Hi Tech vs Lo Tech
The first job on the Bullet was to get a neck on order, but I’ll cover that a bit later.
Whilst I was waiting for that to be delivered, the second job job was deciphering how to get an accurate pickguard / scratchplate template when I don’t have an original to work from.
My first reference point was a couple of CAD downloads of Strat pickguards to establish the pickup positions in relation to the bridge and the neck. There are a couple of places on line for these but I found an excellent resource at which has lots of different CAD templates for guitars, necks, pickguards and backplates, including various Strats by year :
I downloaded a couple and was surprised at how much they varied over the course of production!
The next reference point was the neck pocket and heel of the neck. For those that don’t know, the Strat and the Tele neck are different at the heel as well as the headstock. Tele heels are flatter, almost parallel with the last fret, whereas the Strat heel has a gentle curve. For my template, this outline had to be taken from the pocket on the guitar rather than the Strat CAD file and further tweaked to fit when the neck arrived. You can see below that it would be impossible to fit a Strat neck without opening up the neck pocket.
Then comes the low tech part!! The Strat template was cut out and placed on the guitar in the right place for the bridge, neck and pickups. Then I over laid this with a blank sheet of tracing paper to take advantage of the last reference point... that gloriously faded Olympic White paint!
This then allowed me to make a grid of measurements from the tracing paper overlay providing references between the Bullet and Strat pickguards. These measurement were then transferred back into CAD and a final (ish) template created.
The abutment to the neck was later tweaked a little more and a minor realignment of the pickups done once the neck was set in place to make sure they were all on a centre line down the neck, but that was pretty much it for creating the paper template... just sorry they‘re not the most visually stimulating part of the project!