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  1. #1
    Sinner's Swing!
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    Default New Strat build this past Weekend

    Hey all.
    Not a VH build, but what the hell. He's played Fender Strats too!
    Well it's been a while since I slapped together a guitar.
    Over the Holidays, I went to my local Tom Lee Music to pick up some strings, and I came across two bins which had Stat and Tele bodies that they were having a promotion for. (I can't remember the last time I saw bodies in a retail store BTW)
    The Strat bodies were alder, and very accurately shaped, and contoured from what I could tell, and going for $100 bucks! Not bad deal at all!
    So, after a couple days, I was playing my Fender 68 reissue I bought in the late Eighties, which was Japanese.
    I've always loved the neck, and feel on the guitar, but never been overly enamored with the body....It's a sunburst, but had no real grain, and has a very thick poly finish which is chipping like hell now.
    I pulled the trigger on one of the bodies, and selected the nicest one out of the pile.

    So, as it stands, I finish sanded it up to 400 gr. reworked the neck pocket (More on that in a minute) cleaned up the routs and all the usual stuff. I decided on a danish oil finish (Watco) for a change of pace. Turned out very nice. Grain really pops. In about a month, I'm going to do a French Polish on the guitar (shellac) instead of lacquer this time around after seeing a friends lap steel which looked and felt great to play.

    Now, on the neck pocket, I actually ran into a bit of an issue with the stock neck. It was actually considerably wider than I expected. I've done hundreds of repairs and swaps with bodies and necks over the years, but I don't recall ever specifically running into the MIJ Strats with such a wide neck. I couldn't even get it into the pocket. It was that much over. I tested the pocket with some other necks I have kicking around, and they all were bang on, or just slightly snug, so I knew the body was not at fault.

    With other guitars, swapping necks has meant on occasion a little minor sanding, filing or chisel work in too tight a fit, and conversely, adding matched wood, or using veneers to tighten a pocket that's too loose, but I had to remove just over 1/8" of material from the bass side, and exactly 1/16" from the treble side.Just kept checking, using a guide coat of graphite in the pocket with every round of work to make sure the material removal was uniform. A bit daunting as the vintage bridge holes were pre drilled, and it was tough to template the neck to make sure I was square, so was flying a little blind as I wasn't certain which point was the most accurate to start from. Treble side, Bass Side, or the bridge. Would I need to dowel, and re-position? I was a little concerned, because I just didn't know how accurate these guys work was from the factory.

    Has anyone else experienced working on these MIJ Strats and finding this issue, or is it maybe a one off that slipped through QC? Like I said, it always played great, but I just wanted something different for now.
    The reason I ask is I will ultimately strip the old body, and do a solid color instead, but if I order another neck, I may have one very sloppy pocket to contend with.

    Does anyone recall if there was an alternate measurement on these particular Strats for the neck/pocket?

    I'll post some pics when I get time.
    Anyway...I got the neck in place, and was amazed that I actually got it bang on. Centered perfectly, and it's a nice snug pocket....no shifting at all. Did all the final drilling and placement of parts, and it's awesome.

    The guitar looks, plays, and sounds great. It's got a tungsten tone block that used to belong to Keith Scott from Bryan Adams band...Heavy, but a great tone, and lots of sustain, and the Dimarzio Area series stackers which are dead silent, and sound real good, but I'm thinking of putting a rail pickup in the bridge position. I generally hate Strat bridge pickupsunless your amp is dialed in perfectly. Just too damn bright, when switching from a humbucker guitar without resetting everything on your amp, but love the neck and in between out of phase tones. Any suggestions for a rail pickup? I have an SD Lil' 59, that I've tried in a few guitars, but I've never been overly happy with it.
    Thanks!
    Last edited by we die young; 01.24.17 at 10:40 AM.

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  3. #2
    Little Dreamer Echo Charlie's Avatar
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    Default

    I started building a partscaster a few weeks ago. Everything is from eBay. Body, neck, tuners, wiring kit (not pre-soldered), pick guard, Tex-mex pickups, yadda yadda.

