1970s Frankenstein 12-String Strat-Style Electric Guitar

This guitar is crazy. Buddy Steve wanted me to make him an electric 12 string where all the strings are tuned to the same note. He choose high E for that but... I tuned it down to D across the board. In addition, because this is built from a partser Japan-made Empro/Fujigen Strat body... the dang thing has floating trem/vibrato on it. What?! Yeah!

So, I left a message on his phone after finishing it with the howls and screams this guitar can make. He called back and said, "My Bloody Valentine!" to which I said, "yesssss!" It sounds like a piece of kit Sonic Youth might have stored-away somewhere, too.

The difference here, however, is that this thing plays perfectly. You can play it like a "normal" guitar in this odd tuning and all the fretting and intonation and blah-blah-blah is bang-on. You can also capo it up and down the neck to get it into different keys and then have fun with all sorts of percussive effects to generate odd drones. Even clean and without reverb you immediately get the feeling like you're hearing some sort of Indian drone device. It's a bit like having a swarm of mechanical, sweet-sounding bees dancing around your head.

Work included: fitting the same-period replacement Japan-made 12-string neck, individually snipping and installing Gotoh Kluson-style tuners to the headstock, a fret level/dress, install of 3 new pickups (2x GFS rail-style humbuckers and 1x GFS "goldfoil" in the middle), new knobs and switch tip, modification of the bridge to take 3x threaded straight-style Telecaster saddles, and lots of fussing. It's amazing how much extra time it takes to make oddball projects work. I'm happy to say that this one now works perfectly.

I love the crazy tortoise veneer on the headstock. It matches perfectly with the odd-looking tortoise of the body and spring-cavity-cover on the back.

While the neck is a little narrower than the heel route, shim-ups help it stay in place. I had to recut the very end of the heel a bit to maintain a good look with the guitar. That also let me move the saddles just a little farther back on the bridge, too. This has a 24 3/4" scale length and it (alarmingly) almost adapted perfectly to the original bridge position.

Here's that original bridge with the Tele-style saddles added. I managed to just double-up the original string slots at the trem block to accommodate a pair of strings each. The ball-ends just stack on one another.

While I'd intended to Tele-ize all three knobs, I swapped one for a black "speed knob" because the Tele knobs are so tall. Mr. S. still has the option to swap-over, though. The switch tip is an old bakelite one from my parts stash.

The tuners had an odd spacing that no modern-spec tuners would match, so in the end I had to snip a bunch of normal Kluson-shaped individual-unit tuners to fit. I couldn't just use a lefty/righty Fender  Kluson-style pair of sets as the spacing was just a little too long for those to grab well.


Reese said…
Glamcaster, you mean.
Ivan said…
Crazy fun!!!