Brody VH's First Frankenstrat Build
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  1. #1
    Big Bad Bill
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    Default Brody VH's First Frankenstrat Build

    After years of wanting to do this, I'm finally going to take the plunge and build a Frankenstrat. I've decided to go with a '78 for a few reasons:
    First, it's a little bit easier to paint.
    Second, I love the black and white Franky. I almost bought the EVH Striped version earlier this year, but the wait time was ridiculous.
    Finally, I believe I'll be able to make this on a very reasonable budget.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not going all in to make the most accurate replica known to man. My goal is to make it as accurate as possible while still saving a little bit of money.

    To give credit where it is due, I was inspired to do this because of this video I was recommended on YouTube:


    I recommend watching the full video because it's really good, but if you don't have time here is the basic idea: To build this on a reasonable budget, this guy took an old Starcaster by Fender Strat and transformed it into the black and white Franky. This is cool for me because I actually have one of these guitars.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Granted, this one has a rosewood fretboard, but I don't love this neck anyway so replacement isn't an issue. Either way, a huge thank you to my soon-to-be wife for giving me her old guitar she doesn't play. I believe this has a basswood body, so it's a decent wood. Additionally, the body is full thickness so I can use a slightly wider variety of tremolos.

    Before I get started on disassembly, sanding, etc., I just need a little advice/resources from anyone who is interested:
    • Does anyone have any painting advice/tips?
    • It would help if anyone has a stripe template and/or high res photos. I've got the Zloz books, but more photos would be great.
    • Any advice on affordable but good quality hardware? I'm thinking of primarily going with Guitar Fetish stuff, but other recommendations are welcome!
    • What is my best option for a neck, Musikraft or Mighty Mite?


    Thanks in advance for your help! I can't wait to share this process with everyone!
    I'm just here.

    Hotty Toddy, gosh almighty,
    Who the hell are we? Hey!

    Flim flam, bim bam,
    Ole Miss, by damn!


    "I can't complain but sometimes I still do" - Joe Walsh

    Rest In Peace, Edward Van Halen. Thank you for the memories.

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  3. #2
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    Congrats on taking the plunge! Building the guitar that is, not getting married just kidding of course--congrats on both.

    I did the same thing as you, actually. I had an old Fender Squier that was black with a white pickguard and a maple neck. You can check out the build thread here if you want. I had a maple neck on it, and although it wasn't 100% accurate, it gave the right look to the guitar and made the process super easy.

    First piece of advice, get an electric sander if you don't have one already. I sanded the finish off by hand it was a miserable endeavor. It took forever, made a giant mess, and it was really unnecessary in retrospect. You'll probably still need to hand sand some of the smaller areas like around the horns, but it will save you a ton of headaches.

    I probably didn't have to sand mine back to the wood like I did, but I thought I might end up relicing it at some point (I didn't) so it felt like a good idea at the time. As for templates, I don't have any on hand, but if you just google image search "frankenstrat tape template" you'll see a bunch of options.

    As for necks, I haven't purchased one from either, but I've heard nothing but good things about Musikraft. I just swapped out the existing hardware, although I did buy a brass nut to put on at one point but just never did. The tremolo system was never quite functional to where it needed to be on my Fender so I figured it wasn't worth the hassle. I could get away with some slight tremolos on sustained notes, but if I tried to give the same abuse Ed did with dive bombs it would, and still does, go completely out of tune. He did so much voodoo to make his work that I just didn't bother with it until I did the RBW frank where I could put on a Floyd Rose.
    CNN may think my opinion matters, but you shouldn't.

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  5. #3
    Big Bad Bill
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    Default First Update

    Well, as of right now I've made a little bit of progress.

    First, I stripped the guitar down to the body. I began some preliminary sanding by hand, but man I can't wait to be able to use a friend's sander to get the rest of the finish off.

    Second, I ordered a Duncan Designed HB-102 for the bridge. It's supposed to be a copy of a JB. I know it's not really the sound of the first Van Halen album, but I'm just happy to save a little money where I can while still getting a good product.

    Third, I got the required 3/4 inch masking tape and 1/8 inch black pinstriping tape.

    The obligatory photo update:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Lastly, I'm needing to make a small sim for the pickup because of how deeply cut the pickup rout is. Does anyone know the best way to do this? Should I order a small board of basswood, or should I just get some scrap wood from a hardware store? Thanks!
    I'm just here.

    Hotty Toddy, gosh almighty,
    Who the hell are we? Hey!

    Flim flam, bim bam,
    Ole Miss, by damn!


    "I can't complain but sometimes I still do" - Joe Walsh

    Rest In Peace, Edward Van Halen. Thank you for the memories.

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    Default Brody VH's First Frankenstrat Build

    Yeah getting the paint off of those thick polyurethane finishes is very hard. I have an old Strat guitar like that that I want to sand down and do something fun with, but man trying to sand that stuff off by hand is nearly impossible.

    Iíve told this before, but I usually just use some small plastic tubing and cut them and put them under the legs as a shim. A luthier I used to go to years ago told me about doing this.
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    Yeah we had that same discussion in my build thread, lol.

    I ended up securing the pickup to the pickguard rather than mounting it directly to the body. That's the way the pickup was designed to be attached so I just went with it. We originally put a couple of scrap wood pieces under the legs with the intention of securing it to the body, but it wasn't worth it in the end.
    CNN may think my opinion matters, but you shouldn't.

  10. #6
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    Default Second Update!

    First, I just want to say I'm not a big fan of sanding. That said, I'm really glad I could borrow a sander because trying to do this by hand was awful.

    Here's what the body looks like after sanding it down to a 320 grit.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    While I was at it, I test sprayed a small poplar board I bought to see how the paint would look. Considering this was just a quick test, this looks pretty great.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here is the pickup I bought for the project. It's a Duncan USM HB102B, their overseas-made JB type pickup.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    All in all, I'm very excited by the progress. Here's what I need to order next (in no particular order):

    • Hipshot staggered Grip-Lock tuners. I figured not having to drill holes on a headstock would make this easier.
    • New bridge, probably one from Guitar Fetish. Or a MIM Fender. I haven't decided lol.
    • Assorted hardware, including a new 500k Pot, tone knob, string tree, and pickguard.
    • A neck, most likely a Musikraft '78 Frankenstrat neck. I figured I'd rather spend a little more for a nicer/more accurate neck than Mighty Mite.


    Of course, my real next step is to get married this Saturday and go on a honeymoon, so I won't be working much on this project for a week or two.



    The next step for me is actually getting married this Saturday, so I'm gonna be a little bit busy
    I'm just here.

    Hotty Toddy, gosh almighty,
    Who the hell are we? Hey!

    Flim flam, bim bam,
    Ole Miss, by damn!


    "I can't complain but sometimes I still do" - Joe Walsh

    Rest In Peace, Edward Van Halen. Thank you for the memories.

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    Default Brody VH's First Frankenstrat Build

    Married??!?! Dude youíre like 15.

    Haha congrats! I think. Iím kidding.

    And yes sanding is a bitch. I have a body just like yours that I want to sand down but I donít have a sander and I really donít feel like doing it by hand, so itís just sitting there staring me in the face.

    And obviously you should be taking the guitar and your paints with you on your honeymoon. Duh! Get your priorities straight dude.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brody VH View Post
    First, I just want to say I'm not a big fan of sanding. That said, I'm really glad I could borrow a sander because trying to do this by hand was awful.

    Here's what the body looks like after sanding it down to a 320 grit.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_2038.jpeg 
Views:	25 
Size:	507.7 KB 
ID:	5577
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_2039.jpeg 
Views:	20 
Size:	503.4 KB 
ID:	5578

    While I was at it, I test sprayed a small poplar board I bought to see how the paint would look. Considering this was just a quick test, this looks pretty great.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_2037.jpeg 
Views:	26 
Size:	522.7 KB 
ID:	5579

    Here is the pickup I bought for the project. It's a Duncan USM HB102B, their overseas-made JB type pickup.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_2040.jpeg 
Views:	15 
Size:	688.0 KB 
ID:	5580

    All in all, I'm very excited by the progress. Here's what I need to order next (in no particular order):

    • Hipshot staggered Grip-Lock tuners. I figured not having to drill holes on a headstock would make this easier.
    • New bridge, probably one from Guitar Fetish. Or a MIM Fender. I haven't decided lol.
    • Assorted hardware, including a new 500k Pot, tone knob, string tree, and pickguard.
    • A neck, most likely a Musikraft '78 Frankenstrat neck. I figured I'd rather spend a little more for a nicer/more accurate neck than Mighty Mite.


