1998 MIM Strat rescue

Discussion in 'DIY Strat Forum' started by little_wing142, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. little_wing142

    little_wing142 Senior Stratmaster

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    Hi everyone, I thought I'd share a project that I recently completed. The backstory:

    This past July, my older brother, who lives in Pittsburgh,was driving down a side street that he normally doesn't travel. It happened to be trash day in that neighborhood and he saw 3 guitars peeking out of a pile of trash. He kept going but thought that maybe his little brother would be interested, who lives all the way in New Jersey. So he stopped his car, looked around to make sure it really was trash, and took the 3 guitars. The first one was an old short scale Harmony student guitar from the 70's, the second was a cheap Austin brand P-bass, and the last was this 1998 MIM strat. My brother, who is not a guitar guy, had no idea what he had, but he was excited to send me pics as soon as he got home (via text). All the guitars were in really poor condition. This 1998 Fender Stratocaster was particularly bad with stickers, broken, electronics, broken tuners, cracked body, and cracked headstock. It really seems that someone dropped this thing from a height.

    Now 1998 is a special year for me as it was the year I graduated from high school, and started college, so I was VERY excited.

    As soon as I realized what my brother had, I called him.

    I said, "this is SO cool. I can't believe you found a Fender on the side of the road. Stuff like that NEVER happens to me."

    My big brother replied, "It just did."

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    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
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  2. little_wing142

    little_wing142 Senior Stratmaster

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    So a about a month later my brother visited for my new son's baptism. I eagerly took the guitar and stripped it down to figure out how I wanted to approach the restoration.

    The neck had some nice tan lines from the poly aging. The feel of the neck was really good, and it has all those wear/road worn marks that you can't replicate. The type of wear feels very broken in and just comfortable. It's really a different feel from the 2 Fender Custom Shop strats I own which are finished in nitro.

    Unfortunately there was duct tape on the head stock. Aside from the adhesive of the tape, there was a big crack from the distal end of the headstock extending to the the tuner holes. Yeah.


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    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
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  3. little_wing142

    little_wing142 Senior Stratmaster

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    I cleaned the neck up with lacquer thinner with care being taken to preserve the decal.

    You can really see the tan lines of the poly around where the tuners were. By the way the tuners were all trashed and bent, so they went in the garbage.

    Attention was then directed to the nut, which was cracked/chipped.

    I love Tusq nuts so the borders of the nut were scored with an exacto knife and utilizing a wood block and mallet the nut was knocked loose from the slot. This was then removed and passed from the field.

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  4. little_wing142

    little_wing142 Senior Stratmaster

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    Unfortunately I did not take pictures of the next part, but applied titebond to the crack in the head stock and clamped the distal end of the head stock with C-clamps over night.

    Next I inspected the body, bridge and electronics. The bridge had a nice patina to it, again that is difficult to replicate artificially.

    The pick guard was cracked under the body duct tape. Pick ups were broken and trashed. The electronics were actually in good shape but the 5 way lever arm was a little bent. Easy fix.

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  5. little_wing142

    little_wing142 Senior Stratmaster

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  6. little_wing142

    little_wing142 Senior Stratmaster

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    So after removal of the finish, I found that there was a crack in the proximal neck pocket, as well as a crack that ran through the body, and lifting of the back surface/veneer of the body. This had to be glued and clamped down as well. IMG_1930.jpg IMG_1931.jpg IMG_1932.jpg IMG_1937.jpg IMG_1938.jpg
     
  7. Stormy Monday

    Stormy Monday Bluze daddy Silver Member

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    man. Much worse start than my '98 Mim rescue. Neat
     
  8. shovelmike

    shovelmike Senior Stratmaster

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    Thanks for posting the photos and details of the restoration project. I have a 99 MIM which could be the twin of that one. As with yours, the neck finish has aged beautifully.
    It's sad that a person would treat a nice guitar so badly. It's fortunate that you have the patience and skills to put it right again.
    I will be looking forward to seeing the final result.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
  9. Mech

    Mech Strat-O-Master

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    Great progress. Has me waxing about a '98 I had. That guitar was simply magical. I've said it a few times, but those MIM necks from '95-'99, as well as those from '06-'08 are pretty awesome...imo. One other thing, most all MIM necks with that 5 digit number on the heel were above average. I've always believed those are American necks.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
  10. Lonn

    Lonn Mod Admin Staff Member

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    I love projects like that. I was with you right up to the finish removal, didn't see that coming. Why?
     
  11. little_wing142

    little_wing142 Senior Stratmaster

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    Thanks for the replies! Yes the finished was removed because under the bullet hole sticker a whole section of poly was lifting off like a big sheet!!!
     
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  12. Lonn

    Lonn Mod Admin Staff Member

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    :thumb:
     
  13. bluejazzoid

    bluejazzoid Strats Amore Silver Member

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    Nice thread and restoration job so far... so what color are you gonna paint it?
     
  14. little_wing142

    little_wing142 Senior Stratmaster

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    so far...

    So there are a lot of gaps in the restoration. So just to bring you up to speed, I stripped the body. I always wanted a shell pink guitar, so I went down to my local Home Depot and bought pink spray paint. Bad news. It ended up looking like a kid's dresser rather than a cool 50's custom color. Now, because of the patina on the neck and the bridge I decided to match the body finish to reflect the wear and tear. I always loved 50's 2 tone sunburst finishes, especially brownie, and Eric Johnson strats, so I decided to go that route.

    Also the frets were pretty corroded and worn, and also they were low profile vintage style frets. I pulled the frets, and while keeping the natural wear on the fret board, I installed Fender Jumbo frets. Unfortunately I didn't document the fret job :(

    here are some pics of the painting process with obligatory mock up.



    ...............

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  15. strat_strummer

    strat_strummer Most Honored Senior Member

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    Fun project and cool find.
     
  16. Chasy

    Chasy Strat-O-Master

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    Wow, I did not see a burst coming.
     
  17. little_wing142

    little_wing142 Senior Stratmaster

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    Here are pics of the completed project. I ended up matching the 2 tone sunburst to the natural wear of the neck so the body has a semi gloss finish with tasteful relic work. I added aged Kluson tuners with aged conversion bushings from Stew Mac. I swapped the HSS 3 play pick guard with a non beveled 1 ply white PG and 3 mexican standard single coils. The nut is a Tusq nut that really holds tune and transfers string vibration like bone. Also the frets came out really great. They are nice and tall, not too wide, and I can really get in there to do SRV style bending. Enjoy:

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  18. little_wing142

    little_wing142 Senior Stratmaster

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  19. jjudas

    jjudas Strat-O-Master

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    Nice work!!
     
  20. shovelmike

    shovelmike Senior Stratmaster

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    That came out great. You never know what might be hiding under the solid color poly finish, but one's nice.