Table of Contents

The story behind my first custom-built Warmoth electric guitar, and a guide to building your own.

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I am not endorsed by, directly affiliated with, or sponsored by Warmoth Guitars, nor am I receiving or ever have received any compensation for or special assistance with this documentation. All product and company names are the registered trademarks of their original owners. The use of any trade name or trademark is for identification and reference purposes only and does not imply any association with the trademark holder of their product brand. Views expressed here are my own.

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About Project Orange

Project Orange is a rendition of George Lynch's cult classic orange quilt-maple ESP, famously used in his REH/SGR Instructional Video and to record solos on the Lynch Mob Wicked Sensation album. See the next section for some backstory on the original.

Although the instructional video and album had a tremendous impact on me, and that lead tone is still the best I've ever heard, there was just something about that guitar that utterly inspired me. I've never been big on copying what gear other players use simply to sound like them. For my own music, I want my own thing. George's guitar was, for me, just the exception that made the rule. And in 2003, Warmoth Guitars put it conveniently within my grasp.

My original intention with Project Orange was to build a guitar that was as much a replica as I could afford. But the more I planned it out, the more I thought about my preferences as an original recording artist. For me, capturing enough of 'the look' would ensure the same inspiration as the original, and it has! As a rendition, rather than a replica, I could also live much better with the instrument over the long haul.

Construction of Project Orange was completed on March 20th, 2004. The moment of truth was plugging into my amp (I chose my 50-watt Ross mini-stack), bypassing the effects chain, and strumming an open E major. SWEET!!! Patch in the Boss DS-1 and eventually some delay and chorus (via my Korg G3)... absolutely magnificent!!! Years later I'm still blown away! I've recorded all manner of music with this guitar, from blistering metal to minimalist ambient (and even combinations of those). This is a world-class performer.

Tonally, Project Orange has a very nuanced and articulate tone, with piano-like depth and dynamics. It resonates seemingly forever after being plucked. Wide-open (bridge pickup w/o coil-split), it's punchy, hearty, and has great sustain. Throttled back (neck pickup, with and w/o coil split), it's buttery, warm, and seductive with just the right amount of attack (for me anyway). This was a wonderful investment, with virtually no headaches either.

In 2007, I attended the George Lynch Guitar Dojo summit in Los Angeles and spent a four-day weekend hanging out with him, his crew, and my fellow Dojo brothers. Although George didn't get a chance to play Project Orange, his long-time former guitar tech, Gerry Ganaden, spent quite a bit of time playing it and absolutely raved about it. I also got to play George's GL-56 relic Strat (which was phenomenal and felt like an old favorite pair of shoes) and stickered-up ESP Viper baritone (super-low action!) I did at least manage to get George to sign the back of my headstock in the hustle of the hotel kicking us out.

About George Lynch's Orange ESP

In an effort to help the George Lynch community, I have tried to provide only that information which is self-evidenced, publicly available, and for which I am able to provide sources. I make no claims to know any factual information on this guitar, or its history, aside from this, nor do claim any veracity in the accounts of the individuals listed as sources. I have tried to emphasize all other claims as assumptions and rumor or hearsay. I am wholly open to corrections and additional information that comes with equally or more reputable sources. I do this for the community, gaining only knowledge of one of my favorite guitars. --Micah Ethan Atwell, aka u9

Notoriety & Acquisition

George's guitar is perhaps most recognized from the 1990 instructional video in which he was filmed recording overdubs and solos for Lynch Mob's debut album, Wicked Sensation, but he also toured with the guitar while promoting the album and making appearances at guitar clinics. The guitar was a total one-off, originally a "parts guitar" made by ESP Guitars and pre-dated any of their production standards from the late 80s/early 90s1. ESP used the guitar at the 1990 Tokyo Music Fair in 19892. George had attended the fair while filming his Guitar Bible video and bought the guitar3,1.

