This is a combination of blog posts from 2010 and at the end I sum up what happened:
Sometime in 2010: After planning to do this for over a year and half, today I finally ordered my Stratocaster conversion neck. It changes the scale from 25.5″ to 24.75″, from the usual Fender scale to the Gibson scale. It should make it a bit easier for me and my smallish hands to play my Stratocaster. There are many choices of exotic woods and at first I was planning on getting something really unusual looking (and maybe unusual sounding, too) but I decided that since I’m not even sure I’m going to like the shorter scale on the Strat, for the first neck that I get, I should get the least expensive option and also the more traditional option of a maple back with a rosewood fretboard. If I like the way it sounds and feels I’ll be more adventurous next time. Even with ordering the plain old maple and rosewood, there are many choices involved and I had to learn some things about guitars that I had never even thought about like neck radius, fret gauge, etc… etc… I was going to get a straight radius neck because that’s what I’m used to on the Strat, but then I found out that this costs extra (annoying, but true), so since I’m curious about playing on a compound radius anyway, I went with that. I’m going to finish the neck myself with Tru-Oil which is made for finishing gun stocks (the wood part on the gun). I might like to tint the oil, but I’m not sure what to use for that, I’ll have to do some more research, I guess. The only extra that I sprung for was for the abalone position markers. As I typed that last sentence I suddenly wondered to myself if perhaps abalone was endangered, I Googled it and sure enough it IS endangered! I hope the abalone that they use on my neck comes from sustainable abalone farms! For all I know that may not even be ecologically sound because I know some people say fish farms are not healthy for some reasons that I don’t fully understand. Oh well… it’s really a very small amount of abalone….. sigh…
I received the new guitar neck yesterday. It’s very pretty, much too pretty for the guitar body that I, at least initially, will be on putting it on, which was very very beat up by it’s previous owner. I am noticing things that bother me about the neck already unfortunately. I’m starting to regret not having paid extra for the Fender radius, the flatter radius (compound) looks strange to me and though I won’t know until it’s put together and I’ve played it, I have a feeling the flatter neck will feel strange in my hand. Also the rosewood board hangs over the pickguard which means I’ll have to take the neck off to take the pickguard off which I’m sure will be a nuisance at some point. Also, I measured the scale and it’s 25″ not 24 3/4″ which is what it’s supposed to be. Of course the company that I bought it from is closed for the weekend so I can’t call them and ask about this, which now leaves me with a dilemma because I had wanted to started putting the finish on it this weekend and that would mean I can’t return it. I think I’ll take the neck off another Strat that I have and see what the scale is with the neck on that guitar.
I’ve decided not to stain this neck, the oil will give it an amber tint or so I’ve read, so I’m just going to see how that looks. I was going to put the first coat of Tru-oil on today and then go pick up the tuning machines that I ordered. The first coat of oil has to dry for 24 hours before the second coat. The 2nd coat will be the tricky one I think because I’m going to wet sand it to fill the grain, I’ve never done this before but did some reading about it last night.
UPDATE 05.10.10 I called the guitar neck making company today and told them that the scale seemed to be too long. I had to send them a photo of the neck on the guitar with me measuring it to help them to believe that it really wasn’t 24 3/4″ like it’s supposed to be (it’s a conversion neck). They were real nice though and apologized and told me to send it back. I’ll be interested to hear what they have to say about it. As long as I’m sending it back, on the replacement I’m going to get the Fender radius and mother of pearl dots and perhaps even bigger frets as well, though I’m not sure about the frets. I like the frets that are on the standard Strat and thought I was ordering something similar, they are very similar but seem a bit smaller. The weird thing is though that their next fret size up are really apparently quite large, so large in fact that on the Fender site it says my fingers won’t even touch the fretboard, it may feel weird but it’s actually supposed to sound better. But… I guess this means I will have to wait another 4-6 weeks.
UPDATE 07.07.10 After I sent that neck back, the company that I bought it from insists that it’s the correct scale, but I measured it and even took a photo of me measuring it. It was 25″, not 24.75″. I’m not sure what I will do at this point. Perhaps I’ll buy another conversion neck, maybe from a different company, or maybe just live with the 25″ version if I reorder from the same company. Or…. maybe I’ll switch to Gibson, Epiphone or ….? For now… I’m not going to worry about it too much, I’ve got other issues that need attending to.
I did end up sending that neck back shortly after I bought it. It wasn’t as small as advertised and the small difference in size between a real Strat neck and the replacement didn’t make enough of a difference. I’m still playing the beat up Stratocaster (which I adore) with a regular Stratocaster neck that I took off of a Mexican Stratocaster and then sold the body to a very kind and grateful man on craigslist, we both ended up being very happy with our Frankenstein Stratocasters. I would still like to find a neck I like as much in a smaller size but I doubt I ever will, I’m good with what I have for now, especially since I barely have time to play these days anyway.