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USA Strats - Sharp Frets Common?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by THRobinson, Jan 14, 2019.

  1. THRobinson

    THRobinson Strat-Talk Member

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    So... got back into playing the past year after a 22yr hiatus, and I have a few cheaper guitars (Squier, Agile) and decided I want a USA Strat at the end of the year. I do freelance on the side (design) and never take vacations so, end of the year I have a decent chunk set aside... the fun-fund basically. This year a new 55" TV so, saving up for next year. I'd rather have something cool, than a vaction. :)

    Anyways... I don't have a lot of experience with expensive guitars. I always had a 'if you can't buy it don't touch it' policy at guitar stores so, then didn't play for decades, so never really tested them out much. Went to the store yesterday though and tested out 6 USA Fender Strats, varying from Professional, Elite, and Classic.

    Played very nice, and I liked the slightly wider string spacing over my Squiers. Didn't plug any in though, was more concerned with feel at this point.

    What I didn't like though, were the absolutely awful fret ends.

    I still have cut marks across my fingers from the $2200CAD Strat.

    My Squiers needed a bit of cleanup on the fret ends past the 15th fret, and not that much. And those Squier SE (MIC) cost me $90 each.

    Is this common? 5 out of 6 of the Strats were absolutely terrible for the fret ends. Again, the most expensive one actually broke skin. The only one that wasn't bad, was the cheapest one with the maple fretboard (other 5 were rosewood/ebony).

    I know no matter what you get, a good setup is likely needed. I've gotten fairly proficient with those, but for a guitar like that, I'd send it off to a pro. I was just very surprised that $1200-$2200CAD guitars had such poorly finished fret ends. Wasn't sure if they're all that way? or just a fluke that this store got a bad batch.

    Still want one though, played very nice. Not sure what I want though. Half wants the more modern 2-point trem, locking tuners and a modern colour (played a satin blue one, very nice) and half wants something like a 50/60's reissue and keep it relatively old-school. Just one really good guitar that you never sell and get buried with type deal. :D
     
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  2. guitarface

    guitarface Senior Stratmaster

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    Some people prefer them that way.
     
  3. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier Freak Strat-Talk Supporter

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    The string spacing is the same at the bridge on modern Squier and Fender USA - 2 1/16" - but the neck is wider at the nut on USA models....

    The fret ends are because of improper humidity levels at the guitar store....not anything to do with Fender factory production quality....

    Tell that store to get a humdifier....if it's Long & Mcquade the level of care and setup they give their electric guitars is nonexistant....it's terrible....
     
  4. John C

    John C Senior Stratmaster

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    ^^^^Agreed - it's called "fret sprout" when the necks/fingerboards shrink a bit in low humidity/cold climate changes, causing the fret ends to become exposed.

    Worst case of fret sprout I ever encountered was on the first EVH Wolfgangs I tried out back in 2009 - the dealer had moved from an enclosed mall to a more warehouse-like strip center location, and evidently the guitars sat in the new location with the heat turned off for about 5 days of near-zero temps (due to a snowstorm and "arctic blast" situation); all those oil-and-wax finished necks shrank, leaving the narrow/vintage stainless steel frets sticking out like a cheese grater.
     
  5. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    wood does not know or care how much the guitar costs, that is not the factor.

    wood is processed fast and furious for production these days and it is probably not even stable when they start making stuff out of it.

    guitars are made within thousandths of an inch, so when the wood contracts the metal frets stick out of the sides.

    fast changes in temp and humidity can cause the wood to expand and contract also but if the wood was actually stable to begin with fret sprout would be almost non existent.
     
  6. THRobinson

    THRobinson Strat-Talk Member

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    @guitarface People prefer cut open hands? Not sure if joking or not with that....

    @Guitarmageddon Haha... yup L&M. It was where I was yesterday so I went in. I'd never buy from there though because had some very poor service in the past, except maybe guitar picks or something. London Guitars, if you ever come this was from Windsor, is a really nice place to check out btw. L&M gave me the run-around a few months back when I was trying to buy a new amp.... London Guitar, unboxed one and set it up in a private room for me to test it in.

    Spacing wise... I have a Squier now that I am turning into a sorta vintage look, and I guess the vintage spacing was 2 3/16? Because I was looking at vintage trems and I need the one made for MIM strats to fit my Squier SE, otherwise, the USA one spacing from what I read gets too close to the fretboard edge and the routed hole needs bigger.

    The maple fretboard one I liked the most and it was a vintage type, maybe it had the 2 3/16"?
     
