Sunday, June 7, 2020

My Failed Attempt At "Operation: Yngwie on a Budget"

Since the age of 15 I've been a fan of Yngwie Malmsteen, and as soon as I found out about the Yngwie signature Stratocaster I wanted one. Hell, as soon as I saw the DOD YJM 308 on Zzounds for $25 (some 13 years ago) I bought one and only recently started using it with my Kalamazoo Model 1. Being the cheap bastard I am I could never justify the price for the signature strat though, so I decided to attempt the next best thing. In 2009 I decided to start Operation: Yngwie on a Budget, which meant I would buy an inexpensive Stratocaster style guitar and fix it up as closely to Yngwie's signature Fender as I possibly could.

I knew I wanted quality wood and a close match in color, so that meant nearly every Squier on the market at that time was out of the question. Internet research lead me to where I found the SX SST57, an alder bodied guitar that was available in what the site listed as a vintage white. Reviews for this guitar seemed extremely favorable and for $100 I almost couldn't turn it down. On the site, the contrast between the white pickguard (triple ply too!) and the so called vintage white was exactly what I was looking for. It looked as close to Yngwie's buttercream as you could possibly get. What arrived was a dented, slightly piss yellow mixed with pure white colored strat with a neck more orange than an Oompa Loompa's dick.

After sitting down with it for a while I didn't really hate the guitar, but there were quite a few problems with it that needed addressed before this guitar would become anything near what I envisioned. However, the more I played it the more I liked it and the more frustrated I became due to the color being completely wrong. The idea of having to repaint it, swap out the neck and replacing all the electronics actually turned me off to the point I used that to rationalize leaving it the way it was. I had grown to love this guitar for what it was, as it was. It's not a top notch Stratocaster by any means but I've since played both Squier and MIM Fender strats that didn't feel as good as the SST57.

Ten years have passed and I recently acquired a Squier neck with the CBS headstock, which I felt would breathe new life into the YJM on a Budget. Sadly, a huge gap in the neck pocket is just too big for me to use anything other than the original neck. That has officially sealed the fate of this guitar. Instead of using this as my YJM clone I'll just be upgrading parts and trying to make this thing a good, cheap strat clone. Sometimes, when the light hits it just right, the paint does seem to be more yellow than it was all those years ago but still not enough to change my mind. I did swap out the bridge for an official Fender PW-29 but the zinc block made the guitar sound way too thin compared to the smaller steel block it originally had. There is also a noticeable gap between the Fender trem and the body, which the original one covered. I like the look of the official trem, but not the tone of the zinc block or the huge gap it won't hide.

Squier neck on SX body.
That gap is far too big to make it work 

For now Operation Yngwie on a Budget has been put on hold. I've thought about finding a candy apple red strat body to pair with the Squier neck, as well as using the PW-29 tremolo, to make a clone of the lesser desired CAR Yngwie Signature model. With some DiMarzio HS3s and the right electronics I think it would make a suitable clone for myself. I may even dabble in scalloping the Squier neck, but all those are just plans right now as I focus more on dialing in the SST57 to be a good stratocaster clone.

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