    Of course, my real next step is to get married this Saturday and go on a honeymoon, so I won't be working much on this project for a week or two.



    The next step for me is actually getting married this Saturday, so I'm gonna be a little bit busy
    Very cool!

    Congrats on the marriage! I hope the bridesmaids will be wearing Van Halen stripes?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brody VH View Post
    First, I just want to say I'm not a big fan of sanding. That said, I'm really glad I could borrow a sander because trying to do this by hand was awful.

    Here's what the body looks like after sanding it down to a 320 grit.
    Have you broken through any of the sealer on that body? If you havenít youíre probably better off leaving it on. If you have actual bare spots of wood, youíll know it when you start spraying. Itíll be flat and dry.

    Looks good! Have fun... after the honeymoon!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett View Post
    Married??!?! Dude you’re like 15.

    Haha congrats! I think. I’m kidding.

    And yes sanding is a bitch. I have a body just like yours that I want to sand down but I don’t have a sander and I really don’t feel like doing it by hand, so it’s just sitting there staring me in the face.

    And obviously you should be taking the guitar and your paints with you on your honeymoon. Duh! Get your priorities straight dude.
    I've never tried this but...

    https://www.stewmac.com/video-and-id...ar-finish.html
    Last edited by Different Seasons; 04.21.21 at 07:47 PM.

  18. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottyBHarris View Post
    Very cool!

    Congrats on the marriage! I hope the bridesmaids will be wearing Van Halen stripes?
    They may not, but I’m getting my old Van Halen tie back out for this special occasion.
    I'm just here.

    Hotty Toddy, gosh almighty,
    Who the hell are we? Hey!

    Flim flam, bim bam,
    Ole Miss, by damn!


    "I can't complain but sometimes I still do" - Joe Walsh

    Rest In Peace, Edward Van Halen. Thank you for the memories.

  19. #12
    Big Bad Bill
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    Quote Originally Posted by LAD-1972 View Post
    Have you broken through any of the sealer on that body? If you haven’t you’re probably better off leaving it on. If you have actual bare spots of wood, you’ll know it when you start spraying. It’ll be flat and dry.

    Looks good! Have fun... after the honeymoon!
    I’ll keep an eye out for that! Thanks!
    I'm just here.

    Hotty Toddy, gosh almighty,
    Who the hell are we? Hey!

    Flim flam, bim bam,
    Ole Miss, by damn!


    "I can't complain but sometimes I still do" - Joe Walsh

    Rest In Peace, Edward Van Halen. Thank you for the memories.

  20. #13
    Big Bad Bill
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett View Post
    Married??!?! Dude you’re like 15.

    Haha congrats! I think. I’m kidding.

    And yes sanding is a bitch. I have a body just like yours that I want to sand down but I don’t have a sander and I really don’t feel like doing it by hand, so it’s just sitting there staring me in the face.

    And obviously you should be taking the guitar and your paints with you on your honeymoon. Duh! Get your priorities straight dude.
    Hey, when the time is right...

    I don’t know if I could get away with that haha, but I’d like to finish this ASAP
    I'm just here.

    Hotty Toddy, gosh almighty,
    Who the hell are we? Hey!

    Flim flam, bim bam,
    Ole Miss, by damn!


    "I can't complain but sometimes I still do" - Joe Walsh

    Rest In Peace, Edward Van Halen. Thank you for the memories.

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    Default Brody VH's First Frankenstrat Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Different Seasons View Post
    Heat guns are OK but theyíre messy. And you do have to be careful not to burn the body. But they are an easy way to go.
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    I would certainly join the Guitar ReRanch community. There is alot of paint/refin knowledge over there. Plenty of niche products as well.

 

 

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