[The following article was submitted by jag-stang.com visitor Lonnie. He was inspired to share the story of his strat-stang creation after reading about the Fender Mu-uar in a previous post. Please enjoy Lonnie’s great story below. ]
Back in 1981 a high school buddy loaned me 1966 Mustang and allowed me to string it left-handed to try it out. Even with that awkward setup that neck fit my hand perfectly. I could not find a lefty Mustang anywhere so I ended up buying a Strat instead, which had its own nice features, but I never forgot how much I liked the feel of that Mustang neck.
Then in 1994 I walked into a music store and saw a new lefty reissue Mustang. I wanted it badly but I was unemployed and broke so I had to pass it up, swearing that I would someday come back and buy it. A year later I had a good job and was on my feet again, but when I went back to that music store I found out the Mustang had already been discontinued.
I kept looking and in 1998 I bought a `96 Jag-Stang (image) new for an astonishing $330. The neck was fantastic–heavenly! It felt just like the neck on my friend’s old Mustang. The body, however, was a different story. Sitting or standing, I just couldn’t get comfortable with it. I wished I could put that Jag-Stang neck on a Strat body but I knew they would not be compatible.
Then I remembered Warmoth made a 7/8 scale Strat body and I contacted them and asked if it would work. The owner at the time, Ken Warmoth, explained that he had designed the 7/8 body back in the 70’s as a direct replacement for a Mustang body, so the project was a go. In 1999 I ordered an alder body with hardtail bridge (let’s face it, tremolo just does not work on a 24″ scale) and fire engine red gloss polyurethane. I also had to buy a pickguard and bridge that specifically fit this body. I sold all the extra Jag-Stang parts to finance the purchase.As any Fender tinkerer knows, American Fenders were built with S.A.E. measurements and Japanese Fenders are Metric so mixing those parts require a little bit of nudging.
I had to slightly widen the neck pocket to accept the JS neck. After a lot of sweat and prayer it came together nicely. My goal was to build a Strat-stang, a hybrid of the parts I liked from the Strat and Mustang. As you can see from the photos, I chose a Strat contoured body, pickguard, pickup setup, bridge and jack, but with a Mustang scale and knobs.
The bridge pickup is from the Jag-stang and the other two are temporaries from a Squire Strat, and eventually they will have solid black Mustang covers. I always liked the flexibility of the Strat Elite pushbutton pickup selector and incorporated that as well. I don’t like having the volume knob so close to the bridge so I plugged that hole and used the Mustang’s 1 volume/1 tone setup. Strat knobs are numbered right-handed which makes them confusing in a lefty setup; I prefer Mustang knobs because they’re easier to grip. I chose red, white and black to mimic the color scheme of my beloved `73 Musicmaster bass.
The guitar is a terrific success. It is a joy to play, lightweight,absolutely comfortable and sounds delicious with acres of surfy twang and slink. I coated the routings with NickelPrint, which is a conductive paint that acts as a reasonably good EMF shield, and covered the back of the pickguard with aluminum foil duct tape. The end result is a silent guitar with no crackle or hum. I use D’Addario Light Top/Heavy Bottom strings, which seem to work well with the short scale.
My boss’s band has a lefty guitarist who has played it on a few occasions and loves it, wishing he had one of his own. I had hoped to build another with humbuckers to act as a pseudo Les Paul, but that leads to the down side of the story:
Two years ago I called up Warmoth to order a 7/8 scale pickguard cut for humbuckers, with the intention that if it sounded good like that I would order another body and build a second guitar. To my dismay I found out that Warmoth had been sold and they were no longer making any 7/8 scale parts. Worse yet, they had even tossed out the old templates. So now my StratStang is literally a one-of-a-kind.
To add insult to injury, Warmoth now makes Mustang parts and Fender is producing Mustangs yet again–both right-handed only. Needless to say, my opinion of Warmoth is just as obscene as my opinion of Fender.
Additional photos below. Click thumbnails for larger images.
[Authored by: Lonnie]