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

Eternal Guitar – Sticky Switch

I don’t often get calls emergency calls, but I’m always willing to help gigging musicians if I possibly can.  I got a call on Friday from a tech’ needing a little help.  Got a guitar with a sticky switch and not enough time to strip it down and change it.

As it goes it was a fairly simple fix and didn’t need replacing.  So a quick tweek, a new set of strings and it was good to Rock ‘N’ Roll.

 So there it is, back in the rack, ready for the gig in Lincoln Castle.      

Bobby Harrison, re-united with “Tommy”.  Glad to see I’m not the only one that names his guitars!

I don’t often get to see guitars I’ve worked on in action, what a great night out..

I just hope when I’m in my 70’s I can still “Move It” like good old Cliff.

If there’s anything else you need then just call, or check out the website: 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

Squire Stratocaster – Service and setup

There comes a point when even the best of guitars need a service and setup.  Most people will have their car serviced regularly, why not your guitar?

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

The heads were a little stiff so a little light oil.

and a bit of exercise.

The volume and tone controls were a little “crackly” so some switch cleaner.

Before re-fitting the strings a little lemon oil on the frertboard.

and polish on the top, between the pickups.  Easy while there are no strings in the way.

When I put the strings back it was also obvious that the neck was never fitted correctly, it’s a little wonky, at the last fret the strings are closer to the bass side than the treble.

It’s not off by much so slacken off the screws and it should twist into place.

That’s better…

All it needs now is a setup.  The neck had just a little too much relief.

Trouble is the truss-rod adjustment is on the heel so I had to take off the scratch-plate and loosen the neck to get to it.

Then the action at the 12th fret.  A little low…

so up with the bridge saddles.

with the others to match the fretboard radius.

The nut had an unusual problem, the slots were all too deep, causing open string buzzing.  The ultimate option would be to fit a new nut but it can be fixed.  I packed in some bone dust I collected from another bone job….

and drop in some thin superglue.

Once it dries you can cut the slot as normal with the appropriate size nut file.

Lastly the intonation and pickup heights and it’s good to go.

And there it is.

To see what else I can do check out www.guitar-george.co.uk

A word or two from the owner:

“My Mexican Strat is great George, thanks very much……”

AAAjjjjh

Stratocaster – New neck

Here’s a bit of an oddball.  This guy’s just got hold of a great guitar, the only trouble is it’s got no neck!  Yeh, it’s a complicated story, but I’ve sorted out a new one which should do nicely…

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The profile is really nice and it’s got a great finish too.  The only trouble is it’s got a couple of uneven frets so that’s going to be the first job.

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Out with the nut.  Surprisingly it’s a nice bone one so I’ll re-use that when it comes to it.

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Tape up the frertboard to protect it, level it off using the truss-rod and mark the fret tops with black pen.

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Using a level beam with sticky backed sandpaper and start grinding until everything is down to the lowest common point.

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You can see here where the low points are, where the black marker ink hasn’t been touched.

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Once the tops are all level they then need rounding off again.

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You can see the ones to the left that I’ve done, the one in the middle that’s about half done and the ones to the right that still have flat tops.

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That does leave a very dull, scratched finish so each fret needs to be polished with 4 grades of micromesh.

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With that done now it’s time to start putting it back together.  Starting with a new set of machine heads.

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To make sure they end up straight I used the steel rule as a guide.

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Looking good..

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With the nut glued back into place it’s ready to fit to the body.

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It fits quite nicely, the only question is does it line up properly?

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With a couple of lengths of black thread in place of the “E” strings I could see that the line wasn’t quite right.

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but with the neck clamped it was possible to just ease it across and bolt it into place.

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That’s right now.  Time to fit the strings

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Before the standard setup I also need to sort out the trem’  It’s sitting flat on the body so it’ll only drop the note down and not up.

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The screws for the trem’ claw have been screwed in all the way.  Some people like it that way but I prefer to be able to bend notes up as well as down.

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It’s a bit of trial and error but I’ve loosened the claw off by about 10mm.

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With a bit of fiddling about that’s about it.

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So all it needs now is a standard 5 point setup:

No.1 The neck set, or curve.  It should have a very slight upward curve.

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It was a little too high so tighten up the truss-rod a little.

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No.2  The action at the 12th fret:

Starting with the outside “E” strings the action was a little low….

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so raise the bridge saddle a little.

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Once the outside strings are done then adjust the others so that they match the radius of the frertboard.

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No.3 The action at the 1st fret:

As it’s a new nut the slots need to be cut down to the proper depth..

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No.4  The Intonation:

This needs to be set right so that chords played further up the neck are also in tune.

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No.5 The pickup heights.

This is only a rough starting point.  The only real way to sort that out is to plug it in and play it.

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And there it is, ready to Rock ‘N’ Roll…

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

A word or two from the customer:

“Hi George, a fantastic job and a really nice sounding guitar. I’m sure the pictures don’t do justice to the hard work you put in setting this up.”

“Absolutely fabulous job on my custom build, with a Fender body and a custom neck.  The previous guitar that I had would choke and not sound right when I played it but now with the build that George had done, it sounds beautiful and I am unbelievably grateful to George”.