Fate & Whereabouts

There exists some confusion and mystery around this guitar and its whereabouts. One point that is fairly established is that the guitar was badly damaged (likely beyond repair). In 2005, I asked George what the actual fate of the guitar was, and he replied, "...[it] got pretty busted up on stage during one of the lynch mob tours. I took my frustrations out on a stage monitor one nite and i lost a good chunk of wood out of the back. It's now a wall hanger in my studio. I was thinking of putting some legs on it and using it as a coffee table."4 At the end of 2006, George was asked about its neck radius and gave this answer, "i loved that guitar! unfortunately, i don't have it anymore after having beaten it to submission. the lord giveth and the lord taketh away. g"3 George had also told a fan sometime before this that he'd given the guitar to his brother-in-law.5 At one time though, his then longtime guitar tech Gerry Ganaden did say George had "let go of it around the end of '92." and that George was "...foggy on where it went". 1,3

Might George have let it go in 1992 and reacquired it? Did it then go to a family member? A photo of the guitar does at least exist (and it's in my gallery, thx Errol!) from 1992 when George was working with Derryl Gabel on Tierra Del Fuego (from the Sacred Groove album). This might be the last public photo of the guitar still in one piece!

A final bit of trivia from Gerry was that the body had a huge wear mark between the Floyd and the forearm contour. This was caused by a metal bracelet that George wore at the time which eventually scraped down to the wood.1,3

Specs & Speculations

Pinning down specs on this guitar is tricky as most can only be verified visually from the available videos/photos. A few other specs have been confirmed and shared by Gerry.

Body Specs

  • Strat-style solid quilt maple (believed to be one-piece, quite rare and expensive)2
  • Orange dye with clear gloss finish (type unknown but most likely nitrocellulose)
  • S-S-H pickup configuration
  • Rear-routed control cavity6
  • Routed for recessed original Floyd Rose tremolo
  • ESP construction

Neck Specs

  • Flame maple bolt-on neck w/Strat-style headstock (rare on non-Fender guitars of the time2)
  • 25.5" scale length2
  • Neck width @ nut: unknown
  • 22-fret ebony fretboard
  • Flat straight-radius (16" or 17")3
  • Jumbo-sized frets (nickel silver assumed)3
  • Standard-arrangement inlay dots (Mother-of-pearl assumed)
  • Side marker dots: unknown
  • Truss rod: unknown (standard heel-adjust rod assumed)
  • Back profile: unknown
  • Possible body-matching quilt maple pegface laminate3
  • Clear finish (gloss nitrocellulose assumed)
  • ESP construction


  • Original ESP bridge humbucker (possibly LH-150 or LH-200) replaced with Seymour Duncan JB2
  • Original ESP middle/neck pickups (likely SH-100s) replaced with Seymour Duncan SSLs2
    (it's worth noting that these two original pickups were still installed during recording of Wicked Sensation, they are clearly visible in the REH/SGR video. SH-100s are visually identical to these and were used in other ESPs of the time)
  • 1 volume pot/knob
  • 1 tone pot/knob (assumed)
  • 5-way pickup selector switch (assumed, a 5-way is standard in this configuration)


  • Originally .012 gauge strings, restrung with .009s2
  • All black hardware
  • Original Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo with string bar2
  • Tuners: unknown (some ESP guitars of this era were using Schecter tuners, others had "ESP"-branded tuners)
  • Standard neck plate6
  • Football-style side jack plate
  • No tremolo cover plate or was removed6
  • Control cavity cover plate
  • Strap buttons (look like strap-locks in REH/SGR video)

Limited Production GL-Series

The original guitar was already considered used when George bought it, so it was never an intention of ESP in being a George Lynch signature/production model. However, due to the popularity of the guitar in George's instructional video, ESP produced a limited run of replicas in their Japanese custom shop featuring a "GL" based serial number on the neck plate.2,1 I can't find my source for this but I was either told or had read that only 25 of these guitars were ever made and that most or all of them went immediately into the hands of private collectors (I could be wrong!). Gerry did say that, over the years, a couple of these guitars had surfaced on eBay.1 As I have never seen any of these production guitars, I could only offer conjecture on what specs they shared with the original and which specs likely differed.

The Mystery Continues (and Deepens?)

There is a photo of an orange quilt ESP posted on the official Mr. Scary Guitars Facebook page (also in my gallery) that differs from the original (standard ESP headstock, little or no quilting on the pegface, additional text ("Custom"?) on the pegface to the right of "ESP", different 12th fret inlay, and only 1 knob (volume pot) rather than 2). What's most interesting here though is that it appears, in context, to be in George's home! If you read the comments for this photo, you can see more mysteries and hearsay abound on the original.


