of the project.

Alternatively I've used a "standard reference" set of pups on a project which gives me an idea of how the guitar as a whole sounds like and thus allows me to make an educated choice as to what pups to get for that guitar. For the HH crowd, my reference is the JB/Jazz. For SSS, the normal Stack Plus Strat set is what I use. I use the exact same individual pups in each guitar as there can be manufacturing variations in the pups. That's why those Reference pups NEVER stay in a guitar long, they're part of my calibration tools.

Hope you'll come along on the journey with me. Remember though, this is an SRV tribute guitar, not an exact replica!

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I prefer Tributes as they take into account what the guitar yer working on brings to the table. Then ye can fold in the Guitar's traits into the amalgamation that becomes the final Tribute result.

The downside of using a newer neck is... it looks too new, so I'm going to need to tint it amber and refinish it. This may be the trickiest part. The previous owner of the neck had put aftermarket tuning keys on it so drilled new holes for those. And none of the holes line up with screw holes of the tuning pegs I'll be using. So there were 17 holes to be filled and then I sanded down the whole neck to bare wood. Also taped off fretboard to keep dust out of wood grain.
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ESPECIALLY if it's one of those bleached white looking necks that has been coming out lately. ☹️ While they may feel great, they looked awful.

Have fun with it and make it your own since it won't be the same

No truss rod adj hole in the original one -- can't forget the cig burns on the headstock

TBH, this is another reason why I prefer doing Tributes over Replicas. Yes no truss holes on the headstock is correct, BUT I prefer retaining the practicality of having that truss adjustment there and NOT having to pull the neck everytime I need adjust the danged neck. Guitars has evolved to be better and easier to work with (most of the time), I'm NOT gonna ditch that! I want my time with a guitar to be as free of angst and humbug as possible, else I KNOW I aint gonna pick it up all that often. I'm sure that tis the same with @whammy_bar.
 

whammy_bart

Squier Talker
Aug 9, 2021
81
UK
There is an '04 fender on gc for a measly $40000 -- or a Chinese copycat on ebay for about 3 bills

Have fun with it and make it your own since it won't be the same

No truss rod adj hole in the original one -- can't forget the cig burns on the headstock
Lol, to do the cig burns correctly I'd need to actually buy a pack of cigs which might make me start smoking again, so I'm gonna have to exclude this as well... ;)
 

whammy_bart

Squier Talker
Aug 9, 2021
81
UK
Now the difficult decision as to which color stain to use. I have 4 choices each of which I have applied one coat to neck heel to see actual colour. I'm thinking the top right one (710), maybe with a few drops of the top left (Peachwood) color. I also have weak amber lacquer I can use to build up multiple coats to get to the right shade. Any suggestions?
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I am aiming for something like this 1961 Strat:
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Cheers
 

Lanaka

AKA GhostGuitars
Platinum Supporting Member
Feb 11, 2020
3,187
Honolulu, HI
Thanks for the detailed reply @Lanaka - agree on all points. Especially truss rod adjustment in the neck heel. Pretty sure I've owned guitars that needed truss adjustment and just played them as is instead of adjusting them as I didn't want to hassle with taking the neck off. 😂

LOL, there's that too. Ive done that a few times (not taking the time to adjust the truss ONLY cuz too much hassle pullin neck off). I very quickly got rid of that guitar.

Right now I only have one guitar that has a heel adjustment, but it's effectively non adjustable because the blasted neck had been glued into the neck pocket! I betcha some dummy stripped the neck joint screw holes and glued the danged thing in. I'm gonna have fun ungluing this mess.

Kingston Swinga
Kingston_Swinga-CC-Z(2000²).jpg

What I may do is remove neck then check the pocket dimension, if possible, enlarge it to accommodate a replacement Strat neck. If pocket too big, glue in wooden shims and sand to fit. Oh and move over the Swinga emblem too.

Kingston_Swinga-Headstock-ZC(2000x2500).jpg
 

Lanaka

AKA GhostGuitars
Platinum Supporting Member
Feb 11, 2020
3,187
Honolulu, HI
Now the difficult decision as to which color stain to use. I have 4 choices each of which I have applied one coat to neck heel to see actual colour. I'm thinking the top right one (710), maybe with a few drops of the top left (Peachwood) color. I also have weak amber lacquer I can use to build up multiple coats to get to the right shade. Any suggestions?
View attachment 234832
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I am aiming for something like this 1961 Strat:
View attachment 234836


Cheers

I'd say it sounds like yer on the right track. Only difference is that methinks I'd just use the Peachwood with a few drops of 710. I likey the amber colouration of that '61!

Here are some of my favorite maple necks in my herd.

80s Stage CS-327 Strat.
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This one has tiger stripes in the neck back. The left side is the more accurate color reproduction.

Epiphone S Neck on Kramer Voyager body.
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This pic served dual purpose, showing the bass gig bag I got for being too small for the late-80s Voyager-S hybrid and showing a full sized 90s(?) Crate P-Bass as size reference (the Crate has a VERY nice maple neck but on a heavy arse body).

2017 Squier Contemporary Telecaster HH (Blk).
Sq_Cont_Tele_HH-Blk-Z(2000²).jpg
The neck on this used black metallic guitar is one of the biggest reason why I almost immediately bought a new one, a 2020 red metallic version. Which is just as good but disappointed in that it had the newer paler satin neck that Squier has been coming out lately on their newer guitars. ☹️

2020 Squier Contemporary Telecaster HH (Red).
Squier_Cont_Tele_HH-Red-CC-Z(2000²).jpg

It's even worse on their even newer 2021 Bullets.
FSR_Bullet_Tele-CC-ZA(2000²).jpg
Unfortunately the bad lighting in this pic is making everything look far more warmer than normal. The neck on this guitar and its Strat twin looked like it's been bleached white.
 

whammy_bart

Squier Talker
Aug 9, 2021
81
UK
Stain is done, and there ain't no turning back now. Looking a little orangey but it's still wet, maybe it will fade a bit when dry. Here it is next to a G&L ASAT neck and I was aiming to be a shade or 2 darker ambery than that, so I'm pretty close. However, the tinted lacquer will make it even deeper amber.
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