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Replace Wilkinson nut? Or replace entire neck on Strat Plus Deluxe?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by rsilverst, Nov 28, 2020.

  1. rsilverst

    rsilverst TDPRI Member

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    Hey all — I have a 1989 Strat Plus Deluxe and although it is one of the most beautiful guitars I own, I am less happy with its sound and playability than I am with my G&L Legacy (maybe not surprising), or with my Mexican and Japanese Strats (somewhat surprising).

    I suspect the root of it is that I really HATE the Wilkinson nut. I have thought about having the nut replaced with a regular nut but wondering if it would be better to just get a new neck since I am not even sure I like the neck on this guitar (my perception was that is really flat — but when I look up specs, it is supposedly a 9.5” radius, so I dunno what the deal is).

    My Questions:

    1. Could the Wilkinson nut (metal) be significantly affecting the tone of the guitar? (overly bright)
    2. Would it be better to just replace the neck instead of paying $150+ for a tech to replace nut?
    3. If I do replace neck are there any constraints? Or will any Strat neck fit?
     
  2. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Doctor of Teleocity

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    I believe I'd buy a Fender replacement neck for $199 and keep the original in case I were ever to want to sell the guitar.
    My .02.
     
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  3. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Any Strat neck will fit, but the nut affects open strings. Once you fret a note, the nut is pretty much out of the picture.

    All that to say replacing the entire neck will probably not make the guitar less bright. The tonal personality of a guitar is the result of a combination of all the parts...and not generally just the parts--but the specific parts on an individual guitar. This is the reason why two identical guitars made one after the other, with identical parts, often have their own personalities.

    What I'd do in that situation is replace the nut and play the guitar for what it is. That's really the reason for having several different guitars: it gives you plenty of tonal options to draw on.
     
  4. bettyseldest

    bettyseldest Friend of Leo's

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    It sounds like a bit of a lottery to me. I think that the answer is to sell it and use the funds to purchase a used Baja Telecaster, which will guarantee satisfaction. We can discuss what to do with the surplus funds in another thread.
     
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  5. Fluddman

    Fluddman Tele-Holic

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    I had the exact same model and i ended up selling it. With hindsight, it was the best sounding strat i've owned (and I've owned a lot) and it stayed in tune fantastically well - no doubt due to the roller nut.

    What is it you don't like about the nut? Is it just the looks cause I get that.

    Cheers
     
  6. bettyseldest

    bettyseldest Friend of Leo's

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    I had an early Strat Plus, and really liked everything about it, except for the trem, I don't like any guitar with a trem. If you don't like the sound of your's it could be down to the Lace Sensors, which many don't care for. Baja is the answer.
     
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  7. rsilverst

    rsilverst TDPRI Member

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    I removed the lace sensors back in 1996 :) currently it has Duncan SSL-2, APS-1, and SSL-1 in it. And some crazy push pull wiring that I did back then, which is so convoluted, I don't even understand how I did it! I think I'm going to rip out all the wiring nonsense and redo it to match the harness on my G&L Legacy, with Master Volume, Treble Cut, Bass Cut. That's my best sounding strat. And if that's a step in the right direction, I might replace the Duncan pickups with something like that 54 Custom Shop pickups, which sound great from what I can tell.
     
  8. rsilverst

    rsilverst TDPRI Member

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    I guess mostly the looks, but also I can't use 0.050 for my Low E with the Wilkinson. That matters less now that I got into the hybrid slinky which are 11-49 or something like that. But I still might replace it with the LSR nut so I can use the higher gauge if desired.
     
  9. Buzzgrowl

    Buzzgrowl Tele-Meister

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    No.
    Yes.
    No then yes.

    It's not clear what is your problem. Looks, sound, ergonomics?
     
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  10. Fretting out

    Fretting out Poster Extraordinaire

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    If it were mine I’d replace it with an LSR

    They even include a shim so the lsr is a drop in replacement, no modifying necessary, you could easily do it yourself

    Thick strings definitely fit (I use 12-52) and it works real well
     
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  11. rsilverst

    rsilverst TDPRI Member

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    The guitar has a few issues in my opinion. One is that it doesn't sound as much like a vintage strat as I want it to sound. I think the pickups and wiring can be reconfigured to address that. I did some mods to it a long time ago and think I went too far. It does have Duncan vintage single coils, so that shouldn't be far off the mark, but maybe they aren't as vintage sounding as what I have in my other strats. I also have a couple of push pull knobs and wiring mods for series/phase and tone bypass. I might undo all that since it's a mess and very complicated. I don't find myself using any of the alternative setting anyway.

