Dragen – Mutant


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.

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