Seeking 1963 Stratocaster Restoration Advice

Discussion in 'Pre-CBS Strats (before 1966)' started by Fourfingers, Feb 14, 2021.

  1. Fourfingers

    Fourfingers New Member!

    Messages:
    9
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2021
    Location:
    UK
    Hello guys

    I've just acquired a 1963 sunburst Stratocaster and wanted to sound out some ideas for how to proceed with the restoration as I know there are some very knowledgeable people here.

    About the guitar - the original finish and the hardware are in fantastic shape, the neck is nicely played in (the original frets need changing and the fingerboard divots may need filling), all the original electrics are present and correct. Pots are dated 6347, body date is 11/63 and neck date is Sep '63. It's a little grubby and needs a good clean but I'm sure it will look great after a few hours maintenance.

    The only thing detracting from the originality of the guitar is an old wiring mod, which has led to extra routing in the pickguard and body. The guitar has one previous owner from new (the guitar came with the original warranty paperwork) and they decided to do this mod sometime in the 60s or 70s (there is a little hand drawn wiring diagram in the case). At the moment some of the 'new' switches do not seem to work (or never worked), and my intention anyway is to remove the modified electrics. From what I can see, putting the electrics back to stock will be relatively simple as all the wiring is still there, cap, pots, switch, pickups are original. The routing itself was relatively cleanly done but I think if it were to be filled more wood would have to be removed first to straighten it out.

    What I'm unsure about is the following:

    Pickguard

    Do I replace the routed scratchplate with a vintage guard (expensive but best option for aesthetics)?

    Replace with a decent aftermarket guard, celluloid if I can get one, and keep the old in the case (cheap option)?

    Try and repair the current one (the routing in the guard was quite cleanly done, but I have never seen a repaired guard that had anything like an invisible repair)?

    Body routing

    Leave the route as it is (invisible from outside) or try and get it filled?

    I guess my philosophy in general is I'm intending on keeping this guitar for the long term but I'd like to restore it as much as possible to its original state in order to maximise its value as well.

    If anyone has some advice I'd greatly appreciate it!

    Cheers
     

    Attached Files:

  2. StratMike10

    StratMike10 Dr. Stratster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    60
    Messages:
    10,672
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Location:
    Florida
    Nice guitar!

    I would get a Lashing celluloid plate and leave the rest alone. Or just play it as is, if you can live with the mods.
     
    Miotch likes this.
  3. guitarchaeologist

    guitarchaeologist Papa Americano Silver Member

    Messages:
    5,471
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2016
    Location:
    Charleston to Texas to Turkey
    IMO, repairing the route doesn't increase or decrease the value, so I would leave it as is since it's currently not seen and a repair will always be visible for those looking under the guard.
    As for the pickguard, it seems you are in the U.K. and there was recently a very well publicized pickguard repair for Chris Buck by Hugh _____ in the U.K. I would try to hire him for the repair.

     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
    CB91710 and Michelotti like this.
  4. Michelotti

    Michelotti Strat-Talker Silver Member

    Messages:
    267
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2015
    Location:
    England
    I rather like that 'characterful' period switch modification !

    The restorer (and writer for Guitar Magazine) who worked his magic on Chris Buck's guitar is Huw Price.

    Myself, I would only even consider filling a body routing if I was intending to refinish that body (which, in your case, you are not going to do).

    And you can always 'see the line' around replaced wood, even if the work is done by the most skilled of restorers.

    Similarly, I've never seen a repaired guard where the repair is truly invisible.

    Welcome to the club : I'm sure you're enjoying your new toy !
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  5. Michelotti

    Michelotti Strat-Talker Silver Member

    Messages:
    267
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2015
    Location:
    England
    PS I guess you know this but, if you did decide to remove the existing guard and 'keep it in the case', it must be screwed to a substantial piece of wood to control celluloid shrinkage.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
    Miotch and StummerJoe like this.
  6. StratMike10

    StratMike10 Dr. Stratster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    60
    Messages:
    10,672
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Location:
    Florida
  7. Fourfingers

    Fourfingers New Member!

    Messages:
    9
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2021
    Location:
    UK
    I have already spoken to Huw about the re-fret and fretboard, but I'll definitely see what he thinks about the pickguard hole, thanks!
     
    Miotch and guitarchaeologist like this.
  8. Fourfingers

    Fourfingers New Member!

    Messages:
    9
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2021
    Location:
    UK
  9. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    4,199
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Location:
    Michigan
    .

    1- if you are keeping the guitar as a collector, then get the wiring returned to original and find a replacement pickguard. Leave the body as others said, a repair is as bad as it sits now.