1 George Lynch's Guitar Dojo forum, "That Orange ESP Again", post by Gerry Ganaden (aka LynchTechHead1), December 27th-28th, 2006 (screenshot).

2 GL Gear - Orange ESP, [], January 27th, 2007 (screenshot).

3 George Lynch's Guitar Dojo forum, "The Orange ESP", post by Gerry Ganaden (aka LynchTechHead1), November 1st, 2006 (screenshot).

4 George Lynch Message Boards, "Question of the Month", post by Micah Ethan Atwell (aka u9) c/o Jenifer Rosenberg (aka lynchfan), June 3rd, 2005.

5 George Lynch Message Boards, "ESP in REH video", post by BaggedCereals, December 28th, 2006.

6 YouTube, "George Lynch - Guitar Clinic Japan 1989 Part 1 RARE", 00:03:31, posted by dxvolt, March 26rd, 2013.

Special Thanks

George Lynch: Thanks for signing my pickup and headstock, for spurring me on to build a dream guitar, for the Dojo experience and reviewing my tracks, and for the many years of inspiration, influence, and awesome music!

Gerry Ganaden: Thanks for all the info you've shared with the community on George's gear and especially his Orange ESP. You were a lot of fun to hang with at the Dojo Summit, and I'm still stoked you drove around for so long playing one of my tracks!

Spike @ Warmoth: Thanks for all the referrals to this build page, I'm glad the info has been so helpful!

Warmoth Guitars staff: Thanks for the excellent service and work. This is truly a high-end guitar, and its price and quality have stunned everyone who's seen and played it.

Project Orange Guitar Specifications

Body Specs

  • Strat-style 2-piece solid Eastern maple
  • Bookmatched quilt maple top
  • Orange-dyed top ("Tangerine"), translucent orange back and sides, clear gloss polyurethane finish
  • S-X-H pickup configuration
  • Rear-routed control cavity
  • Routed for recessed original Floyd Rose tremolo
  • Warmoth construction

Neck specs

  • AAA flame maple bolt-on neck w/Strat-style headstock
  • 25.5" scale length
  • 1 3/4" @ nut, 10"-16" compound radius
  • 22-fret ebony fretboard
  • Mother-of-pearl inlay dots
  • 6115 stainless steel extra jumbo frets
  • Double-expanding truss rod with Gotoh side-adjust
  • Thin back profile
  • Clear satin polyurethane finish
  • Warmoth construction


  • Seymour Duncan Screamin' Demon bridge pickup, autographed by George Lynch
  • Seymour Duncan Cool Rails neck pickup
  • 1 MΩ volume pot
  • 1 MΩ pickup-blend pot
  • Coil-split switch for bridge and neck pickups
  • Shielded control cavity


  • GHS Custom Light Boomers (10-46 normally)
  • All black hardware
  • Original Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo (R5) with string bar
  • Gotoh tuners w/Schaller-style heads.
  • Standard strap buttons
  • Standard neck plate w/isolator
  • Football-style side jack plate
  • Tremolo cover plate
  • Control cavity cover plate


  • SKB Deluxe hardshell case


I've received a lot of emails and compliments from people about this guitar, so many in fact that I decided it would be helpful to future builders to have my building experiences readily available here. Please check out the FAQ and build information below and, if your question is not answered, drop me an email. For general build discussion, I highly recommend the Unofficial Warmoth forum (even if you're not using Warmoth parts, you can get a lot of insight and help there). Thanks again for the compliments and visits!

Here are some frequently asked questions...

The Build

The body is in...

The body was exactly as I had anticipated... striking, balanced, heavy, and orange! Like a chunk of decaying uranium, I get warm just standing next to it.

The brightness and hue of the finish varies greatly with light source. In sunlight it is bright orange, like a fireball, and the quilt figure is intense! Indoors under most typical house lighting it appears more reddish-orange and the quilt is a little more subdued. In darker environments and without a camera flash it appears almost red. At first this concerned me, but I began to gauge from photos that George's guitar was much the same kind of chameleon. I do think his might have been a bit more translucent and amber-ish than mine. Still, I'm very pleased with the finish!

