Fender Stratocaster – Hard Tail

This is a rather nice US Strat, just needs a little tweek here and there.  The basic setup wasn’t far off ,although the intonation was all over the place.

The owner also didn’t like the tremolo, he doesn’t really use it so I’m going to block it off.

You can just clamp the trem’ claw springs all the way in, but if you want to maximise the sustain you need to fit a wooden block that will sit between the trem’ block and the body.

It needs to fit the gap exactly, so has to be cut and shaped accurately.

  Just like that.    

A little bit of glue to hold it in place.  Although once the trem’ is re-fitted and the springs tightened up it’s never going to move.

There it is, with the trem’ re-fitted and the springs tightened fully.

It’s not going to move now.

All it needs now is full 5 point setup…..

There it is, rockin’ better than ever, with a nice solid tail.

For anything else you may need just check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

Epiphone SG – Bone nut and setup

I’ve rather fancied one of these myself.  One of these years.  This one just has a few problems though, the biggest one being not staying in tune.

Most tuning stability problems come from the nut, bending a string pulls it through a little but when you let go it doesn’t go back fully, leaving the string out of tune.

I still don’t think you can beat good old fashioned bone for the nut so I’m just going to replace the old one.

While the strings are off, a good clean…

and oil.

So on to that new nut. From a large blank, start by cutting it roughly down to size.  

And then grind it down to the right thickness..

With it fitting in the slot next get it to the right length.  

Then shape the top, using the old nut as a guide.

With the shape and profile done glue it back into place.

Mark out the location for the outside “E” strings.

noting that the bass “E” string is thicker than the other so it’s the outside edge that’s important.

With that then mark up the other strings locations.

and start the slots.  Being careful not to go too deep, just enough so hold the strings in place.

Now a standard 5 point setup..

No.1  The neck relief.

with a tweek on the truss-rod.

No.2  The action at the 12th fret…    

by adjusting the bridge heights

No.3  The action at the first fret.  Way too high of course…

Now I can cut the slots to the right depth.

That does leave the top of the nut a little high and rather ugly.

So take the strings off again and file the top down to a reasonable profile.

That’s better.

All I need to do then is to check the intonation and pickup heights and it’s good to go.

And there it is, all done.

For any other guitar needs check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

Gibson les-Paul – Fret Dress

A nice one here, just a little worn…

You can see the worn spots here…

So off with the strings, level the neck and tape it up to protect it while I’m working.

I believe in doing the whole lot together, with adhesive backed sandpaper and a calibrated beam.

You can see there were some low points as well.

That’s just about done…

All I need to do now is to round off the tops of each fret.

And then re-polish them.

There we go, look at that….

All it needs now is a standard 5 point setup and it’ll be as good as new, probably better!

So there we are ready to go back into service.

A word or 2 from the owner:

“Thanks ‘George’ for the great work plays great now – can highly recommend – it will be out in public tomorrow night at the NAV in Newark.”

For all your other guitar service needs check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

Gibson Les Paul – Setup

A nice one this. just needing a little work to get it playing nicely.

Before anything else I like to start with a good clean.

A spot of Lemon Oil to keep the wood in good condition.

So a full setup, starting with the neck relief…

with a small twist on the truss-rod.

Next the action at the 12th fret, a little high…

so drop the bridge down a little.

Then the action up at the first fret, again just a little high.

so cut the slots in the nut a little deeper.

There was also another problem, not staying in tune.  The most common cause of that is a sticky nut.  teasing out the slots will hopefully cure that but, just in case though, a little Guitar Grease.

Next then the Intonation.

and last thing the pickup heights.

And there it is, ready to rock.

For all your guitar servicing needs check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

Fender Showmaster – Fret-dress and setup

What  beautiful piece of wood.  Sadly it’s a little worn and actually wasn’t very well built in the first place, but I can sort all that out…

As I say, some of the frets up at the paying end are rather worn.

Some of the frets are way off.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Fender as bad as this.  I can even get a feeler gauge under the fret rocker!

So tape up and level the fretboard.