    2- if you intend to make it a player, then buy a new loaded pickguard and store the original as-is for the next owner to chase down the vintage pickguard/etc.

    .
     
    gotzz likes this.
  10. EyeLikeTortoise

    EyeLikeTortoise Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    95
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2021
    Location:
    New York
    I would leave the route alone and get a reproduction replacement guard and revert to original wiring. In the meantime see about getting the original guard repaired and see if you like how it turns out. As was mentioned, keep the original celluloid guard screwed to a board so it doesn't shrink. I just put an original tort guard on my 61 and had to enlarger a few of the screw holes slightly to get it to fit.
     
    Miotch likes this.
  11. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

    Age:
    62
    Messages:
    28,468
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Location:
    Ticket Booth at the JWPL
    I'd leave the whole thing alone.
     
    Miotch, 3bolt79, Nate D and 2 others like this.
  12. Bazz Jass

    Bazz Jass Chairman of the Fingerboard Silver Member

    Messages:
    4,908
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2014
    Location:
    My small corner
    It has it's own story now. I'd keep it as is...

    Or replace the guard with a modern replica and keep the old guard in the case. It will always make sense to any future buyer that that old guard is the reason the routing was done under it. Buying an old original guard will muddy the waters and make no sense with the routing underneath.

    Oh, by the way, don't fill in the routing. The guitar presents honestly as it is, and there's nothing to be gained by patching anything up that can't be seen.

    If I really wanted to keep the original guard, but not the funky switching, I'd opt for some kind of stick on something rather than trying to patch the guard, which would honestly look terrible IMO. A removable sticker or decal or the like. Sort of....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    CB91710 and guitarchaeologist like this.
  13. MartinC

    MartinC Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    71
    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    Personally I like to know the story of a guitar and that pickguard tells the story of what is underneath. Someone wanted to do a "modern" circuit mod. Fine. I like that the way it is and if the circuit is a tone-sucker I would just rewire to omit it. Guitar has real character the way it is!
     
  14. mke52

    mke52 Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    204
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2010
    Location:
    Italy
    As others have said, from a colectors perspective nothing changes if you restore it or not. The collector looks for an all original guitar. If you restore it it's only to get it looking as it was originally. remember that in 1963 the switch was three way vs the 5 way on modern strats and that leaves you with less sound combinations (unless you position the switch on the in between positions) so maybe you're best off wiring a 5 position switch. The other weak spot of such a guitar (and I speak from personal experience) are the pickups. The windings are 55 years ol and very sensitive to temperature and humidity changes. I use my 63 and carry it around: temperature and humidity changes. I had to rewind two of the three pups that died on me in time. If it were myb guitar I would get rid of those switches, restore with a new pickguard and a 5 way position switch and njust enjoy the guitar for it's historical prestige and sound.
     
  15. Jimistone

    Jimistone Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    205
    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2012
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Man, it is a shame someone routed that guitar in order to install jag style switches.

    Makes no sense.

    "Here's your sign!
    Lol
     
  16. hamerfan

    hamerfan Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    59
    Messages:
    94
    Joined:
    May 11, 2020
    Location:
    Bavaria
    The switches add character to the guitar. I would cut the wiring of the switches, restore the original wiring and leave the switches in place. This is the look of this particular guitar and it is it's unique look different from hundreds of other 60ies strat and different from all these shallow replicas and CS Strats. It's your unique vintage Strat.
     
    Miotch, RobZ69 and StummerJoe like this.
  17. Bazz Jass

    Bazz Jass Chairman of the Fingerboard Silver Member

    Messages:
    4,908
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2014
    Location:
    My small corner
    Nah. If the switches are left in place they should at least work. Unless it's a kid's toy ;)
     
  18. hamerfan

    hamerfan Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    59
    Messages:
    94
    Joined:
    May 11, 2020
    Location:
    Bavaria
    It's part of its history like battle scars or holes of cannon balls. This happend to this guitar.

    Removing its history is like denying your real age with beauty surgery :eek:
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2021 at 6:37 AM
  19. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,791
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2016
    Location:
    Yemen
    I'd figure out the switching, and use it

    Totally badass

    Congrats on your new guitar
     
  20. systolsys

    systolsys Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    47
    Messages:
    538
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2020
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia

    Agree with this. Don't screw with it. Unless the switching is introducing noise or causing unreliability on the guitar, reverse engineer how it's wired.

    I wouldn't touch this pickguard until you know the complete prevenance of this mod. The wiring looks pretty well done even if the body route is done by a drunk monkey with a screwdriver. While the chances are it belonged to nobody important, you'd kick yourself if you suddenly discovered it had appeared on stage in the hands of somebody famous.
     
    Miotch, vid1900 and StummerJoe like this.