Coffee - Superstrat with a twist

VanHeGen

Senior Member
Messages
295
Coffee? Yes, please!

This “Superstrat with a twist” build – my first build, ever - has been a lengthy process, but it is now finally completed. In addition to @stratamania I want to thank Jaakko Larres at Guitarworx for assembling the guitar, and my friend Antti for taking the photos that capture the essence of Coffee. And of course Warmoth for providing a service and product that enabled me to make my dream come true!

Every single detail about my Coffee build (including vision, plan, background and lessons learned) is described in my build thread, and the wiring is described in detail in this thread, so I won´t repeat everything here, I´ll just give a short (😜) summary. Hopefully, I won´t forget anything important, as there is quite a lot special in this guitar.

The Soloist body (Roasted Swamp Ash) has a Quilted Maple top (Copperhead Dye, Gloss), with all contours available including the contoured heel. The heat-treated 24.75" Warhead maple neck (Roasted Maple, no finish) has a 12-16" fretboard with 6150 stainless steel frets. A Van Halen-style (non-recessed) Floyd Rose (Schaller Lockmeister 6) equipped with EVH D-Tuna was selected as the guitar's tremolo system.

There is only one pickup (Pariah Pasadena White humbucker) located in the bridge position, wood-mounted. However, one of the things that makes this guitar special is the rest of the hardware, which includes a 3-way super switch and three pots, as well as a separate “Mini-pot” component. The knobs are Meisterworks Luminlay knobs.

The main pots (excluding the mini-pot), available only in Pos3 in the 3-way switch, are as follows
  • A master volume (Seymour Duncan Yngwie Speed Pot 500K, with an added Treble Bleed),
  • a no-load master tone (500K), and
  • a no-load spin-a-split “tone” (500K). The spin-a-split is stepless (0-100%) and controls the output of the 2nd coil of the humbucker.
The “preset” positions of the 3-way super switch (for the single pickup) are
  1. "Solo/Rhythm": In this position there is only a fixed 500K resistor to tame the tone a bit, before the signal goes to the output jack
  2. ”Bluesy Solo": In this position the signal goes to the output jack through a “Mini-pot” component (Schatten Thumbwheel Controls), hidden in the “engine room”. The mini-pot has the volume on 10, and the tone on 5.
  3. ”Rhythm/Clean": In this position the three main pots are in use, and I can use the Volume knob, the Tone knob, and the "Spin-a-Split" knob to adjust the tone.
A special solution? Sure, but it allows me to create a wide variety of sounds, and the presets are also easy to use. Using ”a wide variety” of use cases (@aarontunes), if I set a specific sound in Pos3, I can play ”Hot For Teacher” by switching between Pos1 and Pos3, ”Little Dreamer” by switching between Pos2 and Pos3, or “Still Got The Blues” by switching between Pos2 and Pos3. Only proper guitar skills have to be added 😊 Or, if I want to play it like a “normal guitar”, I´ll just stay in Pos3 and fiddle with the knobs.

What about the name 'Coffee' laser-engraved on the headstock? The name came about because the guitar has a lot of roasted parts (roasted neck and body), and the color (Copperhead Dye) reminds me of an old coffee pot. And the overall color scheme (which turned out really beautiful) of the guitar complements this aspect. My original vision was that If/when I have the blues, I can grab my Coffee, and everything will feel good again – and it works!

“Damn good coffee - and hot too! (Agent Cooper, Twin Peaks)”

Coffee-headstock-front.jpg
 
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Timeline

As mentioned earlier, every single detail about my “Coffee” build is described in separate threads, with an overview, above. However, I wanted to document the complete timeline (mostly for myself and for future reference), so here we go:
  • The “Superstrat with a twist”-project began at the end of 2021 as I wasn´t happy with my Wolfgang Special, even if I had modded it heavily. I wanted primarily more versatility (I had some unique features in mind) and better comfort (less weight, more contours), and I also wanted something with an old school EVH-style vibe.
  • During 2022 I realized that there was no such guitar available for purchase that I wanted. That´s when I started my journey towards trying to understand how a guitar is built, and finally deciding to have a guitar built according to my specs.
  • At the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 I read everything that I could find on Warmoth, Unofficial Warmoth, and many other sites, too. I started planning (different scenarios, and yes, in an Excel sheet) the build from Warmoth as well as all the hardware/electronics I would need. It was a great start of my learning experience, which was one of the goals of my build.
  • In January 2023 I sold my EJ Stratocaster RW (a great guitar, but not for me), which meant that I had to get a new a guitar 😊 Well, it also meant that I could finance that.
  • In the beginning of 2023 I had a clear vision about an inventive wiring for a 1-pickup guitar, but only logically, so I started this thread to find out if it was possible in practice, too. Thanks to @stratamania I soon had a wiring diagram, and I could continue planning the build, with confidence.
  • That same month I created the build thread, which goes very in depth in to the background and the choices I made, as well as the learnings (including the whole Floyd Rose bridge and locking nut radius thing…) from the build. The name of the guitar – Coffee – was clear from an early stage. That thread has the following structure, and there are some lessons learned included in every part:
  1. Background and design goals
  2. Homework
  3. The Neck
  4. The Body
  5. Electronics/hardware and wiring
  • I started in-depth planning of the build from Warmoth, as well as regarding all the hardware/electronics I would need, and on March 22nd I placed the order for the neck and the body from Warmoth. I decided to go with a Soloist body (Roasted Swamp Ash) and a Warhead neck (Roasted Flame Maple, no treatment). The (Maple) body top color is Copperhead Dye.
  • During the upcoming months I sourced, or planned, all the hardware and electronics that would be needed for the build, and the last items arrived just before the next event….
  • On July 26th I received a message that the body and build was shipped, and on August 1 I picked it up from the UPS pickup point.
  • In August, the guitar was assembled and on August 17th I had the first “test drive” of the guitar.
  • In September I had the name “Coffee” laser-engraved into the headstock.
  • During the same month, the guitar switch position (Pos2) was changed from the original “blower switch” to a “blues solo” preset, which is also described in the wiring thread.
  • And finally, at the end of September 2023 the build was completed.
Coffee-headstock-back.jpg
 