Then grind down all the fret tops to the lowest common point.

You can see the high points, where the black marker has been sanded away, and low points where the marker pen is still there.  That’s bad….

You can see just how low the first fret is as well, This guitar can’t ever have really played well.  

I had to go a long way, this was the lowest point but you can see how flat some of the frets are now.

With that done now I need to round the tops off again.

The one on the left has been done and the one in the middle is about half way.

Once that’s done they need to be polished again, using 4 finer and finer grades of micromesh.

Just like that.

While the strings are off a spot of lemon oil on the fretboard to stop the wood drying out.

A small spot of glue to fix the nut back in place.

With the new strings fitted all it needs now is a tweek here or there on the setup.  The first thing is the tremolo.  It’s sitting rather flat on the body and will only bend notes down.

So slacken the trem’ springs off a little.

That’s better, comes up and down now.

With that working all it needs is a standard 5 point setup.

No.1 The neck relief.

with a turn on the truss-rod.

No.2 The action at the 12th fret…

by adjusting the bridge saddle heights.  Starting with the outside “E” strings and then the others to match the radius of the fretboard.

No.3 the action at the 1st fret.  Something that was about right.

No.4  The intonation, so that it plays in tune all the way up the neck.

Lastly the pickup heights.  To give a nice balanced output.

And there it is, better now than when it was new.

For anything else check out www.guitar-george.co.uk.

A word or 2 from the owner:

“George transformed my Fender Showmaster with a fret dress/level and set-up at a very fair price. Loving it!”

Telecaster – Radioshop pickup upgrade

This is one I built about 10 years ago but have never been fully happy with.  I used modern acrylic paint but without baking facilities it took about 5 years to properly cure!  10 years down the line it’s got some dings and scratches and actually looks great.

The biggest problem was the sound though.  Although they’re Fender custom shop specials the neck pickup was always rather weak.  I could never get a balanced setup, even with the neck pickup so high it was almost touching the strings and the bridge pickup as low as it would go I still had to adjust the volume when switching between them.

So I pulled them both out and sent them off to the guys at Radio Shop Pickups.

I’ve always been happy with the bridge pickup so I wanted them to re-wind the neck pickup to better complement it.

At their suggestion I’ve also got it wired in with a fourth position, so now in addition the standard single pickup or both in parallel I’ve got both in series.

While the strings were off I gave the fretboard a good clean and oil.

The setup was about right, I’ve changed to better strings so it’s always worth a check of the truss-rod.

I love this one, so easy to get too…  

A quick check on the action at the bridge as well.  Note the replacement compensated bridge saddles, an excellent upgrade for any Telecaster.

There it is, all back together.

Ready to Rock and now sounding as fantastic as it looks!

To hear what it sounds like then click here to see a quick YouTube video of the finished Guitar.  For anything else you might want go to www.guitar-george.co.uk.  Also follow the link here for Radio Shop Pickups.

Custom built Telecaster

I like a project I can get my teeth into. Got handed a box of bits to put together.  Some very nice parts there as well.

First thing then, does the neck fit the body?  Not quite.

The neck pocket just need teasing out a little.  Nothing much, but I don’t want to force it.

The heads need to be fitted accurately, so I use a steel rule to get them lined up nicely.

Looks good.

I always use bone for the nut, I still don’t think you can beat it.  You can get a pre-shaped one, although the curve underneath doesn’t always match the radius of the slot.  A little bit of sticky backed sandpaper on the fretboard to sand it to the right shape.

They can be a little long as well, so need a little off the end.

There it is.  Rather tall so the top will need to be taken off a bit, but I can’t do that until I know how deep to cut the string slots.

Back to the body then, starting with the ash-tray tail.  Not forgetting the all important earth wire.

There it is.

I need that in place to check out the neck alignment.  I use heavy gauge thread to check the line.

Clamping the neck into the right place before drilling and screwing it together.

Next then the electrics.  It came with some good quality pots’, trouble is the holes are too small….

Gently ream them out to fit.

Pretty simple standard Tele’ wiring.