George's guitar was a solid quilt maple body (1-piece, I believe). I did have the option of buying a 1- or 2-piece solid quilt maple body from Warmoth (and I really wanted to) but the unfinished body alone was $800 and I just couldn't afford it at the time (also I think the figure of the quilt wasn't as consistent or quite the same grade). I'm not at all unhappy about the body I bought! Anyway, with the right body and cash, an upgrade is totally feasible.

Brighter view of quilt maple figure
Darker view of the quilt maple figure
Another angle of the quilt maple figure
Virtually invisible seam of the laminate top and body!
Solid unfigured maple body

The neck is in...

The neck was very solid and felt great out of the box. At first the AAA flame maple figure didn't appear too visible. But as the finish and wood have aged, it is very evident! You can't look at it from any angle and not see tons of flamey figure. It also outgrew its paleness into a healthy blonde hue. And the ebony board, when cleaned and lemon-oiled, is a black that could rival deep space. Absolutely beautiful!

The neck, front and back
Flame maple figure, new and aged
The front side of the headstock
The backside of the headstock (pre-George'd!)
Branding etc, underside of heel
The side truss adjustment screw

Now, let's get to work...

Shielding the Control Cavity

With all the electronics surrounding us these days, shielding your guitar's electronics is a must. This keeps out electromagnetic interference which manifests itself as noise in your guitar's output signal. Warmoth sells shielding kits which come pre-measured and with an ample amount of copper tape. This stuff is quite sticky and creases very easily (like aluminum foil). Use care when working with it. The optimal shielding job should have as smooth a surface and as few seams as possible, and NO gaps!.

Some of these photos were taken after construction was complete. In some cases the copper shielding tape is not real tape, but rather simulated in Photoshop for illustration purposes. Also, sometimes a different guitar body is shown (my Warmoth padauk Strat body, this is also for illustration purposes.

Also, it appears that Warmoth no longer sells the pre-cut shielding kits. For a rear-routed Strat body, you will need 10" of the 8"-width tape and 21" of the 2"-width tape. Used conservatively, this will lend you plenty of excess for patching up any gaps or for future repair jobs. --edited 4/14/2007

Shielding the sides, or walls, of the control cavity is the easiest part:

  1. Take the piece of 2" copper tape and test fit it around the wall of the cavity (leave the backing on). Make sure the tape is as far down into the cavity as it will go (don't worry about the deeper routing where the pickup select switch goes, this will be patched later). Use your fingers to hold the tape in place as you conform it to the walls, we will be marking the seam where the two ends meet. If the length comes up short on the final placement, you can patch it with the excess but it's better to prevent that extra bit of work.
shielding the cavity walls
  1. With a pencil, mark the spot where the tape overlaps itself. Next, mark a spot at both ends of the tape about 1/4" above the lip of the cavity. This gives you enough tape to wrap over the lip for making contact with the cover plate.
marking the seam
  1. This body has a recessed area along the wall where the pickup wires enter the cavity. To shield this area, I used separate pieces of tape cut to fit each surface (see picture below). This is optional, you can simply cover over it. As long as there are no gaps in the shielding then it will still be equally effective. You will just need to be careful when poking holes through it for the pickup wires, as it will tear easier without anything behind it.
shielding the inner-route
  1. Remove the tape from the cavity and lay it out on a flat surface. Mark a line about 1/4" past the seam, this will be our overlap to ensure solid coverage. Cut along this line with scissors or razor.
remove the excess length
  1. Now, draw a line along the length of the tape that connects the lip wrap-over marks made in Step 2.
remove the excess height
  1. Remove the backing from the tape. Don't worry too much about the bending/creasing as you will be able to smooth it out during and after application. Place the tape inside the cavity and, starting at one end and working towards the other, press it firmly against the wall. Keep some tension on the tape as you use your thumb or fingertip to press it onto the wall, this will help prevent ripples. If you've ever applied window tint or pinstriping, this should be a rather similar process.
  2. Once the tape is in place, you can use a pencil eraser to rub out any leftover bubbles and smooth out any creases. Just be careful that the metal shroud holding the eraser doesn't make contact with the tape or else it will tear up all your work.
  3. For wrapping over the lip, snip the tape in several places around curves and corners so that the tape bends over the lip easily and without wrinkling, tearing, or pulling loose from the wall. Click the picture below for a view of this.
wrap shielding up and over the lip