  7. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier Freak Strat-Talk Supporter

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    You're getting vintage and modern bridge spacing mixed up.....

    on an SE it's 2 1/16" also the same on MIM, and also the same on USA.....except vintage style models.....now, the USA has the 2 point bridge so no you can't put it into your SE, but the saddle spacing is exactly the same as the SE.....

    USA Vintage spacing is 2 7/32"....Japan Squier from the 80s/90s and Korean Squier from the late 80s also had this.....

    L&M is awful for keeping the environment humid enough.....oh sure they have those climate controlled rooms for acoustic guitars.....while neglecting the electric instruments....
     
  8. 3bolt79

    3bolt79 Senior Stratmaster

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    I preserved an American Professionalfom an online dealer that warehouses them in Nevada. It came with really bad pokey frets. I sent it back, and got another one that was a year newer, and the fret sprout wasn’t as bad. It’s pretty common when a guitar has been warehoused for two years in a cold, dry place.

    If you get one that has pokey frets, see about having it fixed under warranty, or order one that was made in 2018 or 2019, not 2017 or older as it takes time for sprout to occur and will be worse on the older ones that have sat in the whale house for two years.
     
  9. 33db

    33db Strat-Talker

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    Can you explain this to me, you're saying the air should be more humid? It seems counter intuitive to me that you would want the air to be "wet", as though that might be worse than dry air.
    Serious question as this confuses me.
    Also is keeping a silica pouch in the guitar case a bad idea? I do that to reduce the amount of "wet" air the guitar gets exposed to.
     
  10. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier Freak Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Electric guitars are much less susceptible to changes in humidity, but the neck and frets can be.....put it this way....you don't need like 40% humidity like you would for an acoustic....but if you get down to under 30%....or under 25%.....you're going to have fret sprout.....

    If you could take a Strat and put it in an environment of like 10% humidity for a long time, you'd notice finish shrinking/cracks in the body.....and major fret sprout and other issues....but in 'real life' this hardly happens.....

    The silica packet only helps keep the case itself dry and free of musty smells etc.....it hardly effects the guitar inside.....
     
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  11. Stratoskater

    Stratoskater Most Honored Senior Member

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    Dry air from running heat in the winter causes the wood to shrink or contract and the frets sprout. Then the moist spring air comes around and the fretboard gets some moisture and "swells" back up a little and the fret sprout goes away. Too much moist or too much dry air are both bad. I don't use those silica packs because a case tends to regulate moisture pretty well on it's own unless you live in a crazy environment.
     
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  12. THRobinson

    THRobinson Strat-Talk Member

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    @Guitarmageddon - It was the vintage styles I was mostly playing and my Squire is modern so there was a different in spacing, not a lot but some. The elite had the 2point and didn't notice much difference, but then again I was focused on the small cuts in my hand. :D

    For my Squier, I'm getting 007-1014-049, which is a vintage look, but 2 1/16" spacing and a direct fit into the SE Squiers. If I buy a USA Strat, I'd probably lean towards the 2 3/16" but then again, I just saw the price of the '60s reissues and pee'd a little. :D

    @33db silica pouches remove all moisture, which may not be a good idea. I think 45-55% on a hygrometer (humidity meter) is supposed to be ideal for guitars... acoustic anyways. I just bought one of these for my acoustic guitar because my room with the guitars is always dry and the humidifier I bought is maybe a bit too small some days to keep it at 50. These are sorta like silica pouches, except they contain moisture and keeps things at around 50 by either adding or removing moisture. Maybe buying a single one (refill pack) wouldn't hurt in the case.

    I also bought a hygrometer used for making humidors for cigars, off eBay. Idea was to make a hole in the guitar case and install it to read the humidity, but sadly after 2 months it arrived (China) and is stuck at 70, never budges. :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
  13. 33db

    33db Strat-Talker

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    Interesting wasn't aware that humidity had such a potent effect.
    Thanks for the info.
     
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  14. THRobinson

    THRobinson Strat-Talk Member

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    @Guitarmageddon not to de-rail my own thread, but... speaking of trems. I'm setting up my one Squier to look more vintage. It's a tri-colour burst, with a red tortoise shell pickguard and white accessories. I'm swapping it to black 3ply with aged white accessories, then painting the guitar Antique Olive and will relic the paint so you see the green, the triburst, and the wood.

    Annoyingly... vintage style tuners all seem to be nickel, and the vintage trems seem to be chrome. Saw a few posted as nickel, then reviews said chrome not nickel.

    Emailed Fender, no response... but... do they sell a vintage style trem that's nickel? Any ideas? I'd like to get once relatively cheap like the one I posted earlier, like $55CAD I think, but, never seems to be in nickel. Which is weird I think, given that the tuners are nickel.
     
