Many Questions and Hardware help.


New member
Alright - for those of who've helped in my Dreamcaster thread, thanks. I've been amassing a new list of questions that I think solicits a new thread. For a bit of summary about myself, I like playing indie rock, with lots of inspiration coming from shoegaze. I'm using lots of reverb, and I'm looking for ways to blend distortion, reverb, delay, and other effects together and make very washy, wave after wave of guitar.

So, the basic set up I was thinking of is:
A jazzmaster body/25.5" strat neck with a vintage trem, the modded mustang bridge, and two fender humbuckers. I want to have cut into the pickguard two slots for two 3 position on-off-on slide switches near the lower horn. Each one will control a pickup and switch it between Humbucking, Single Coil, or turn it off. I'll have a master volume knob, and then a tone knob for each pickup. Instead of the jack on the pickguard, I want a recessed strat style jack.

I'm trying to figure out what kind of wood I should get my body made out of. I've been thinking alder, as it's pretty cheap and very middle in terms of tone. I don't know if I want bright or warm - the terms kind of confuse me a little, since I've only ever played a Samick Fastback and a Squier Strat with any actual extensive experience. The Fastback is made of Agathis, which I believe is similar to alder. Very middle of the road.

As far as the aesthetics go, the laminate top option: Is that just a layer of wood over top the main body? Like, if I go for indian rosewood - is that the whole body, or just a layer of wood? Because by far, it's the most beautiful wood I've seen.

Next is the neck. I'm a bit flip-floppy on maple and rosewood fretboards. I used to hate maple, but when I switched to my Fastback from my Strat, I started to really like it. One of the points I'm looking at though, is if Warmoth can paint the whole thing if I get an all maple neck. Pegface, back of the neck, and fretboard. That's sort of a selling point as to whether I would want to get a black-painted body or an indian rosewood laminate top. If they can paint it AND it keeps the same consistency in action, then I'd go for the black body. If not, I'd just have a natural maple neck on an indian rosewood-looking body.

Now for some other things:
What sort of tuning heads should I get. Ones that will go a long way in keeping it in tune with lots of trem use.
Should I get a graphite nut or white corian?
What should I get the nut-width as? I usually go for medium D'addario strings.
What kind of pots should I get for my tone and volume knobs? Specific models.
What should the size of the frets be? I'm getting nickels.
Should I get string retainers?
I have sort of small hands and fingers. What should I get my neck's radius as?
And should I get a .60 or .90 pickguard thickness?

Same goes for electronics.
What kind of capacitors?
Should I get a small or large battery box?
What kind of jack should I get? Stereo or mono?
What spec/model for the strat-style jack?

Again, thank you in advance. I know I'm pretty new at all of this, and I have tons of questions and I'm asking for a lot, but I really appreciate the help in scraping up the plans for my dream guitar.


Senior member
So much is up to personal preference .  I have a MIA strat with a rosewood fretboard and a Tele with a birdseye maple.  Personally I prefer rosewood or ebony for fretboards. Ebony is touch as nails .

In terms of lam tops , they are just that , a piece of pretty wood glued on top of a more plain one.
If you  are going with a transparent finish they are nice , if you are going to paint  I'd forgo the expense.

For body woods with Fender types I'm a fan of Swamp Ash , Alder is a good choice as well.

If you are going to use the Wang bar a lot the graphite nuts are good.

In terms of jacks , I prefer mono and split the signal later .

Fret size is personal , I like 6230 which was what the vintage Fenders used.

For battery box a large one would be if you are going to run an 18v pre-amp ( ie 2 9v's for better headroom)

If you are going with an onboard pre-amp then cap value isn't so much an issue as the tone controls will be included.

In terms of neck radius .. go to a store a try a bunch out.  I went with the old C shaped neck on my Tele, it feels like a baseball bat , but for lead work it is great , flatter radius works a bit better for rythym .. for me .

Good luck with the adventure



Senior member
Might I suggest a TRS effects loop.....  What that is is a stereo jack that sends your signal after the tone control and switches to the tip of the cord out to your effects then you daisy chain your stomp boxes together and send the signal back through the ring on the jack.  You need a "Y" cord to do this.  Then after the signal is processed through the effects, it goes back into the guitar  and to the volume control and out again through a mono jack.  I put  a bypass switch in the guitars I utilize this system with. 

