First day with new Noventa strat

Novick

TDPRI Member
Joined
May 8, 2020
Posts
4
Age
34
Location
Wisconsin
Background: I've been playing for a couple decades, mostly high-gain stuff with Ibanez and Charvel superstrats. Now I'm going through the cliche "aging shred guitarist starts to prefer lower-gain classic stuff" phase. Picked up a Peavey Reactor (tele clone with a USA neck and Taiwan body/hardware) a year or two ago and have been loving that.

I always liked playing strats in guitar stores--super comfortable, easy bends/slides--but the bridge pickup always turned me off. I loved the feel of a gloss maple fretboard, though... Ibanez and Charvel like to use much thinner finishes or even just oil on their maple fretboards, and they get dirty too easily. Always planned to buy a strat sometime in the future.

Wanted a P90 guitar for recording, found out the Noventa existed, ordered one same day. Finally a strat... with a bridge pickup I was excited about... in a great color combination (Daphne blue with black pickups/knobs that contrast nicely with the pickguard).

Arrived today. Looks great, sounds absolutely incredible (bridge pickup is like a much clearer humbucker with a perfect mids/treble/bass balance and works great at a bunch of volume knob levels/gain levels from classic rock to hair metal), stays in tune through heavy bending, clearly going to be an amazing studio tool.

The playability's not what I expected, though. Now, the fretjob is very level--going to have to raise the action if anything. Minimal buzz even how it came, 1.2mm on the high E at the 12th fret. Sides of the fretboard feel smooth and flush (not that that matters as much with my hand position, but people always judge fretwork by that online). Neck shape and the back of the neck feel great...

...but the fretboard finish is much too thin and came pre-scuffed--lots of sanding marks parallel to the frets, not at all glossy like the headstock is. And the frets themselves were sticky and scratchy. Honestly it was a very similar feeling as a "Starcaster by Fender" ultra-budget strat I played once, like a totally unfinished board.

(Amusingly the volume and tone knobs were at totally wrong angles, so when turned up all the way 10 faced away from the player. That was an easy fix though.)

So I took the neck off to give this *new* guitar my standard used guitar fretboard/fret cleaning/polishing scrubdown with a fine scotchbrite pad. Definitely helped, but also made the finish (so it *was* there!) almost bubble a little bit in a bunch of places.

Even after that treatment it's not great. Even had to give the new strings the ol' Yngwie nose oil trick to get anywhere close to acceptable sliding feel, and the frets are very loud when you vibrato unplugged and still feel a little scratchy.

I'm sure bends/vibrato will feel better once I get the right allen wrench to raise the action (heh, not metric for once) to more like 1.8mm, but I'm still a little bummed about not actually checking off the strat feel box. Actually thinking about applying a new fretboard finish or even swapping in a USA neck, but the latter would be a shame given how nice everything but the texture of this one is.
 

Jakedog

Telefied
Ad Free Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2003
Posts
22,950
Location
The North Coast
Tape off the board (so you don’t scratch it up more) and give the frets a quick polish with some 800 grit. Don’t sand them down, just knock the crud off them and get a smooth surface. It won’t take any more than literally 1-2 seconds per fret. Don’t bear down, just kiss the crap off the tops of them.

Then take a buffing wheel on a small drill or dremel (I use my dremel) and drop some Meguires car polish on it and buff those suckers out. Mirror style.

Fret finishing is not a priority at a lot of Fender facilities, and it shows.
 

TomBrokaw

Tele-Meister
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Posts
372
Age
122
Location
Give 'em the beans!
Need some pictures, man.

I got a set of those fretboard protectors, that fit over the fret, and after putting blue painter's tape over the pickups, rub the frets down with 0000. Smooth as glass. Takes about 20 minutes. Maybe less.

I'm always amazed at how much wool accumulates on the pickups.
 

ping-ping-clicka

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Jun 28, 2019
Posts
8,101
Location
left coast
Background: I've been playing for a couple decades, mostly high-gain stuff with Ibanez and Charvel superstrats. Now I'm going through the cliche "aging shred guitarist starts to prefer lower-gain classic stuff" phase. Picked up a Peavey Reactor (tele clone with a USA neck and Taiwan body/hardware) a year or two ago and have been loving that.

