This quasi-Aelita body/pickguard combination is a mutant crossbreeding of the production model and the technical drawing from the owner's manual: more of my liberal interpretation of an Aelita than anything else.
The thing about this Aelita is that I had been looking at pictures of Aelitas -- both on the site and in Tony Bacon's book -- for a long time. Obviously they are very cheesy-cool guitars. But, when I saw the line drawing in the Rostov owner's manual, I liked the proportions of that "romantic ideal" rendering of an Aelita better than the real thing. So I took it from there. Call it artistic license if you will.
Originally, I had planned to use the trio of revamped Borisov pickups on the clone.
Unfortunately, they are too tall to work with the Fender-style neck joint proportions I had to use with the Saga neck. So I had to use three mini-HB's instead.
I also tweaked the neck/body joint contours of the body to allow me to use a "paddle-head" Fender-scale neck. That way I can have a semi-authentic Aelita peghead too.
The Bigsby-style vibrato unit definitely wasn't the final decision; I was just trying it on the body to see what it looked like, and took a couple of pictures.
Here's another picture of the work in progress:
While I liked the green pearloid pickguard material, it is too thick to use for a peghead overlay on this neck without sanding away 80% of the material -- otherwise the peghead ends up too thick for the tuners to fit. So, in the end "the Barney solution" won out. In the realm of cheesy pickguard material, it's a tough call to decide whether green or purple is the cheesiest. In this case, practical concerns made the decision for me. For the next version though ...
Specifics: an alder body finished with black acrylic lacquer, and a Saga Strat-oid neck with its peghead modified to allow me to cut out an accurate Aelita shape. The tailpiece is a cast-off plate from some old Japanese Jazzmaster clone trem unit that I notched to act as a string anchor. The bridge is some oddball German thing that I found on eBay for dirt cheap, and the pickups are some more of those generic Firebird mini-HB's that I use to revitalize dead Soviet & Czech pickups. The controls are pretty simple: three chrome on/off switches (one for each pickup, duh), a master volume and three tone controls.
Aelita was originally made at Rostov, USSR and there was another Soviet plant producing the same guitar (which looked slightly different). Rostov Aelita had two reincarnations: Aelita-1 and Aelita-2. Following the ancient Greek tradition of making guitar-bass pairs, Aelita-1 had "Bas" brother and Aelita-2 had "Bas-2" bro. It was probably the best known Russian electric guitar in the USA thanks to the Tony Bacon's book which featured awesome Aelita-1 photo. The guitar on this page is based n Aelita-1.
||Original Aelita 1|
||Original Aelita 2|
||Aelita - unidentified manufacture|
This wonderfull article is written by
Jamie Chivers -
Guitartech Jamie Chivers,
Over 30 years of quality repair experience
Kettle Falls, WA
Monday - Friday
10am - 6pm
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