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Reflections

The basic vision/plan and specs of my guitar is described in the “Background and design goals” thread. Reading that thread I am very surprised realizing that I did not deviate from the plan, and that no problems or even surprises surfaced! Another element of surprise is that it actually works – and the guitar sounds incredibly good!

The inventive wiring (inventive at least in my own opinion) was really one of my main goals, where I wanted to deviate from the traditional one-PU guitars. I was actually prepared to stop the entire build project if the wiring would not be doable. It turned out that the solution required a 3-way super switch, but that enabled me to create the “presets” in the different switch positions the way I had visioned.

The only thing that I decided to change was one position in the super switch based on what it sounded like, and what actually would be useful. Instead of a “blower switch” I now have a “blues solo” preset in Pos2. The solution required a special “mini-Volume and Tone”-component (Schatten Thumbwheel Controls) that is hidden in the guitar cavity. The solution for Pos2 is now perfect for my needs.

One of the goals was also playability, and the only uncertainty about that was the weight, as everything else was more or less up to me to specify. Well, the weight of the guitar turned out to be 3,53 kg (7,78 pounds, I believe), and with all the contours and the great neck the guitar feels absolutely great!

The planned DC Resistance for the pickup (that I might choose) was to be around 9K, and the Pariah Pasadena White measured 8,9K, so pretty close 😊

I was expecting custom shop-level quality, but I am still amazed by all the details of the neck and the body.

The sourcing of the hardware and electronics went well, although I could have optimized the process (and saved some money) by buying everything from Thomann (saving especially on shipping) – and nothing from abroad (e.g., customs and tax).
  • Examples of “un-optimized orders: I ordered the Meisterworks Luminlay knobs (Vol, Tone, S-a-S) from Japan, the Pariah Pasadena White Pickup and the Schatten Thumbwheel Controls from the US, the göldo "Double Wafer" 3-Way Switch from Spain, and a couple of other components from somewhere else, too. They were not available from Thomann, but Thomann might have been able to source them for me. Next time….
  • I did forget to buy a neckplate, as I had somehow expected the screws to be part of the neck/body, and because I didn’t order them, I also forgot about the entire neck plate. It also turned out that due to the contoured heel it required 2 long and 2 short screws, when there were 4 long screws in the package... Fortunately my guitar tech had spare parts, so he “saved me”.
Considering this was my first build, and that there was quite a lot of hardware, I am incredibly pleased with the outcome.

And lastly, I did of course plan the color and the look of the guitar, but (in my opinion) the guitar turned out to be even more beautiful than I had expected!
Coffee-full-front.jpg
 
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Beautiful looking guitar. Nice knowing that it plays well for you, too. Photography is excellent, and I wish I knew how to compose a subject like that. Congrats… 🍻
 
On one end, you have folks slapping a few coats of hardware store oil onto showcase parts and calling it a day. And then you have builds like this, very much after my own heart, where every detail has been fretted over (pun intended) down to the last screw.

I think it’s great. These are vehicles for self expression and I think they should reflect us as the players, and I can tell you put a lot of yourself into it. Congrats and happy NGD!
 
Wow! That thing is bitchin'! An interesting concept brought to life. Well done. I really dig the laser engraved headstock detail. Once I get a better grip on assembling the basic stuff, I can't wait to start exploring the more exotic side. Very inspirational. If I ever decide to build a "Floyd" guitar it will be a Soloist/Warhead. I never considered that combo but now it just seems obvious.
 
Thank you @Rick ! Getting this from a person who has amazing builds himself means a lot!
@Hodgo Thank you so much for the kind words, that actually describe exactly how I approached and feel about this build! However, I believe everybody approaches a build differently, budgets are different and so on, so I believe every build is important and worth celebrating.
@Scab Pickens Thank you! And one of my goals was to document everything around this build so that other people could use that information for their own builds and be inspired. Thus, if it helps you I’d be very happy!
 
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@VanHeGen well done for this becoming a Primo build. A five coffee build (y) :coffee: :coffee::coffee::coffee::coffee:(y)
Wow, thank you @stratamania !
I am very honored and humbled of this award, and that I now belong to this prestigious "primo build group"!
And a five coffee build, too! :)
The fact that somebody else - in addition to myself - thought that the build turned out well feels really special!
I must document it here before the photo disappears from the header of Unofficial Warmoth :)
Coffee Primo Build 20231026 the pic.JPG
 
VanHeGen,
I sat in a coordinators seat in a mechanical engineering department at a Japanese company before retiring.
Your approach to your build, the planning and reasoning that went into the project previous the implementation is a fine example of how these things "can" be approached...probably how they "should" be approached.
You might say that you can "plan the joy right out of the project" but the mental exercise of creating the thing in the ether before it shows up on the physical plane can be a load of fun as well.
Once again, Excellent work!!!
 
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