Paul's Custom Coodercaster
Paul kindly brought in his custom made Coodercaster for me to try and improve it's general play-ability. A lovely spec build, featuring a custom colour/finish, amazing pickguard, set of Mojo Pickups (gold foil and lap steel models) and a Duesenberg bridge w/G & B benders. I can however see why he felt like he was battling with it as the action was very high and inconsistent. Upon initial inspection I noticed that the neck wasn't seated very well in the neck pocket, with a gap at the outer edge resulting in a rather interesting neck break angle. Also, the bridge saddles were pretty inconsistent in terms of their individual heights and how well that matched up with it's 7.25" radius fingerboard. Ultimately though, none of this matters as it would all be something I'd be refining during the setup process.

To correct the neck pocket/fitment issue, was pretty simple as upon removing the neck to inspect it was found that the 4 neck screw holes in the body were simply too small for the screws really. So they were tightly threading through the body, which isn't particularly ideal. So I opened those up to the correct size, which allows those to feed through the holes easier and therefore tightening up to the neck pulling it securely into the pocket. Beforehand the screws were threading tightly into the body wood instead, preventing the neck to be secured into the pocket correctly. So a nice and simple resolve. 

With the neck into the pocket though, it did open up other realisations that with the neck correctly seated and the action at a fairly reasonable measurement, the strings were way too close to the surface mounted gold foil neck pickup. So to resolve I opted to fit a neck heel shim. This helped improve the neck break angle and therefore raise the strings a little further away from the pickup. Doing this of course meant raising the bridge saddles which opened up another issue,strings fouling the top plate of the lap steel pickup. Something which is vital to a lap steel pickup correctly working so must be retained. I basically just had to spend some time really dialing in and finding a good balance of string action, retaining the saddle radius to match the fretboard but clear the top plate of the pickup. I got there in the end, but with this lower action to achieve the clearance, it meant that playing slide with only the original 10 gauge strings would likely be a bit of a challenge. So we opted to increase to 11s, to increase string tension and make it viable for slide playing too. A goal of the setup was to make it much better for regular playing, as the prior bad neck angle and resulting high angle was almost impossible to play anything but a slide on. So at least now it plays beautifully as a regular guitar, but can reach for the slide when desired. 

Although a balancing act of a setup, I am really pleased with the transformation of this one. It came in almost impossible to play enjoyably, unless you had a slide in your hand and even then it was far from ideal with saddle heights all over the place too. But with the fretwork attention, correcting some issues and spending time finding a good balance of action/relief, it is such a lovely guitar to play. Along with the unique tonal palette of the lapsteel pickup too, this thing is a real beaut. Adore the unique colour too! Paul told me it is actually a Fiat automotive colour interestingly! Like a lighter take on lake placid blue I though, but compliments the hardware and pickguard really well. What a cool guitar!

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