I always liked playing strats in guitar stores--super comfortable, easy bends/slides--but the bridge pickup always turned me off. I loved the feel of a gloss maple fretboard, though... Ibanez and Charvel like to use much thinner finishes or even just oil on their maple fretboards, and they get dirty too easily. Always planned to buy a strat sometime in the future.

Wanted a P90 guitar for recording, found out the Noventa existed, ordered one same day. Finally a strat... with a bridge pickup I was excited about... in a great color combination (Daphne blue with black pickups/knobs that contrast nicely with the pickguard).

Arrived today. Looks great, sounds absolutely incredible (bridge pickup is like a much clearer humbucker with a perfect mids/treble/bass balance and works great at a bunch of volume knob levels/gain levels from classic rock to hair metal), stays in tune through heavy bending, clearly going to be an amazing studio tool.

The playability's not what I expected, though. Now, the fretjob is very level--going to have to raise the action if anything. Minimal buzz even how it came, 1.2mm on the high E at the 12th fret. Sides of the fretboard feel smooth and flush (not that that matters as much with my hand position, but people always judge fretwork by that online). Neck shape and the back of the neck feel great...

...but the fretboard finish is much too thin and came pre-scuffed--lots of sanding marks parallel to the frets, not at all glossy like the headstock is. And the frets themselves were sticky and scratchy. Honestly it was a very similar feeling as a "Starcaster by Fender" ultra-budget strat I played once, like a totally unfinished board.

(Amusingly the volume and tone knobs were at totally wrong angles, so when turned up all the way 10 faced away from the player. That was an easy fix though.)

So I took the neck off to give this *new* guitar my standard used guitar fretboard/fret cleaning/polishing scrubdown with a fine scotchbrite pad. Definitely helped, but also made the finish (so it *was* there!) almost bubble a little bit in a bunch of places.

Even after that treatment it's not great. Even had to give the new strings the ol' Yngwie nose oil trick to get anywhere close to acceptable sliding feel, and the frets are very loud when you vibrato unplugged and still feel a little scratchy.

I'm sure bends/vibrato will feel better once I get the right allen wrench to raise the action (heh, not metric for once) to more like 1.8mm, but I'm still a little bummed about not actually checking off the strat feel box. Actually thinking about applying a new fretboard finish or even swapping in a USA neck, but the latter would be a shame given how nice everything but the texture of this one is.
Congratulations on your new purchase. I reads your post and wondered
" IS HE GOING TO SEND IT BACK FOR A REFUND GIVEN THE NUMBER OF THINGS THAT HE IS DISPLEASED WITH?
A first date that seems to have been at best awkward and stilted, good luck to you.
 

Novick

TDPRI Member
Joined
May 8, 2020
Posts
4
Age
34
Location
Wisconsin
Yeah, yeah, pics. While I had the neck off I threw some black Wilkinson EZ-LOK tuners on it too for matching aesthetics (and generally love the look of black tuners on maple), except I couldn't get the chrome rings out of the tuner routes. I'll probably paint them later. Was also thinking about alternating black and chrome tuners, but that might be a little too far out there even for me.

I can't send it back when it sounds like this!

I like the ideas of going even finer to buff the frets (probably going to end up doing that on ALL the guitars). Maybe there's something similar I can do for the finish on the fretboard, like some very fine wet sanding grits and then a polishing cloth. There's probably enough finish here to make a gloss out of.
 

Attachments

  • 20220409_002716.jpg
    20220409_002716.jpg
    100.1 KB · Views: 54
  • 20220409_002728.jpg
    20220409_002728.jpg
    104.3 KB · Views: 54
Last edited:

AAT65

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
May 29, 2016
Posts
6,067
Location
West Lothian, Scotland
I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Noventa Strat has a great spec - the best Fender Strat out there just now perhaps?! The only thing I'd change is moving the volume control south a bit.
Glad to hear it sounds good. I'm sure with the advice above regarding polishing frets you will get it to feel good to.
 

John C

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Sep 20, 2005
Posts
4,825
Location
Kansas City
Nice guitar; congrats! I hope you get it squared away. I do want to point out that Noventas do have a satin urethane finish on the fingerboard but from the 2 Noventa Teles with maple fingerboards I've picked up it doesn't feel the same as the satin urethane finish on my American Performer Tele; it doesn't feel quite a smooth and somewhat scratchy. I've only gotten to play the Noventa Tele in the trans crimson/pau ferro fingerboard.
 




Top