Neal’s No-Bake Cheesecake Blues Deluxe

Resurrection of a 1981 Aria Pro II CS-350 and spare parts =]

Okay, so I was in a weird mood. What can I say. I was sitting here cruising the net and spaced off on a can of cream paint I keep around to touch up cream pickup rings and the like. The more I looked at the cap the more it reminded me of that horribly sweet and easy to make, even easier to devour Jello No-Bake Cheesecake. No, it's not real cheesecake, but that stuff is a real treat when you've got the munchies for near pure sugar!

It started life as a Cardinal CS-350 neck and body I got on eBay that was rather beat around the edges. The top of the headstock had taken many blows on the outside points and the wood had gone soft there. The body's neck pocket was damaged from improper neck removal and the wood soft there as well. There was a pretty hefty gouge on the lower treble edge by the knobs that had to be filled. The string ferrule holes and the original bridge rout were filled with maple and rosewood plugs then puttied level. The guitar had at one point been dropped on the lower strap button which left a well hidden crack. A little creative "amputation" to the headstock and lower body left me with solid wood to work with.

Most of the hardware (all but the minis, brige, and knobs) came from a broken-neck Raven RP-300. The pickups surprisingly aren't bad. The pots are the typical itty-bitty toy Korean things, and will probably require replacement if it gets played a good bit. I sold the Raven body as a smasher or wall hanger as the neck repair although strong, could not be guaranteed. All things considered, I ended up with 10 times the guitar the Raven was new! It plays GREAT!

A proof of concept guitar, it is not clear-coated as I no longer have the facilities to do so. None the less it was fun to at least bring it back to life and inject a little humor to boot. It is now solid cheesecake complete with graham cracker crust back, pickup rings, truss cover, and knobs, and to top it off is a maraschino cherry switch tip. =]

Above is the dreaded "before" pic, but that's what I had to start with. The gouge by the controls is pretty easy to see but the damage to the neck pocket, split on the butt, and mashed headstock tips isn't quite discernible. You can see in the 4th row down from here where I had to angle the neck pocket to eliminate the damaged wood (soft as a sponge from compression damage).