Dragen – Mutant

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This is a strange guitar. It is a mutant because it has something of many different electric guitar features. It has been my test bed for many process and experiments.

I saw a guitar on Ebay for well less than £100 that seemed to have the perfect spec. Mahogany body, mahogany set neck. Seymour Duncan (designed) hum buckers. Grover tuners. I snapped it up. The make is Samick designed by Greg Bennett.

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The sustain was good the humbuckers were equal to my genuine Les Paul. But the bluddy thing would NOT stay in tune. I showed it to a Luthier friend he laughed and said “firewood”. By am an engineer first and I had a nice neck in stock.

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I just clean cut off the neck (helped me to understand how a truss rod fits and works). I then routed a pocket for the neck.

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The new neck bolted on Fender stylee but now I learnt that it was a 25.5″ scale and the previous was 24″. This meant that the Telecaster style bridge was in the wrong place. I simply fitted a Stratocaster type bridge in the correct position. I like the mahogany, instead of the metal Tele bridge. The scratch plate needed a tweak with a file in the vice. The finish of the guitar needed no touch up. I like the Hipshot design so that is what I used. To mount the Humbucker I used chrome rings knowing that the bridge pickup would sound warmer connected directly to the mahogany.

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While I was at it I replaced the pots with bigger better pots and switch which required the slot in the body to be enlarged. I also swapped the components around as I find the Tele three way is too easily knocked (Paul does it all the time) so I turned around the plate putting in first the volume control then the tone and last the switch.

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The neck looked lovely. I love the pearl vine inlay. The headstock was a big old paddle ready to be trimmed to size. I studied many pictures of head stocks and then designed mine. This was to be my signature six a side headstock. I reverently cut it with my jig saw.

However this was the first neck that I have purchased that needed the height of the frets lowered and levelled. I knew this as soon as I played it. I could vary the pitch depending how hard I held down the string and with a low action some frets buzzed.  I had to do some research that led me to buy some special tools. I bought a rocker gauge that proved what I though and showed me where the frets war exceptionally high. I bought a fret levelling beam. Mine is simply a good quality spirit level to which I double side tape 80 grit emery cloth bought on a roll. I also bought a crowning file.

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After masking the fret board I used a Sharpee marker to show me where to work my beam. I just had to use a blue pen to honour my old tool room experience with “engineers blue”.  After working the crowning file to return the curve to the top of the frets. I polished them but after playing them I realised that they benefit from a serious polishing to get those easy slippery bluesy string bends. I did them again, this time with felt pads and jewellers rouge on my Dremel. Finally I shaved down the maple neck to 20mm and sprayed it leaving it natural.

This is now the guitar I love to noodle around The Blues on. Not only does it sound the part, but the fretboard and neck plays like a dream. I find the vine inlay helps my photographic memory to route my way round the fretboard. I now love this guitar.

Though it truly is a mutant.This guitar has taught me SO much.