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OK... so I promised... here ya are. . . .

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Ronkirn, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    The time spent typically will be about 30 minutes sanding and about an hour buffing... I'm not sure because of the constant interruptions.... the phone will ring, and I'm on it for who knows how long…. Then I’m answering emails…. so I loose track. I cannot remember one I did straight through. Throw in taking photos... and it can be most of the day...

    I reload the wheel when it quits cutting... I'm not being "flip"; it's just a feel thing and watching the results as I'm buffing.

    None of this follows a precise formula; you just gotta get in there and get to it. If you have never done it, take a scrap of wood, put down 5 coats, let it dry for a few days, spray a few more coats, good ‘n wet this time, let it dry for a week or so, then practice on it.

    I strongly urge the novice to do that… you will learn sooooo much in one session… like hold on tight…. And when you discover burn through, it’s not a traumatic experience like when you burn off a corner of the neck pocket’s heel… I hate it when I do that…..

    Ron Kirn
     
  2. Fortsbest

    Fortsbest Tele-Meister

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    Hey Ron,
    You having done this in a bit over a month makes me feel so inadequate when you consider I ordered your templates and started my Strat in October 2006,LOL. This thread has been even more informative and fun than your books are. I am putting the final coats on my guitar and will likely post a thread when it's done, but it will obviously pale in comparison to your works of art. Thanks again for all the help both through e-mails and with this thread.

    Ty
     
  3. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    While I’m waiting for the parts to trickle in, there are a few other things that need attention. I make my own pickguards, mainly because there is so much variation from one batch to the next from the different suppliers. Also, wood will move on ya. This way, if a body shrinks a little, I can adjust the pick guard to accommodate it.

    I have. Over the years, I have made a ton of pickguard templates. I did a thread on making one a last Fall I believe, so I won’t detail how to here.

    Here’s the likely candidate for today’s project.

    [​IMG]

    This one has been done specifically for the ’62 Strat. The body is only a few degrees separated from a genuine 1962 Strat. Today’s pickguards differ slightly from those found on the ’62.. so I corrected that.

    Now we determine what shade Tortoise Shell pickguard will look best. I prefer the brown…

    [​IMG]

    I trace out the shape and head to the band saw.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    time to get busy.

    Ron Kirn
     
  4. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    I use good ‘ol golf grip tape to secure the blank to the template…

    [​IMG]

    apply good firm pressure to get a good secure bond, then to the drill press.

    [​IMG]

    I drill a pilot hole in the pickup holes, and drill the pot mounting holes, and all other holes..

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    When drilling laminated pickguard material, use a fresh backing, If your table is full of old holes, the downward pressure from the drill press can cause the surface lamination to separate and pop lose.. not repairable… so use something below the pickguard that has no voids, and move the pickguard to a new location for each hole.

    Ron Kirn
     
  5. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Now it pretty straightforward, just go around the template, rather slowly. Once complete, clean all the plastic shavings off the table and the work and go around a gain.

    [​IMG]

    At this point, I check to be certain the neck has a mice neat fit.

    [​IMG]

    I now change to a 3/8 inch diameter router bit, and cut the pickup holes.

    [​IMG]

    It now looks strangely like a pickguard..

    [​IMG]

    next stop. . . the beveled edge…

    Ron Kirn
     
  6. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Now put a 45 degree bevel bit in the router… sorry I plain forgot to photograph it… but it looks a lot like a 45 degree bevel bit.

    I adjust so I’m sure it will not make too deep of a cut, I want to adjust the height of the bit to get it correct, in this shot, you can see the 3rd ply, black, is just beginning to “peek” out….

    [​IMG]

    I raise the router a few thousandths… and this is the results… look close….

    [​IMG]

    it’s good, so rout the bevel be careful though, there are areas that do not get beveled, the neck pocket, and the tremolo cutout.

    Now go back and check visually to be certain the “lines are all cut evenly,

    [​IMG]

    If you see areas that are cut too shallow so the different layers of the pickguard aren’t even, re cut, applying more downward pressure in those areas. Once the bevel is correct, I move on to countersink the screw holes…

    [​IMG]

    I use the layers of the pickguard as a reference, to determine the depth, or you can set the drill press stop and use sheets of paper to work the pickguard up into the countersink to get to the correct depth..

    Ron Kirn
     
  7. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    I’ll check with a pickguard screw to be sure I know what I’m doing…lookin’ good…

    [​IMG]

    so all the screw holes are countersunk with the exception of the Switch screws.. I need those holes for the next task, cutting the switch slot…

    I get my trusty switch slot gizmo….a jig I made, and a Dremel with a 1/16 inch bit/

    [​IMG]

    The jig was made so that the 2 hold down screws are in the same location as the switch mounting screws.

    [​IMG]

    adjust the Dremel, so it will just cut through the pickguard.

    [​IMG]

    Ron Kirn
     
  8. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Now it’s just a matter of gently lowering the bit into the slot, and making a pass… whill continuing to move the Dremel, turn it off. Once it has stopped, remove it, and clean out all the plastic chips… then repeat.

    [​IMG]

    by continually moving the tool you reduce the chance a clump of plastic will attach itself to the bit, and burn a section of the slots edge.

    We now have a slot….

    [​IMG]

    Now since the pickguard mounting screws are a different size than the Switch mounting screws, we need to watch it, when countersinking the holes.

    [​IMG]

    I just sue the same process, on the drill press, watching the exposed rings of the different layers of the pickguard plastic, then check with a screw.

