$10 guitar rescue

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by hellopike, May 31, 2016.

  1. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

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    I'd have listed this as NGD, but it actually all happened over a few weeks last month- I was browsing CL when I saw a listing for a guitar "For parts or repair" for $10. It was a first Act guitar, but I thought what the heck. It's $10, whats $10 een if it turned out to be total garbage? Basically, I just wanted a project so I contacted the seller.

    So I drove down to a sketchy part of town, the guy said he'd meet me out front of his house. Out he comes, he was a younger guy; he hands me the guitar, I hand him $10 and I go to shake his hand and he turned around and closed the door in my face. Huh. I guess that's how its done.


    [​IMG]

    Here's how I got it. Minus the strings. It was in nasty shape. Dinged up body, dried out fretboard, nasty greasy film over everything, yellowed pickguard, output jack ripped out... It reeked of pot and ash.

    [​IMG]

    The frets were pretty nasty and the fretboard looked about 4 shades too light from what rosewood should look like. The first thing I did was polish the frets and apply some sesame oil to the fretboard- here's an in progress pic were you can see the fretboard sucking the oil up like a sponge. It was so very dried out.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The pickup, had... something on it. I wasn't even going to guess. With gloves on I removed the four screws on the pickup ring, cut the wires and the old pickup went directly in the trash. The saddles too. Luckily I had some spare saddles from an old strat, and a chinese humbucker I picked up on ebay months ago and some various pots and caps from my attempt at breadboarding (which you can also see in the background of the neck shot) as well as a chinese output jack and some old knobs.

    once I stripped everything off, I sprayed it down with disinfectant and cleaned the film that was covering it. The pickguard, which I forgot to take a good shot of, was stained and yellowed much like the pickup you see above you. I had some silver spraypaint in the garage, so I gave it a few shots to cover the yellowing and stains.


    After rewiring it with the Chinese cheapo humbucker and a cap i pulled out of an old 8-track player I strung it up, intonated, and fixed the action:

    [​IMG]

    Yeah its just a simple first act guitar, but it cleaned up not too bad. There was a little buzzing on the A string at the second or third fret, but thats it. I just raised the saddle a bit. I put two black tele knobs on the volume and tone.

    Plugged in its got a weird tone- very hollow sounding, unlike my other guitars. I don't exactly know the cause, whether its the pickup itself (it was only two wire by the way, so no splitting and there was really only one way to wire it) or the old cap (I forget the value) or the pots or what. But it's different... good different.

    I think I might spray a little black over the chips in the finish next time I'm thinking about it and have the opportunity. It's neat having a 24in scale guitar too. I can feel the difference between it and my Tele and Strat. So I'm going to hang onto it, theres not much more I can do, really. It has no real value. Maybe give it to a niece or nephew if they decide they want to learn guitar.


    thanks for reading! comments are welcome!
     
  2. dannew02

    dannew02 Friend of Leo's

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    Very nice! It's great to take something headed for the land fill and make something useful out of it.
     
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  3. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Awesome!
    I'm in the $10 club too!:) Mine is the Strat-ish model and the link documents repairs and upgrades, like splitting the pickup with a mini toggle.
    I met one guy that was collecting a fleet of FAs and putting Bigsbys on at least a few, tweaking the performance on others with fancy pickups, and adding cool visual mods.

    This one wasn't in the grubbiness you received but I have gotten some Squiers that bad before. I understand the need to toss that pickup but those pickups in cleaned up condition are surprisingly good. Derided because of price mostly, the rest due to young kids not taking care of their stuff. There are some sound clips in the thread link.

    For your odd noise, it could be that tone cap... I'd suggest doing the EVH thing and wire it to the volume pot then straight out.

    The necks are generally well made and only subject to the sad industry decision of pressing in frets without any post level and crown on starter guitars -- rather than thinking these starter guitars need to keep kids playing and be an entryway drug to upgrading and GAS. A kid that quits won't ever buy that $4,000 custom shop grail.

    Look for the Sharpie brand black paint pens to make the finish blemishes fade away.


    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    I really like that. Lotsa mojo.
     
  5. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'm in.... my older bro brings over the black guitar in the foreground for me to fix up...

    he got it for 50c at a recycle place.... all it needed was strings and one tuner.... it plays great, the top is flat, action good... I've been taking it into guitar lessons at the school for a play....

    gotta be a 10 dollar guitar now.... ;)

    acoustic guitars1.jpg
     
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  6. Octave Doctor

    Octave Doctor Tele-Afflicted

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    My slide guitar is a Rogue RAG I pulled out of a dumpster last May. It was covered in dust, needed new strings, but looked OK otherwise. I could make it play better, but it's good enough for acoustic slide, lol.
     
