This Stratocaster project has been in the planning for long time and some of the parts were acquired quite awhile ago. I just finally purchased the body from Warmoth. I must have used their custom build website tool a hundred times trying to decide what I wanted. I investigated several other sources as well. Today I was on the Warmoth site checking out the Strat bodies and one popped up in their pre-built showcase bodies that was just what I wanted and at a bit lower price than a custom order.
I purchased this nice chambered Black Korina Stratocaster body. I was able to choose the pickup, bridge and jack routing. Body is being routed for standard Stratocaster sized pickups for neck, middle and bridge. Standard Strat style 6 hole vintage tremolo bridge. Contours for tummy, arm and neck joint.
Korina (Limba wood) has long been loved by guitar players as a great tone wood (if there is such a thing) for its light weight, sustain, responsiveness and absolutely beautiful grain. Gibson used Korina for its Flying V, Explorer and other guitars. PRS is obviously also a big fan. Korina can be light colored or since it is subject to staining can have big graining and striations and is then known as “black Korina.”
Seems no two pieces of black Korina look the same so they are all a bit unique. Korina is a bit like mahogany but said to have a “sweeter” midrange. The body I just bought has a clear gloss finish and is chambered weighing a pretty light 3-lbs 13-ozs. This fits well as I want the guitar to be light.
This guitar will be completely different than any of my other guitars especially my other Strats. I was greatly inspired by a Tony McKenzie build. He seems like a great fella and the kind of guitar guy I would love to lift a pint or two with. Tony is a very cool guitar parts-builder like myself. Love Tony’s videos. Tony’s Black Korina custom Strat build is very much like what I am doing on this project with a few differences.
The Black Korina body I am using is rear routed. I will be using a genuine Fender neck with Rosewood fretboard and LSR roller nut that I bought more than a year ago and has been waiting for me to get it mounted on a body. The radius is compound 9.5 to 14 with modern C back profile. I will be using gold hardware which I think looks great on a wood body like this. Take a look at my Custom Built Walnut Carved Telecaster to get an idea.
Hoping to make this the ultimate Stratocaster for heavier rock. The pickups will be Dimarzio Fast Track set with Pro Track for neck, Fast Track 1 for middle and Fast Track 2 for bridge. This will not sound like your run of the mill Stratocaster as these are higher output humbuckers that are closer to PAFs than any single coils. The humbuckers will also be quieter (except when playing big power chords). I will be adding some cool push-pull magic switching as well.
The tremolo will be the Super-Vee Bladerunner which is finally easier to get in gold in the USA when purchased directly from the Super-Vee online store. This tremolo is known for its sustain, usability and for staying in tune better than the average Fender vintage tremolo. I did have the body routed for a vintage tremolo as that leaves several choices.
Since this body is rear routed there will be no pickguard. I will be using brass pickup rings gilded in gold to match the other hardware. Besides, I would not have the heart to cover the beautiful grain in the wood with a pickguard. I will be using Fender/Schaller gold Locking Tuners, gold custom neck plate and strap locks.
I found a great wiring diagram over at the Dimarzio website that was exactly the way I wanted to wire this Strat. All the pickups are humbuckers so I wanted to split coils and I wanted to add the bridge pickup so I can have neck and bridge. This wiring will have one volume and a separate tone for the neck and bridge like a standard Strat.
I will be using two Dimarzio 500K push-pull pots (made by CTS) and one CTS 500K volume pot. The caps will be 22uF orange drops.
The Warmoth body has arrived. Very nice and pretty light 3-lbs 12-ozs on my digital scale.
Each piece of Black Korina is pretty unique. This body is constructed of a Black Korina back that is chambered and laminated with a Black Korina top.
Mounted the Fender maple neck with rosewood fingerboard and LSR nut. Laying out some of the gold hardware.
Using gold neck screws from Warmoth for contoured neck joint. They sell these in the correct length for the contoured neck joint saving you from needing to shorten standard neck screws.
Most of the parts have arrived. In addition to the Super-Vee Bladerunner gold tremolo and gold pickup rings. I will be using gold Fender Strat top mounted jack plate, gold Switchcraft jack, gold strap locks and gold dome Q-Parts knobs.
Next step is to copper shield all the cavities and start the wiring. Guitar will have standard 5-way Strat switching with push-pull tone controls for coil split and bridge pickup add. The pots will be all 500k which is recommended by Dimarzio for the Fast Track pickups.
Most Fender Strats with single coil pickups have 250k pots. The 500k tend to be brighter sounding and can be a better match for humbuckers. Although, there is nothing wrong with using different value pots. Just good to realize how using different values may effect the desired sound.
Copper foil tape and X-acto knife in hand I got started on the shielding. I copper foil all the cavities and ground them to reduce any hum or buzz.
Next mounting the Dimarzio pickups with the gold pickup rings and installing the Dimarzio push-pull pots.
Mounting some hardware. Super-Vee Tremolo mounted, Q-Parts knobs and jack plate. Still waiting on few more parts. Wiring is next.
When mounting the Super-Vee Tremolo I found the claw and screws that hold the springs missing from the box. This is not the first Bladerunner I have purchased so my thought was it was just not put into the box. So I contacted Super-Vee and now I am told that they no longer include these parts in what they call their Tremolo “kit.” They expect you to pay an additional $4.95 for these parts. They seem to expect that you purchased the Bladerunner as a replacement for another existing tremolo.
My issue is that this is a $200 tremolo and they are holding back which is about $3 worth of parts and their website does not clearly indicate this. In fact calling it a “kit” implies all the parts are there.
Individual Uni-Mount BladeRunners
All Individual Uni-Mount BladeRunners come standard with an untipped, plain bar and Super-Vee Sustainium block.
Note: Uni-Mount fits both Six-screw and Two-post configurations. For Two-Post configurations, you will need to purchase a Two-Post adapter set below.
They mention needing to purchase Two-Post adapter if needed, but nothing on the claw and screws that anyone would need for a new install! Very annoying and now I am waiting for these parts. I have not seen any other tremolo maker not include the claw and screws. Not happy about this as it slows down the project. Ridiculous!
Super-Vee gets credit as when I complained and pointed out the website does not mention not including the parts they are sending them free with the following statement:
“Our apologies, yes, 99% of our customers are retro fitting our bridges into an existing guitar. The problem was, as I stated before, that claw screw mounting holes are all over the map, so at least a third of our customers were upset that our claw did not fit their set up, so we were forced to discontinue it from the kit since there is no way to accommodate every claw mount out there…and customers did not understand that.
Plus, if you read the contents of what’s included in the kit on our Products page, we do not mention claw or claw screws.
I will go ahead and send you a claw and claw mounting screws, you should receive them next week sometime. Cheers”
So problem solved, but will take a few extra days to get the needed parts.
The rest of the parts have arrived so I got working.
I have no intention of using a tremolo cover on this guitar. I am going to leave the springs exposed.
Guitar holds tuning quite well even when using the tremolo a lot. The Super-Vee Bladerunner is probably one of the most stable non-locking tremolo systems you can get. Plus this guitar has locking tuners, LSR roller nut and no string trees. Thinking of adding a Super-Vee Mag Lock device. This will improve tuning when double bending strings.
The final weight is a nice 7-lbs 9-ozs.
I will update with higher quality pictures when I get a chance and stop playing it!
Tony McKenzie Black Korina Videos
Demo for the Super-Vee Bladerunner Tremolo