Shielding the floor of the control cavity is a bit more challenging:

  1. On one half of the large piece of copper tape (copper-side down), trace the outline of your cover plate (with the "out" side facing up). This will be the piece that shields the underside of the cover plate. Give yourself a little extra margin (1/8-1/4") for this pattern, it will help when attaching it to the plate later. Next, turn the cover plate over (upside down) and trace its outline again on the other half of the tape. This will be the piece that shields floor of the control cavity (you shouldn't need any extra margin for this one).
tracing out the cover plate shielding tracing out the cavity floor shielding plate and floor patterns
  1. Now you can cut out the shielding pieces with your scissors or razor knife. Don't forget about that extra margin for the cover plate piece.
  2. We'll get the easy part out of the way first... remove the backing from the cover plate shielding and lay it down, sticky-side up, on a flat surface. It'll want to curl on you but try to get it to lay as flat as you can. Line your cover plate over the top of the tape and press down. With any luck you should have some margin of tape around the edges. If you have any bubbles or ripples, you can gently lift the tape up and smooth them out with your finger or thumb (like we did above with the cavity wall). Trim off any excess tape with a razor.
shielding the cover plate shielding the cover plate
  1. For the next step, you'll need a piece of paper (something thin like notebook paper). On this, make one more trace of the cover plate (doesn't matter which side is up). Next, cut out the pattern just inside the lines, this needs to lay down into the cover plate recess, just like the plate itself does.
making the transfer template making the transfer template making the transfer template
  1. We're going to use the "transfer" technique here to trace the inner outline of your control cavity (as it's not likely to be the same shape as the cover plate). Place the notebook paper pattern over the cavity and hold it in place with your fingers or painters tape. Then, using a pencil, lightly scribble around the cavity edges until you have the entire pattern traced. It doesn't need to be 100% accurate, just a good estimate.
transferring the inner route outline transferring the inner route outline transferring the inner route outline transferring the inner route outline
  1. Now, cut this new pattern out, but give your self about 1/4" of margin all the way around. This margin will be needed for making contact with the tape along the cavity walls.
cutting the inner route outline
  1. Trace this new pattern onto the piece of cavity floor tape (copper-side up!) and cut out the pattern with scissors or razor.
tracing the inner route outline onto the shielding tracing the inner route outline onto the shielding cutting the cavity floor shielding the cavity floor shielding
  1. Make 1/4" snips around the edges of the tape, especially around curves and corners, just like we did when shielding the walls. Then, carefully, peel the backing off the tape. This part sucks due to all the snips and you'll probably tear the backing a few times but it's easier than making the snips after the backing is off. Tip: Use a razor blade to help peel off the backing. Once all of the backing is off, bend the snipped edges upward about 90-degrees (sticky-side out).
prepping the cavity floor shielding
  1. Carefully insert the tape into the cavity. It'll want to stick to the sides but just apply some downward pressure and it'll go down. If not, you can use your fingernail or a knife to peel if off the side and then push downward. Starting at the center of the tape, use your finger and/or pencil eraser to rub outward, removing bubbles and ripples as you go. Once at the edge, you can use a heavy guitar pick to get the tape into the corners. Don't forget to smooth out the overlap onto the cavity walls.
the cavity floor shielding in place
  1. You should have some leftover tape. You can use this to cover any areas that were missed or torn. I used some to shield the entire output jack hole but had to remove most of it to accommodate the jack, just FYI. Use the pencil to poke through the tape where any wires, pots, or switches are to enter the cavity (use your finger to feel around for their locations if you can't see them).
  2. Finally... go take a break!!! You've earned it. This is probably the most tedious and time-consuming part of the build, so you can be especially glad it's out of the way.