  7. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

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    @jvin248 Yes I remember your thread about the $10 strat copy! I love reading those sorts of threads, which is why I took the time to post about a "measly" First Act guitar. lol

    I'm not sure I'm looking to get rid of the weird tone of this guitar, and my Squier bullet Strat got the EVH treatment when I fixed it up. That was a $35 CL guitar, with a $30 loaded GFS pickguard and some donated tuners. THAT ended up very nice!

    And I'll give the sharpie a shot, it'll save me a trip to my workspace.

    @trev333 - A 50c certainly trumps a $10 guitar! Nice rehab!

    @Octave Doctor

    But a free "saved from the dumpster" guitar is even better!
     
  8. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    Wouldn't have tossed that pickup, they're actually quite good. Good deal on the guitar and it looks great. Enjoy it often.
    A guy over on CBN got a Squier from a yard sale for 20.00 that had electronic problems. It seems that their cat was allowed to frequently pee on it while it was left lying on the floor, whole loaded pickguard went into the trash because none of it worked anymore.
     
  9. Buzzardeater

    Buzzardeater Tele-Holic

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    Learning a few slide licks (Dust my Broom and Statesboro Blues is enough) frees one forever from the tyranny of frets. Twenty four inch scales are awesome for this! Fatten her up with some heavy flatwounds and a hot pickup and you are good to go. I have a Squier Duo-Sonic with a 22.5 scale that I'm reworking with a USA OBL for this purpose. So much fun!
     
  10. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

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    Lol. @Zepfan I can see if I can fish it out of the trash if you want it. No guarantees it's still in my fathers garage though. And the leads are going to be short. Lol.

    I'd love to get my hands on a $20 squier. The $35 bullet strat has been the best deal so far, squier-wise. I wish I were more of a strat guy because that's what you see mostly on CL. Once I nearly had an affinity tele for $50 with broken electronics and missing a saddle but the guy decided he wanted $80 suddenly as I was trying to arrange a pickup time. I told him forget it. Can't win them all.
     
  11. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    Very cool! I enjoyed reading about your find and your mods.

    Please duplicate this post over in this forum, right here on TDPRI:
    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/farg-its-the-first-act-is-a-real-guitar-club.241499/

    Here's my $25.01 FA Strat that I can't wait to get going on. I now have 3-4 FA guitars all awaiting upgrades and mods. Some of these guitars have beautiful stock paint jobs and one piece bodies. They are a great source of components for chump change.

    I'll add to the tips above that I have done nice chip repairs with $2 bottles of modelers' acrylic paints like Tamiya from the local hobby shop. It is thick enough to fill the divot so there is not a sharp edge remaining.

    FAStrat.jpg FAStrat3.jpg
     
  12. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    Short leads don't scare me, I've got a soldering iron and wire and can always find something to put it in if you still have it that is.:D
     
  13. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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  14. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

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    I checked, and it's gone. Dad decided to empty the trash for the first time this year!
    [QUOTE="jvin248]

    While used Teles are few and pricey!:eek:

    The cure for this is find the inexpensive Strats and populate it with Tele and other loaded pickguards
    This particular guitar is cut and wired so the pickguards can be swapped in less than a minute while the strings remain tuned up.
    [​IMG][/QUOTE]

    I've seen your setup before and its definitely cool- I actually have my bullet strat wired using a terminal block at the output jack so I can change out pickguards without having to solder or de-solder anything. But it's not quite the same thing. But on the other hand I'm up to 5 guitars now and in all honesty it kinda feels like about 3 too many for my needs.. but that probably won't stop me from getting more guitars down the line. lol.
     
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  15. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    jvin248 likes this.
  16. 61fury

    61fury Friend of Leo's

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    Some First Acts are actually quite stylish .
     
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  17. dqami

    dqami Tele-Holic

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    Tip : nail polish is also good for filling in big chips
     
  18. TwangToInfinity

    TwangToInfinity Tele-Afflicted

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    they really are!
     
  19. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    First Act also made some nice looking high-end guitars in addition to the Walmart-style stuff. I think it was a marketing mistake to aim high and low at the same time.
     
  20. JRicoC

    JRicoC Tele-Meister

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    Echoing the earlier post about the pickup: give it a shot, at least. Those alnico humbuckers sound very good. There were a couple of guys on another forum who would buy FA models just to salvage the pickups ..
     
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