5.1 Strat!

LIKE MANY PEOPLE, Adam Johnson loves to experience movies in surround sound from the comfort of his own couch. But when he was installing his 5.1 system and saw the amplifier’s six input jacks, the Oakland, California, guitarist immediately became obsessed with another potential use for the multi-channel living room rig. “Armed with a cordless drill, a soldering iron, and a Stewart-MacDonald catalog, I proceeded to disembowel a perfectly good Squier Stratocaster,” says Johnson. “With a 1" bit, I carved a canyon into the body for 12 volume and tone pots. Next, I built six separate one-string pickups. The cylindrical magnets fit perfectly in the drill, so winding them was easy—two minutes each at high speed. Then, I placed each pickup into one of two single-coil covers, using a simple 1951 Fender P-Bass schematic to wire each to a separate output jack.”
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The result? A true surround sound Strat that uses a home theater system’s six-channel amp to send each string to a separate speaker. “The first thing I played on it was Bach’s Prelude in C Major, which is perfect for the surround effect,” says Johnson. “The guitar is also great for recording, because you can put each string on a separate track, pan it to its own place in the stereo field, and put different effects on each string.”