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    Here are just two quick pictures of what I have been spending time with lately:

    dm-birch-1

    This is a body of one-piece (!) flamed (!!) birch (!!!), shaped like a Schecter Dream Machine body (yes, the shape is slightly different to a Fender body, e.g. slimmer horns and cutaways) . The neck is a one-piece birds-eye neck, the neck profile is copied from a Van Nuys era Schecter neck.

    The wood is not finished at all yet, not even finally sanded. I admit I just could not wait to hear this guitar so I assembled it for a true ‘preview’. :)

    The guitar sounds very cool !!! And before you wonder why this neck has no dots on the front (Mark’s Schecter – the one that was stolen – had dots): there are a few more bodies waiting around here, of different kinds of mahogany, birch, and ash. I have not decided yet on which body this neck will end (Mark’s other Schecters were dotless).

    dm-birch-2

    The flame of the wood will come out when the guitar is finished. This is the raw untreated wood (!) but you already get an idea of the flame.

    Here is the video of the first soundcheck:

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    Finally, I finished the second Telecaster-style guitar with Dream Machine brass hardware. You might remember my first build report about a Dream Machine Telecaster clone. Even back then when I started that first project, I already got the body and neck to start a similar project with these but never found the time to complete it. The idea behind the project was to assemble an affordable guitar that looks great, and – most important – sounds great and gives you the ‘Walk of Life’ Schecter Tele sound of the tapped F520T / F521T pickups and the brass bridge, in other words a guitar with high-quality brass hardware and electronics but without any parts so cheap that they might ruin the sound of the guitar. It turned out to be a really great guitar, great look, great feel & great sound. As I already have more guitars  than I have room for, I put it for sale into my online shop.

    DM-Tele-sb-600-3

    The body is a really nice looking, extremely light sunburst Tele body. I have no idea how old it is exactly (I guess you can call it ‘vintage’), or who made it. It is not 100% accurate compared to the Fender specs, e.g. it is only about 90% (ca. 40 mm) of the Fender body depth (44 mm) but still it seems to be a great piece of wood without anything indicating inferior quality. The grain looks great, the tap tone is nice, and, given its age, it is completely dry tone wood. There are some dings & dongs, e.g. at the edges of the body, so it looks  a bit ‘naturally relic’ed’.

    DM-Tele-sb-600-1

    I got the neck together with the body. It has a rosewood fingerboard without center dots (like Mark’s ‘Walk of Life’ Tele, although this one has little dots on one side of the fingerboard, between the two lowest bass strings). So the look is similar to a dotless Schecter but you still have something that helps to orientate. The neck even has a slight flame on the peghead.

    DM-Tele-sb-600-4

    I used a set of brass hardware that I produce myself, even the control plate is brass like on vintage Schecter Dream Machines. The pickups are two ‘Walk of Life’ pickups, clones of the original Dream Machine pickups of the early 80ies.

    DM-Tele-sb-600-5
    Here is a first video:

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    With the following video I was trying to demonstrate the basic sound difference between a vintage Schecter Dream Machine and a ‘traditional’ Strat.

    The Dream Machine is from about 1980, it has a Koa body and a one-piece Pau Ferro neck. The three pickups in the brass pickguard are the tapped F500T’s. It has s a hardtail brass bridge.

    The Strat is a 1983 Japanese vintage Squier Stratocaster, unmodified.

    Of course the amp & effects settings are 100% identical for both guitars. Also they both have new strings of the same brand and gauge (Fender 09 – 40). Each of the three pickups on the Schecter can be switched to the ‘normal’ coil (tapped) or the overwound (full) coil but I will only use the tapped pickup positions of Schecter in this video, as these are more comaparable to the Fender pickup sound.

    Beside the sound difference, note that there is less hum and noises with the Schecter as the metal pickguard and the copper tape around the pickup coil provide a better shielding.

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    In 1980, shortly before recording the Making Movies album,  Mark Knopfler got several Schecter Dream Machines. It was a sunburst Schecter Strat (serial number S8136) that was used at least on the song Tunnel of Love and that was stolen from the boot of a car near the band’s rehearsal room in Greenwich soon after.

