Showing posts with label 5. Assembly and Setup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 5. Assembly and Setup. Show all posts

Neck Installation

I used a caliper to measure the neck screws inner diameter and thereby select the appropriate drill diameter, also, marking the depth with tape on the drill bit. Going to deep would cause the bit to come through the fretboard, and going too shallow could result in splitting the neck or breakking a screw when installing the neck.

There is much written about the use of tiny shims to adjust the angle of the neck on this sort of body (modern style American bodies have a micro tilt adjustment screw). I have not had to ever use any shims, and I am glad as I fear it would impair the integration of the neck and body, thus affecting the sound and sustain.

Classic 'F'

For my Fiesta Red Strat, I wanted a vintage look all the way around, so I choose a classic 'F' logo neck plate.

Installing the Pickups

You should use a soft cloth to protect the finish on your body as you install the pickguard. If you have carefully trimmed and routed the wires when you did the assembly of the electronics, then things should fit into the body quite neatly and easily. There are three ground wires: 1. the output jack, 2. grounds the body (see the screwed black wire in the switch cavity), 3. the tremolo is grounded by routing the last ground wire through the body and soldering it to the tremolo spring claw.

Pickup Upgrade

I had built this Stratocaster quite a while ago.  At that time, I had purchased a fully loaded pickguard with Fender 69' Custom Shop pickups.  But truthfully, the sound never really worked for me.  For years I have loved the look and feel of this Strat, but always gravitated towards some of my more recent Custom Strat guitars where I had designed and assembled the electronics.

I recently decided I needed to do something about this.  After a lot of research, it seems that the Fender 54' Custom Shop pickups were the way to go for me. Not only do they have a sound that most players agree upon as a rich and full classic Strat sound, but they play very well through a modelling amp such as my Line 6 PodXT Live.  While I had this guitar apart, I decided to paint the electronics cavity with electrostatic insulating paint that helps cut down noise.  I also changed out the capacitor to one that is 475k (orange drop).  I really like the wax cloth wire insulation that came with these vintage pickups; which actually contributes to the sound, but also because it is simple to slide it back a little when doing the soldering. 

Patient shopping on eBay landed me these wonderful pickup for $110 to my door.  However, this was not a cheap project when you add in my time.  There was an issue with the pickups where one side of each of them had not been tapped (threaded correctly).  This was not easy to determine, since they were also coated in wax.  So, once I determined that they used a different screw than my prior pickups, I had to drill counter sunk seats for each screw in the front of the pickguard, then tap out the missing threads on one side of each pickup.  I trimmed the wires to length and after removing the prior pickups, resoldered the new ones and did a preliminary test.  Re-assembled the guitar, cleaned it, and replaced the strings. 

All told, it was about 2 1/2 hours, and I am fairly fast at this.  Thankfully, I had all the right tools for the job, or it would have even taken longer and cost more.  My point to you is, be prepared for things to go wrong (a little or a lot) and then adapt from there to get what you want.

Custom Touch

If you want to further distinguish your guitar as a custom guitar, you might add a custome neck plate. You can get them laser etched or stamped, they can have one of the manufacturers standard images, or some will even make them custom for you.

Neck Install

Like the smaller holes for the pickguard and output jack, I have filled the neck screw holes prior to painting and now clear them out with drill bit by hand in preparation for the neck installation.

Bridge Installation

Here you see that I am clearing out the filler that I had previously used to keep water out of the holes in the body. This filler nevery hardened since I painted the guitar shortly after filling the holes, and the holes were easy to find because they each show a slight depression. I used a drill bit and my finger tips to remove the filler.

Once the bridge is in place (again, there are differing opinions on this) I install all six screws, tightening each one down until the tail of the bridge just lifts, then I slightly loosen it again. This results in tight fitting bridge that does not bind.

Output Jack

I find that SwitchCraft makes the best output jacks. I am very carefull when performing this last soldering step. The last thing you need is a splatter of hot solder to hit your finished guitar.

Grounded Tremolo

It is important to ground your tremolo to help minimize any unwanted noise your guitar might generate. You can also see the first steps when installing your spring claw and tremolo springs. I use three springs, and get the spring claw initially installed, then add the springs, followed by further tightening. Do not put your tremolo cover on till later, as you will have further adjusting to do once you have your strings installed.

String Tree

As always, I am very careful to select the appropriate diameter drill and mark the depth so that I will neither drill to deep or too shallow. This is especailly critical as I will be drilling the final step on the neck, which is for the installation of the string tree/guide for the E and B strings.

All Done

The final product. The guitar looks great, sounds and plays even better. I thought I would sell it, so I left the stickers on, but I love it too much to sell, so it is now a daily player and the sticker are off.