The Kitty Cat Strat

Toy Sun

First Time Build! Here are the plans so far. I'm asking a lot of questions in various sections of the forum, and will try and update this with links to the input I get. My goal is to gather feedback from this community and also leave information for someone like me in the future.

Inspiration: a guitar I saw a guy playing in a video (This is the Kit)
this is the kit strat.png

Me: not really picky (ouch, bad pun), I'm the kind of player who picks up a guitar and either loves it or goes "meh" but I also put most challenges on me, not the instrument. I'm actually a bass player, but have played guitar longer, like for 45 years. I am a Fender guy, like rhythm and bluesy lead a' la Steve Cropper, but I'm a Jazz musician and I play standards, too, though not building this instrument for that.

Feel Model: A mythical Strat Partscaster that my friend owns, likely Warmoth parts. We call it the "John Raymond Guitar" and John, if you see this, chime in!
Neck Tele headstock/neck. Will be either roasted maple with ebony or all rosewood. No fret markers on fingerboard, just abalone side dots
Body Fiesta Red Strat, getting a universal route
Pickups Still working on this - I like the classic Tele neck pickup, both for sound and looks. Definitely want a high output humbucker (but in Strat form factor) in the bridge position. Middle pickup needs to add a lot of combination options to the other two. I'm really lost here with pickups, but seem to be homing in on Lace Sensor or Fender Noiseless - RF noise does really bug me. Even considered a Lollar Charlie Christian for neck, but it's very expensive and kind of blows the look, too.
Controls Leaning to just one master volume, maybe volume and tone. The freeway 10 position switch intrigues me. I ordered one for me current Strat but may wait and install it on this new one.
Hardware Hardtail. Simple, locking fender tuners, because they come in satin chrome. And to try and match that, I'm questing after a satin bridge, which is hard to find. I like the Fender American Hardtail or the Hipshot Stainless.
Build Plan Warmoth finished body, unfinished neck (supported by either rosewood or roasted maple), I'll do my own pick guard, as I have access to a laser cutter and I have some ideas about attaching it with neodym magnets to have no screws - if I perfect this, I'll share it out for sure. I can do the electronics. After I'm done, it'll go to my local luthier who happens to be Mike Lull (RIP, but his son carries on) for setup and Plek.

Thanks for reading, I'll keep y'all up to date. May be ordering in the next few weeks. Very open to feedback and advice.

Parts arrived very early. Folks may want to note this: ordered on Sept 29, parts arrived on Nov 23rd!
I was expecting February, so my workshop (and head) were not ready. Getting there.
I've come up with a plan that is a bit different than what I've seen some guys do.

  • Strap button drilling and install
  • string ferrules install
  • Neck: sanding from 400 up to 2000
  • install tuners.
  • Neck on body.
  • Check neck alignment with twine
  • Install bridge
  • Wire the pickguard assy
  • Install pickguard and jack
  • Strings and setup

Any feedback on above steps would be appreciated.
Any feedback on above steps would be appreciated.

Add before the above steps, dry fit your parts such as neck into body etc. You don't want to be part of the way through and find something unexpected.

How do you plan to check the neck alignment prior to installing a bridge?

Do you plan to do any fretwork?
I thought that the 2 pieces of yarn technique for checking neck alignment was done with the string holes in the body, not with the bridge. Is that incorrect?

With a hard-tail it could be done as shown and is a practical way if having to drill holes for neck mounting in the neck. I assume you have the screw holes already in the neck.

So why would I prefer to use a mounted bridge?

The method shown relies on a well aligned bridge mounting and neck pocket, the slightest variation between these and also how the bridge itself is finally mounted could result in a variable to the final result and the method itself. It may be so slight as to not make much difference. I just prefer to eliminate possible variations.

With a set neck it is the other way around, the neck is already where it is, and the bridge placement is figured from there.
I would've waited until I got all the parts, bridge, the pups and the tuners, dry fit, and then see the alignment. Using yarn? I guess you can do that, but if you have OCD like me wait till you get everything.
For pickups, I highly recommend Dimarzio "Area" series.
Curious why you recommend them. Is it specific to what I mentioned above about my playing style/sound style?
BTW, I went with a Lace Sensor Ultimate Triple, 10 way switch, volume pot only (got the volume pot with the kill switch).
Pretty excited about the electronics, its kind of my perfect blend of lots of variation but very simple operation - that is if one considers the 10 way switch simple!
Curious why you recommend them. Is it specific to what I mentioned above about my playing style/sound style?
BTW, I went with a Lace Sensor Ultimate Triple, 10 way switch, volume pot only (got the volume pot with the kill switch).
Pretty excited about the electronics, its kind of my perfect blend of lots of variation but very simple operation - that is if one considers the 10 way switch simple!
I didn't realize you had already gotten pickups, but yes, the Dimarzios are perfect for what you stated you wanted.
If you went with a body with predrilled bridge holes, and have holes in the neck, then the alignment step isn't really necessary.

There is enough play in the joint to line everything up. Just make sure there is equal spacing outside the e strings, they tighten up the neck screws fully.

Lace pickups are great for crazy wiring schemes, as they are already fairly noiseless. You don't have to worry about rw/rp issues like standard single coils.
Well, she's done! Really exceeded my expectations. The nicest guitar I've ever had - so many great sounds, controls exactly the way I want, plays like butter. My number one criteria for a guitar is: Tuning Stability and I'm really amazed by this one - is it the locking tuners? That I put some graphite on the nut? Don't know, but so happy about that. Still a few things to work out, action may have to come up a bit, still figuring all that out. Not sure now if I'll go with the PLEK, as the neck feels so good to me - I'll have to ask at Mike Lull's shop exactly what benefit I'll get from the pricey process.
The Lace Sensors are certainly different than Strat pickups, but the whole idea of this guitar was to have it not be a typical Strat - if I wanted that, I could just get one. That's why I went with 6130 frets, which I'm loving. The design brief was for a super-versatile, stable, smooth player that would have some great clean sounds for funk along with hot sounds for overdrive. The free way 10 position switch is definitely helping here. On the other hand, the Shadow kill switch pot makes a popping sound when killing, so not sure I'll really use that, but probably will just leave it in. It has a fine audio taper (and I usually have my vol on full to 6 anyway).Particularly happy with my pickguard. I have access to a laser cutter and this is 3mm (1/8") acrylic. I had to give up the beveled edge, but look Ma, no screws! To be honest, there are 3 screws, but it's staying down. The plan is to use a bit of double sticky (thin, not foam) tape on the horn and near the jack - maybe not needed.
Very elegant and unique. I love to see a guitar that really captures the owners preferences.
6 month check in - in case anyone is using this thread for research. Love my guitar so much! The PLEK process was probably not worth it. Afterwards, the fret ends were sharp and I was charged additional to fix that - bummer. I posted in another thread about PLEK. The Lace Sensors are not that Strat-like, but very cool. I would describe the sound as "slightly furry" - a bit of warmth and fur around them, if that makes sense. But with the 10 way switch, I can definitely find some super clear bright Strat tones, too. My only regret is that I honestly made a boo boo with ordering the pickup color - I was thinking cream and had a brain glitch, ordered white. Overall, that's giving this guitar too much of an 80's vibe for me. The Fiesta Red is reading a bit too red and the bright white doesn't help. Was supposed to have more of a retro vibe. Tempted to take a loss and sell the Lace Sensor set to get cream, but that's just for cosmetics, so I don't know....