What can you do if you can`t afford a real Fender Custom Shop guitar made to your specs? As long as you feel capable of holding a screw driver you can always make your own Frankenstein-Bitster-caster.
My idea was to combine all the details from different Fender guitars that I like particularly without using any real Fender parts...
I feel that this Charvel version of the Fender-style headstock is the most beautful version of all Strat heads.
It is a bit bigger than the original Strat-head, a tiny bit smaller than the Jazzmaster-head and a lot smaller than the big Strat CBS-head. But the shapes of the Charvel- and the big CBS-Strat-heads are pretty close and a lot more distinct than the original Strat-headstock.
I think good design is always simple.You see and understand immediately what you get. A shape should be easily "understood" with one glimpse, which the original Strat-head is not. No one really knows how this very flat double curve on the treble side of the headstock is transforming from concave to convex... Every old Strat is different, they all are indistinct at that point, while all the rest of the guitar is so perfectly shaped... Fender designers must have realized this themselfes when CBS took over and changed the shape as well as the Fender logo to a much more homogeneous design in the late `60s. Trouble was that the built quality suffered during that period so that all the guitar aficionados still prefered the older stuff. And, as a consequence, the older look too.
While MUSIKRAFT was working on my order I discovered how much I like the Fender Jazzmaster neck pickup. So I changed my mind and asked Jim Jamerson of MUSIKRAFT if he could do a Jazzmaster routing for the neck position. But it was too late. The finishing hat been done already and I got the Strat neck pickup rout that I had originally ordered.
No problem. The conversion had to bee done by myself and hence doesn`t look as professional as MUSIKRAFT would have done it.
I realized that this guitar wouldn`t work with a regular Strat pickguard for two reasons.
1 Because the Jazzmaster neck pickup is too big for a Strat pickguard.
2. Because the Tele bridge doesn`t look good in a Strat pickguard.
So this is where the fun part started. I had to deal with the impossible challenge of finding a new pickguard shape for a Strat body. A pickguard shape that looks almost as good as the original - or dare I say it? -
Maybe even better!?!?!?
No, we all know that this is not feasible.
You can`t really improve the harmony of the Strat`s body and pickguard!
Even if you would find a perfect variation like for example the beautiful Yamaha Pacifica, no one would be able to accept that it might be MORE beautiful. Since the Strat is the original it simply can`t be beat.
So finding something "almost as good" is hard enough.
I do know that there is the Squier 51 guitar, a Strat-body with a different pickguard. I even own one of these. But I wanted to find my own solution.
I started sketching digitally
I realized that this ingenious Strat jack socket has a big influence on the look of the pickguard, too. I would have had more freedom to design a nice pickgard shape if I had sacrificed that socket. So next time...
It took over a year to create all these variations but I don`t mind.
I feel that I can`t rush such an important job. As long as you can`t work in a team it is essential to take breaks and scrutinize, re-examine and verify your decisions again and again.
I printed all these designs, cut them out individually and sorted them out in three categories over and over. I had three envelopes. One for the bad, one the mediocre and one for the good designs. I took decisions looking at all the designs from two sides...with the guitar neck perpendicular and horizontal. Then after some examination I made many new variations of the ones I had liked the best. I mixed the best designs, I modded and redesigned them over and over...
And then I started again sorting out ALL sketches in my 3 envelopes...
I lost count and overview sometimes. I think there are 233 sketches here but there may be some more around. I opened more and more files on my computer called "pickguard design LAST Version." ...and then "VERY last Version" ...and "latest Modifications..." etc....
The titles/numbers became a problem. After the fist 98 sketches I started to ad "m" for modification and then "v" for variations of these modifications (!) but tried to still use the same numbers in order to get a better overview of which designs belonged together... Then I created new variations of variations and called them "v1"A, B or C or "modded variation" of 89C, D, or E ...etc...
Just a big, big mess!
There is a saying in German. "It takes time to do a good thing."
But it can be a pain in the ass if you can`t decide...
When is a design good looking?
You can`t measure that. But you can try to find out some rules and follow them. Simplicity. Less is more. Not too many different curves. Repeating the same shapes several times, making it look systematic, symmetrical, putting the shapes in some kind of order...hierarchic... balancing tension vs. harmony...
But in the end feelings will decide spontaneously.
That `s why it was so important to re-examin my choices over and over again quickly and wthout thinking...
MAYBE THE FOLLOWING 16 ARE AMONG THE FINAL CHOICE...
Note that they all have the "s51" suffix. Fender nerds will have realized that this stands for "Squier 51". All these designs quote that part from the Squier 51 model right next to the Tele bridge consisting of two small and one larger curve. But havn`t I decided NOT to quote that? Where are the others, those without the "s51" thing?
Most of the picguard sketches above are called "s51" and something...
Fender nerds will know that this stands for the Squier 51 model
that has a pickguard not unlike the very first Precision Bass.
Two small curves flanking one larger curve are one feature that makes the pickguard designs on these models so unique.
So I decided to add this feature to all my sketches and see if I liked it...
...OR MAYBE THE FOLLOWING 34 SKETCHES ARE BETTER?...
Below are the ones without the s51 whatnot
...MAYBE ... OR MAYBE NOT !?!?!?
I think there must be another file somwhere deep down in the kafkaesque guts of my Mac where I had some more options, some newer ones...but where the heck...
I think I `ll need some more time for that.
The eagle-eyed dudes among you will find one sketch among the last 50 pictures here that I posted twice!
Which one is it?
Another observation is that among these last and best 50 designs there is just one from the first series of sketches. Number 69 is the only one that survived the process of modifying and improving and refining and diversifying the first series of 98 drawings...
All others have an "m", a "V" or "s51" or "A, B, C, D", etc... within their designation.
What does that mean?
THE TORTURE NEVER STOPS
Good design is not a spontaneous thing but hard work. Unless you`re more gifted than I am, that is ...obvously...
or would you like to see my Squier 51 project?
Address is known!
There`s a number,
there`s a zone!