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#202640 by jw123
Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:38 pm
Yesterday I pulled my strat out of the case and decided to get it ready to play again.

I cleaned controls and got all the static out of it, I have always locked the bridge down on this guitar, but I decided to loosen the strings up and put the tremolo arm back on. Just asking for any advice on here of others who play a strat and loosen up the trem arm? Any tricks? I played it for a while afterwards and it seems to stay in tune, the intonation is slightly out cause of moving the bridge but i can remedy that with the bridge saddles.

Also, when I plugged it up I noticed a difference in the volume of the pickups, this guitar has a Duncan mini humbacker in the bridge position, it has a muy grande in the center, and another Duncan mini humbucker n the neck postition. I noticed they were way off the strings so I raised all of them and got the volumes of each pretty close to each other.

So a question on pups, how far away from the strings do you set them? Is there any sort of formula? I put them pretty close to the strings and they sound fine.

Something else I noticed on this strat, the bridge pickup isnt wired to a tone control, just volume, then the middle pup is wired to the back tone control, and the bridge is the front tone control. I was just curious if this is the way all strats are wired? When I had the pups put in the guy set it all up for me and I really never paid much attention to how the controls worked.

I just decided after going and seeing a couple of blues bands on Beale Street sat night that I wanted to get the strat out, and since Im auditioning with a new situation, that has keys I thought it might tonally be easier to get clean sounds with the strat.

#202677 by GuitarMikeB
Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:50 pm
I set the pickup heights to get the right amount of volume out each one. :wink: Hate switching to rhythm pickup and the volume goes up!

Yeah, I think Strat controls bridge bypasses tone control as standard set up, tones are neck and mid.

#202739 by Cajundaddy
Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:02 pm
Hmmmm, my Strat tone control works with all 3 pickups. Lots of different ways to wire em. I have stock single coils in neck and middle with a "Cool Rails" in the bridge. For setup I think adjusting PU height is to taste with no hard fast rules. I like near equal volume from pickup to pickup and across the strings. A little sewing machine oil at the nut helps to keep strings from binding and keeps her in tune.

#202742 by Pete Zaiatz
Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:38 pm
Pick up height is a very subjective thing. You want to balance the volume but you want to do that at the point that you get your best tone out of each pickup. You can find manufacturers specs online but that's just a starting point. I find I get better tone as I move away from the strings but obviously the volume drops. The closer to the neck you go the further away you may find your sweet spot I also like to tilt the pickup a bit to drop a bit off the low end but all of this is to taste. Strats are a different ball game. Balancing the 5 combinations and tones could get frustrating.

#202743 by jw123
Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:01 pm
Yea Im still playing with it a bit, I guess I got lucky cause the way I set the trem arm up, its not having any tuning issues, this guitar has always been great about staying in tune anyway.

#202788 by GuitarMikeB
Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:47 pm
Use graphite powder rather than any oil (which could damage the plastic eventually) to lube the bridge and nut.

#202827 by jw123
Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:51 pm
Mike i imagine the strat will stay lubed up when I start yanking on that whammy! LOL!


I actually didnt lube the nut, I have some graphite, should have thought of that, but Im really suprised it isnt going out of tune. I banged on it a little bit at lunch, that damn guitar is just about indestructably in my mind, I used to throw it around and all sorts of stuff, its only got a few gashes in it.

Another guitar subject, I actually thought of taking a sander and sanding a lot of the finish off to give it that worked over look.

Ive read where some people say guitars sound better without the finish, does anyone know if there is any truth to that?

#202834 by Deadguitars
Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:20 pm
jw123 wrote:
Ive read where some people say guitars sound better without the finish, does anyone know if there is any truth to that?

The guy that did my guitar said the same thing when it came to the finish- he just used some of that furniture stuff - tung oil - rubbed on over and over ....
Dont know if he is right or not but thats what he thought ....

#202968 by Peg Lautny
Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:11 pm
jw123 wrote:Another guitar subject, I actually thought of taking a sander and sanding a lot of the finish off to give it that worked over look.

Ive read where some people say guitars sound better without the finish, does anyone know if there is any truth to that?


