Ongoing Strat Partscaster Project, Part 5: A New Neck

This Parts-O-Caster project was started about seven years ago when I bought a 1991 MIM Strat from friend David, who had saved it from an early death and did a major overhaul on it. It was a fine playing and great sounding Stratocaster, but I couldn't resist messing with it, and over time, bit by bit, every component has been replaced. A few weeks ago the really nicely set up and slim '91 rosewood fingerboard neck was taken off and a new girthy Allparts one piece maple neck took its place. At this point it feels like a done project, with no foreseeable changes in the near future. With zero parts left of that original Strat, it's mission accomplished - I've totally messed it up.

Here's a quick parts rundown:
• 1995 Fender Japan '57 Reissue Series (made by FugiGen) alder body and neck plate
• 2020 FugiGen made Allparts nitro finished neck w/ a substantial .92" to .97" V profile and 7.25" radius fretboard
• USA Fender gold anodized aluminum pickguard loaded w/ Squier Classic Vibe Duo-Sonic alnico magnet pickups - all of which are around 6K in DC resistance, one 500K CTS volume pot and one 250K Bourne tone pot (the Bourne is also a "neck pickup on" pull switch), Sprague Bumblebee .02uF capacitor, and Oak Grigsby 3-way switch
• Gotoh trem bridge w/ zinc block and '70s style Allparts cast saddles
• Gotoh vintage style tuners, jack boat, and strap buttons
• and a Fender vintage style round string guide which hasn't been installed yet

If you're wondering about some of the unusual parts choices, I'll just say I've never been a fan of the typical "thin" Strat tone, and the resultant sum-total sound of this odd combination of components is anything but thin and zingy. In fact, even the in-between switch settings have no trace of "quack" factor.

There's still some stuff needing doing, such as a fret level and recrown, and eventually replacing the nut, which is currently an experimental zero-fret conversion thing which will probably never work correctly. Besides that, the Partsocaster sounds as great as it always has, and I'm really enjoying squeezing notes out of the hefty "V" neck. One former issue, a tendency for notes played on the high E string to be slightly dull sounding, has gone away with the addition of the one-piece maple neck. I always wondered - was it the bridge or the neck that was causing that? Now I know.

Since the vintage-spec Allparts neck has the truss rod nut mounted at the heel of the neck, I put a notch in the body to make any adjustments a bit easier. This mod works best with a Telecaster with a body-mounted neck pickup - all you have to do is remove the pickguard, and the adjuster nut is easily accessible. On a Strat, with all three pickups mounted on the 'guard, it's not so convenient - the real reason I added the notch was so the guitar could be strung up and played for a week or so without a pickguard, until the brand new neck had settled in place, and then adjust as needed before finally installing the 'guard.

First, some cuts with a fine tooth hobby saw:

Next, knocking out wood between the cuts:

The resultant notch is a bit rough looking. If this was done for someone else, I would have cleaned it up nice and purty, but it's my guitar and I don't care if I want to:

Now it's easy to get a screwdriver in there:

Or a StewMac truss crank:

Next is a shot taken just after the mounting holes had been drilled into the heel of the new Allparts neck. With a drill guide, getting the holes drilled nice and perpendicular was easy. For a mounting screw hole pattern I used the the traditional Fender factory specification, which also says that all necks should have the holes in the same locations - that simplifies mating of neck to body, and allows for easier neck substitutions, often not possible with the modern revisionist custom hole drilling. Warmoth also uses the old style neck mount hole placement on their necks.

Placing the mounting screws, well lubricated with old fashioned Kirk's Castile Soap, through the neck plate and then through the four holes in the body's neck pocket, there was no "seeking" or uncertainty. All four screws (many of you call them "bolts", but screws they are) went quickly and precisely into their respective pilot holes in the neck heel, and tightening was a breeze.

With the neck attached, here's what it looks like with the pickguard placed back down:

As you can see, the truss rod nut is just barely not accessible; many older Fenders had a semi-circular notch cut out of the pickguard to allow a screwdriver to get in there, and I'm thinking I'll do the same eventually. That all depends on how much this neck does the seasonal warp thing - somehow I have a feeling it won't move much, it's a fairly hefty chunk of maple.

A comparatively rare neck plate, found only on certain Japanese production Fenders, and on no USA or Mexico models:

The Strat after mounting the new Allparts neck:

Except for some minor fret work, this guitar is done, and it's time to focus on building up a big-neck Telecaster project. Most of the parts for that have been collected, including a precision cut knotty pine body from ToneBomb in Calgary Alberta, and another FugiGen Allparts neck, this time an unfinished one to match the body. If I don't end up totally messing that project up, there will be photos and misc ramblings posted here at Origami Night Lamp. Or who knows, I might just document the disaster.

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Here are links to previous posts about this Parts-O-Caster project:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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