Set-up guide: Stratocaster.

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Goestoeleven
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Set-up guide: Stratocaster.

Post by Goestoeleven » Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:08 am

Hi guys!

Well, my "Project" guitar is all finished. It's a '57 Reissue CIJ Strat in Candy Apple Red / Maple neck. I've fitted it with Lace Sensor Hot Golds and had my local guitar shop (Machinehead Music) make a new bone nut to replace the cracked plastic original. They've done a great job and it has all the ingredients to be a lovely instrument.

But...

I can't get it to play right!

I've fitted the trem, and set it up so that the baseplate is flush, but with three springs. That way I can depress it with a good push on the arm but it's got stable tuning.
I've followed Fender's set-up guide from their website, and it all seems to be within specs, but the problem I'm having is that the treble strings "Choke out" when doing whole-step or higher bends on about the 12th fret and above.
I realize that with a vintage fretboard radius I'll have to have a higher action to get round this, and I've set it very high on this, but it still does it.

My "Clapton" one with the same fretboard radius plays far better with a lower action. Any thoughts?

Also, I've followed the Lace Sensor wiring diagram to the letter and it works fine, but for one thing:

When I turn the tone pots below about "2" on the knobs, the sound cuts off altogether! (CTS 250K pots, standard tone cap, wired as a standard Strat)

Anyone have any suggestions? Or any recommendations about a good set-up guide or book I can buy?
I had thought about the Haynes manual, but I'm not sure how much detail it goes into.
I've set up many Strats in the past and they've all been fine, so this one has me stumped.

Any thoughts guys? :-?

JohnA
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Post by JohnA » Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:30 am

Top strings choking out, You could try tightening the truss rod slightly, too much relief can sometimes cause the 'dusty-end' to curve up a bit, but it will probably need either a light fret dress, or a higher action. Not really much else you can do.

Goestoeleven
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Post by Goestoeleven » Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:40 am

Thanks John.

The neck on it is from an old MIJ Strat of mine and played fine in its previous body.

I did notice a thin paper shim in the body end of the neck pocket that I left in there. I might remove that, but I don't think it'll make a huge difference. I left it in to try at first and see what happened.

The neck relief is within Fender specs (having checked with a feeler gauge) so it may be a case of playing with shims and noting the results.

I'm a little reluctant to get a pro set-up done as I've already spent far too much on this one, but if it's the difference between a great player and an average guitar that'll mainly be just ornamental then I may have to consider it.

Thanks for the advice though. :D

Graham.

PS: Here's why it sounds so good:

Totally silent! No background hum whatsoever!!

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I have a severe copper fetish. :oops:

stratman323

Post by stratman323 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:54 am

Despite having had many Strats over the years, I still haven't worked out exactly why some choke out whereas others with similar action don't. When setting one up defeats me, I have a good tech locally who usually manages to solve the problem with a fret dress. Usually, taking the top 4 or 5 frets down quite low on the board under the E, B & G strings sorts out the problem.

If you can get to North London, & you want to try my tech out, send me a PM and I'll give you his details.

Mike

JohnA
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Post by JohnA » Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:55 am

Well if that's not worth spending ?40 on a set-up and/or fret dress, I don't know what is! You've obviously gone to a lot of trouble & expense with the pickups and shielding, it would be a shame for it to turn in to an ornament.

The Fender relief recommendations are just that, recommendations. I find guitars play best with the least amount of relief you can get away with, just enough so that the lower fretted notes (particuarly the G string) ring nice and clearly. Certainly too much relief can deaden a guitar above the 12th fret unless you play with a highish action.

Is the shielding job DIY, or a pro job? looks amazing!!

Goestoeleven
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Post by Goestoeleven » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:02 am

Thanks! :D

The shielding job and installation was done by me. There's a great seller on Ebay where you can get the large sheet of adhesive copper to cover the pickguard for about ?3. The roll of adhesive and conductive tape was from the same place and was about a fiver. There's enough on a roll for two guitars. The wiring came from GuitarPartsWorldwide (?2)

I used to make electronic prototypes for specialist audio systems in a previous life, so one thing I do know about is hand-wiring one-offs.

