Monday, May 8, 2017

Review: Custom Kitchen Countercaster Guitar


A friend of mine from work brought in a guitar he built, and I must say I have never seen anything quite like it, so I asked for his permission to share it with you. Introducing the Kitchen Countercaster!

Doug is a mechanically-inclined fellow and he is always tinkering and trying to find better ways to make things work. Maybe you have run across one of his online tutorials about a better way to tie your shoes or how to make your own mini sander. Well, he also restores amplifiers and works on guitars, so it was only a matter of time until something like this happened.

On first glance, the Countercaster looks like a normal everyday Stratocaster. Until you try to pick it up and then you realize that this one is made from something special. It is solid as a rock, built from scraps of the newest generation synthetic countertop material: LG HI-MACS. As this stuff is only ½-inch thick, Doug had to stack, glue, route, and shape multiple layers of this material until he had the exact body shape he was looking for. Once things were at this point, it took a lot of finish sanding to achieve the smooth and shiny appearance that you see here.

The next step was the neck, and Doug found a good deal online for a maple neck that would bolt right to the body. But that would not be quite as special, so he planed down another piece of HI-MACS, heated it up so it could be bent to shape, and laminated it to the front of the headstock = instant matching headstock! Then he designed a custom logo, printed it out and clear-coated the headstock to preserve it for history. This thing will outlive all of us!

The rest of the build is fairly straightforward Stratocaster stuff, with the exception being a hardtail bridge that strings through the body – he even did a fine job of installing the ferrules into the back. He went with a Dragonfire “Pro Series” pre-wired pickguard, which is probably the most cost-effective way to put together a Strat if you do not already have a collection of the parts on-hand.

How does it all work out in the end? It has good sustain and plays well, and it is apparent that Doug knows how to do a proper set-up. It also sounds great, with a unique character that is unlike typical wood guitars. With his Princeton Reverb, it does have some of the typical “Strat” qualities but with a thinner and slightly metallic tone. It also seems to work better with the overdrive channels on his Carvin V3M than his Mexico-built Stratocaster, but the hotter pickups could be the difference.

Some people would say that the Achilles’ heel of the Kitchen Countercaster is its spine-compressing weight of 14.5 pounds, but I think its heft is part of the charm. After all, this thing is made out of synthetic stone, so what could possibly be better for rock and roll?

My hat is off to Doug, as this project took a lot of effort to complete, but he carried on with it to the end and fulfilled his vision and destiny. I cannot even imagine what he will come up with next!


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