Most projects that come into PDG are almost a dare: “Do you think you can (enter stupid thing here) in a guitar?” As you can see from our gallery, we don’t say “no” all that often – usually we up the ante: “Cool, but what if I (insert even stupider idea here) and we auction it off for charity?”
The #OCRGivesBack FrankenStrat was the perfect opportunity to blend two of my worlds – as race director and one of the “founding four” of OCR World Championships I was present for the launch of OCR Gives Back in Oregonia, OH back in 2014, and my passion of building guitars to support charities.
Steve McCollum from OCR Gives Back / Back2Back Ministries has been a Punk Daddy Guitars supporter since day 1, and the EVH theme was all his idea – I just cranked it up a little bit!
We started researching Eddie Van Halen’s FrankenStrat and quickly realized building this homage with one of the average Fender Squier Strats we have here in the shop was not going to work – we needed to search a little harder for the “right” guitar. Eddie used a factory second Charvel neck and body and wired up a single humbucker – the mangled 5-way switch and neck pickup are just for show, neither worked! That combination wouldn’t have worked for our build as those components have become quite rare and pricy – and we were thrilled to stumble across an early 90’s (late 80’s?) Korean-made Fender Squier with the absolute right neck and body style – the same headstock shape and a HSS body both in road-worn shape. We purchased it immediately, the hardest part of this project was waiting for it to arrive at PDG in Phoenix!
Right out of the box it played great and sounded nasty – someone had swapped in much hotter pickups at some point in the last 30+ years, but I’d already chosen the humbucker and (unplugged) single coil for the build. Those single coils are going to find their way into another shop guitar soon.
After a quick teardown, the body got a deep scuff and some additional distressing, then marked for the 3.5″ hole for a 2014 OCRWC medal I just happened to have on my office wall. As with Eddie’s Frankie, the black body got some fat masking tape lines and a white spray, followed by another tape job and we switched to green to match the OCRWC color scheme. After a few passes of green paint, we stripped off the vinyl mask and sealed it with around 8 coats of dead flat clear.
The (awesome) neck didn’t need a ton of attention, after sanding down the headstock I tried to make some marks reminiscent of Eddie’s cigarette burns and evened out a few frets with a sanding block.
For electronics, I had a hot Epiphone Les Paul humbucker that I paired up with a new 500k pot and connected to the original jack after shopping up a standard Strat pickguard. Even though the neck pickup is not connected, I decided to use one from Vivi’s first guitar, and then made up a concoction in the center pickup spot where Eddie threw in a mangled 5-way switch. I still happened to have a walkie-talkie from the 2014 & 2015 event, so there’s a chunk of those electronics in a few different spots alongwith a piece of our earlier Vicious SID build as well.
Finally, the time came to drop in the 2014 OCRWC medal, and it just so happened that Kristen had pulled a damaged one out of the medal pile back in ’15 and still had it! We figured this guitar deserved the gritty one, so I ground off the lanyard connector and used some 2-part epoxy to fix it in-place. There was some debate about whether the medal should have the correct orientation when playing or hanging on a wall – I chose the rock ‘n roll position.
Tuesday, June 30 at noon PT, the #OCR Gives Back FrankenStrat goes up for auction on Punk Daddy Guitars’ Facebook Page with 100% of the proceeds going to OCR Gives Back / Back2Back Ministries – so the winner will be making a difference in the lives of kids worldwide AND get this great guitar too!