  15. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier Freak Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Such a product does not exist, not made by Fender anyway.....

    Are you aware of the fact that you're going to need conversion bushings for the larger holes in your SE and the spacing from hole to hole on the SE is a little bit off for vintage tuners, so you'd need larger mounting screws in the back?
     
  16. THRobinson

    THRobinson Strat-Talk Member

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    Yes aware, and no not needed. :D Squier has 10mm holes, vintage tuners I think were 8.7mm or 8.8mm depending if Fender or Gotoh. Looks the same basically so likely get Gotoh.

    Problem I saw with bushings was with the back of the headstock. Tuners were spaced out with gaps in between (which as you said, needs screws with wider heads) and the low-E tuner. The edge of the tuner back was at/over the edge of the headstock. Nice sharp bit of metal to catch on stuff.

    I used Adobe Illustrator, measured what I had and used the specs for the Gotoh SD91's, hole size and bushing size etc... so I could see how it would look, and the D/G strings you won't see the plugs, A/B will have maybe 0.25mm showing on the one edge of the bushings and the E/E strings will show a hair more than 1mm on the outside edges. I have a tool for cutting plugs, in metric so can cut 10mm plugs and fill the existing holes and just redrill new ones. Neck and headstock are getting stripped and re-lacquered anyways so plugging and drilling would be a minor task by comparison. File at hole else I'd post a jpg of it...

    Basically, very hard to notice the amount of the plugs showing will be so little thanks to the bushings... far less than the gapped spacing on the back and the low-E being so close to the edge of the headstock.

    Also, with the spacing all done on Illustrator, drilling holes will be easy/accurate. Print at 100%, little rubber cement and glue the print out on top, centre punch and done.

    .... still, weird about the trems. I mean, why 2 different metals between tuners and bridges. Plus I would assume back in the 50s, it was all polished nickel not chrome.

    Annoying too because f I get the bridge in chrome, I'd want the tuners in chrome, and the vintage style ones around $50CAD are all nickel. Either have to jump up to $100CAD, or down to no-name brand China eBay ones. :D

    Nickel... to me... just looks nicer and ages nicer than chrome. Not sure why but I can spot nickel vs chrome instantly in most cases, especially under fluorescent lights.
     
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  17. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier Freak Strat-Talk Supporter

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    The conversion bushings ARE needed my friend....otherwise you're going to have tuning issues....and loose bushings.....i highly do not recommend plugging and re-drilling the entire headstock hole, you're going to have mismatched wood at the edges which will show with the Gotoh bushings....

    As for tuners.....I like Wilkinson Deluxe vintage style....you can get them in chrome....
    cheaper than Gotoh and just as good if not better
     
  18. THRobinson

    THRobinson Strat-Talk Member

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    I'm not sure how I'd have tuning issues... if plugged and redrilled to fit the bushing that come with the tuners, where would the tuning instability come from?

    As for the mismatched wood... again, we're talking 0.3mm on the edge of the A/B tuners, and a hair over 1mm on the outside edge of the E/E tuners. After being sanded and sprayed with amber tinted poly... I doubt anyone would know unless looking for it specifically.

    Wilkinson wise... forgot about those, which I think are made by Gotoh are they not? But yup, eBay shows chrome. If aging/relicing them for this build, I want similar metals so they "age" in a similar way.

    EDIT - Vintage style without the split ends. Bummer but, chrome at least.
     
  19. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier Freak Strat-Talk Supporter

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    If not plugged and just using the stock Gotoh vintage bushings....that's where you'd have tuning issues, sorry that's what I meant....

    They should have split shaft available? hmmm
     
  20. THRobinson

    THRobinson Strat-Talk Member

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    Hmm... at work (yawn) but will give a good look tonight. From what I found in any brand, soon as I search for the split-shaft, they're all nickel. Weird. That's 100% for looks though... never used them so have no opinion either way about split shaft tuners. But hey, if putting in the effort, may as well get the ones that look correct. :D

    Though not going for 100% accuracy anyways. Just a fun project. Also why I plan to plug the holes and redrill... want to see if I can do it and how well. :)

    Now... if the guitar cost me more than $100... well... I''d hesitate a bit more. Got this last week, guitar, case, stand, small amp, cable, strap.... $100. Was looking for a project, decided to photoshop an idea and thought it looked good.

    Took forever, but I think I finally figured out which car uses the same colour... '54-57 VW Beetle, Iceland Green. It's pretty darn close.

    [​IMG]
     
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