Installing the Neck

  1. Remove any wood shavings/burrs in the neck pocket.
  2. Soap the threads of each neck screw.
  3. Insert the neck into the neck pocket.
  4. Position your neck plate (and optionally an isolator pad) on the body.
  5. Begin inserting the neck screws. Go slow and if it gets too tight, stop! Let the screw set for a couple of minutes and try again (this gives the wood some time to safely expand). If it's still too tight, back it out and apply more soap. Also, I don't know if it makes a difference, but I always insert neck screws kinda like tightening lug nuts on a car but in a figure-eight pattern... lightly sinch one screw, then move to the screw at the opposite corner and sinch it a bit, then an adjacent screw, and then the final screw, repeating this sequence until all are properly tight. Voila! Now it's starting to come together.
starting to come together

Installing the Tuners

Despite being one of the easiest parts, this is where I suffered my first problem. During installation, I twisted the head off of the screw for the B-string tuner. The remaining screw is flush with the surface so the only way to fix this is to drill it out, fill and re-drill. However, since the tuner has a locking nut on its post, this hasn't posed any problems with staying in tune or the tuner rotating out of place. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

  1. Insert the tuners into their holes.
  2. Attach the necessary washers and nuts, finger-tight for now.
  3. Use a straight-edge to line up the tuner cases (or the tops of the tuner keys).
  4. Scribe inside the screw holes with a pencil.
  5. Remove the tuners or just turn them so they are out of the way and then drill the pilot holes.
  6. Soap the screws liberally and screw them in, USE EXTREME CARE as these screws are very small and don't have much strength. In fact, knowing what I know now, I would say the first time you screw them in, make it the only time (have the tuners in place and do it as a permanent install). I test fitted mine, backed them out, repositioned the tuners, and screwed them down. That was when I broke that one screw.
tuners installed, but note the broken B-string tuner screw.
  1. Lastly, tighten the locking nuts with a wrench.

Installing the Strap Buttons

This is an easy part.

  1. For the butt-end strap button, mark a spot (optional) on the body centerline at mid-thickness, drill a pilot hole, soap the screw, and screw on the strap button (mine didn't come with felt pads, so I made a couple out of a piece of black suede).
  2. For the horn strap button, mark a spot (optional) on the tip of the horn at mid-thickness, drill a pilot hole, soap the screw, and screw on the strap button. All done!
another progress photo.

Installing the Jack Plate

The jackplate gave me a bit of trouble. For starters, its curve was too shallow so I had to reshape it. This was taken in baby steps as the metal is pretty rigid and I wanted to be careful not to mar its finish. I tried a few ways of reshaping the plate but eventually laid it inside the cup of an old skateboard wheel (a Vision Shredder III, if you must know) and used an old socket wrench, wrapped in a sock, to hammer it into the proper shape. Secondly, the jack I used was to wide, so I had to file down the waferboard until it fit into the jack hole (3/4").

  1. DO NOT install the jackplate without the jack attached to it! Otherwise, you risk alignment issues, possibly leading to filling and re-drilling the screw holes. Attach the jack to the plate and insert it into the hole, then mark your screw holes. Then remove the assembly, drill your pilot holes, and re-install it.
installing the jack/jackplate assembly She's got the Jack[plate]

Mounting the Control Cavity and Tremolo Cover Plates

The Warmoth cover plates come with pre-drilled screw holes, so all you have to do really is place the plate where you want it, scribe the inside of the holes with a pencil or fine tip marker, and drill your pilot holes. Deceptively simple? Of course! The control cavity has a recessed route for the cover plate so you can't get its position wrong. The tremolo cover plate is a different story. We'll tackle the former first...

  1. Place the control cover plate into the recessed route.
  2. Scribe the inside of the screw holes and remove the plate.
  3. Drill your pilot holes.
  4. Replace the plate, soap the screws liberally, and thread each one into its hole.

Installing the tremolo cover plate:

  1. Since there is no recessed route for this plate, you have to rely on a good eye and/or measurements to position it correctly. You can use the control cavity as a good rule for squareness, but you have to keep in mind where the screws are going. It's easier to illustrate this, so be sure to check out the pictures below.
  2. The first part is to figure out where you want the plate in relation to the width of the body (horizontal). Once you have that location defined, use a couple of pieces of masking tape (preferably the blue or green painter's tape) to mark the left and right edges of the plate. You want to make sure that your screws aren't going to get away from you and end up in the tremolo cavity.
plate location, horizontal
  1. The second part is to figure out where you want the plate in relation to the height of the body (vertical). Once you have that location defined, use a couple more pieces of masking tape to mark the top and bottom edges of the plate. Once again, you want to make sure that your screws aren't going to get away from you and end up in the tremolo cavity.
horizontal and vertical boundaries marked
  1. Now, with your boundaries marked and everything looking squared up, simply follow the instructions above for installing the control cavity cover plate. There should be no differences otherwise.