A nice set of Bare Knuckles, so it should sound as good as it looks.

Then there are the odd little bits and pieces, strap buttons etc.

With it all together all in needs now is a standard setup….

Starting with the neck set…

The action at the 12th fret…

by adjusting the bridge saddle heghts

starting with the outside “E”s and then the others to match the radius of the fretboard.

Back to that nut, hay too tall!

so cut the slots down

which eaves the nut looking like a set of dragon’s teeth!

so file it back down to a proper shape.

And there it is, ready to go..  What a great looking and sounding guitar, if I do say so myself.

For anything else you may need check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

Fender Stratocaster – Service and Setup

What a lovely old Strat.  In need of a little TLC but basically sound…

The bridge is all a little manky, rather corroded, but I’m sure that can be sorted.

It’s just a case of taking it all apart and getting the wire brush in there.

That’s better, just needs setting up again.

Another thing I noticed.  The neck isn’t on straight.  At the last fret the strings are a lot closer to the treble side than the Bass.

It’s quite simple to sort. in most cases just slacken the screws and ease the neck over.  If the neck pocket it a little tight then a little more might be needed.

That’s better.

All it needs now is a 5 point setup.

  1. The neck set…

2.  The action at the 12th Fret.

Back to those saddle screws, that I cleaned and didn’t put back exactly right.  

Start with the outside “E”s and then the others, to match the fretboard radius.

3.  The action at the 1st Fret.

4.  The intonation.

Lastly the pickup heights and there it is, ready for action.

For anything else just check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

Fender Stratocaster – All new electrics

Here’s a nice looking Strat’.  A rather nice upgrade with a new pick-guard and a set of Iron Gear Pickups.

It’s also got a problem with one of the saddle height screws.

A new set will sort that out.

The new pickups are switchable with a Low/High output so I’m going to fit three Push-Push pots.  The holes need to be just teased out a little, for the slightly larger size pots.

That’s the pick-guard fully loaded, ready to fit.

There it is, in place.

While the strings are off it’s always a good time to give the fret-board a good clean.

And with the strings back, a standard 5 point setup.

The neck had way too much curve.

so tighten up the truss-rod.

Having fitted new saddle height screws they were never going to be right.

so bring them up a lump, starting with the outside “E” strings.

Followed by the rest, to match the fret-board radius.

The action back at the 1st fret was fine.

The intonation was about right

But the pickup heights were nowhere near, since I’ve only just fitted them.

There we are.  The middle pot in the UP position, low power.  with a standard 5 way switch giving lots of options.

So there it is.  I rather like that one.

For anything else you may need check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

PRS – Re-fret

I don’t quite know why, but PRS have never really done it for me.  This one has bits I rather like though, and some that are truly awful!

Here’s the problem though, probably the most worn frets I’ve ever come across.

They’re beyond a fret-dress, they need to be replaced.  A little bit of heat helps to loosen any old glue and dirt.

and ease the old frets out.

Once they’re all out I sanded down the fretboard a little, just to take out any marks and dings.

The first thing to do is to put a gentle bend into the fret-wire.

that was, when you tap it into place the ends don’t stick up.

and snip the excess ends off.

Once the new frets are all in place roughly file the ends down and put a 45 degree angle on them.

The next step is to level the fret tops.  It’s impossible to tap them all in perfectly so they need to be dressed to achieve a level.

Next I finished off the fret ends.  The rough finish was exactly that, a rough shape.  Each fret end needs to be finished off individually, to sooth them off, level with the edge of the fretboard.

and take off any sharp edges.

With the ends sorted It’s back to the top of the frets, they need to be rounded off.

and re-polished.

So that’s the neck done, ready to go back on the guitar.

Before the strings go back, it’s a good time to add a little Lemon-Oil, to bring a little life to the wood.

All it needs then is a full setup, starting with the neck relief.

Then the action at the 12th Fret….

starting with the outside strings….

and then the others, to match the fretboard radius.

The action at the 1st fret….

The intonation…

and pickup heights.

So there it is, all set to rock again….

For anything else you may need just check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk