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.


YusTech said...

Thumbs up for Maple fretwork.A fingerboard fear of mine. :)

Cikgu Aziz said...

Thanks, YusTech. The maple fingerboard on this Strat was really bad, with rotted and crumbling wood on both edges and also on either side of the fret slots. Super Glue to the rescue :)