    The next problem, as you noted I hate the looks of the Wilkinson and also hate that I can't use 50 gauge for my Low E. So I think replacing with the LSR is the first step I'm gonna take there. It's only $30 and I can do it myself. Better aesthetics and can handle the higher gauge.

    The last bit is the neck. I don't understand why it feels so different from my other strats. It's supposedly C shape, 9.5 radius. But it feels so flat and the edges of the fingerboard seem sharper rather than smoothly rounded like my others. If I can't get around that, then the neck replacement is the only option.

    Gonna start with the nut (cheap) and reconfiguring the wiring back to standard (free) and take stock. If it's a step in right direction I might replace the bridge pickup with something fancier or maybe a whole set. As I noted above, the Custom Shop 54 sound really good from the samples I hear online.
     
  12. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    With so many things you dislike about the guitar, why not just sell it and buy something you like? The Strat Plus holds its value and should be very desirable, even with the mods you did.

    I have a Strat Plus Deluxe from 93, and I love it. You are right the neck is a bit thin, and (maybe as a result) it very sensitive to temp/humidity changes. But other than that, the guitar feels great, plays great, sounds great, I love the lace sensors, I love the nut, it never goes out of tune. It's great.
     
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  13. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Pics of mine, mentioned above:
     

    Attached Files:

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  14. rsilverst

    rsilverst TDPRI Member

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    I can't sell because of sentimental value, plus it's a beautiful guitar with see thru blue burst finish. I've had it longer than any of my guitars.

    Don't really need another Strat since I have three that all play and sound great. Just want to try to bring this one up to par as a pet project.

    IMG_20150117_143156243_HDR.jpg
     
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  15. G.Rotten

    G.Rotten Tele-Afflicted

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    The LSR is designed to be a drop in replacement so no need for a tech & reversible.

    IMO the "Out the amp" sound comes mostly from the pickups. Obviously everything plays a part in the overall sound but factors other than the electronics are fairly minimal.

    Look into your pups & wiring. There's no reason why that can't be a perfectly usable guitar.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2020
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  16. Buzzgrowl

    Buzzgrowl Tele-Meister

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    The first thing I would do is lower all 3 pickups flat with the pickguard. Then I would raise the neck 1mm and the bridge 2mm.

    Then I would tighten the truss rod be 5-10 degres (1/20 of a turn). (Re)set intonation with a very precise tuner and play.

    If not happy, then I would reset the pots and switches (and check the values on a multimeter) to simple/original strat setup, maybe with the tone on the bridge.

    The nut is largely looks (does not affect fretted notes) but if it is too high it can ruin your action and thus your overall intonation. When an instrument is out of tune with itself, it may not generate musical harmonics that players often perceive as beutiful.

    Personally, I would not assume that the LSR is a drop in replacement. I'm not saying it's not but I would triple check before moving on this. I also think the LSR would look better, those Wilkinsons look super clunky.

    Nice strat btw! Have fun!
     
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  17. blue metalflake

    blue metalflake Doctor of Teleocity

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    Sounds like the best option may be to move it on - potential to spend a lot of time & money with no guaranteed outcome
     
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  18. Jakedog

    Jakedog Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I don’t understand why people hate roller nuts. As was said earlier, it’s not making your guitar sound bad. Because once you fret a note, it’s out of the equation.

    If it’s the looks, well... my feelings on that matter aren’t helpful. They pretty much amount to “get over it”.

    If the guitar is overly bright, a much cheaper fix than a new neck or a nut conversion would be to try some different pots and caps. You could try a whole lot of options there for under $100.

    If you really dislike the neck shape and feel, you could try a new neck, saving the old one to preserve originality should you sell it down the line.

    In my experience, if I really don’t like a guitar, then I just don’t like it. I generally find the more parts I change trying to fix it, the more I like it even less. There have been exceptions, but that’s generally how it goes. Eventually I’m forced to admit that I just don’t dig it, at which point it’s modified to hell and gone and I’ve lost all that cash, and I’m still stuck with a guitar I don’t like.

    Maybe do some soul searching. It may be that it’s just not the guitar for you. It may be best just to move it along and get something you really love.
     
  19. Jakedog

    Jakedog Telefied Ad Free Member

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    An LSR is definitely NOT a drop in replacement for a Wilkinson.
     
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  20. Jakedog

    Jakedog Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Sorry, I hadn’t seen this post when I replied. Your issues with the neck are typical. Back in those days they didn’t roll the fretboard edges and that’s exactly how they feel.

    I think your sonic issues are related to the electronics hodge-podgery you’ve got going on there. My advice would be to get rid of all of that stuff and wore it up standard with three new 250k pots. Put the second tone knob on the bridge pickup the way that guitar was originally wired. I think you’ll see a big difference.
     
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