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MIM 50th Anniversary Closet Classic

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by KCStratman, Apr 6, 2016.

  1. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    One of my golf buddies, disc golf that is, although pushing sixty like myself is a drummer who still rocks hard on double bass pedals with the twenty-something shredders. He mentioned that long ago he had given his son, a great disc thrower half our age now, an electric guitar for some birthday or other which never got played past the air guitar stage. I helped said son move to a new crib recently and he dug under a pile of ball gloves and skateboards and pulled out a heavily soiled Fender gig bag. "I know you know guitars," he says, "see what you can do with this." The gunked up zipper stuck a few inches down but I could clearly see it was a Mexican strat with maple neck. Once home on my bench began a forensic examination worthy of NCIS-Strat.
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  2. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    Forensic Guitar Examination: Subject guitar is revealed to be a 1996 Made in Mexico Fender 50th Anniversary Standard Stratocaster, black with maple neck, ser#MN6124998 . Condition as received:

    Test for signal: positive, all three pickups function, switch functions but noisy, control pots function but stiff and some noise. Strings untunable, unplayable.

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  3. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    Neck: Finish fair to good, some deep scratches on back of neck along skunk stripe, one small ding on front of headstock, decal fully intact and correct, string tree okay, tuners very stiff, strings casually installed and petrified with age, frets appear unplayed no wear or divots but heavily tarnished, fret ends need light dressing. No apparent twisting or warpage, relief is nominal, nothing alarming. Truss rod nut moves but very stiff. Neck heel clean and smooth, markings appear correct.
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  4. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    Body: finish fair, small chip at upper strap button, wall scrape/smudge on forearm bevel, numerous small scratches and micro-scratching throughout. Neck pocket clean and smooth, routings and markings appear correct. Neck plate and screws correct, light pitting. Both strap buttons loose and wallowed out, need toothpicks.
    Pickguard assembly: light scratching throughout not consistent with guitar strumming (random patterns consistent with air-guitar child's play.) Switch tip missing, controls stiff, pickup covers grimy, most screws heads rusted. Removal of knobs revealed fouling with plastic film debris.
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  5. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    Upon removal, pickups and all wiring appear completely original, note large bundle of excess pickup wire untrimmed, otherwise okay neatness.
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    Hardware: Tuners very stiff but unbent. Bridge assembly is very grimy, block saddles show light pitting, tremolo springs heavily tarnished. Output jack plate grimy, pitted, scratched. Note small pot metal tremolo block and narrow string spacing.
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  6. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    Upon removal, reveal #2 (B string) bridge mounting screw was drilled and installed some fifteen degrees crooked! Saddles pitted, all screws corroded.

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  7. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    The goal is to restore this strat to good playable condition with clean but patina'd original hardware, lightly touch up and buff out body, and clean and adjust electronics.

    Checklist of repairs

    Body:

    Fill and re-drill #2 bridge mounting screw

    drop fill paint chip with black lacquer and superglue

    buff out body smudges and big scratches

    fill strap button holes with toothpicks

    Neck:

    lightly sand scratches and 0000 steel wool back of neck to satin

    Disassemble tuners, re-grease, tweak tension

    very lightly level and dress frets, polish

    oil truss rod nut

    Electronics:

    clean switch and pots

    trim excess pickup wires and resolder

    replace switch tip


    Hardware:

    replace bridge saddles and screws w/ vintage bent steel, narrow (preserve and store originals)

    replace bridge mounting screws

    replace tremolo springs

    replace all pickguard and trem cover screws

    reset strap button screws, black felt washers

    polish neck and output plates


    To be continued...

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    8T_BoCO and montemerrick like this.
  8. Lonn

    Lonn Mod Admin Staff Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Admin Post
    That's a Traditional Series Strat. Same as the MIM Squier Series effectively without the Squier series logo on the end of the headstock. Cheaper electronics, tuners and trem unit. IMO put some better tuners on it and go to town.
     
    Yogi likes this.
  9. GunMonkeyINTL

    GunMonkeyINTL Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 5, 2015
    NC
    So did he give it to you, or are you just doing him a solid by buffing it up?
     
  10. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    Yes, this is the lower line MIM, essentially an upper line Squier, and the poor quality of parts and assembly really shows upon close examination. They want to keep it for sentimental reasons so are paying me handsomely to do the restoration. If I were keeping it or giving it to my fourteen year old son I would replace the tuners and the pathetic tremolo block, but donating the bent steel saddles is as far as hardware upgrades will go, just fixing the miss-drilled bridge mount, filling the finish chip, cleaning and polishing everything, and a good setup should make this guitar a good playing lower line strat and leave it 98% original.
     
  11. ocean

    ocean Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 14, 2015
    In a house
    Would make a great garage guitar for me.. I wouldn't frown upon it.. But that is just my opinion..
     
