Shape: Double cutaway
solid-body - The Strat shape has emerged as the most desirable and
useful. Notice that "super Strats" have become the guitars of
choice in any guitar-centric genre, but there's no such as a "super Les
Paul," and that isn't because the latter are their own superlative sans
adjective. The Strat style/configuration just makes playing
Top carved, ergonomically
countoured - I like how flat faces show off their wood/finish (see
the EBMM Axis, for example), but carved tops are more alluring overall,
and they mesh well with the body countouring instruments really ought
to have to play comfortably.
Wood: Alder/Ash - My Strats
are made out of it, and they sound great even unplugged. Screw
mahogany! Soft woods have the tone I like.
Routing: Rear - I don't
need the big pickguard covering up the top. Aesthetically that
doesn't make sense at all.
Quilt (green or blue) with
binding - Flame is nice, but quilt looks more like a finish than
markings. And I've always been drawn particularly to green or
Carved heel - This is a
feature on my EBMM Axis, and it makes it very, very easy to play.
Trem: Trans-Tremolo by
Steinberger - This may negate my desire to include other options
like piezo, but the versatility is amazing. A tremolo ranks among
my essentials on any guitar though. I really don't consider many
guitars now without one, and I've looked into adding one to some
guitars I already own that aren't presently trem-equipped.
Width: Narrow -
The best neck I've ever played on is my EBMM Axis, and that's about as
wide as any two fingers side-by-side. I have gotten used to the
wide Ibanez ("Wizard") necks and understand their appeal, but I just
love the way the Axis plays.
Tuners: 6 in-line, locking -
Even though I have plenty of 3x3 guitars, I prefer the idea of keeping
all the tuners in a row. That just makes sense to me. I
like the ergonomics of reverse headstocks as well, but I haven't tried
it in practice to see if it really would suit me. And locking
tuners are a no-brainer. Better tuning stability, and there's far
less winding in a string change.
Headstock: Straight (not
angled) - I never understood why a headstock needed to be angled
when string tees accomplished the same thing without turning the head
even further away from the audience than the neck already was. I
would even go headless but for the fact that tuners circumvent the
hassle of having double-ball strings available.
Fret markers: None - Yes,
that means no dot inlays! Dot inlays are the ugliest, stupidest
tradition in guitardom. They're unneccessary since the side dots
serve the guitarist, so the fretboard inlay is only for the benefit of
the audience. There are many styles of inlay I do like very much,
but my ideal guitar is about streamlining, so I always envision an
instrument without inlay. Besides, inlay rarely looks good on
maple, which is my preference anyway.
Frets: 24 - Again, this
seems like the obvious choice. I'm always reaching for extra
notes that guitars (Strats especially) don't make available. You
don't have to use the frets every time you play, but they're there when
you want them.
Fretboard: Maple (birdseye; no
binding) with heavy gloss - I like the look of birdseye, but mainly
I love the sound and feel of maple with a thick layer of gloss finish
on top. It allows for smooth string bends like your fingers are
gliding over glass. This is opposed to something like rosewood,
where you have to push counter to the grain of the wood in order to
pitch up. My second choice would be ebony (where the grain is
less of an issue visually or tactily), but I prefer maple above all.
Joint: Bolt-on - For all
the talk about set necks and thru-body necks, bolt-on necks perform
just fine, and I actually prefer the freedom to swap out a neck if the
desire suits me.
Chrome - I think
this is the best choice. I don't like gold (and it wears off
eventually anyway), and black is too dull on most guitars, unless
you're going for a "dark" look, which I'm not.
Knobs - I haven't decided,
but I think conventional barrel knobs are the best choice on guitars
with push-pull pots, though I also like anything that marks positions
(especially the old Steinberger knobs that had a little pointer to
them). It would be nice if they were jeweled too.
Alternatively, stacked knobs may be a better choice, depending on how
the control configuration plays out. But I would have a
chicken-head pointer knob on the varitone; that's just the best choice.
neck humbucker = mini (single-coil-size)
Make/Model/Tone: I don't know,
because no pickup can be all the things you want at a given
moment. For example, I like the look of blade/rail style pickups,
but I don't have a particular model I'm draw to. I like "blank"
pickups like most Lace and EMG models, but I couldn't single out one of
those. Ideally, there should be no hum in single-coil mode, which
again pretty much limits me to Lace and EMG models.
Now to be specific to the
Neck pickup: TBD - I like a
throaty sound with some brightness. I don't want a particularly
heavy tone; I need clarity. I think mini-humbuckers are better at
this than full-sized models.
Middle pickup: TBD - I
don't have any requirements for this beyond matching the output of the
other pickups, just so they'll blend when I mix them.
Bridge pickup: TBD - One of
the goals I have in a bridge pickup can be both bright/clangy and
heavy. You can't get both at the same time, but so long as
switching (e.g., coil tap, selecting between coils, etc.) allows that,
I'll be happy.
Attachment: direct mounted -
I like the way this looks. There are myths about how it affects
the sound, none of which are founded in anything but a placebo effect.
Side Jack - Makes
for the best position. I know the Jem jack works well for being
on stage, but I mostly play in front of my computer, and I switch
between guitars a lot, so accessibility of the jack is more important
than stability. Also, the square LP-style jack plate, not the
football. I don't like anything related to football except
Pickup selector: 5-way blade -
This remains the most intuitive control for anything more than two
pickups. It is also possible accomplish mods such as auto-coil
tapping with even a stock 5-way selector, but you can do even more with
custom version. I like it because the standard configuration
works best in combination with some other mods.
Row of three mini-toggles:
Options - Many of these things could be accomplished via other
approaches (e.g., push-pull pots, auto-tapping via the 5-way, rotary
switches, etc.), but I was thinking about having switches to control a
series/tap/parallel switch for each humbucker and another for the phase
of the middle pickup.
Unmastered tone control - I
almost never adjust the tone on my bridge pickup, only the neck, so I
just need one tone knob for that, not a master tone control.
Master volume - I don't
adjust pickups individually. I have a matched set that I can
switch between. For rare vol adjustments or swells, one knob is
Varitone - I like the
freedom of all the tone changes of a notch filter (or to bypass and
just use a regular tone control).
Terrific device that enables all sorts of new and modified playing
styles. I've never had one (though tried it before) but would
Piezo bridge (with EQ... and
pre-sets) - I like the added possibilities of this, even though I'm
not much of an acoustic player. Note: I would add a blender
rather than separate volume controls and/or switching.
Modeling - I love what the
Variax can do. It renders conventional pickups redundant, but I
would like something similar anyway.
Midi - This is a nice
option to have, although I have to admit that I don't use the
midi-converting guitar/synth I already have as often as I should.
Preamp - I like the boost,
but I also like the ability to shape the tone. I've had preamps
of several kinds in several of my guitars (as well as active pickups
without any special controls), and I've usually liked those a lot.