Meet the Quesocaster! A New DIY Guitar Experiment.

This is my fifth and latest DIY guitar experiment using Warmoth parts. Most of the tech details are in the video, but I’ll share a few additional experiences and impressions.

I’ve been thinking about making something using the Fender Swinger body profile for a couple of years. My earlier Kitschcaster used Wamoth’s Fender Starcaster (“Mooncaster”) body, but when I made it, the company didn’t yet offer a version of that swooping Starcaster headstock. (No biggie — that Starcaster body looks great with a Strat-style headstock.) When they finally introduced a Starcaster neck last year, it occurred to me that the headstock’s curves might go nicely with the Swinger body.

I confess that when I unboxed the parts and saw that screaming orange finish, I had a “What was I thinking?” moment. But the look has grown on me since then. It’s also the first time I ordered a neck with stainless steel frets, which some players rave about. They felt weird at first, and now they feel normal. Now I’m not sure whether I perceive any difference in tone or feel.

I’ve had those Lollar pickups sitting around for a few years. (I previously demoed them as alternate strat pickups.) So I had the guitar routed for them. I’d forgotten how different the P-90 and the “Staple” sound! But they’re complimentary in an oddball way, and they produce cool yet crisp blended tone.

I didn’t decide on the final wiring till I heard the pickups in the body The P-90 has distinctive resonant peaks, so I voiced the bass-cut controls to compliment that. (I have some sort of bass cut in most of my non-vintage guitars.) I don’t love the look of toggle switches, but the Swinger/Musiclander body is too small to permit a third pot in the control cavity.

As usual I’m using expensive but awesome Thomastik-Infeld flatwound strings. No one ever listens, but for the zillionth time I’ll declare that flatwounds are great for distorted playing. When these pickups were designer, flats would have been the reference. And of course, anyone playing one of those early Les Paul Customs before the mid-1960s would have employed flats with that guitar’s P-90/staple pickup set.

I own all the appropriate tools for doing a proper guitar setup, but these days I’m lazy. I set the intonation by ear, and then just guess on the action. I keep a set of hex wrenches on hand while I play, and make adjustments on the fly, eventually arriving at something that feels good. (Same with pickup and pole piece height.) For some reason, it took me a long time to arrive at the right combination of neck relief, bridge height, and saddle height for this instrument. But I wound up with something that feels great. Even though I use heavier-than-usual strings and a wound third string, I’m not macho about the action. I like it as low as possible without buzzing.

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