Request for Input/Advice

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Request for Input/Advice

Post by Brainfertilizer on Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:57 pm

I could have also put this in the Technical section, but it isn't about Westones.

I love my Challenger. Bright yellow w/ the black pickguard.

I used to love the soloist/Corsair style superstrats the most: sleek body, pointy upper/lower bouts, 24 fret necks, etc.

But having the Challenger made me appreciate the idea of a Superstrat like Brad Gillis': black pickguard w/ HSS and a Floyd Rose trem instead of the vintage one.

So I kind of want a bright red Challenger. I'd also buy a black, white, or blue one in a heartbeat. Alas, they rarely show up anywhere. I've seen more Dimensions and Villains over the last year than Challengers.

So I decided to buy a red strat body and slap a black pickguard on it, grab an ebony neck, and then rout it for a Kahler or see if I could get an Ibanez ZR trem in one (I've got an extra one sitting around).

Along the way, I ran across the white JB Player strat. Okay, strat-style body w/ a fake Kahler that needs to be replaced. But I've been taking my time looking for a cheap Kahler replacement.

Then I saw a red Applause strat. Has the old-style 2-point trem like the Bendmaster FTs, with the fine tuners. Seller said it wasn't working, but that was cool, I was going to buy a Dragonforce loaded pickguard anyway. Was pretty sure it would be a plywood guitar, but they can still have good tone. And this was going to be mostly about the look, anyway.

Got it for about $80 shipped.

Open it up, and after taking it apart, the posts of trem have cracked the plywood. Since it is plywood, I doubt I can just dowel and redrill.

Now I'm not sure if I can even stick a Kahler trem on it. The holes for the Kahler wouldn't be in the same place...but can you put a Kahler into something that was routed for a Floyd Rose?

So right now I've got a white body with a non-functioning trem, and a red body with a non-functioning trem. I've got a ZR trem waiting to install on something. I have the leading bid in on a cheaper Kahler Flyer, and wouldn't mind throwing down the coin for a new Kahler, if I had any confidence I could make it work on one of these guitars.

Thoughts?

I'm about ready to just sell both guitars for parts and start fresh.

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Re: Request for Input/Advice

Post by corsair on Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:42 pm

Is the idea is hanging on for a Challenger still on the table? Because if it is, then just crack on with your projects and do what you can with what you can; I mean we're not talking big ticket items on the 2 superstars are we?
And there's no reason at all why you cannot repair the cracked post holes with dowel and a really good glue, like Cascamite. I'm hoping Damian might chip in here on that, but I've fixed ply stuff before with gluing and clamping...

Just keep on checking the bay and CL.... Fingers crossed for ya, bloke!!

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FWIW, an after market esoteric nut is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist, and a great way to convert your money into someone else’s.

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Re: Request for Input/Advice

Post by Guest on Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:47 pm

I agree with corsair - should be no big deal with a dowel into plywood - I fyou are going to paint it and it is sanded well you will never see it - good luck

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Re: Request for Input/Advice

Post by Westbone on Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:36 am

If your repainting put as big a hardwood dowel as you can.
As the guys above mentioned shouldn't be a problem at all.

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Re: Request for Input/Advice

Post by Brainfertilizer on Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:33 am

I found a Kramer Pacer body w/ the loaded pickguard and Floyd Rose included. Just missing the neck.
What I wanted was to have a red strat body with black pickguard, a trem, H/S/S with coil tap, and an ebony fretboard neck.

Here's what I have:
The Pacer has every bit of the quality I want, but is black w/ black pickguard, and missing a neck.
The Applause has a good neck, w/ maple fretboard...and I remember my previous Applause having good sound, and is the red I want, but with a white pickguard.
I have a white JB Player with a cheap Korean Kahler trem (as shown previously). Good neck, dark rosewood fretboard, and JB Player guitars usually have good tone, too.
I also bought a cheap Gitano superstrat. Why? Because I found a 24-fret maple-fretboard neck with a blue Chinese dragon on it, and needed a superstrat body that will take a 24-fret neck to put it on. The Gitano is Alder w/ flamed maple and a cheap, licensed Floyd Rose. I chose it over other choices because the other blue superstrats were all "basswood" bodies, and I don't think I like the tone they produce. And if you are one of those who believe wood doesn't affect tone *that* much, I don't like basswood because it is relatively soft; I prefer a harder wood platform.

