Got a beat up Strat and now dealing with lots of questions...

eclecticsynergy

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Ummmm, if wood truly has effect on the tone of the guitar -as I believe it does- then a difference in the pickguard's thickness or rigidness might eventually have some effect on it too. I wasn't going to pay attention to that, but now I think I am going to listen closely if there really is something to that when I get to change it.

There is. I put a second aluminum guard under my plastic guard with some pups that were emf sensitive (microphonic) hum-dingers and it makes a huge difference.
Huge difference indeed. I put an anodized aluminum guard on my Strat back in the 70s and it gave the guitar a much harsher sound. This was a heavy ash Strat, fairly bright-voiced to begin with, running through a Music Man HD130. Not a lot of breakup to be had except at arena-gig volume.*

I actually gigged the guitar that way for a month or so but the other guitarist in the band noticed the brighter tone too. Eventually when I put the factory guard back on, it instantly had its original sound again.

*When cranked, that was actually a great sounding amp. But I could only crank it in the basement, not with the band. It had a master volume but the sold state preamp distortion wasn't great; needed power tube breakup to sweeten it up..
 

AAT65

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3 way switching too

Heard a wives tale that players would use toothpicks to hold switch to get positions 2 & 4, must have had larger contact on the switch then. I dunno?
I don’t expect the switches were significantly different then than now. They were probably deliberately selected to be make-before-break switches so that you don’t get a moment of silence as you switch pickups. The difference between a 3-way (Tele, original Strat) and 5-way (modern Strat) is just whether there are extra detents for the in-between positions.
 

Zepfan

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I set my strat up to float because the body just resonates more that way. It also allows the strings to return to pitch properly when it's set up to do so.
I never understood why the bridge pickup was never wired to a tone knob though.
I've always moved the second tone pot to the bridge pickup and leave the middle pickup volume only. lightens the tone in the combo position and middle alone is more lively.
Series/parallel switch for the combos is a great mod too.
 

Zepfan

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I use Aluminum HVAC tape in the cavities and backside of the guard for RF noise, but also rids 60cycle hum from single coils. Had extreme microphonic P90 style pickups that are quiet as a mouse now.
Huge difference indeed. I put an anodized aluminum guard on my Strat back in the 70s and it gave the guitar a much harsher sound. This was a heavy ash Strat, fairly bright-voiced to begin with, running through a Music Man HD130. Not a lot of breakup to be had except at arena-gig volume.*

I actually gigged the guitar that way for a month or so but the other guitarist in the band noticed the brighter tone too. Eventually when I put the factory guard back on, it instantly had its original sound again.

*When cranked, that was actually a great sounding amp. But I could only crank it in the basement, not with the band. It had a master volume but the sold state preamp distortion wasn't great; needed power tube breakup to sweeten it up..
Could you have had a "out of phase" issue with this guitar? If 2 of the pickups that are same direction/polarity were arranged close to each other, you would have a bright/thin tone.
 

eclecticsynergy

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I use Aluminum HVAC tape in the cavities and backside of the guard for RF noise, but also rids 60cycle hum from single coils. Had extreme microphonic P90 style pickups that are quiet as a mouse now.

Could you have had a "out of phase" issue with this guitar? If 2 of the pickups that are same direction/polarity were arranged close to each other, you would have a bright/thin tone.
Nope, same wiring. The only thing that changed was the guard. It was anodized aluminum though, and rather thick compared to the plastic. At the time I put the tone difference down to its rigidity, but the aluminum itself may have had an effect. I'm told aluminum can have strange effects on pickups even though it's nonmagnetic.
 