This idea is Jerry Garcia's.  He used a 'unity gain buffer' in his FX loop to make his signal low impedience.  I don't use the buffer and my setup works fine.  You would be amazed at how well the effects work with this setup.  Your tone controls work better IMO and you can turn the input or gain or volume up on your petals and control the volume on the guitar.  I love this setup and I usually only use 1-2 petals it gives me a really fine tuned sound.  I think that after you start chaining the effects together, the actual tone of the individual guitar starts to suffer.  The first time I tried this was with a cheapie bass I have and I used all mono jacks, so I had 3 cords coming out of the bass and I had to use a jumper cable if I didn't use the effects.  I learned the right way to do it and switched it around to use a stereo jack and a bypass switch, so I only needed two cords.  I will set all of my future builds up with this system, I just think it works that well.  I recommend it to anybody that uses more than one effect.  The only negative thing to the setup is the two cords coming out of the guitar and the two jacks.

For more info on the setup of this system, google 'Jerry Garcia effects loop'  that was how I found it.

The only guitar I don't have this on is my strat as it is totally original.  I may build some sort of 'adapter' box so I can add this feature to my Strat, but honestly my Strat never comes out of the case anymore I'm afraid I will drop it.

Sorry if I confused you about this, I just think it is the way to go if your sound is reliant on effects, your tone adjustments can be very subtle and you will notice it. 

Tuners:  Go with locking tuners if you use the trem a bunch.

Definately a graphite nut or even a roller nut

Nut width is a personal preference, I like them wide as I can get them, my sandwich grabbers are pretty fat the wider the nut the more space between the strings at the nut regardless of the strings you use.  I need all the real estate I can get up there for chords.  That is up to you...

Humbuckers typically use 500k pots and single coils use 250k.  If you go with the TRS setup I metioned above you are gonna want to use a 25k pot for the volume, but that is kind of a specialty setup.  If you don't use that setup, the 500k are fine.  Brand is up to you,  I usually let price determine what kind of pots I buy.

Fret size is another personal preference  I like medium jumbo not sure what size in actual numbers, I love the frets on my Strat (1992 American Standard)

String retainers are not needed with an angled peghead.  I can't stand them, again my preference.

I haven't ever played a Warmoth compound radius neck, but it sounds like it is the hot ticket, I would try it, sounds like the best of both worlds.

I wouldn't put all that much thought into the pickguard thickness unless it is an issue with it fitting under the fretboard extension get the style of pickguard you like (lam BWB WBW or perloid or tortise if that is your bag)

I have always picked capacitors by trial and error.  I have a ziplock freezer baggie full of capacitors I got from a music store that closed years ago for $5 and I pick through them and see what sounds best.  They are cheap get a couple of different values and try them out.  Radio Shack (if they are still in business?) has packs of 'grab bag' capacitors for a few dollars.  You might like a combo of a couple.  My bass has 3 capacitors on the tone in series to get the sound I was after.  Definately recommend Fender's treble bleed setup on the volume control without it some pots will have an 'on-off' kind of feel with no middle.  Google fender treble bleed for the info on that or it might be on here not sure...

Battery box is only needed for active pickups or for a preamp.  If you are going old fashioned, you won't need this at all.  But if you do need a battery for your setup, go for the big one, that way you can use an 18v preamp or you can carry a spare battery.  I don't use the battery boxes, I find a spot under my control cover and rout out a hole for the battery and I put in a spot for a spare battery also. 

I covered the jack questions in the opening of my response.....

Strat style jack plate, buy a genuine Fender.  I have had all sorts of problems with aftermarket chrome, gold and black coated hardware, but the OEM Fender stuff seems to hold up better IMO

All this stuff is so subjective, it is a matter of personal taste.  What you need is a great relationship with the guitar shops in your area so you can go in and check the stuff out and see what you like.  So many choices.  Hope I could be of some help.



Senior member
Vintage Fender uses 6230 frets , the "fretless wonder "  Les Paul's use 6130.  I have a vintage strat and LP  , The 6130's make for a very fast player and are my fave. I use teh LP for my speedy work and the Strat/Tele for blues.