So here's the final determination:
The Applause strat (pictures posted here by Thursday night) is going to be my test-bed/training tool for a number of issues.
I'm going to repair the loaded pickguard (which has some wiring problems) and play with some new wiring schemes. I'm going to dowel and drill the trem posts to re-install the trem, and learn how to do that. Then I'm going to strip the body and repaint, and learn to use it to paint guitars.

I'm going to try the neck out on the Pacer. If it feels and sounds good, I may leave it there a while. Putting an Applause neck on a high-quality body like a Pacer seems ridiculous to me, but I'll try it. If I like the black on black w/ maple fretboard, I may leave it like that.

If it doesn't knock my socks off, I may try the rosewood neck from the JB Player. Why not? If I like it better, it stays there for a while.

Once I've stripped and painted the Applause body a few times and learned how to do it, I will probably strip and repaint both the JB Player and the Pacer. Not sure.

The Pacer will keep its Floyd Rose trem.
The Applause will keep its non-locking 2-point trem, if I can get it to work.
The JB Player will get a Kahler Flyer/Pro trem to replace the non-functional cheap Kahler copy.

Since I only have 2 necks for 3 strat bodies, when I end up with them fully functional, I'll buy an ebony boarded strat neck, and then put the neck with the right guitar. The priority will be: the best feeling neck on the guitar that sounds and plays the best. The 2nd priority (if there are ties) will be appearance of maple vs rosewood vs ebony in conjunction with the body color.

If any of the necks really don't work at all (due to the trem problems on both the JB Player and the Applause, I haven't been able to try the necks with strings set at a playable level), I'll buy another strat neck...probably ebony because I like the feel/tone of ebony fretboards the best, and I think a black fretboard will look best with any color I choose to make the bodies. But if the current necks play well, the appearance isn't worth the cost.

The whole goal was to end up with *one* guitar to be a bastardized step-cousin to my Westone Challenger: a superstrat guitar that plays well, sounds well, stays in tune, and has the variations of Westone Challenger color with a black pickguard (loaded with either SSS or HSS):
Red
Blue

But if I'm successful rebuilding the Applause, that leaves me with a 3rd superstrat w/ black pickguard that needs a color. At that time I'll decide whether I want to go with a metallic blood red or plain white. My old Applause was white w/ black pickguard, the JB Player is currently white w/ black pickguard, and Jake E. Lee had a white superstrat w/ black pickguard...I like the look and it has become a familiar-enough classic look for me that I may miss it after I repaint the JB Player.

I'll take pictures every once in a while and post the progress.

This could take years.

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Re: Request for Input/Advice

Post by Westbone on Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:33 pm

Wow! Nathan I'm dazed and confused.

You've certainly got your work cut out there. Plenty to keep you occupied.

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Re: Request for Input/Advice

Post by Brainfertilizer on Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:45 am

Yeah, that was confusing, wasn't it?

I'll try to recap with a little less "stream of consciousness".

I used to love superstrats best of all: modified strat shape, no pickguard, Floyd or Kahler trem, 24 frets, locking nut, hot ceramic pickups...

But then I got my Challenger.

It still is my favorite guitar, ever.

It balances great in the hands. It doesn't have the lowest action, but low enough that I don't feel slowed by string height. The best tone of any guitar in any pickup position (in my opinion). The trem has stayed in tune for months and months w/o having to adjust the fine tuners. And while I bought it despite the yellow color, it's cheerfulness has grown on me.