Skyhook

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I always got lost with the 5 way and the 2 tones and couldnt react on the fly , this way its easy I also like the TBX for overall tone
too many knobs=too much confusion
Like the Les Paul Recording. 🙃

lespaulrecordingcontrols.jpg
 

3rdworlder

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Well, tonight I'm slowly getting the Stratocaster together again. I've been replacing some bits but keeping in mind observations made by @FortyEight and @2HBStrat in here before about making changes to ultimately have the guitar lose its Mojo. Every lil change I'm making here can be reversed no problem. I'm just going for some specific look while keeping most the tone this old guitar came with. The cosmetic changes projected include a 1-ply black pickguard (since the USPS rates are so high nowadays one have to go find other markets to buy guitar bits. I got this one from China, but it was actually sent to me from the Czech Republic, go figure...), and the other one is half cosmetic half mechanical: the machine heads. I've exchanged this nifty set of satin chrome Wilkinson tuners with a guy here for a 90's Discwasher CD carry case. They're smooth and have no play whatsoever. And they look like old nickel 70's tuning pegs. For the worn look of this guitar I'm loving 'em, although I haven't got the strings through them...yet. (See pictures below).
I'm waiting for a set of brass saddles for the bridge to get it all going. I was so very surprised about the change in tone when I went from metal to brass on my Telecaster that I presume the Strat is going to sound even better. And if it doesn't, then I can always go back.
I will test this set of older pickups just to satisfy my curiosity. I was pretty happy with the pickups the guitar had when I bought it except for the bridge one (that I always thought could be "improved" somehow). In the end if they don't do, they're going to be sold locally.
That pretty much is what have happened or what have been done with the project by now. I expect to return with more comments on performance once I finish the rebuild/replacing parts. See how things turn out with the guitar ;)
You all have a good Wednesday! :)

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3rdworlder

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I don't know if you ever had this problem when installing new pickguards to Strats guitars or P-basses. It happened that the lowest hole for the lil screw on the original pickguard was literally done on the border of the body cavity. It was even worse with the new pickguard, literally nowhere to attach the screw on! So I decided to add some extra bit of wood so that I could screw on the last bit of the pickguard properly. I used a bit of pine wood that I shaped to fit that area. I just thought this might be of help to anybody facing the same challenge when changing pickguards. Some pictures below.

I first removed the paint of the area by sanding it so the titebond would work properly. As you can see I used a piece of tape to remind me of the space available in between that area and the border of the 2nd tone potentiometer:

pMyKXFP.jpg


See how off was the original hole behind the tape piece? And this is the pine wood bit that I shaped to fit the area. Not perfect, but the pine bit did the job properly.

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This is how I kept the pine bit in place to ensure the titebond would make it part of the Strat body. I used three wood pieces to push it in place as you can see.

iLfK4R8.jpg


Work done. I've drilled the hole afterwards, and now the pickguard stays in place just like it should.

PuCe3wg.jpg


I might paint it black later, I don't know. Anyway, I just thought this might be of use to somebody here in the forums.

Right now I am waiting for the brass saddles to arrive so I can get them in place and actually PLAY the guitar which is the thing I'd like to do the most :)

Enjoy your Friday and have a super weekend! 👍
 

gkterry

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Leave it as is. You bought it because you liked it. Why change it into some mongrel that may not produce near as much satisfaction when playing it?
 

Swirling Snow

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Oh, my yes. Anything but Pings. Good choice.

As others have said, take it one step at a time. Be sure you can back up.


(I don't mean to slight Ping products functionally. It's just we're all so sick of looking at those perfect Schaller copies.)
 

Lou Tencodpees

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I have 5 Strats and just can't get myself to block/deck any of the trems. 3 springs, about 1/8" float, tone to the bridge pickup and vintage tuners. 5 way switches, RWRP middle pickup.

I think if I ever wanted to deck a Strat I'd just build a hardtail.

Or play my Teles. 😄
 

3rdworlder

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I finished my project last Thursday night. I am very very pleased with the guitar in both, the tone and looks department. I was not even thinking in keeping a Stratocaster type of guitar, but price, playability, and tone made me change my mind.

I discovered a couple of interesting things working on this guitar. When I got the bridge back in place I got all five springs in so they would keep the bridge from lifting (I am not interested in using the Tremolo bar), and the tone I got was very nice and noticeable different than the SG and the Tele. It also was much nicer than what I got when I tried the wood block in it. That's why after getting the new pickguard in I decided to go ahead with all five springs.

