Help me construct this guitar?
November 21, 2011 6:10 PM   Subscribe

Why do the Seymour Duncan 50's California pickups say "works especially well with rosewood fretboards", where can I get an unpainted '57 Stratocaster, and other variations on these questions.

I love maple fretboards. I somehow ended up with all rosewood fretboards on my guitars, except one. That one is sadly no longer with us and I must replace it. I am trying to get a blank body of a '57 Strat, then get a custom paint job, meaning it must be a naked body. I have no idea where to find one. I would then like to install the aforementioned pickups, and ideally, a maple fretboard (does the fretboard come on the naked body? If so, this step will happen earlier). But I read on Seymour Duncan's website today that those pickups work "especially well" with rosewood fretboards. How "especially" are we talking? I had my heart set on the feel of the maple, but also on the amazing sound of those pickups through that body. Advice? Answers?
posted by jitterbug perfume to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When they say those are "warm" sounding, that may mean a rolled off-treble, with prominent mid-bass with a slow decline toward the high frequencies. The rose wood is harder, and would have brighter treble to compensate.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:28 PM on November 21, 2011

First of all, don't believe marketing. Tonality of necks is up there near audiophile bullshit about cables and such. Not entirely, but close. So, some thoughts:

1) go to the Re Ranch Guitar Finishing and Restoration Forum and post your question. Many people build bodies and necks or build guitars from stock parts such as All Parts or Warmouth necks. You will get more advice than you probably need, including people who will build bodies and necks for you.

2) Are you saying you want an actual '57 body, not a copy or re-issue? If so, good luck. Unpainted? Near impossible. If you want a copy, see number 1 above, or do a google search for guitar body blanks. There are a lot of custom body builders out there.

3) A maple fretboard is mostly just a neck with the top planed down. In general, if you are using a maple neck, you don't put a maple plank on top to create a fretboard unless you don't want the standard Fender rear routed truss rod channel. So, you can get a maple neck already fretted.

4) There are a SHIT TON of custom pick up builders out there. Seymour Duncan is nothing special in my opinion and if you want a pick up that has tone that works with a maple fretboard, ask for recommendations from those pick up builders: Lollar, Fralin, etc etc.

5) My feeling is that the capacitors, bridge, pick up and body wood has a bigger affect on tone than the fretboard wood. You can go down that rabbit hole of debate with anyone at ReRanch if you want - should be fun.

In short, you have a ton of options. Just get on the forums that are out there.
posted by spicynuts at 7:16 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

spicynuts has it. if you can afford an actual '57 body, you can do a lot better than seymour duncan
posted by Ironmouth at 7:35 PM on November 21, 2011

Seems to me that on a fretted instrument, the fingerboard material would be irrelevant. It's not the wood that would matter, but the metal frets. Frets can wear down. Even then, the vast, vast majority of tone comes from the qualities of the body and strings.

I suspect that when the ad wizards at Seymour Duncan say "rosewood fretboards," they really just mean "most guitars" in a way that sounds like it means something.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:12 PM on November 21, 2011

Response by poster: I hate to say, I meant '57 reissue :(

So y'all are saying I could get a blank guitar with a rosewood or maple neck already there then paint the body, have the pickups installed, knobs, etc, and it would work together fine? Would the knobs come on the Strat body?

For everyone who doesn't get it, it's this tone that kills me. Also, huge Fruciante fan. Huge.
posted by jitterbug perfume at 9:31 PM on November 21, 2011

If you think Frusciante's tone comes from the wood used for his fretboard, you're going to be sorely disappointed.

Anyway, you can do any number of amazing things. You can get someone to build you a custom 57 strat body. You can get a fully assembled and painted body from Stew Mac or Warmouth. You can get a really awesome fully assembled guitar from the Fender Custom Shop made to your specs. You can buy a 57 re-issue neck from any number of places plus a 57 re-issue body from any number of places and have someone else (like me) assemble it for you. People build their own guitars from scratch (like me) all the time. They also build them from mostly assembled parts like a finished neck, a finished body, as fully soldered and ready to go pickup/pickguard harness. Your options are unlimited.

If you would like me to work with you to select options, parts, etc I am more than happy (I'd actually love it) to help you. PM me if you want. I'm excited for you!
posted by spicynuts at 5:30 AM on November 22, 2011

I've built two instruments with very similar specs. One has a maple fretboard, the other rosewood. The feel is different, but the sound is the same. End of story.
posted by plinth at 5:41 AM on November 22, 2011

this thread has taken alot of twists and turns, but, no doubt the marketing from Seymour Duncan are designed to 'compensate' for the tonal effects of rosewood, which to echo sentiment in this thread- are nil. But I've never had the same guitar with both woods so I dunno. I imagine that the difference in tone from the fingerboard wood is probably very small compared to all the other elements that add up to the tonal picture.

You don't have to buy a 'naked' body. If you don't care about Made in USA or buying new, you could buy a Standard Strat (made in mexico) with a maple neck, strip the body, and install the pickups of your choice. This will be pretty easy with a Nitro finished guitar (most $$$ guitars) or painfully laborious with the Polyurethene (plastic) finish of cheap models. You could buy an unfinished neck from Warmoth, as stated. But because Warmoth uses licensed Fender headstocks, their prices are high. You can buy a Saga neck for much cheaper, but with a 'blank' design.

Personally, I couldn't imagine building a Strat/Tele. There's just so many floating around out there that the configuration you want is available at just about any price point. I bet if you put the neck preference on the back burner you could find a used Strat that someone already put the pickups you want into. And rarely when selling guitars have I gotten any bonus cash out of a pickup replacement, so they'd be a bargain too.

What sort of custom paint are you looking for?

And about pickups- I have 'special' pickups in my Les Paul, the Lollar Imperials. Are they much better than the Duncans they replaced? They're different, not really $200 better or whatever. I had Seymour Duncan Antiquities (which is their top shelf line) in my Jaguar, and they were the best pickups I've ever had. Totally awesome, far from nothing special.
posted by tremspeed at 8:52 PM on November 22, 2011

Response by poster: tremspeed - you get that I want it custom-painted, right?
posted by jitterbug perfume at 9:28 AM on November 23, 2011

Response by poster: I was hoping I could find a blank body to paint that still came with everything else built. I don't want to build ANYTHING I don't have to. I was thinking just a custom paint job on the body and different pickups... not like an overhaur. I guess I want to know how far "done" I can find a still-blank body w/ the fretboard and knobs already attached etc.

Thanks everyone so much
posted by jitterbug perfume at 9:30 AM on November 23, 2011 still got good advice from a mexican strat or tele and bring it to someone who specializes in custom paint jobs. They will remove the electronics etc, strip the paint, and go from there.
posted by spicynuts at 9:40 AM on November 23, 2011

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