    Got everything installed, soldered, put together, strung up, worked on a proper set-up, action, intonation, plug it in and ......buzz, buzz, crackle, pop, buzz.

    Forgot to solder a ground wire to the claw. COME ON, MAN!

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  5. #3
    Top Of The World Tank2000's Avatar
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    If your looking for a bridge humbucker in a single coil size, DiMarzio has a lot of options with dual rail single coils plus there's the SD lil screamin demon, lil JB, and lil pearly gates which I heard is great. Basically lots of options for a single coil size humbucker with just those two brands. Not to mention the others I don't know about...
    My recommendation would be the Super Distortion S. I mean how can you go wrong with the classic DSD

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  7. #4
    Sinner's Swing!
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    Thanks guys.
    Yeah...I know there's a lot of choices, and a lot of the SC sized humbuckers have come a long way.
    I'm thinking about the Lil JB, or possibly the Dimarzio size Tone Zone S version but maybe add a treble bleed mod as well.
    I have the Lil 59 as I said, but it just doesn't have the balls I'm looking for.
    I don't mind the pickups I have it it. They sound typical Strat, and you can just dial in the amp to the guitar, but I just like HB's better for a bridge PU. Just warmer, better harmonics...etc..
    Hopefully I can post some pics of the guitar tonight. I was trying to dig up my old Photobucket to add the pics to post...Lol...Been a while!
    Playing wise, I'm really loving it. I think I made the right choice getting the body, and that grain is just beautiful. Gotten a lot of comliments on it. A few people think I should forego the french polish, and just leave it the raw Danish Oil...I might.....It would probably wear in a cool way....I love a guitar that looks played.
    Last edited by we die young; 01.26.17 at 07:37 AM.

  8. #5
    Sinner's Swing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Echo Charlie View Post
    I started building a partscaster a few weeks ago. Everything is from eBay. Body, neck, tuners, wiring kit (not pre-soldered), pick guard, Tex-mex pickups, yadda yadda.

    Got everything installed, soldered, put together, strung up, worked on a proper set-up, action, intonation, plug it in and ......buzz, buzz, crackle, pop, buzz.

    Forgot to solder a ground wire to the claw. COME ON, MAN!
    Funny you mention that! Lol!
    I was getting mine put together...Soldered up the connections (complete and pre-wired on the pickguard from the other body) to the jack, and soldered the ground to the claw.
    Plugged it in, and was buzzing horribly.
    Opened it back up, and saw the ground lead had broken off the pot, probably when I fed it through the body, Fixed that, and all good.

  9. #6
    Little Dreamer Echo Charlie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by we die young View Post
    Funny you mention that! Lol!
    I was getting mine put together...Soldered up the connections (complete and pre-wired on the pickguard from the other body) to the jack, and soldered the ground to the claw.
    Plugged it in, and was buzzing horribly.
    Opened it back up, and saw the ground lead had broken off the pot, probably when I fed it through the body, Fixed that, and all good.
    That's actually my next area of concern. On a factory soldered job the solder looks like it pools so nicely on the backside of the pots. My job, eh, not so much. It's clunky, drippy, burned in the outer areas, etc. Not good. So, basically, I'm worried that I'm not getting a great ground connection there (aside from me forgetting to ground to the claw).

    Can't remember off hand, but one of the pots has I think 3, maybe 4, wires all soldered to the back of a single pot as a point of ground. Do you solder each single strand of wire individually? Or do you twist them all together and solder that as a single point of contact. It looks like on the factory jobs it's a single point of contact, but the pool of solder is perfect! Almost dime-sized (maybe a little smaller). Do you know what I mean?

  10. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Echo Charlie View Post
    That's actually my next area of concern. On a factory soldered job the solder looks like it pools so nicely on the backside of the pots. My job, eh, not so much. It's clunky, drippy, burned in the outer areas, etc. Not good. So, basically, I'm worried that I'm not getting a great ground connection there (aside from me forgetting to ground to the claw).

