Category Archives: Hardware

The Red Strat Specs

So, I have made up my mind, and here are the specs for the guitar

  • Seymour Duncan Antiquity Texas Hot Vintage Set
  • Fender Stratocaster White SSS pickguard and knobs
  • Fender 5 Way pickup selector
  • CTS 250K linear potentiometers
  • Sprague Orange Drop 0.022uf capacitor
  • 2 DPDT on-on mini-toggle
  • Fender Staggered Locking tuners
  • Graph Tech Black Tusq XL
  • Gotoh NS510TS Bridge

All components are already on the guitar or have been ordered.

Oh, I have also ordered a cheap chinese 1Ply pickguard. The idea is to use it as a testing for ageing. I’ll be using shoe shine to do this. if it works and looks good then I’ll apply the same method on the pickguard. It is funny though, I have a 30 year old guitar, and the pickguard still looks white…. has lots of scratches, but still white.

 

Here we go again…

Aside from the black partscaster, I also have another MIM blacktop stratocaster. This is a Candy apple red.

I’ve already did some work on it when I got it in March this year (2017). I replaced the  nut (Graph Tech Black Tusq XL), bridge saddles (Gotho Stainles Steel) and Fender Locking Tuners. So it Sounds good, and plays amazing. But pickups are too hot for my (current taste) and now I find them rather muddy.

candyapple

I thougth on installing an EMG DG20 Loaded Pickguard, but although I love David Gilmour playing and sound, I don’t play like him, nor do want to sound like him, so I changed my mind about it. Besides, what’s the poing on buying the whole thing already made… where’s the fun in that?

So the plan now is to make it a killer “vintage” strat…. for a reasonable price. After doing some research I arrived to the Seymour Duncan Antiquity Texas Hot Strat set. I really like the sound of these. They are available as a set or a preloaded pickguard (but we have already established that there’s no fun in that), so the set it is. I have already ordered it and should be here within the next two weeks.

I already have a some of the required hardware (Fender SSS pickguard, actual vintage knobs)… and I’m yet to decide whether I’ll go for the classic strat setup, or go bit more custom and do away with the tone pots (either one or both), and (again) put a blower switch… as this really suits my playing. I will copper foil the guitar cavity and of course… quick disconnect features.

So I would still need the following hardware:

  • Potentiometers: Need to find out what would be ideal on a vintage strat, but more likely CTS 250K Linear will do the job for me
  • Cap: modern strats use .047pf, but apparently 0.022pf would suit this better. or I could do something like this and have the possiblity to have both.
  • Maybe another pickguard, but might need to go down the custom route as I can not fing a SSS, volume no tone pickguard

To be continued

 

Build day!

So I finally received the pickguard. Humbuckers fitted nicely, not so the CTS pot… so I had to enlarge the pot hole, and also drill a new one for the blower switch. I’ve to admit that I hesitated to drill the hole, and contemplated to use a push/pull volume, but my reasons to use a DPDT on-on were still very valid, so I ended up going on the original path and drilled the hole.

I mounted the components and it was  soldering time!… as I had pre-soldered (if that is even a word) everything, all I had to do was to solder the pickups and that was it… or so I thought…

When I went to mount the pickguard, I noticed the super switch was making contact with the side of the cavity. In fact it did not fit. so I had to flip the switch around, and re-do poles 0 by inverting the cabling so the switch would still work on the right position and right order.

I also swapped the DPDT switch for a different one which was easier to operate. Hopefully it will last the time.

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The completed pickguard.

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And this is what it looked like on the guitar. Notice the bridge saddles were also changed. I replaced the standard Fender vintage saddles with a set of Goth S21C steel saddles. I found these to be more comfortable for playing, specially as I do a lot of palm muting. The blower switch is behind the tremolo bar.

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The guitar with strings and intonation and action adjusted. Also note the volume know was replaced with a chrome one, as I think it looks much better.

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So that’s done!.. it was certainly a lot of fun…

and yes, it sounds amazing. I’ll upload some soundbytes soon.

Ah… and now I need a case and a beautiful strap

 

An update on the Locking tuners

After being unable to receive any communications from the Seller, they have agreed to a refund, and according to reverb policies they should also cover return costs. As soon as I get my money back I will be ordering from my usual eBay sellers… never had any issues with them in more than 15 years.

Reverb support was most helpful and was a different experience to chat with an actual person 🙂

Locking tuners – not so locking

I got home from work to find out my locking tuners had arrived.

Had dinner, bathed the kids, put them to bed… right! time to install the tuners.

These I got from Reverb and sold as genuine Schaller made in Germany for Fender for $79.50 AUD + shipping, on what I thought was a good deal.  Fender part 099-0818-100 6 inline staggered chrome locking tunners.

So finally got to install the tuners. They looked exactly like the ones on my American Stratocaster Plus, which has Schaller locking tuners. So I removed the old fender original ones I installed a few weeks earlier (refer to this post), and commenced to install the new ones… 1 in, 2 in, 3 in with some effort, 4 in…5 in without issues… not… well it got in nicely, but the screw in bushing did not screw in completely which causes the washers to be loose. F%$^%… 6 in… same problem! again the bushings did not screw in properly!

You can see in the following pictures exacly what I mean

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On  this picture you can clearly see there is a gap between the bushings and the washer, specially the bottom one which is close to 1 mm

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I then moved the tuners to different positions to see if I had them in the wrong position (like that is a possiblity) and then I noticed they were not staggered either!!!  all six tuners were short!

So, and against all instinct and knowing these would not work… I decided to give them a try and replaced strings… thinking maybe the loose washer would not be a issue… WRONG! the rattle was very noticeable and unbearable… not to mention the short tuners would fail to keep the guitar in tune when using the tremolo, as the 3 low strings would have too much friction at the nut…

Complete unusable.

So I’ve contacted the seller requesting a full refund or replacement… I’m not fussed either way, all I want are brand new, and fully functional locking tuners.

 

The pickups

As I wrote before, I love strats, they play just so nice. But I also like different guitars, and different sounds.

The firs time I heard of the Blacktop Stratocaster, I was really intrigued: A Stratocaster with dual humbuckers, and ‘vintage’ humbuckers while we are are. The demos available online sounded great, but as the guitar is no longer in production, I could not find one to test. So I bought one second hand.

I loved it. It was so familiar, yet so different. It played like a Strat, yet is sounded like no strat I’ve heard before. So it became one of my go to guitars.

But the AlNiCo V vintage pickups, while they sound really good, they are quite a high output, and as a result, they tend to mud things a little, specially when you are after the “Tube amp just breaking” tone… you know, that super clean yet crunchy sound. It just doesn’t happen. the pickups are simply too hot for that.

Enter the P.A.F. pickup. The 58-60 Gibson sound. that’s exactly the pickup for that job. While I love the Les Paul sound, I just can’t feel confortable playing it… maybe is a combination of the neck scale and the radius… and the weight… or who know… its just not right for me.

So I had narrowed down to a few PAF reissues, including Gibson and DiMarzio, and then I was lucky to try a Suhr Standard with a Thornbucker neck pickup… and that was it. exactly the tone I was after.

So more internet research and heaps of online demos and review later, I think the thornbuckers are the way to go. I believe they will provide that clean-dirty super clean and warm tone.

I’ve decided on the raw nickel covered ones, as there will ‘age’ its looks quicker (they will develop a patina), and I think they will look cool.

I have also decided on the 53mm for the neck.

thornbucker 2

lets just hope these fit on the HH pickguard…