repair/customization/setup advice needed!

mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#1
I was playing my strat earlier and noticed that when I select the bridge pickup the sound cuts out. Now I don't normally use the pickup or even the halfway setting because the output of the pickup is low and it's way too bright. I've considered doing the tone knob mod in the past because of it.

When I push the selector switch left a bit the sound comes back in. So either the switch is dirty or there's a bad connection somewhere. Cleaning it and using contact spray seems to be the first step.

But...
When I open it up.. I might as well put in a different bridge pickup with a bit more kick. It'll take away a bit of the strattyness but since I don't use it now, nor the bridge/middle setting it's not really costing me anything I currently use wanyway.
Now I don't know the first thing about pickups, what's out there, how they sound or how to start looking for one. Nor do I know what kind of price range i should be thinking about for a guitar that has a list price of 1800 euro.. I don't want to put bad quality stuff in there. Any suggestions or pointers?

And...
When working.. Is it safe to keep all the strings off? I usually replace my strings one by one because I always thought it'd harm the neck if i took all off. But I'll need to for this..


The stoney creek..
Has fret buzz on the middle strings when playing the first 5-6 frets. I've checked the strings with spacers and didn't think I needed to adjust the truss rod. But if I'm reading maintenance articles right it does sound like I have to and I probably fudged the measurement up. Thoughts?
 

ed lespaul

Well-Known Member
#2
For the switch issue, if it's a blade switch, you might be able to bend the blade back in toward the switch to regain the connection.

Changing a switch is incredibly easy. Just get the same type of switch and match the connections one for one.

Pickups are subjective for every person. I have 2 Seymour Duncan Hot Rails and 1 Cool Rail in my strat. I also installed a push/pull that allows me to split the coils in the up position for a more "stratty" sound.

Get yourself a fret rocker, and test all your frets. If it rocks on the fret, it's high in respect to the frets around it. Check it in the high, middle, and low string areas, since it could be high in one area and not the others. Mark everywhere that you find a high fret (I use a sharpie on the top of the fret). If you're lucky, and it's only one location, you can bring that area down, using a homemade tool like the ones I made in the attachment. I just used some hobby sticks glued together, and glued a small piece of 320 grit sandpaper to it. I then pit tape around the rest of the stick to make it perfectly level. The smaller one for higher (on the neck) frets, and the larger one for lower frets.

IMG_2666.JPG
 

Wade Garrett

I am the projectionist.
#3
For the switch issue, if it's a blade switch, you might be able to bend the blade back in toward the switch to regain the connection.

Changing a switch is incredibly easy. Just get the same type of switch and match the connections one for one.

Pickups are subjective for every person. I have 2 Seymour Duncan Hot Rails and 1 Cool Rail in my strat. I also installed a push/pull that allows me to split the coils in the up position for a more "stratty" sound.

Get yourself a fret rocker, and test all your frets. If it rocks on the fret, it's high in respect to the frets around it. Check it in the high, middle, and low string areas, since it could be high in one area and not the others. Mark everywhere that you find a high fret (I use a sharpie on the top of the fret). If you're lucky, and it's only one location, you can bring that area down, using a homemade tool like the ones I made in the attachment. I just used some hobby sticks glued together, and glued a small piece of 320 grit sandpaper to it. I then pit tape around the rest of the stick to make it perfectly level. The smaller one for higher (on the neck) frets, and the larger one for lower frets.

View attachment 38245
Nice tip! I like the files.
 

mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#4
For the switch issue, if it's a blade switch, you might be able to bend the blade back in toward the switch to regain the connection.

Changing a switch is incredibly easy. Just get the same type of switch and match the connections one for one.

Pickups are subjective for every person. I have 2 Seymour Duncan Hot Rails and 1 Cool Rail in my strat. I also installed a push/pull that allows me to split the coils in the up position for a more "stratty" sound.

Get yourself a fret rocker, and test all your frets. If it rocks on the fret, it's high in respect to the frets around it. Check it in the high, middle, and low string areas, since it could be high in one area and not the others. Mark everywhere that you find a high fret (I use a sharpie on the top of the fret). If you're lucky, and it's only one location, you can bring that area down, using a homemade tool like the ones I made in the attachment. I just used some hobby sticks glued together, and glued a small piece of 320 grit sandpaper to it. I then pit tape around the rest of the stick to make it perfectly level. The smaller one for higher (on the neck) frets, and the larger one for lower frets.

View attachment 38245
Should I be working on the frets without experience? Or am I better off bringing it to a good luthier?
There’s a great one nearby only his opening times are a pain.
 

ed lespaul

Well-Known Member
#5
Should I be working on the frets without experience? Or am I better off bringing it to a good luthier?
There’s a great one nearby only his opening times are a pain.
What do you have to lose? It's really a no-brainer. If, by some reason, you screw it up, you send it to a luthier. Doing things by yourself will save you a ton of money, and also give you more confidence to do even more, when necessary.

Taking the high spots off frets isn't rocket science. The rocker tells you where the high spot is. If you make the tool correctly, and it's even, it can't take more off the fret than it needs to. You could always buy the tool from StewMac, instead of making your own, but that will cost you $125.99, which is insane. The homemade tool will cost you less that $5.

https://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Too...or_Fretting/Leveling/StewMac_Fret_Kisser.html

But, if you get the fret rocker, and find there are a lot of high spots, you need a full fret level. If you're uncomfortable doing it yourself, bring it to the luthier.
 

Tankman

Subtly not giving a F*ck
#6
Some good advice here on the switch and frets, so I will not get into that.