    Can't remember off hand, but one of the pots has I think 3, maybe 4, wires all soldered to the back of a single pot as a point of ground. Do you solder each single strand of wire individually? Or do you twist them all together and solder that as a single point of contact. It looks like on the factory jobs it's a single point of contact, but the pool of solder is perfect! Almost dime-sized (maybe a little smaller). Do you know what I mean?
    I personally twist them if at all possible, then I tin those wires.
    After that, I solder it back on to the pot. If you are reusing a pot, then there should be enough existing solder, but what I'll do before attaching the wires is reheat the existing solder pool. You basically want it to flow back into itself like liquid mercury, and then if you think there's too little left to sufficiently hold the wires, you just dab in a little more solder into the molten pool.
    Then you attach the wires as you normally would, heating the tinned wires, and solder so they flow together.
    You get a much cleaner job than working with rough, freshly detached solder joints.
    Just a tip that you probably know, but some don't....If you are using a fresh pot, always scuff the area you intend to use as your attachment point. I use a 220 gr. emory board, but you can use sandpaper, or even a small file, but you need to give the back of the pot some tooth, or the solder will just keep drawing op onto your soldering iron....Not the pot, and your job will be very messy with bad connections.
    Last edited by we die young; 01.27.17 at 06:50 AM.

  11. #8
    Romeo Delight </vh>'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by we die young View Post
    I personally twist them if at all possible, then I tin those wires.
    After that, I solder it back on to the pot. If you are reusing a pot, then there should be enough existing solder, but what I'll do before attaching the wires is reheat the existing solder pool. You basically want it to flow back into itself like liquid mercury, and then if you think there's too little left to sufficiently hold the wires, you just dab in a little more solder into the molten pool.
    Then you attach the wires as you normally would, heating the tinned wires, and solder so they flow together.
    You get a much cleaner job than working with rough, freshly detached solder joints.
    Just a tip that you probably know, but some don't....If you are using a fresh pot, always scuff the area you intend to use as your attachment point. I use a 220 gr. emory board, but you can use sandpaper, or even a small file, but you need to give the back of the pot some tooth, or the solder will just keep drawing op onto your soldering iron....Not the pot, and your job will be very messy with bad connections.
    Good info here. I would just like to add that if you keep your ground wires separate it makes it a hell of a lot easier down the road if you (like me, inevitably) ever want to change things
    Who the F#©K is Eddie Van Halen?

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  13. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by </vh> View Post
    Good info here. I would just like to add that if you keep your ground wires separate it makes it a hell of a lot easier down the road if you (like me, inevitably) ever want to change things
    Good point...Yeah..I mean, I was just speaking for myself personally. Sometimes what I'll do is divide, and solder to two points on the back. The real reason I tend to like to twist and solder to one point on an existing pot is because some of them are more susceptable to heat. I'f I'm using a CTS, Bournes, Dimarzio etc... there's usually no problem. The metal they use is a little more beefy, and the internals are of exceptional quality with proper lubrication that stays in place when heated within typical spec, so not as much concern soldering multiple points.
    On the other hand, I've had Alpha, or other no name offshore pots completely fail with typical soldering/heat cycle times. Granted, that's not saying a lot, but if your'e contending with an already messy factory, or end user soldering job, or worse, someone having used the wrong type of solder, it can mean a bit more time heating which those chintsy pots just don't like at all.
    Last edited by we die young; 01.27.17 at 07:56 AM.

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  15. #10
    Romeo Delight </vh>'s Avatar
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    Or, you can also clip the ground wires off and leave a small bit of wire attached that you can use to solder your grounds to. That way you're not constantly heating up parts like crazy. Just did that myself yesterday, as a matter of fact I'll be posting my fun little project in the Modified Wolfgangs thread later!
    Who the F#©K is Eddie Van Halen?