I changed the pickups for an old set I got in another guitar, they're Chinese ceramics that must be over 20 years old. There's nothing really special with them but comparing sound, I felt the bridge pickup sounded more "rounded" than the one the guitar came with. I am assuming here the pickups in the guitar were original. Anyway, the tone is alright with me. There's absolutely no idea crossing my mind about getting different pickups. I like what I am getting from these as I write this. Pots and selector, while humble, they're working fine so I decided to keep them. If they fail in the future I will have to change them, but again not looking forward to that.

Now what I thought was interesting is the fact that when I first rebuilt the guitar I started having the low output problem with the E string. At first I blamed the pickups. What did I know. SG or Teles never have such problems. But I got to learn this is something common with Stratocasters. And by checking the web I got to know the possible solutions. There were two things I could point: the nut, and the string tree. I've replaced both, so you can say I spent some time trying until I got things right. First, I removed the nut and went back to the one the guitar came with. It was worn, old, and looked pretty bad. I did some filing & sanding work to it and now looks much better. One of the reasons why the orig nut was looking bad was that the guy who sold the guitar to me turned the nut so he could play it as a lefty (told me it was his Dad's guitar). Well, now the nut is looking decent, although not perfect. The string trees I changed them when I dismantled the guitar. Visually it was bugging me the breaking angle of strings B and E was a bit too pronounced. So I got another spacer and a longer screw, and got all strings breaking in a similar angle on the nut. Once I got all that done, it was like magic. When I first rebuilt the guitar it was harsh in both, sound and feel, and the first string did not sound as loud as the rest, even though I worked the pups' height alright. Well, after I got the proper nut and trees the guitar sounds sweet, balanced, and the feel of the strings is just right.

Now don't think I like this guitar better than the Telecaster or SG, I just have to accept there is actually or should I say definitely "something" about the middle pickup of the Stratocaster guitar. I'm keeping it, and I am happy with it the way it is right now :)

Leave it as is. You bought it because you liked it. Why change it into some mongrel that may not produce near as much satisfaction when playing it?

I guess I didn't explained more in the opening post as I was trying to keep things short. I did not get the guitar because I liked it. Actually I never liked Stratocasters (I hate hitting the volume knob all the time, I don't like so much plastic over the body, and I don't understand the Strat bridge) I only got this guitar to resell its parts and keep bits of the electronics for other projects. This is part of what I do to survive here and to have means to buy strings and bits for my guitars and other hobbies.

Anyway, when I first got the guitar I adjusted it and ended up liking it a lot. Not long ago I've built another Gilmour "Black Strat" that sold very good so this was going to be another selling item. BUT this time the price I got it for was so low I had no problem keeping it. So I did. And I am enjoying it.

Now regarding changes made to it, in the end you could say the guitar is almost exactly the one I first got except for three things: 1) the pickups 2) the pickguard 3) the tuners. I decided against the new saddles because the ones I got were totally rubbish. I believe what I changed in the guitar doesn't really made a different instrument out of it. And if I ever feel like going back, I can always get the pickguard and tuners back in place. Oh! Now I see I will NEVER be able to get the guitar back to what it was when I got it, as just this morning I sold the original pickups... and would you believe for the exact price I got the guitar for?

I got the guitar for mere $20.00 And that is good ol USA dollars for that matter. That's one of the reasons why I am keeping it.

On a side note, it never cease to amaze me the quality of the Korean Wilkinson guitar parts. Most everything I got from them is super nice, cheap, good looking, and do the job properly. The tuners I got are really nice and they work FAR better than the originals. Super happy.

So that's about the guitar. It was a nice project, and helped me learn a couple of interesting things about Stratocasters and guitars in general. Thank you all for the comments and ideas you shared with me here. Hope y'all have a good week! :)
 

3rdworlder

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Forgot to show you the final result. Not winning a beauty contest but it is just fine with me. Here's some pictures:

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Y'all have a good week and PLAY your Teles! :)
 




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