    [​IMG]

    Ron Kirn
     
  9. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Now, sneak into the little woman’s bath and find a specialized tool. Revlon works fine…. Using the fingernail file, smooth the switch slot, and clean any plastic shavings you don’t want hanging out of it during your part of the sow.

    [​IMG]

    I now install the switch to be certain it fits and the selections can be made without any interference from the pickguard.

    [​IMG]

    I’ll not take a moment to clean any remaining plastic shavings, etc. from the back side..

    [​IMG]

    and the pickguard is now ready…

    [​IMG]

    Ron Kirn
     
  10. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    So whadya do with a nice new pickguard, why ya load it up and wire the rascal..

    So I get all the “Stuff” (technical term used in high level facilities working with cutting edge electronics, like Lawrence-Livermore labs) together, and organize it on a specially designed mat specifically intended for assembling state of the art electronics, and wiping up spilled spaghetti sauce.

    [​IMG]

    do the preliminary assembly, lock nut, star washer, and into the hole…

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Don’t tighten anything yet, you will usually have to slide the shield, if you use the vintage style, to get it into position. It’s also not unusual to have to enlarge a hole ot two to get it all together.

    Once everything is mounted, tighten down the pots and switch… we’re ready to operate…

    [​IMG]

    Ron Kirn
     
  11. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Ron do you sand or buff the machined bevel on the pickguard? I'm always tempted to try to get a shine on the edge it and maybe it's a mistake since it becomes uneven in sheen.
     
  12. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Oh yeah, I use silicon tubing as spacers for the pickups.. It is indestructible, and if you choose the right size, it just fits over the 6-32 height adjusting screws tight enough to hold tem in place while you run the screws into the pickups.

    [​IMG]

    I also use linen string to tie the wiring to make for a neat assembly. I cannot stand to open a guitar and see old tape wrapped around the wiring, the string is so much neater.

    [​IMG]

    Now I solder the 3 primary pickup leads to the switch, and bundle the 3 ground wires.

    [​IMG]

    Oh yes on most Strats, I will use an isolated ground point, isolated by an audio grade capacitor. There is NO sonic change, but the resulting Strat is as quiet as one with humbuckers. For me, it’s a no brainer. Here’s a site with excellent info:
    http://www.guitarnuts.com/wiring/shielding/shield3.php

    SO just keep on following what ever schematic you have selected, until you run out of things to solder.

    [​IMG]

    For those that are inexperienced at soldering, take an old non functioning piece of electronic whatever, open it up, a hammer works well, find a few soldered leads, un connect them, and re-solder them. Do it a few times and you will start to get the hang of it.

    Ron Kirn
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2008
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  13. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    I’ve about completed everything by now….

    [​IMG]

    So it’s about time to check things out…I’ve connected the jack. For those that may be unaware, the spiraled hookup wire is for a reason; by spiraling them you get a shielding effect. So if you want it quiet, and want the vintage appearance of cotton covered wire, twist ‘em.

    [​IMG]

    Now, I plug ‘er in to the amp, Ummmm . . . turned down… and using a specially developed tool I’ll test each pickup and switch combination.

    [​IMG]

    ready for installation. . ..

    Those specially developed pickup testing tools are great, they’re available at about any Office Supply store…. I don’t know why, but for some reason they seem to think they need to hide them… they’re concealed with a fictitious name, look for Paper clips…go figure…

    Next I’ll be finishing the neck…..

    Ron Kirn
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2008
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  14. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Yes I do, just by hand with a 320 - 500 whatever I grab.... I don't buff, the polished edge makes it look like those molded pickguards you see on 50 dollar Wal Mart Specials...

    I sand to remove the router tool machine marks...

    Ron Kirn
     
  15. pottedmeat42

    pottedmeat42 Tele-Meister

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    Thank you Ron for taking the time to share your process with us. =jason
     
  16. ROADMAN

    ROADMAN Poster Extraordinaire

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    could not be more informative and entertaining Ron...
    thanks so much....I look forward to the next excerpt.
     
  17. Flat357

    Flat357 Banned

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    Lovin it :D
     
  18. fletch

    fletch Tele-Meister

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    I'm enjoying this thread immensely Ron !! :)
     
  19. cdhopkin

    cdhopkin Tele-Meister

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    The tip about using the string to tidy up the wiring is genius. I'll have to do that with one my EMG equipped models - it's a complete rats nest "under the hood".

    I can't wait to see it assembled!
     
  20. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Time to convert a well lacquered neck into the business end of a great guitar….

    [​IMG]

    First thing to do it adjust the truss rod… You will see I don’t use some exotic way over-priced specialized tool. This is because I know the neck is not level, and a few thousandths variation is normal, that why we do a fret leveling.

    Further… every neck made needs to have the frets leveled to achieve optimum playability, every one. Sure, with very high action you can get away without it, but if you wannem lighting fast, you gotta do it.

    So take a reasonable straightedge, I
    M using a framing square here, ‘cause it was close at hand. Anything of reasonable straightness will do.

    Adjust the truss rod, so that it’s “pulling” the neck to flatness as opposed to releasing the tension to get it there.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    then use whatever method you’re comfortable with to secure the neck so you have full access to all the frets, all the time and is doesn’t scoot all over the work bench.

    [​IMG]

    You will see I use a very expensive method of securing the neck, a piece of MDF with a tapered neck pocket cut in it, shoot.. had to cost at least 2 dollars, and a screw through one of the tuning key holes, another 3 cents… expense is not a consideration when you are seeking perfection.

    Ron Kirn
     
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