As for choosing your pickups, you first need to figure out what you want sound wise. It sounds like you what higher output and less brightness. The only question remaining is do you want a single coil or a humbucker (in single coil size)? Once you've made clear what you are looking for, honestly you can't go wrong with the big brands. Seymour Duncan, Dimarzio and Bare Knuckle all make some amazing pickups and should have something that suits your needs. Personally I'm also into EMG and Fishman, but active is not for everybody. Honestly, I'm not into all the other boutique brands or handwound in my shed type of stuff. I know Smitty Guitars makes some nice stuff. He's in Nieuw-Vennep, so close to you. But again, I like to stick with the big brands. Same goes with pedals. I don't know how I ended up with 2 de Haan guitars, but even with guitars I tend to prefer sticking to what I know.

The best thing you can do is just send an e-mail to the guys at Bare Knuckle telling them the specs of your guitar and exactly what you are looking for. They will suggest something good. I did it in the past and the results was exactly what I wanted. You do need to remember that aftermarket pickups can be hit or miss. There's no way of telling if you will like it without having it in your guitar. But the odds of success are much higher with Bare Knuckle's advice.
 

mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#7
I dropped Bare Knuckle an e-mail. Let's see what they come up with.

I ordered a fret rocker. That's the only tool I don't have an alternative for in my toolbox. I'll go from there. If it's really bad I'll probably give the guy who build the guitar a call and ask him to fix it and give it a proper setup. If it's small a bit of sanding paper and some tape should do fine. If I get into building guitars properly I'll probably spend money on tools but that's not for right now.
 

Lonestar

SC Relics Guitars
#8
Personally, I wouldn’t touch the frets on a guitar that you are saying has that sort of value. If you haven’t worked on frets before then this isn’t the guitar to practice on. Your buzzing issue could be caused by a rogue high fret, a change in temp/humidity where the guitar is kept, action too low in general, badly cut nut or a truss rod in need of adjustment. I think a luthier is the best option and don’t be afraid to ask him to explain what the problem is/was once he has fixed it. Gaining experience from an expert is sometimes more valuable than self diagnosing the issue only to mess up the solution ( or what you think is the solution).
 

mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#9
Personally, I wouldn’t touch the frets on a guitar that you are saying has that sort of value. If you haven’t worked on frets before then this isn’t the guitar to practice on. Your buzzing issue could be caused by a rogue high fret, a change in temp/humidity where the guitar is kept, action too low in general, badly cut nut or a truss rod in need of adjustment. I think a luthier is the best option and don’t be afraid to ask him to explain what the problem is/was once he has fixed it. Gaining experience from an expert is sometimes more valuable than self diagnosing the issue only to mess up the solution ( or what you think is the solution).
And you're making the exact point I was afraid of. Time to get a project guitar and learn all this stuff.
but first get my two babies fixed. I'll ask the guy who build the stoney creek to have a look at the fret buzz. He'll probably throw it in under warranty. And he might do the strat for a reasonable price too.
 

mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#10
Had a talk. The stoney creek is a matter of warranty and depending on what's wrong he'll fix it while I wait.

He wants to do the work on the strat for a friendly price for me so I'll probably just have him do it and get a course for guitar building with him at a later point
 

Tankman

Subtly not giving a F*ck
#11
Had a talk. The stoney creek is a matter of warranty and depending on what's wrong he'll fix it while I wait.

He wants to do the work on the strat for a friendly price for me so I'll probably just have him do it and get a course for guitar building with him at a later point
He's such a great dude. He set up the Tele he made me because I screwed it up and didn't want to charge me, just because he was so happy to see that guitar again.
 

ed lespaul

Well-Known Member
#12
It's great that he's going to fix it for you. Just to clarify, nothing that I recommended could have made things worse. It's pretty much straightforward, and cannot cause any damage.
 

SemiCullen

Still haven't got the hang of Thursdays
#13
I can't find the video, but Phil McKnight does a great walkthough on fixing those rogue high fret spots. It's very simple. Of course, the first guitar I worked on was one I paid $250 for, so I didn't have anywhere near as much on the line.

Edit: It's in this video, starting around 5:30:

 
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mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#14
It's great that he's going to fix it for you. Just to clarify, nothing that I recommended could have made things worse. It's pretty much straightforward, and cannot cause any damage.
i do intend to learn. Maybe I’ll ask him to run me through the repair process. Little steps..
 

mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#18
Yeah I did. I even ordered one.
I explained the bridge pickup is too bright and doesn’t deliver extra oomph. That the result is I use the middle pickup for rhythm and go towards the neck for solo. And that id like the bridge pickup to have a bit higher output and be warmer so I can get more options from the guitar without stepping on pedals. But still be in line with the other pickups.
they suggested the Irish tour pickup. It’s made as exactly that. A warmer higher output vintage option.
They also suggested the tone mod for my guitar. Since there’s work to be done on the selector I’ll have that done too. Frank, or rather Ben, expects to fix the switch and put in the pickup for €40. I consider it a steal to have a pro do it for me at that price.
 

Tankman

Subtly not giving a F*ck
#19
Yeah I did. I even ordered one.
I explained the bridge pickup is too bright and doesn’t deliver extra oomph. That the result is I use the middle pickup for rhythm and go towards the neck for solo. And that id like the bridge pickup to have a bit higher output and be warmer so I can get more options from the guitar without stepping on pedals. But still be in line with the other pickups.
they suggested the Irish tour pickup. It’s made as exactly that. A warmer higher output vintage option.
They also suggested the tone mod for my guitar. Since there’s work to be done on the selector I’ll have that done too. Frank, or rather Ben, expects to fix the switch and put in the pickup for €40. I consider it a steal to have a pro do it for me at that price.
Sounds good! And that's a very fair price from Ben as well.
 
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