Installing the Bridge

  1. I had some problems inserting the bridge posts due to the finish that had gotten inside the holes. To remove this finish, I used a piece of sandpaper wrapped around a pencil to gradually sand it out (with an up/down motion, working around the hole). I also used a 3/8" drill bit (just slightly smaller than the diameter of the hole) to hone it out a bit. Use care when boring out the holes! If you remove too much material, the posts might not have enough holding power. Too little and you might split the wood when inserting them. Try soaping the outside of the posts before inserting them, and re-soap them anytime you have to back them out.
    Another tip... press the posts in, rather than tapping them in with a hammer (I did both, but got better results with pressing). Use a hard object, but one that won't damage the top of the posts, to press them in (eg, a piece of wood, or in my case an old 95A skateboard wheel). As far as I could tell, the posts do not go down past the body surface, even with a recessed tremolo route.
  2. Screw in the post bolts (the part with which the bridge makes contact).
  3. Turn the guitar over and if necessary, remove the tremolo cover plate.
  4. Soap the spring claw screws. Fortunately, Warmoth pre-drills the holes for these, so we can skip the pilot hole step. Please note, however, that these holes are drilled at an angle (towards the top of the body), they are not parallel with the body top/bottom. Tip: Insert a small diameter screwdriver or similar into the hole to see what the angle is.
  5. Assemble the spring claw/screws and screw it in. Take your time with this step! I have seen several bodies with wood splits at this location! I wasn't sure how far to insert them so I marked each screw in the middle with a permanent marker and screwed them in to that depth. This also gives you a reference point for future adjustments.
  6. Turn the guitar over again and set the bridge down into the tremolo cavity. Hold it in place with your hand while you turn the body on its side. Attach the springs to the spring claw and use a pair of needle-nose pliers to help you stretch the spring out to the bridge block.
  7. Attach the whammy bar to the bridge if you want, though you'll likely take it off again pretty soon. Also, if you want, you can do a preliminary setup to get the bridge level with the body and set to the correct height. I used my Jackson as a reference and set the height so that the bottom of the bridge was flush with the top of the body.

Installing the Locking Nut and String Bar

Installing the locking nut was so easy I won't even describe the process, it just bolts on. The string bar was new for me, however. I didn't know exactly where or how low to mount it so I pretty much just took a guess (and freeze-framed few scenes of Mr. Lynch's Instructional Video). I was more concerned that it was going to pop off and go sailing across the room when I first strung it up. For the record, it popped (but not off) due to not being seated squarely under the screw. Just a minor nuisance when re-stringing but otherwise poses no problems. The installation follows the usual: position, scribe, drill pilot holes, soap screws, install. The following pictures will probably be more helpful for positioning.

string bar positioning, top-view string bar positioning, side-view

Installing the Pickups

We'll start with the neck pickup...

  1. The single coil pickup route is designed for either a pickguard-mounted or body-mounted ("to-wood") pickup. Mine is mounted to the wood. My pickup only came with pickguard-mounting bolts and rubber spacers (rather than springs) so I had to fashion the right assembly. To ensure stability and proper height, I cut out a piece of dense foam (about like Nerf material) to sandwich between the pickup and body. I keep old packing/shipping material around for times like this!
  2. Next, run the conductor cable through the hole into the control cavity and set the pickup in the route (leave out the foam for now).
  3. Scribe the screw holes. If the depth is too much for a pencil or marker, use a small drill bit (don't need the drill, just spin it with your fingers).
  4. Remove the pickup and drill your pilot holes, but not too deep! You won't need a lot of depth anyway, unless you have extra long screws.
  5. Mount the pickup again, this time with the foam underneath it, and screw it down.
neck pickup, before and after

Now for the bridge pickup...