So now my favorite guitar style is this Kramer/Charvel version of a superstrat: bright colored traditional strat shape, H/S/S, Trem, black pickguard, 22 frets, and hot ceramic pickups. Basically the only difference is the addition of the pickguard and changing 24 frets to 22.

When I have one great guitar, I want another one like it. Why? Two reasons, I think:
1) If I play it so much I wear it out, I want to have another guitar set to go on-deck. Or even better, I want several guitars all equally awesome so I don't wear any one of them out.
2) I still remember fondly the 80s hair band videos where a guitarist would play the same style guitar with different colors on it throughout the video. Since I love the Challenger so much, I'd like it to be my "signature" guitar, the one I will/would use in YouTube videos and on stage when I get a band together.

But over the last 3 years, I've seen 1 Challenger on eBay. A yellow one almost exactly like mine, and that was just 6 months after I had gotten mine from Music Go Round. I'm jonesing for a bright red one or a bright blue one to be my main backup or even become my main guitar.

Despairing of ever finding a Challenger in a different color in just as good condition for a decent price, I decided to see if I can build my own.

I decided I liked the bright red color.

But before I could find one, I found the JB Player (shown in another post) for $60 at a pawn shop. Not wanting to get into repainting, and not understanding that the trem problem was not fixable (but replaceable), I bought it. I like the white w/ black pickguard enough, and I trust JB Player enough, that it didn't scratch the itch for a red Challenger-ish guitar. It just expanded my intent to have a white/black one, too.

Then I found the Applause, which was a red strat body in decent shape, cheaper than I could buy any other strat body, already routed for a Floyd Rose, and had the additional bonus of being the same brand as my old Applause that I kind of missed. Itch scratched? No, the trem is completely messed up, and may be beyond my abilities to repair.

So then I saw some dark metallic red Kramer Strikers for cheap. Almost bought one. But hesitated while I did research: the Strikers are almost all plywood! And they were made in Korea...possibly before Korea got good at making guitars. But the color was different enough and cool enough that all it did was add desire for the dark metallic red strat color.

But that led me to Kramer Focus guitars. Kramer, but MIJ. I almost pulled the trigger on one...but then I thought? Well, how much would a Pacer be? Pacers are the USA-made Kramer strats. That would be guaranteed to be quality wood, quality paint job, and most importantly: quality pickups...the 80s hair band sound I want. Equal or maybe even surpassing my Challenger. Cheap, too...an $800 guitar for under $200, missing a neck and trem which I can replace for about $150 each...and that way I can get my ebony fretboard. The only fly in the ointment is I still don't have much lust for a black guitar w/ black pickguard.

But still, playability is the most important. So forget the JB Player and Applause, just run with the Kramer Pacer body...

...but then with everyone's encouragement, I figure maybe I can repair the Applause. And if I can't, it is cheap enough to be no big loss...can part out or use the rest. And then the thought occurred to me that if it is a practice guitar for repairs, why not make it a practice guitar for painting? If successful, I can repaint the Pacer to the way I want it to look. Then if I repair the Applause, great! I can have my yellow Challenger, blue Pacer, red Applause, and White JB Player...they're magically delicious!

Anyway, I just like talking about guitars.

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Re: Request for Input/Advice

Post by beavis on Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:46 am

Brainfertilizer wrote:
Anyway, I just like talking about guitars.

Woah dude, just spent a loong time catching up on this thread. But it's cool, I love talking about guitars too and your flowing ideas sound very good to me. IMHO no point repainting the pacer body quite yet but simply make sure you get the best possible neck on it as the neck is so essential to the guitar sounding good.

I'm a huge fan of hair metal by the way. Once you've got your guitar(s) all up and running (and not painted black), I foresee that you will have loads of babes with perms rolling on the hood of your car and stripping on bar tables. This is going to be fantastic sunny

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Re: Request for Input/Advice

Post by The Chad on Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:21 am

I wonder what will happen when another Challenger rolls along... will these project guitars still become reality?! Laughing

I know what you mean though, the idea of customizing is very enticing.

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Re: Request for Input/Advice

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