Wiring the Frankencaster #2

Today I started the physical wiring. This might be a longer post 😉

The very first thing I discovered was that the first parts I received from Stewmac are a total waste of money. Why? For one thing this kit is $65 and I guarantee it contains much less than that in value. I’m sure you could buy the parts individually for less than a third this much – it’s a major waste of money. But more importantly, the switch which comes with this kit is TOO LONG!

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Is that dumb or what? This switch is at least 1/2″ longer than it needs to be and it won’t fit inside my routed body so I had to buy another shorter switch. Who designs a switch and makes it that long? I don’t know but I suspect his middle name is Dipstick. Or maybe Dumbass. Here is a shot mocking up the newer, better switch which I bought from Warmoth.

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The next thing I did was to install the pots and the switch on the pickguard and verify that everything was properly grounded.  I did this by checking the resistance between the cases of the potentiometers and the switch ground and between random places on the copper surface. If two different points are connected through ground, the resistance between the two points should read zero ohms on my ohm meter. Everything looks great!

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Now the actual connecting of stuff begins. This was way more tricky than I expected because in addition to making sure the electrical connections are made between the right components, it all needs to fit into the body cavity, which is much less forgiving and less roomy than than you’d think. Those shielded cables are also a pain to work with. Here is a shot of my workshop (a.k.a. the kitchen table). It turns out I am an amazing solderer.

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Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you – I did solder some leads on the potentiometers to the back of their cases. It’s one way of grounding that lead.

I am mostly done at this point but I have learned a hard lesson. The lesson is that my bridge pickup, which I THOUGHT was a Seymour Duncan JB Trembucker is actually a Humbucker. What does this mean? Well humbuckers expect a center to center distance between the high E and low E strings of 1.93″. Trembuckers expect a string spacing of 2.03″. My bridge is an American Standard Stratocaster hardtail bridge and so needs a trembucker spacing. So I am stalled on installing my second pickup until I can exchange the humbucker for a trembucker. I could probably use the humbucker in an emergency but the result would be that the outer high and low E strings on the guitar would not be centered over the pickup magnets. Would this matter? I’m not sure how much it matters but the mere fact that trembuckers exist suggests it does matter. Anyway, that’s a compromise I don’t want to make so I am going to swap them.

One more point I’d like to make: despite needing a trembucker in the bridge position, a humbucker works just fine in the neck position. Why is that? Because as the strings travel toward the nut, they get closer together so at the neck position, a humbucker works just fine. This is also why you’ll never see a trembucker for sale adverized as being for use in the neck position 😉

Here is where I finished today.

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Now there are fewer pieces to assemble:

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Next will be to install the trembucker when it arrives. Until then, I may switch it up and install the tuning machines on the neck. Or I may take a bath.

 

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