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lil4skin

Have you seen a Strat like this? Odd 6 individual bypass switch Stratocaster

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Greetings, I acquired this peculiar guitar about two year ago from a local luthier in South Florida. The guitar has two single coil pickups and a humbucker. What's strange about this guitar is that it has 6 individual bypass switches (or maybe killswitches?). Please excuse me if I am incorrect, I am not entirely a novice to guitars but I may not be aware of all the terms for these parts. The neck is a Fender stratocaster's neck with fender tuners, however there is no serial number/model found anywhere on the instrument. I do not believe this is a legitimate Fender creation, however I believe this guitar may have had it's neck replaced with an authentic one or a convincing knock off. 

The luthier I acquired this guitar from told me that he believes it is a custom made guitar and has electronics that connect from the 6 switches to the potentiometers and pickups that he hasn't seen himself before.  I have tried to do research on any guitar similar to this that may have the same 6 switch configuration, but I have not found one yet, either manufactured or custom made/DIY. 

The cool thing about this guitar is that the sound is very versatile between toggling the switches into different positions. It can go from very bright and glassy to very dirty, resonant and warm toned. The sad part is that the wiring on the guitar may be either very old or poorly done because the sound may cut out or lower in volume drastically. I have taken it back to the luthier several times for a repair, and even a pickup replacement, however the guitar always eventually has the same issue rise again. 

What are your thoughts on this guitar? Have you seen one like this before? What do you think it is worth? 

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That certainly looks like a workhorse for a session player, versatile to any music style!

Re the issues in losing volume I'd at least clean the pots or rather replace them as a primary suspect. That'd be easy and inexpensive.

Have you detached the neck to look for factory markings? My Am Std neck has all the date and inspector markings in the heel which is hidden in the neck pocket. The body may have some data there as well. Based on the unequal wear of the golden hardware and plates it may be a refurbished beloved tool or a Frankensteinian partscaster.

The headstock looks funny, either it has originally been a paddle or it has been heavily modified. The Fender logo looks like it's not in the right place which leads to believe it's a fake. You may also have noticed that the uppermost tuner is slightly slanted. If there's no plugged screw hole in the right place under the tuner ear, it most likely is an unbranded spare neck.

As for the value... It looks nice and if it plays well and stays in tune and if you get the electrickery working, it has a high usage value. Putting a price tag on it is more difficult. A heavily modified Strat has lost any "antique" value unless it's an iconic instrument owned and played by some legend.

 

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That headstock was never a Fender shape. There's not enough timber in it to fit the Fender profile in there in the first place. The pale section just below the tuners almost looks like something was sanded off (the old logo perhaps?) and Fender decals re-applied over the top. The 'original contour body' logo looks to be in completely the wrong spot too - too far past the High-E tuner.

Hard to tell from the pics if the tuners are installed squarely, but you're missing a bushing on the A-string tuner, and the uneven wear on the backs of the tuners almost makes them look like they've been sourced from different guitars (the 'Fender' stamp on the back of the high E tuner looks much rougher than the stamp on the B tuner, for example).

 

10 hours ago, lil4skin said:

I do not believe this is a legitimate Fender creation, however I believe this guitar may have had it's neck replaced with an authentic one or a convincing knock off. 

Almost certainly not the genuine article. Most likely a partscaster dressed up to look like something it's not.

 

10 hours ago, lil4skin said:

The luthier I acquired this guitar from told me that he believes it is a custom made guitar and has electronics that connect from the 6 switches to the potentiometers and pickups that he hasn't seen himself before

Switching system could be a per-pickup on/off with per-pickup phase reverse which would account for 6 switches in total, but without looking at it in person and trying it out we'd all only be guessing.

 

10 hours ago, lil4skin said:

What are your thoughts on this guitar? Have you seen one like this before? What do you think it is worth? 

It's an interesting curio with some eye-catching details and a pretty fancy switching system, but as a guitar where there may be an ongoing issue with sound dropouts and seemingly fitted with a knock-off neck of dubious origin and a few fit and finish problems, I'd guess it's worth a hundred or two. You certainly couldn't sell or value it as a genuine Fender product.

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def that fender logo is not genuine... looks like the typical diy waterslide.  headstock def doesn't seem to have come from the std fender neck as mentioned.  my guess is someone rebranded something else - just fair warning: fender has been known to give forum admins a hard time about displaying pics of guitars that are branded with their name that are not obviously made by them. 

afa switches... you aren't likely to find a diagram for this exact variation, and even if you did find one for 6 switches you couldn't be sure these 6 are doing the sm.  you could take it apart and analyze them but not sure it'd be worth it.  personally, I would find it hard to remember how to get back to a sound I liked but it def would have flexibility and to each his/her own.  you want to take it apart and post lots of pics - assuming it's not a rats nest - probably could give you an idea of what's going on.  I'm guessing 3 of those switches are on/off for individual pickups... the other 3 could be phase, perallel/series, split... any number of things.  If the wiring is problematic... probably better off starting from "what would I like it to do" than to try and reverse engineer (I shudder using that term here... but it's somewhat appropriate) .  If it were mine I'd buy all new electronics and rewire it.  you can spray pot cleaner on pots but there is some grease from the factory that will be cleaned out when you do that... that grease collects dust and prevents scratchy pots... removing it will usually result in a scratchy pot a few weeks down the line.

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just for the record..that "Strat" is as phony as a room full of politicians... probably nothing on it that OEM Fender..

rk

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