Thank You

Innes Sibun “Strat”

What a beautiful guitar. There are lots of Strats’ out there so it takes something out of the ordinary to stand out, and this certainly does that.

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It’s got just one slight flaw, some of the frets are just a little un-even. I’ve seen worse, but to get it playing really nicely they need to be levelled.

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It’s always best to do that with the neck off the guitar, less likely to damage the body as well.  Before doing anything it’s important that it’s completely flat.

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With the fret-board taped up to protect it, use the level beam to grind all the frets to a common level.

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With the fret tops level some have more flattened tops so they need to be rounded off again.

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And then re-polished to bring back the shine.

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As I was putting the nut back I noticed that the bottom didn’t have the correct radius so I re-shaped it before re-fitting it.

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All that’s needed then is a standard 5 point setup.

No.1 The neck set, or curve.

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No.2  The action at the 12th fret.  A little low…

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so raise the bridge saddles a little, starting with the outside “E” strings.

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then the other strings, to match the fret-board radius.

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N.3 the action at the 1st fret, just about right.

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No. 4 The Intonation.

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No.5  The pickup heights.  They look about right but I’ll plug it in and listen to what they sound like.

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There it is.

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For details of what else I can do for you check out the website www.guitar-george.co.uk

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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Left/Right hand Stratocaster

Here’s an oddball, is it a Left-hand or Right-hand Strat?

The owner had it custom made but it just needed a few tweeks to get the full potential from it.

The first problem was the nut.  The grooves were much too shallow which made the playing action at the first fret way too high.  But it’s too narrow anyway.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t particularly rate brass nuts, I use bone, so that’s what we agreed to fit.  The slot’s too big for a standard nut so I made one from a large blank.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAMaking sure the bottom is square and flat..SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAGrind it down to fit the slot…SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAPut an angle on the top..SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAand there we go, one nut ready for the slots…SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAmaking sure the outer edges of the strings are equally spaced from the side of the neck..SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAand the other strings spaced properly.  I’ll cut the slots properly when I do the setup.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

The next problem are the bridge saddles.  The wasn’t enough space to correctly set the intonation.  The only way to cure that is to file a little off the end of the saddles.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAMore of that latter, the intonation is about the last thing that gets done.

Before that, a standard setup starting with the neck set..SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThen the action at the 12th fret…SANYO DIGITAL CAMERASet the outside “E” strings first….SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAthen the other strings to match the fretboard radius.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERABack to the nut and cut the slots down to set the action at the 1st fret.

The nut was rather high so once the slots were done I took it out again and took a little more off the top.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERASANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThen back to the bridge and the intonation.  With the springs out from the D and G strings there was just about enough room, the E and A saddles I filled down a little.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThere we go, ready to rock.  As I say an unusual one.  A Left-handed guitar but strung the Right-hand way.  It seems the owner is left handed and plays that way but taught himself with right handed guitars and so still strings them that way!  Never seen that before but whatever works for you!SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Squire Strat with new Tele neck

A chap came to see me with an upgrade he has had a problem with.  It seemed like an easy job, fit a new neck on to an old body.

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This is as far as the screws got before they jammed solid and tore the heads out…

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The problem is the holes in the body don’t line up with the holes in the neck…

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A fairly easy fix.  First drill out the torn out screw holes…

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Cut some hard-wood plugs….

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Glue the plugs in the holes and cut the tops flush with a sharp chisel

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The neck pocket is a very sloppy fit so I clamped the neck in the pocket and used some thick thread in place of the two E-strings to line it up.

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Drill new holes and fit new screws..

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With the neck in place the angle is wrong.  The action height is much too high, even without strings so that will have to be sorted later.
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That’s actually the least of the problems.  Running my fret rocker up and down the neck has exposed another major limiting factor with this neck. The frets are very uneven which means I’ll never be able to get a decent setup.  To achieve that they need dressing first.  I would actually always dress any new neck, even the high end stuff, it’s the secret of a really nice setup.

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Not only were the frets very uneven but the truss-rod is stuck solid.  There is a slight back-bow without the strings so I bolted it on the jig to level it before dressing the frets.

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Once levelled I’ve re-shaped and polished them.

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Cut a small shim to bring the angle of the neck back down.

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The nut isn’t a very good fit and the slots are way too high…

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so I’ve cut them down to give a reasonable action at the 1st fret.

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The tremolo springs were also set far too tight, the trem’ was sitting flat on the body and would only bend notes down and not up.

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With the setup completed just reset the pickup heights and it’s all done.

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The moral of the story… Bolting on a new neck is not quite as easy as you might think! There’s a lot more too it if you want it to play nicely.  Buying a cheap neck can be a false economy as it will need a lot more work to get it set up properly.

Fender Stratocaster – Setup

A nice new Stratocaster.  Nothing much wrong with it, but the owner just wanted the action lowering and setting up.

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Starting at the top; the string height over the nut (measured at the 1st fret) was fine.

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The set in the neck was a rather high (0.023″) so I’ll straighten that out a little.

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The action height at the 17th Fret was also a little high so I’ll drop that down a little as well.

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The Tremolo is was also sitting rather high so I’ll reset that.

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The pickups were quite low so I’ll wind those out a little.

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All in all the setup wasn’t bad, quite playable but not as sweet as it could be, and indeed, is now!