Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mexican Strat Restoration

Howdy folks! I'm happy to report that the sunburst Mexican Strat sent in a few weeks ago is now back in playing condition. Here's a rundown of the repair and restoration work carried out.

After removing the old frets with a soldering iron and flush-ground end nippers, the fingerboard was lightly sanded and then cleaned with naptha (Zippo lighter fluid). No finish was applied as per the owner's request. A full refret was then carried out using a set of Dunlop Accu-Fret 6110 Jumbo Fret Wire. A new nut was also installed. The wood in and around numerous fret slots (especially the first) and areas on both fingerboard edges was badly decayed and crumbly. This problem was fixed with a mixture of wood dust and super glue, followed by scraping, sanding and polishing.


The guitar was completely rewired, and a handmade aluminum pickguard shield plate installed.

The neck pickup tone pot (250K), capacitor (0.022uF), and output jack were replaced; and a new tremolo claw ground wire run from the volume pot. The bridge pu was also out-of-phase with the middle pu, producing a hollow and tinny sound in switch position 4. The problem was fixed by swapping connections for the hot and ground leads of the bridge pu.



The missing middle pickup tone knob was replaced, as was the missing back plate. Two down, one to go; ie fixing the damaged poly finish on the inner curves of both body horns. I started off by supergluing the edges of the cracked finish to the exposed wood underneath. This was to flatten the edges and prevent further lifting. Following this, cracks and exposed areas were filled with Devcon Plastic Steel Epoxy. After six hours, the epoxy was hard enough to be filed, scraped and sanded flat in relation to the existing finish. These areas were then sprayed with three coats of black, followed by four coats of clear, left to dry, and then polished thoroughly to remove any overspray and blend the repair job into the existing finish.

Besides being badly tarnished and rusted in places, numerous bridge saddle height adjustment (allen) screws were frozen and had to be removed by force through a combination of heat and chemicals. Now, suitable replacements had to be found for these damaged screws. Luckily for me, I had a few old humbucker height adjustment screws lying around that fitted perfectly. After sawing off suitable lengths, I filed the ends flat and slotted one end with a hacksaw. Thus said, anyone intending to adjust saddle height on this guitar in the future should have both an allen wrench and a tiny flathead screwdriver on hand.

Finishing Touches 
A set of 009 - 042 strings were installed, and the appropriate truss rod / action / intonation adjustments were made for optimum playability. The grimy body was also cleaned with naphta and then waxed and polished painstakingly by hand. All hardware was also degrimed, brushed free of rust, and finally polished with Autosol. Though it's taken lots of blood, sweat and tears to get this strat back into shape, the results are well worth it.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Used and Abused Sunburst Mexican Strat

This Mexican Strat has most certainly been used, abused, and played to death. According to the Guitar Dater Project website, this guitar "was made at the Ensenada Plant (Fender), Mexico in the Year(s): 2001 - 2002." Looking at the neck pocket stamp (Mar 13 2002), GDP's info is right on the money. Restoration work on this baby is not going to be easy, that's for sure. Stay tuned for updates. And now, some pics for you :) 

Front view

Rear view

Note missing trem cavity cover and ground wire.

A full refret is in order here.

Pickguard off.

"MAR 13 2002"

One corner of the neck pu cover is totally worn through.

The thick finish is seriously cracked and has even peeled off in places.

Rather gnarly rewiring job.

N Series Fender Strat

This butterscotch blonde strat (N7xxxxxx) came in for appraisal recently. Let's talk about the neck first, which, judging by the headstock decal and neck heel sticker/stamp, appears to have been made in the US in February 1997 by Jose Alvarenga. A check with the Guitar Dater Project confirms that it was indeed "made at the Corona Plant (Fender), USA in the Year(s): 1997 - 1998." However, the neck and body do not match. The neck has 22 frets, while the pickguard has a screwdriver route for a vintage-style 21 fret neck (with the truss rod adjustment screw at the heel). In any case, this guitar is still a beauty. Here are some pics, courtesy of Norisah DeNetto. Enjoy!

Custom "Planet Waves" neck pocket shim.

Rather sloppy rewiring job.

Selector switch.

Volume pot.

Tone pots.

"Worm route"