For a long time, my son’s favorite band has been Dire Straits. “Has been”? Yes. I don’t know if it is still his favorite – I don’t ask him every day “what’s your favorite band today?” – but I know he likes their music a lot. So I chose the words ‘has been’ because the present perfect progressive tense perfectly describes something that began in the past, continues in the present, and may continue into the future.
And of course Mark Knopfler is one of his favorite guitarists and Sultans is one of his favorite tunes.
He is also learning the guitar and so I thought for his 21st birthday, I would build him a guitar, a tribute to Knopfler and the guitar he played on the original Sultans of Swing recording – a red Fender Stratocaster with a maple neck.
As Knopfler himself said about the song, “As for the actual solo, it was just more or less what I played every night. It’s just a Fender Twin and the Strat, with its three-way selector switch jammed into a middle position. That gives the song its sound, and I think there were quite a few five-way switches installed as a result of that song.” No doubt.
Because this is a Knopfler-centric post, I’ll provide another interesting link for the music archeologist and true Knopfler fan in the audience. This is the isolated master recording of the guitar in the original Sultans of Swing recording.
Now onto the guitar. I don’t know what pickups Knopfler had in his Strat, likely some older Fender single coils, but older Fender single coils are very noisy and I wanted to use something a little more high tech. So this tribute guitar is using Zcore pickups from Lawing Musical Products. These pickups use a single coil and magnet per pole piece, reversing the wiring and magnet polarity to produce noiseless single coils with no dropout as the strings move back and forth. You can read more about them here, on their blog, which I highly recommend. Here is an exploded diagram:
Beyond this change of pickups, the guitar is a basic stratocaster type, but using a chambered body, for lightness. The wiring begins.
I used the wiring diagram I put together for my daughter’s Holocaster.
Setting the pickguard in place, ready to drill the pickguard holes:
Putting on the bridge and adding a self-portrait:
On goes the neck,
Now it’s time for a little set-up:
A neck plate from a long lost Fender guitar, just because it’s cool:
And a pic of the Schaller locking tuners in satin pearl and the maple neck:
In the sun: