Need advice on Strat restoration

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by pn8830, Jun 23, 2021.

What would you do?

Poll closed Jul 7, 2021.
  1. She's beautiful as is, just fix the bridge

    12 vote(s)
    35.3%
  2. Refinish, she'll be like new with better bridge

    19 vote(s)
    55.9%
  3. Light relic. Do intentionally imperfect paint job

    3 vote(s)
    8.8%
  1. pn8830

    pn8830 Strat-Talker

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    So I bought this Strat, I think is a partscaster but that does not bother me (at the price I paid). Judging by the S/N it's a 90's MIM Strat. When I put it back together I discovered that it plays very well, probably even better than my beloved first Squier. If I'm being honest to myself, this guitar has the best feel out of all my instruments. So I think she's a keeper and needs some love.

    The situation is that someone was really mean to her. It had a huge dent on the body, right below the bridge, probably a quarter inch deep and five inches long :oops:, you have to try hard to get this kind of damage. To make things worse someone tried to relic that guitar without any proper knowledge of how to do it. This resulted in ugly scratches all over the body.

    I sanded the scratches with 400 grit to make it look not as ugly. And I filled the dent with wood filler, so that rules out the possibility of stripping it and doing a natural look or staining. It has to be paint. I'm deciding if I should do a touch up to preserve the original look and make it sort of a light relic, anyway the scars are real :) even the ones caused by me in my salvation attempt ;). Or maybe just say screw it, strip it all off and do a complete paint job?

    I usually try to keep as much of the original character as possible. I like relic guitars but to an extent, I don't like to make more changes than needed. See my dilemma?

    The bridge is a different story. It has 2-1/16 (52.39mm) 6-screw plate, although the saddles are modern vintage 10.8mm. This causes saddles to be weirdly skewed, but I think it may have been done on purpose because I find the wider string spacing it causes to be more comfortable even though the bridge looks like crap.

    I have a couple of vintage 2-7/32 (56.36mm) plates that I could use to assemble a new bridge that woudl look normal but obviously the 6-screw holes will not align with the body. What is the generally acceptable way to deal with it? Fill the holes on the body and re-drill? Or file the bridge plate to align with existing holes?

    Thanks for you input, as always!
     

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  2. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Silver Member

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    Unless you have machine shop skills, modifying the current bridge will most likely be largely unsuccessful in my experience.

    Glue wooden dowels in the existing holes and redrill to match the new spacing.

    You could “scuff sand” the body and refinish it with black lacquer, then let it relic naturally *the lacquer finish is bound to wear faster in some areas than others - unless you strip it completely back to bare wood - but since it’s already black it would probably wear seamlessly on the most part.

    If you're going for an imperfect aged look, then this might be one way to save it even if you've never refinished a guitar before, but it does take a little patience along with a lot of final sanding and buffing to smooth it out - especially if you want to clear coat as well. Plus as a DIY project there's no guarantee that it will turn out the way you want it in the end.

    So, your other option is to just buy a whole new body and move on with your life...



     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
  3. Strat-Slinger

    Strat-Slinger Senior Stratmaster

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    Good suggestions above... hey, if you're into a cool project guitar experience.. THIS is your golden opportunity... hours and hours of fun, fun, fun.... however... this can also be the type of thing that has the potential to drive one over the edge...
    If into a project... go for it... you say it plays well... that's a good enough reason for most...
     
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  4. jpmist

    jpmist Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    So I bought this Strat, I think is a partscaster but that does not bother me (at the price I paid). Judging by the S/N it's a 90's MIM Strat. When I put it back together I discovered that it plays very well, probably even better than my beloved first Squier. If I'm being honest to myself, this guitar has the best feel out of all my instruments. So I think she's a keeper and needs some love.

    Sorry I couldn't vote for any of your options because I'm thinking that body is now basically firewood. The work involved in sanding and refinishing is far more than I'd put into it, but that's me. Maybe you can get just two screws to line up to hold down the vintage plate which if you block the trem is really all you need. (I've read here often that it's only necessary to snug down two of the six screws, which means 4 of them basically are just there for looks.)

    Perhaps sit down with yourself over a beverage of your choice and come to terms with the fact that you bought a nice neck you like playing that came with bonus wiring and pickups and do a Hendrix on the body?

    Best of luck with it!
     
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  5. Slyy

    Slyy Strat-Talker

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    The body is salvageable.

    I wouldn't try to make her pristine again. Dowel (if needed) and replace bridge. Get the body filled in, sanded and painted by a pro (or do it yourself, if you are capable). Go with a thin coat and no clear coat, and let it relic naturally as you play it.

    Done.
     
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  6. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985

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    I would just get the proper sized saddles for the current bridge, slap some stickers on the body, and rock out with my new "punk" guitar.
     
  7. Miotch

    Miotch Senior Stratmaster

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    It all depends on how much time and work you want to put into it. You can salvage the body and make it look beautiful. But I will warn you, on my first couple of guitars, I had to re-strip them and do them a second time order to get them good enough. And it takes some real time and effort to get one really good. But it is also a good experience. However, if time is money and you are looking for close to perfection, just buy an already finished body, because you're gonna spend many hours on this one and it still isn't free because you gotta buy supplies.

    However, if you just want a player, I'd probably just take it apart and scuff up the finish evenly. I'd probably take it down to about 400 grit sandpaper and stop there. It would make it a flat finish and leave most of the imperfections, which I think might be kind of cool.

    Or you could just replace the bridge and play the hell out of it.
     
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  8. pn8830

    pn8830 Strat-Talker

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    Very good points. I don't see filing as a challenge, I actually think it's easier for me, but filing the holes would definitely look better since you don't see anything under the bridge. I think you are onto something with the black lacquer, I have not thought of that option before and it may be a viable solution. I refinished guitars before and just like you mentioned the result may be different from expectations so I'm sort of ready for it. That is also one of the reasons I did not want to strip it all off.

    Thanks!
     
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  9. pn8830

    pn8830 Strat-Talker

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    You got it right! I'm into that kind of stuff and it's not my first rodeo. However I can't call myself a pro, so I have to pick my battles :)
     
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  10. dirocyn

    dirocyn Most Honored Senior Member

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    I'd want the saddles and the bridge plate to match. Since you prefer the wider spacing, check to see if there's a bridge that will fit these holes and still give you the wider spacing. Use calipers and measure carefully what you've got. This chart is from Callaham, I doubt if these are the only options that exist.

    [​IMG]

    If you can't find a conversion bridgeplate, you have to choose between dowel & redrill to fit a wider plate, vs simply install saddles that fit the plate you have.
     
  11. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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  12. pn8830

    pn8830 Strat-Talker

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    That's all good. I don't think it's a firewood. Probably it will never look like new but it has potential.
    *****, I promised myself not to drink today. See what you did to me:D?
    I made a Hendrix before out of a lefty guitar, just for fun. Got it very cheap, plywood body. Refinished completely, Olympic White, whole 9 yards. Was my first stab so I did not have expectations. It just proved it's difficult to get the results you want, need a lot of patience but there was light at the end of the tunnel.
     
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  13. Sureshot33

    Sureshot33 Strat-Talker

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    I bought a used surf green tele body off Ebay for $30. Was a bullet body and I wanted to build a tele from random parts. It had been dropped on a basement floor and the corner where your forearm would go was shattered. I never realized how thick all those coats of nail-polish-like primer/paint/clear were. I spent a few nights with various grades of sandpaper, leveling everything out and finally feathering it all even. The 3 or 4 inches of bare wood up in that corner got some tru oil and to this day, it's my #1 guitar for around the house. It's also comfortable as heck to play. This all depends on time and purpose. Fix/replace the bridge then see how it plays. If that bridge is an issue for you, I wouldn't go any further. I have a soft spot for "unrecoverable" bodies and necks. Good luck!
     
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  14. jpmist

    jpmist Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    I was thinking more along the lines of lighter fluid and a match . . . <grin>

    It's all whatever floats your boat, I don't have a workshop where I can make a lot of dust and a dustless area to do 15 layers of spray so the work involved is unimaginable to me but I get that it's fun for some.

    The too-wide saddles wouldn't bother me, and I'd give the two trem-plate hole screws idea a shot before going thru all that work of doweling. Best of luck!
     
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  15. train

    train Worlds largest private army Silver Member

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    If you are looking for experience , then this seems like perfect candidate.
     
  16. Exhead

    Exhead Senior Stratmaster

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    If you want to work for hours o a refinish and be frustrated and wait and wait for things to cure or dry then mess up another aspect and have set backs while learning yes go ahead. I have repeatedly and learned a lot along the way as I ask myself why the heck did I get into this in the first place. I have learned a lot along the way. Meh its life we get to enjoy it even when we found ourselves in a hole and have to laugh at ourselves for making such choices.

    Working on this one now, bought it for cheap, it was a yellow sticky and drippy rattlecan mess. Will it fetch big bucks or be everyone's cup of tea? Nope. I like it and appreciate the resurrection from mess to something nicer and bet someone out there will too. Did I learn something from the journey. Yep lots.

    IMG_6847.JPG IMG_6845.JPG
     
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  17. pn8830

    pn8830 Strat-Talker

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    I agree, matching stuff would look better. I have a spare plate and a block that matches American Vintage in that picture, there may be some routing needed because right now the gutar has a smaller block. I won't know until I try to fit it. The existing saddles that are installed on Mexican Standard (from the picture) will work just fine with the vintage plate, they are just two wide for that MX plate. I think I'm leaning towards filling the holes and re-drilling, seems to me the feedback is that this is the proper way.
     
  18. Dreamdancer

    Dreamdancer Senior Stratmaster

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    First of all bring the body to bare wood by either using a heat gun and a spatula or get some 80 grit and elbow grease and strip all that.Now the bare wood might look fine to just seal it and keep it natural...as far as the dent apart from using fillers and patching it up you can use it as a artistic challenge and inlay an object there....i think believer has inlayed a police badge or something similar so there are a lot you can do.....if that doesnt sound appealing just refinish it with rattle cans.

    Before that refinishing takes place though..fill all the holes,use the bridge you want along with two outer strings or some rope and center everything with the neck and redrill....after that its ready for your finish of choice....you dont need to go anal on this...just good enough for the average person to see....
     
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  19. pn8830

    pn8830 Strat-Talker

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    I may give that a shot. I do have a spare saddles that I got on a different occasion, I'm just skeptical about narrow spacing. Wide spacing seems to make a difference for me. Stickers are a no-go, it's personal :p .
     
  20. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985

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    I got used to narrow spacing quickly. It's still wider than Gibson style guitars.

    I get the sticker thing, but that finish is already trashed.
     
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