It seems to me that a plain unfinished piece of wood is gonna vibrate differently (better?) than one languishing under a thick finish.

#203001 by Cajundaddy
Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:48 pm
An unfinished guitar does sound different somehow. Better? I don't know. My Seagull A/E is essentially unfinished with a Cedar top and it does sound pretty sweet. One of the benefit of a quality finish is stability. Moisture doesn't move in or out of the wood easily so the tone is more constant over time. I have played guitars with the finish removed from the neck and they do feel good in my hands.

Try it JW and tell us what you think.

#203059 by jw123
Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:27 pm
Johnny I have been thinking about stripping down my strat, body and neck, but I havent gotten around to it, Ive been busy learning some new music.

Been kinda getting into some Stax/Motown type guitar, being a headbanger its a change up, more chord voicings and making me think when I play instead of just going for it.

Any of you guys play Al Greens, Lets Stay Together? Ive been messing with it, and its out of my comfort zone, but its pretty cool when I nail it.

#203084 by Cajundaddy
Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:07 pm
Great tune and probably a pretty big stretch for a high octane stadium rocker. I'm sure you will play it well though. I haven't done that one in over 20 yrs but should probably bring it back. Al's still got it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBHxjK0-O6M

#203339 by Paleopete
Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:30 am
Never tried the Al Green tune...

I would leave the finish alone. It might sound different, I don't know about better..

Pickup height - I have to set mine on my strat, all stock single coils, high as they will go then tweak to get volumes even. I also drop the treble end a little lower, they tend to get too much treble if I don't. Humbuckers will probably be different, they usually aren't as bright as single coils.

When you set the intonation use new strings. Doing it with old strings is wasting your time. Set the action and get the bridge right first.

Use a #2 pencil in the nut if you have any intonation problems due to the tremolo, I've used it for 20 years and it does the trick.

The bridge should be set so it floats slightly above the guitar body, about 1/32 inch, and level with it. (My Peavey is different, I looked it up and Peavey says set it to a 10° angle) I loosened the 4 middle screws on mine to let it float better and use only the 2 outside end screws to hold it. Some Strats are set up this way from the factory, they only have 2 screws instead of the 6 others have.

Other tweaks and maintenance - A drop of light oil on each tuner (down the side of the tuner post so it gets inside to the gears) every couple of string changes helps keep them in good shape. (3 in 1 or sewing machine oil, NEVER any kind of penetrating oil on any guitar.) A toothpick and a bit of wood glue does a great job of fixing loose strap pegs. I've had to do the pegs on every guitar I have at least once. Keep the screws and tuner post nuts snug but not really tight. It's easy to strip the small screws on back, and if any get loose it can lead to tuning problems. The toothpick trick works for any screw on the guitar. Keep the screws on the back plate at the back of the neck tight. If they get loose the neck can move around. (caused one of mine to get really flaky about holding tuning once. Push it a little and it would change.) Took me a month to figure it out.

A drop of oil on the truss rod nut about once or twice a year will keep it from getting rusty and locking up. Nothing will ruin your day like trying to adjust a truss rod and snapping it because the threads were rusty and locked in place...Never touch the truss rod unless it definitely needs it and you KNOW how to adjust it properly. And ignore anyone who tells you it has anything to do with action or intonation, Those are myths. The truss rod has one purpose and one only. To maintain the proper "back bow" of the neck so the strings have room to vibrate in the middle. It should only be adjusted if the back bow is not right. It will not affect intonation and only has a very very slight affect on action. If it needs adjustment you won't know it by the action. Usually it will be because it buzzes in the middle of the neck.

A fine grit foam fingernail board can help remove burrs on bridge saddles, or a folded piece of fine grit sandpaper. Those burrs can drive you crazy breaking strings. I use something I got in machine shops called craytex, (cratex?) it's rubber similar to a pencil eraser impregnated with diamond dust. If you can get some it's excellent for removing burrs on saddles and frets. I keep a piece in my spare string bag along with a #2 pencil to put some graphite on the nut slots when I change strings.

Or bring it to me and I'll have it in top condition in a day or two. I've been working on them for at least 20 years...the only thing I haven't tried is replacing frets...

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