Un-Floyd-ing a Swedish Strat and other odds and ends

Al B. Sure to check us out at http://www.richboromusic.com.

And on with the program…

We’ve had some really cool jobs lately and the owners of a few of them asked if they’d make it to our blog.  We had joked that we only blog when we’re not as busy as we’ve been lately. But that seemed like a bunch of bologna. It only takes  a few minutes after HBO Sunday night.  So we’ll try to get back on the wagon with this stuff and take lots more pics. Starting tomorrow.  Here’s a good start.

See this Stat? It’s got a cool story.  This was painted by the owner in a “Dark Side of the Moon” motif when he was a younger man. Living in Sweden.  The story goes that a friend of Yngwie’s guitar tech got him some parts for this baby.  I love it already.  He had some extensive work done years ago including having the fingerboard re-radiused to 12″, refretted, EMG’s put in and a Floyd Rose double locking trem installed.  Our job? Re-install a vintage style trem and find a better place for the battery than under the pickguard.

One thing we always like to consider when un-doing a previous hardware or electronics installation is the “what-if” situation of when the owner wants to put ’em back in? You know, sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants.

 First step, dowel the old post holes.  No, wait! we don’t have to dowel anything. Those holes just need to be filled and stained over. We don’t need structural integrity at those spots, and filler would drill out easily without losing the hole’s center should the owner want the Floyd back.  So to cover up those old posts and fill in the gap the previous installation created (pickguard cut to fit the larger trem size), we made this little piece.  Don’t worry, it’s only tortoise shell on the bottom. Or the top if you’re in the southern hemisphere. It’s a 3-ply which we’ll sharpie the white line out and gently age it to match the rest of the pickguard.  The guard is hand painted just like the rest of the body, so we sprayed it with semi-gloss lacquer and 0000-steel wooled it to look weathered.

So that worked. Next we attack the nut.  Originally we proposed to use the way-cool ebonal nut from ABM that’s sold by Allparts.  It’s purpose built for just such an occassion.  But after further consideration (always dangerous), we decided to make something more special out of bone.

 We wanted it too feel more like a regular nut than an adapter, so we tapered the base and created a ledge to let the actual contact area sit higher like a conventional nut. Then we stained the base a deeper orange with Behlen’s Golden Wheat stain and left the nut portion bare-bone white.  One note about that. Don’t polish the bone too much or the stain won’t take very well. That’s the photo above. We had to rough up the portion we wanted to stain to let the color sink in. It still wasn’t quite as orange-y good as I’d hoped, but we didn’t want it to be darker than the aged finish on the headstock. Always better to be a shade lighter than darker on touch-ups and color matches.

 Next we fill the holes behind the nut.  These days, most Floyd nuts are secured from the top with small screws. Originally, all were installed with bolt going through the neck from the back.

 Some more filler, Behlen stain and a super-glue drop fill and we’re good.  Looks better at some angles, but after 4 pics I gave up. It’s a close match, again, trying not to be too dark. With holes this big on a natural finish, we’re not fooling anyone. You just want the fill to look like somebody cared. And they did. Sniffle.

 Next we find a home for the battery.  We’ve found this to be a great way to do it. We cut a cavity to allow the 9-volt to sit flat instead of on it’s side. Most strat cavities don’t allow a depth of a battery sitting on its side without going into the control cavity. As you can see here, even at the minimum battery depth, we still have daylight from the control room.  We then customize a claw, fitting just 3 springs and having 2 holes right next to each other.  After lots of installs, I can assure you that having all of the spring tension on one side doesn’t change the trem performance at all. Scout’s honor.

 I think that’s it.   So after some fretwork, setup and play testing, this baby was ready to go. Thanks to Anders for letting us work on his prized 70’s Strat.

We also had a killer Squire ’51 with an old Arlen Roth Hotlicks neck and some custom wiring. Really cool guitar. We just had to put in some ferruls for its new string-thru bridge.

   Putting ferruls (the metal inserts that hold the ball-end of the string)in a guitar after-market like this can be tricky. Even with patience, a drill press and gently beveling all holes that might see a drill bit, the thick, plastic-y finishes of today’s import guitars can be a challenge.  Just go slow, don’t use any high-tack masking tape and keep some sharp dental tools and some super glue to seal around your new holes before pressing the ferruls.

 Here’s a great sounding Seagull Performer Mini Jumbo that’s shown here post-repair. The top got caved in something awful. Looked like a foot, but something caused 3 major cracks,some splintering,  2 crushes and 3 bracings knocked loose.  Even after lots (and lots) of even clamping pressure with heavy cauls on the inside, the top still had a little wave to it around the most serious crack.  We did some mild leveling but didn’t want to go too thin on this already thin top.  So we chose to refinish it with a lower-gloss Tru-Oil gun stock finish. This great looking finish looked very similar to Seagull’s semi-gloss finishes  and  improved the tone of the guitar. At least we thought it did compared to others of the same model we’ve had. Or maybe our auditory memory wasn’t that great. I mean, without some other-worldly powers, we’ll never be able to compare the pre-damaged guitar to the finished product here. Unless there are some recordings of it around and we can use the exact same equipment with the exact same mic placement.  Now it just seems like I’m arguing with myself.  Just don’t want to be held to ridicule.  I should save this kind of thinking for my diary.  The good news was that the top was now smooth to the touch and looked great without needing a thick clear coat to hide any inconsistencies.

 Double trouble. Bridge and headstock. At the same time.  Don’t worry big fella. You’re gonna be fine. Let’s start at the top.  This guitar was in a few years back with a broken headstock. We guarantee  our headstock repairs. Forever. Even if this one did break in a different spot than the old repair, we told the owner we’d take care of it.  I mean it was only off by a few mm’s, but it was a fresh crack. Anyway, we fixed the new crack and hid it pretty darn well, sanding down to bare wood and refinishing the entire area. But this guitar’s main talking points concern bridge repairs.  The bridge on this Garrison 12-string was lifting up enough to cause someone to squirt some foaming Gorilla glue in there.  The only problem is that without clamping pressure, that’s a false sense of security.  And they left glue residue on the top in a couple places.  Ugh. The only way to fix what’s ailing you is to remove the bridge, scrape the old glue off both surfaces and clamp the fresh wood.

 Here’s the bridge pre-repair of the repair. Got it?  Doesn’t look so bad, but that’s because the string tension is off and  the gap isn’t so big. Add some strings and you see a void and some old foamy glue residue.

 We like to score the underside of the bridge to really bond the tight-grained rosewood to the top.  All of the old glue is scraped off and sanded smooth.  So we then glue, clamp, clean up and attack the old glue splatter.  Since it had been there for a while, it didn’t come off the thin satin finish without a fight. Removing it glossed the top in the 3 spots where the glue settled. Sometimes you can de-gloss finish spots effectively with the right abrasive grit and some gentle wet sanding with soapy water.  This time it just didn’t match well enough for our inflated egos. So we removed the pickguard, taped off the newly repaired bridge and oversprayed the top with a few light coats of semi-gloss lacquer. It was more ‘spritzed’ than sprayed and ended up matching the original patina perfectly. Score.

Well that’s all for now.  If I could only figure out Bill Compton’s motivation right now. Is he really on board with the Authority?  And what’s up with Erik?  Dang you True Blood !!!!

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