    Uncle Mui likes this.
  12. Vindibona1

    Vindibona1 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Hmmm.... I don't know if I'd concur with this exactly. It doesn't match my experience.

    As I see the your photo of the inside of the pickup routing are those horizontal lines routing marks or is the body plywood?

    I've had two Squiers (and still have one of them) that would put them in the "upper line" of Squiers (not even including the CV's) and this Strat is nothing like them in terms of quality and build. My Squier Fat Strat, with the exception of the agathis body is very close in quality to a MIA. Even the pickups in it are as good or better than the Fat 50's/diamondback in my other Strat (I did a comparison recording a few weeks ago if you recall). I don't know what a "lower line MIM" is exactly beyond the basic Standard Strat, but both of my MIM Standards, a 2006 and 2014 are up there in quality too. The '99 Squier SE that I just traded off was as good as many Strats of all "levels". I hauled it around to compare to other Strats (photo below) and there were only two guitars that I liked better. I liked the second from the right (mine is far right) and ultimately the Am Deluxe which I bought at another store.

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  13. crawdaddy

    crawdaddy Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 11, 2010
    Valley o Sun
    After looking at your photos....I guess there is one thing that Fender gives us lefty's that is an improvement over right handed guitars and that is the electronics in The MIM Squier Series, Traditional Series guits!!!!

    All this time, I have heard of the inferior electronics but had never seen it in my left handed guitars....well, looking at your picks I can see the dime pots and inferior switch!!!!! All of the lefty MIM Squier Series, Traditional, and Squier badged Mexican strats that I have owned have had full on Standard Series electronics.....

    Here is a pic of one of my late 90's MIM Squier badged strats innards....looks like any other 90's left handed MIM strat.

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    pay no attention to the maple neck, it is from a later model strat....Fender did not offer us leftys maple at this time....
     
  14. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    I make no claims as to the coherency of Fender's multi-tiered marketing schemes over the years. This is obviously not the highest quality strat in terms of body, hardware or electronics. The neck except for the shoddy tuners is the best part of this guitar.

    First on the bill is to fix the poorly drilled bridge mounting hole which must surely cause the mounting screw to bind if the bridge is floated or during tremolo action. Quick fill with a small wood dowel and a spot of filler putty, then mark pilot hole with sharp tack and re-drill hole.
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    Now that bridge mounting screw is nice and straight.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2016
  15. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    I replaced the pitted pot metal block saddles with bent steel saddles from a MIM CS (they are about .5mm wider than the blocks but work fine and look oh so much better), new AVRI mounting screws, polished up the bridge plate, and replaced the corroded old tremolo springs with shiny new ones. Lube the pivot points with syn grease and install with outer screws flush to plate, center screws stand proud .020" Voila, a nicely installed bridge with vintage style saddles. We will try to forget the anemic pot metal tremolo block.
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  16. Lonn

    Lonn Mod Admin Staff Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Admin Post
    I never get tired of tinkering with guitars. I gave an Austin Strat and an amp to my daughter's middle school a few years back. When I was subbing last week I went to look at it and it doesn't look like the strings have been changed since I donated it. I could barely do a bend they were so bad. This week is spring break so I took it home with me and will give it a teardown and rebuild tonight.
     
  17. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    Yes, I love tinkering too, but putting a hundred and fifty dollars worth of labor into a hundred dollar guitar needs to be a labor of love, or paid for in cash as in this case. The exact same amount of time and effort could have been spent to restore or completely assemble a $1500 class strat, I have three such in pieces waiting on my bench. Everything is relative, this owner wanted to pay for a restoration of an inexpensive guitar, fine with me that's what pays the bills.
     
    8T_BoCO likes this.
  18. Lonn

    Lonn Mod Admin Staff Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Admin Post
    I've thought about offering my services up for a fee but there are already a bunch of guys on my local CL trying it. No telling if they're any good at it, but they're advertising. It bothers me when the saddles are the wrong size but I see it a lot, even on new models from Fender/Squier.
     
  19. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    I wonder how many are actually experienced guitar techs with complete specialty tools and depth of technique for repairs and restorations, or are just players/tinkers that change strings and do setups the best they know how. Not that some of those cannot do an okay job if they actually know what they are doing. I encourage all players to change their own strings and learn to do basic setups, but correcting flaws and foibles especially in lower quality guitars can take some real experienced finessing. High quality guitars tend only to need straightforward setup and adjustment or repair of damage and wear.
     
  20. KCStratman

    KCStratman Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 2, 2015
    Kansas City
    The tuners were really stiff so I removed them, popped off the covers, slightly pried loose the frame where it pinches the shafts, and lubed the gears well with synthetic bicycle grease. Greased the posts as well and reinstalled, much smoother turning but still no Klusons.
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