  1. The humbucker pickup route is designed for a pickguard-mounted or ring-mounted pickup, not a body, or "to-wood" mount. If you want a to-wood mount, you'll have to sand any finish out of the deeper side-bouts and glue in wood inserts. If you just use longer screws and tap into the wood below, you'll likely come out through the tremolo cavity! I chose to use the ring-mount.
  2. Assemble the pickup to the mounting ring.
  3. Thread the conductor cable though the hole into the control cavity.
  4. Align the pickup/ring assembly and scribe the inside of the screw holes. You'll need a pencil or marker with a long, fine tip if you have a tall mounting ring. Eversharps (mechanical pencils) work good for this.
  5. Remove the pickup/ring assembly.
  6. Drill your pilot holes.
  7. Soap the screws, mount the pickup/ring assembly, and screw it down.
bridge pickup, before and after

Installing the Pots/Switches

This was the part I feared the most, because it meant drilling three holes through the top of the body! I felt the volume control hole was too close to the bridge pickup on the standard Warmoth configuration, so I did not have them drill the holes for me, opting rather to do this myself. My first concern was splintering the wood and/or finish (known as "tear-out"). I did some test drilling on some scraps of wood and verified that the face that will most likely tear out is the face where the drill bit exits, not enters (assuming a sharp bit). This meant my best option was drilling from the top of the body down into the control cavity.

My next concern was where exactly I was going to enter the control cavity. I made several measurements and markings to predict this, but would they prove to be accurate? The volume control hole was precariously close to the lip of the pickup selector switch routing (which I would not be using since I was not going to have a switch). The hole for the pickup blend control, also a pot, had plenty of room but the actual pot body was pretty close to the cavity wall. The coil-split switch had lots of leg room.

With all the measurements taken care of and feeling fairly confident in my judgement, I pulled out the drill. I started out with a small drill bit, maybe 1/16" or smaller to drill the pilot hole. This would tell me, once in the cavity, how close or far off I was from my mark. If I needed to move my mark around any, the hole would be small enough that I could still readjust the pilot hole position without leaving a trace of this first hole. Fortunately, my marks were almost perfectly accurate. I stepped up the drill bit size and created the full-size holes (3/8" I believe, except for the coil-split switch, that was 1/4"). Definitely try to remain perpendicular to the body when drilling these holes! Use a drill press if you have one. If they are off axis a little bit, you'll see it when you mount the pots/knobs.

Wiring up the Electronics

Since wiring schemes differ from one player to another, I'll just show you a diagram of the wiring for Project Orange, rather than providing detailed instructions. Click the photo below.

wiring diagram

There are a few general points I can make, though:

  1. Use your shielding as the common ground.
  2. Make sure your pot and switch bodies make good connection to the shielding. If they don't or can't, solder a small wire or strip of copper tape to the pot/switch body and the shielding.
  3. Solder all connections, don't just twist wires together.
  4. Keep wire lengths as short as possible, but not taut.
  5. If you want to make a pickup blend control, like Project Orange, use a linear taper pot! I used an audio taper pot because I couldn't find a 1 Meg linear (well, I didn't look too hard). The difference between the two? A linear taper pot increases/decreases the output level at a consistent rate across its travel (knob rotation, in our case), these are used for things like balance controls on stereos because they have a visual and logical "middle". An audio taper pot exponentially increases/decreases the output level. The purpose of this is to more closely simulate how the human ear perceives changes in volume. While these have a center point, the center is not in the logical "middle" of the knob's rotation.
  6. The choice to use linear or audio taper pots for the volume control is subjective. Project Orange has an audio taper volume pot because I ordered all my pots from the same place. I don't use the volume control that much to have a preference, it's either off or full.
  7. Regardless of the type of pot you choose, make sure the pot values are the same on all pots in the output path, otherwise you could create a bottleneck (a 1 Meg pot feeding a 500K pot defeats your purpose, you end up with a 500K pot signal level).

Finalizing the Build

The last steps before the moment of truth:

  1. The Gotoh side-adjust truss rod mechanism has to be set before you string up the neck. Follow the instructions that came with the neck. I don't remember exactly what I did or how, sorry. I haven't had to readjust it since, so I must've done it right.
  2. String it up. I used GHS Custom Light Boomers, gauges: .009, .011, .016, .026, .036, .046
  3. Readjust the bridge height, if necessary.
  4. Readjust the tremolo spring claw (in/out) to level the bridge, if necessary.
  5. Plug it in and take your first test drive! With any luck, everything will be sound, secure, and ready to show off!
ready to show off!

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