    There are only a few pictures of this guitar available. They are all from the same photo session with photographer Adrian Boot, and only two of these are in colour. One of these two pictures was on a cover of the Greek ‘Pop Rok’ magazine from December 1980, and medium quality scans of the cover could be found on various sources in the web.

    I recently got hold of a copy of this magazine. It features a 3.5 pages story/interview with a live picture from summer 1979 plus various press kit pictures of the Making Movies album.

    As Adrian allowed me to use detail parts of his pictures for our ‘scientific purposes’ here in this blog, I can show the guitar itself at full resolution here:

    Schecter Dream Machine

    From this view we can see the pickguard and the neck very well but unfortunately hardly anything of the two tone sunburst and the beautiful flame of the birch body. We cannot see the bridge completely, neither. In fact there is not one picture at all available that shows  whether this guitar has a tremolo or a hardtail bridge (!). I’d guess it is the tremolo version like Mark’s other Schecter Strats all are but who knows.

    The pickup screws and (probably) the six bridge screws are nickel while the pickguard screws seem to be gold, also gold Kluson tuners and brass strap buttons. The nut is brass, as on all Schecter Dream Machines (brass hardware was essential for their hardware philosophy). The neck is what was called ‘figured maple’ in the Schecter catalogue, in this case flamed birdseye maple. However, the flame and the birdseyes are less prominent than e.g. on Mark’s red Schecter Strat. Note the dots on the neck surface, all of Mark’s other Dream Machines are dotless.

    The guitar strap in this pictures looks similar to the black Music Man strap that Mark had in the late 70ies, but it is not a Music Man strap.

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    This week I had the pleasure to work an a Schecter Dream Machine. It is a really lovely hard-tail Strat with gold hardware. I am not sure about the wood (none of the codes that normally identify these) but the neck might be Pau Ferro (“Bolivian rosewood”). I am rather lost with the body, maybe ash that is stained, or Shedua, walnut,… ?? Any help is welcome so use the comment function to let me know what you think.

    The main “problem” with the guitar is that the pickups have been replaced with some kind of  Seymour Duncan Hotrail humbuckers – surely good pickups but at leat not my cup of tea for a Dream Machine. The Hotrails required a completely different wiring of the mini switches and also the addition of two push-pull switches. To be honest, I did not fully understand the way the up and down positions of the mini switches were combined with the two push-pull potis.

    As I had a set of original F500T pickups waiting for a guitar like this, it was no question that these two had to come together.

    In the following you will find a photo tour that  demonstrates the work –  hoping some folks will find it interesting or useful.

    Schecter Dream Machine with Seymour Duncan Hotrails

    Schecter Dream Machine …

    ...with Seymour Duncan Hotrails

    …with Seymour Duncan Hotrails

     

     

    This is how the electronics look

    This is how the electronics look

    The whole circuit  design has been modified

    The whole circuit design has been modified

     

    After removing what was not original

    After removing what was not original

    I have these square conductive plastic Bourns potis from my own pickguards

    I have these square conductive plastic Bourns potis from my own pickguards …

    ... and also this protective foil to not scratch the pickguard.

    … and also this protective foil to not scratch the pickguard.

     

     

    All connected, ready to install the pickups.

    All connected, ready to install the pickups.

    After assembling the pickups – it was a complete set with all wires still being taped together – I found it impossible to follow which wire end belongs to which of the three pickups. I connected a volts meter and touched the pickups with a screwdriver until the meter reacted to identify the corresponding pickup.

    Which wire for which pickup??

    Which wire for which pickup??

     

    Not like new (still corroded) but like it was original again :)

    Not like new (still corroded) but almost original again :)

     

    Unfortunately some wood was removed to allow the heavy wires of the Seymour Duncans. Nothing I can do here :(

    Unfortunately some wood was removed to allow the heavy wires of the Seymour Duncans. Nothing I can do here :(

    The knobs were green and dirty ...

    The knobs were green and dirty …

    ... but - one hour later after all kind of  treatment I could think of - came out like this.

    … but – one hour later after all kind of treatment I could think of – they came out like this.

     

     

    Finally, Dream Machine look again

    Finally, Dream Machine look again

    schecter-dream-machine-16Watch out for more details and pictures of this wonderful guitar in a future blog post.

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