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Need Help Getting Started On Superstart

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Ok - I've been reading up and want to get serious about starting my own project. This forum is great, and what previously seemed incredibly intimidating now seems quite possible. I want to make a superstrat along the lines of a Soloist or an RG.

What I want:

25.5" scale, 24 frets

floyd-like trem

Neck SC, Bridge HB (tapped?)

Carved curly maple top

I have a few questions:

Obviously the standard superstrat has a neck-through. But there don't seem to be as many examples of people making these, and I'm thinking that I can still get decent access to the high frets if I do the carve right on a set neck.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of a through neck build? How difficult would it be for me? Any good example threads to point me towards? What would you recommend?

What wood would you suggest for the Body and neck? What would you think about using a denser wood like mahogony on this?

Also, what are your thoughts on directly copying an existing design vs creating a custom/hybrid design for a 1st build? I'd like to make some modifications (body shape, pickup configuration, wood choice, etc) so that the guitar is my own, but I also wonder if it would be better to simply copy a previous design to minimize the variables, and to ensure that the design is good.

Can someone point me towards a good thread or resource which discusses and compares different trem manufactures/models to help me pick one out?

Thanks for your help


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You don't have to avoid it on your first build if you have the right tools and are willing to build the right jigs. All you have to do is make sure you know how much you have to take off the top. The way you'd want to do it is have/make a jig that holds a router above the table so that you can slide it around to thickness wood, there are a few around on the site. Then you can set it to the depth you need (but only take like an 1/8 inch off at a time or so), just make sure you don't take off the fretboard. To avoid that you could do it before you put the fretboard on, or you make a template the size of the end of the fretboard with the same taper and whatnot and just clamp it on and run a bearing bit along it.

Just as a side note, it's easier to do most of what you need to do shaping wise and fretting wise and all that BEFORE you glue on the wings, I made that mistake and am going to have a bit of trouble when it comes to fretting. If you do it that way it'll be easier for the wings too, cause you don't have to worry about avoiding cutting through anything.

Hope that helps :D

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Thanks! Thats really helpful. I know that I need to consider very carefully the process and order in which I do things, and I will probably need to ask more questions as my plan develops. It does seem like the neck needs to be mostly finished before the wings are glued on, but that will certainly make the carving and finishing of the guitar a challenging process.

I'm still considering a set neck option, as it seems a little more straightforward. What are the playability and tonal issues involved here? Is a through neck going to be work the hassle?

Also - anyone have thoughts on trems? More specifically, I'm looking for something like a FR or a Kahler. This is going to be a full blown 80's monster, so I want to be able to go crazy without any tuning problems. Rather than just blindly picking out a random model, I'd like to do some reasearch on what people like, what features are important/nice, and what to avoid. I've searched this forum and the web, but haven't come across this sort of info.

Edited by jpdoane
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Neck thrus require more planning, but are a little easier to build than a set neck. Set necks, you have to make a nice tight fitting joint. Neck thru you need nice tight joints still, but it is easier to make a flat square edge on the boards. Neck thrus obviously require thicker and longer neck blanks. I am waiting for the temps to rise so I can paint a set neck superstrat I am building. Check out Project Penalty Shot in the build section.

If you want to copy a deisgn great, if you want to make your own great. Most people start their first on a copied design. I personally think a copied, and maybe slightly modified design is the better way to start. You are working with something that has a known look, known comfort level, and known playability. A lot of first time custom designs need a lot of tweaking to make them into nice guitars. Some are great right off the bat, but not many. Using a copied design lets you concentrate on all of the intricacies of the build and less worry about getting the feel of you design across.

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