I could have trimmed the edges of the copper on the body a bit neater, but I didn't want to start taking a stanley knife to it in case I slipped. :o

It contacts the pickguard properly, it's flat, and no-one's ever going to see it anyway.

The Lace Sensors were the bargain of the year! Some place on Ebay U.S. was knocking them out brand new but unboxed at ?21 each, so I had to have a set.

I love the clean uncluttered look of Lace Sensors too:

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PS: Ignore the state of the bridge saddles - this was just a pic from when it was all first loosely screwed together - before I'd done any set-up whatsoever!
Last edited by Goestoeleven on Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

stratman323

Post by stratman323 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:03 am

JohnA wrote: Is the shielding job DIY, or a pro job? looks amazing!!
Looks good. If there are any bits you missed, I have some spare bacofoil that arrived yesterday in a guitar case....

:o

Goestoeleven
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Post by Goestoeleven » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:17 am

Yeah, I think he took the instructions "For use on Turkeys" a little too literally with that one.

:cry:

stratman323

Post by stratman323 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:22 am

:lol:

JohnA
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Post by JohnA » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:27 am

NIce work!! I like the look (and sound) of lace sensors too, for live work 'proper pickups' suit me just fine, but I'm playing strats more than ever at the moment, and recording with one can be a pain. I feel a project coming on :D

Goestoeleven
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Post by Goestoeleven » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:51 am

JohnA wrote:...for live work 'proper pickups' suit me just fine
Got that covered too. Seymour Duncan Alnico Pro II 8):

Image

Image

JohnA
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Post by JohnA » Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:09 am

So what did you do? Does she now play as good as she looks?

Goestoeleven
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Post by Goestoeleven » Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:01 pm

Well, I had a good look at it, and the MIJ neck I put in there wasn't a very good fit in the pocket. You could slide a business card into the gap on the upper side of the pocket.

Given that I still have all the components of the "E" series Strat that the neck came off, I took the neck with its newly-made nut to put back with its original body (Just as soon as the new Ducati Red paint dries).

The Candy Apple Red CIJ one above now has its original maple neck back on. It's a much better fit (As you'd expect) but the original tuners were cack so I put a new set of Kluson Deluxes on there.
Unfortunately it also needs a new nut as the original plastic one is cracked below the G string. This means that whenever you try to tune it, the string pulls deeper into the crack and it goes flat. Not good.

So, the plan with this one will be to take it into the shop tomorrow for a new bone nut like the last one, and a set-up.
There are one or two grooves in the lower frets, but it doesn't seem to affect playability so unless they'll include that in the cost it can stay like it. They want a lot of money to re-crown frets and if it's not hurting anything then why pay out?

With a bit of luck they'll be able to set it up and I can use the trem, but if not they can just put all the springs on there and lock it off like on my "Clapton" model.

I'll be happy if it just comes out playable.

I still can't figure the tone pot problem though. I've followed Lace's diagram to the letter, yet the two tone pots act like treble-cut down to about 2, then volume controls from 2 to Zero! No idea why.

Given that I never use the tone controls anyway I'll probably admit defeat with that one. :cry:

I'll post some pics of the next Work-In-Progress soon. MIJ '57 Reissue in Ducati Red with Tex-Mex pickups. 8)
"My guitar is definitely a P**** extension. I play with it behind locked doors for my own amusement"

JohnA
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Post by JohnA » Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:54 pm

Well, that sounds like progress I think!! Sounds like a lot of work too, I've given up the bitsocaster project I had going, too much other stuff to do!

Pics when your all done please :)

Sorry can't nelp with the wiring issue, but if you post some pics of the wiring I'm sure someone will spot the deliberate mistake :wink:

Goestoeleven
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Post by Goestoeleven » Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:34 am

Will do.

The other MIJ Project is coming along nicely, but I'm not happy with the finish.

It was originally a knackered and not very good 2-Tone sunburst, so I repainted it bright red.

I used automotive Acrylic paints, which have given a lovely even high-gloss finish, but it's extremely hard and brittle. I've managed to put two chips in it already and that's just from a couple of light knocks that wouldn't have broken the paint on the original finish. :-?

I can see myself having to do this one again at some point. Bum.
"My guitar is definitely a P**** extension. I play with it behind locked doors for my own amusement"

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