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  17. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by </vh> View Post
    Or, you can also clip the ground wires off and leave a small bit of wire attached that you can use to solder your grounds to. That way you're not constantly heating up parts like crazy. Just did that myself yesterday, as a matter of fact I'll be posting my fun little project in the Modified Wolfgangs thread later!
    Yep! Can do that too. I've also used quick release connections as well.

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    Thanks guys!! All this info is very helpful. I didn't scuff the bottom of the new pots. So when I "go back in" this weekend I've got some work to do.

    One more thing, and maybe this is personal taste, but what capacitor do you guys use? I am using a .047 Orange, which I think is correct, but I'm not sure now (after reading more info on the net). Some people use a .022, I think? Any help is appreciated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Echo Charlie View Post
    Thanks guys!! All this info is very helpful. I didn't scuff the bottom of the new pots. So when I "go back in" this weekend I've got some work to do.

    One more thing, and maybe this is personal taste, but what capacitor do you guys use? I am using a .047 Orange, which I think is correct, but I'm not sure now (after reading more info on the net). Some people use a .022, I think? Any help is appreciated.
    I actually play around with caps to be honest. Sometimes using a different value can give you a more personally tailored tone depending on the pickups you're using. Sometimes what's listed generally for stock wiring can sound terribly muffled, or maybe not give you enough variation you're looking for. Are you using stock Fender Singlecoils, or noiseless/stackers?
    I didn't bother to look what value mine was in the Strat. It's got a nice range...Not overly muffled.
    Aside from my Jazz Bass, and a DC59 Dano reissue, it's the only other guitar I have the tone hooked up in.
    I did a vid on my YT channel a few years ago on the Dano where I did an electronics upgrade from the original Alpha crap. I changed the cap in that video and really liked it. I'll have to look back and see what that one was. I know that value cap worked great in Strats with stock 60's style pickups.
    Last edited by we die young; 01.27.17 at 01:59 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by we die young View Post
    I actually play around with caps to be honest. Sometimes using a different value can give you a more personally tailored tone depending on the pickups you're using. Sometimes what's listed generally for stock wiring can sound terribly muffled, or maybe not give you enough variation you're looking for. Are you using stock Fender Singlecoils, or noiseless/stackers?
    I didn't bother to look what value mine was in the Strat. It's got a nice range...Not overly muffled.
    Aside from my Jazz Bass, and a DC59 Dano reissue, it's the only other guitar I have the tone hooked up in.
    I did a vid on my YT channel a few years ago on the Dano where I did an electronics upgrade from the original Alpha crap. I changed the cap in that video and really liked it. I'll have to look back and see what that one was. I know that value cap worked great in Strats with stock 60's style pickups.
    I'm using Fender Tex-Mex pick-ups.

    I wanted the Texas Specials but couldn't justify paying that much for pick-ups on my first build. I had an SRV strat 15 or so years ago and looooooved the Specials. Still regret selling that guitar. (sold my USA Peavey Wolf too.....I'm never selling a guitar ever again. Ever.)

  21. #15
    Sinner's Swing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Echo Charlie View Post
    I'm using Fender Tex-Mex pick-ups.

    I wanted the Texas Specials but couldn't justify paying that much for pick-ups on my first build. I had an SRV strat 15 or so years ago and looooooved the Specials. Still regret selling that guitar. (sold my USA Peavey Wolf too.....I'm never selling a guitar ever again. Ever.)
    Cool! I'll take a look tonight at the cap value I'm using.
    I know what you mean...Those Texas Specials are very nice pickups. Nice and rounded, with just enough additional output to give them some grit.
    How do you like the Tex-Mex's? I installed a set in a customer's ash Strat, and they seemed pretty good. I did find them to be a little bright for my liking, but they do have some nice mids that work great in the 2 and 4 "Quack" positions.
    I love the neck position best. Quite bluesy sounding.

 

 

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