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!”

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

Fender Stratocaster – New Pickup

Fancy and upgrade?  How about a new pickup or 2?  Not too sure about fitting them yourself?  Just give me a shout…

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Just one to change in this case, the bridge pickup.

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It’s also a question of the quality of wire, I don’t use the cheap stuff.  Decent wire not only lasts longer, will maximize the outputs but is easier to work with.

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There it is.  I’ll need to check the output by adjusting the height once the strings are back.

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There we go, ready to Rock ‘N’ Roll….

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For anything else I can do check out my website: www.guitar-george.co.uk

Telecaster – Bone nut and setup

What a fantastic looking guitar.  Got to love a Tele’, but a Tele with a Bigsby, even better!

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That black and white finish look just great.

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There’s some problems with the bridge though.  It’s sitting rather low, I’m not sure if it’s able to rock backwards and forwards properly?  The trouble is, if I raise it up, the strings are going to foul on the back edge?  I’ll have a closer look once I’ve done the nut.

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I don’t think you can beat Bone for the nut.  It’s nice and dense so the sound transmits through it well giving it better sustain.  The strings slide easily through the slots so there are fewer tuning issues.

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While the strings were off I gave the fretboard a bit of a clean.  It wasn’t particularly bad, but it’s a shame not to while I’ve got easy access.

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The new nut was a little too long so a little work to shorten it before fitting.

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A little superglue to hold it in place.

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The blank doesn’t have any slots cut it in so measure the position of the outside “E” strings.

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And the other 4 strings using the string spacing rule.

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The nut’s very tall, but I’ll sort that out once the slots are cut to the right depth.

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With the neck set and action at the bridge sorted it’s back to the 1st fret.  Way too high, I deliberately left it that way earlier though.  If I’d got it wrong and gone too low I’d have to start again.

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So cut each slot with the appropriate gauge of file.

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With the slots done just look a the height of that nut, like dragons teeth!

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That’s looking better….

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Yeh, that’s good.

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The fine adjustments on the bridge worked out just about OK in the end, including the intonation.  Time will tell, once everything settles down.

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One last check, the pickup heights and it’s done.

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And there it is….

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to see what else I can do for you check out www.guitar-george.co.uk

Fender Acoustic – Action Height

Here’s a common problem.  A nice guitar but the action is a little high.  It can put you off, you’re not going o persevere if the guitar is hard to play.  However don’t worry, as long as the guitar is basically sound and the frets are level it can be sorted.

Looking up at the 12th fret the action was rather high.

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A little out of focus but about 7/64″. Should be able to bring that down a little.

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The frets are basically level, some of them are a little high but hopefully not enough to cause a big problem.

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Looking at the neck set that’s way too high for a start.  That’ll bring the action down a little on it’s own.

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I’m going to change the strings but I’ll tweek the truss-rod first.  The key can often damage the strings.  I’ll check it again after but it shouldn’t change.

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While the strings are off I always give the fretboard a good clean….

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and oil.

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Under the bridge I found a couple of shims.  Taking one or both of those out should do the job.

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The action at the 1st fret was just about right so no work needed there.

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That’s much better.  Reducing it any more will probably induce a bit of fret-buzz at those slightly high frets.

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A lick of polish and it’s ready to go…

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Custom Shop Fender Stratocaster

WOW What a great guitar!  It’s not often I get such lovely guitar on the bench.  However It wasn’t quite playing as well as it should, so I gave it a bit of a tweek here and there.

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This really is something special, when Fender put you name on it for you.  out of deference to the owner I’ve blocked it out in these pictures.

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The trem’ was sitting just a little high.  I like to have a complete tone available to bend up, this one went about 3 semi-tones.

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Just tighten up the trem’ screws.

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The neck was actually a little to flat, rather unusual, it’s normally the other way around.

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Easily sorted by slackening the truss-rod a little.

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With that done I checked the action up at the 12th fret, about right, just a little high.

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First set the outside 2 “E” strings…

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and then the other strings, matching the radius of the fretboard.

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Next the action a the 1st fret.  Spot on as you would expect from the Fender Custom Shop.

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Next the intonation.  Not far out, but in need of a small adjustment.

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Lastly the pickup heights.  This is always just a starting point, you need to plug it in and listen to it.

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There it goes, feeling, playing and sounding every bit as great as it looks.

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What a stunning piece of wood!

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US Fender Stratocaster – Fret Dress and Setup

Now this was a really lovely guitar.  I think a late 80s, American Built Strat’

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Considering its age there’s not much wrong with it.  A little bit of wear and tear on the frets…

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The rest of it’s lovely, a really great colour too.

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There was however one big problem that I hadn’t anticipated, the socket on the end of the truss-rod has been rounded out which made it rather difficult to adjust.  The only way to get the neck flat was to put it on the jig….

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As ever I used my calibrated beam with adhesive “sandpaper”, that way I know everything has to be at the same level.

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You can see, just as I was getting started where the high frets were and where the worn low spots were.

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High up, the 14th fret was the biggest problem.  It was set a lot lower than all the others so I had to go further tan I really wanted too.

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Once the frets are all at the same level the tops need to be re-crowned (rounded off) again.

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With the frets an even height and re-shaped they need to be polished using 4 grades of micromesh.

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Once the frets were done I cleaned and oiled the fretboard.

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With the fretwork done I put the neck back on the guitar with my fingers crossed, How much neck set is there going to be, bearing in mind the truss-rod isn’t easily adjustable.

Luckily the gods of guitar setup were smiling on me and the set was within tolerance.  A little high but within an acceptable limit.

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The rest of it is quite simple setup.  The action wasn’t far off just a little low.

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so I raised up the bridge saddles just a shade.

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The action up at the 1st fret was just fine, apart from the B string.  The nut slot was so low the open string wouldn’t play at all.  A little bone dust and superglue sorted that out.

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Next the intonation, again not too far out but in need of a little adjustment.

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Lastly the pickup heights.

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There we go, a great guitar ready for another 30 or 40 years….

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