DIY Strat – The Return of the Legend Part 9: Shielding the Scratchplate

Posted in Guitar with tags , , , , , , , on February 15, 2011 by misterjrtaylor

In the Part 8 I described hacking the scratchplate to bits in order to fit the humbucker – after sanding the rough edges smooth and cleaning everything up, I got to a milestone moment: actually starting to put it back together.

First though, I wanted to add some shielding to the back of the scratch plate (and also the pickup cavity when the guitar is painted) in order to (hopefully) eliminate some of the RF hum you get with single coils. After reading online, I decided to do this with self adhesive copper tape (rather than use the shielding paint) – although it seems to be fairly expensive stuff (at least from online guitar stores). So I sought an alternative: most garden centres sell copper tape as a slug repellant, and I got a 4m roll for a couple of quid.

Self adhesive copper tape to shield the scratchplate

After a little deliberation on where to start, I just got stuck in and put the first strip down one edge.

Shielding the scratchplate with self adhesive copper tape

I found the best way to apply the tape was to cut t length with scissors, the carefully stick down avoiding creases and air bubbles, overlapping by a few millimetres and then trimming the edges with a sharp knife.

Shielding the scratchplate with self adhesive copper tape

In order for the shielding to work properly, each piece of tape must be electrically connected to the next, which usually means soldering along each joint. This is a job I didn’t want to do. Here’s where my luck came in: some copper tapes have conductive adhesive – the next job was to check the continuity of my shielding and hope for the best…

Performing a continuity check on the scratchplate shielding

…it seems this brand of slug repellant tape does have conductive adhesive! The only job left was to start installing the pickups and pots…

Installing the new humbucker on the shielded scratchplate

Strat scratchplate loaded with Tonerider PAF style humbucker and coil tap + tone switches

Testing the scratchplate on the white primed strat body

DIY Strat – The Return of the Legend Part 8: Modifying the Scratchplate

Posted in Guitar with tags , , , , on February 15, 2011 by misterjrtaylor

Last week I removed all the hardware off the scratchplate and marked out where I needed to cut to install the humbucker in place of the bridge single coil. It was a very close fit as the footprint of the new PAF style pickup only just covers the diagonal line made by the existing single coil. With everything marked out, the scratchplate has been sat on the shelf for a little while – I guess I been putting off the job of cutting parts away… anyway, today I decided I would jump straight in with the hacksaw and just get on with it.

Cutting the strat scratchplate to accommodate a bridge humbucker

Sanding the scratchplate

I didn’t have any flat files to hand, so I improvised by wrapping sandpaper around a couple of rulers to give a nice even finish to the cut.

Continue to Part 9

DIY Strat – The Return of the Legend Part 7: Priming the body

Posted in Guitar with tags , , , , on February 12, 2011 by misterjrtaylor

Today, finally, we had some good weather allowing me to do some more work on my strat clone’s body. I had previously stripped the lacquer off using a orbital sander and then removed the colour-coat by hand with sandpaper. With a clear blue sky and gentle breeze, I got on with the process of working through the grades of sandpaper, before spraying on some primer. I managed two or three coats during the day and was left with a primed, brilliant white guitar body. Unfortunately, its still showing some scratches caused by the sandpaper, so it looks like some more time with the wet-and-dry paper is needed!

Strat body partially stripped

Strat body partially stripped

Strat body after a couple of coats of primer and a little sanding

Strat body after a couple of coats of primer and a little sanding

The last couple of photos shows the Strat body after a coat of primer and a light sanding with 400 grit paper. I really like the effect of the scuffed edges giving it that relic look – I’m now seriously considering relicing the final finish on the guitar – Is this cheating, or should I just play it every day for 20 years and wait?

Continue to Part 8

DIY Strat – The Return of the Legend Part 6: Starting to make a start

Posted in Guitar with tags , , , , on February 11, 2011 by misterjrtaylor

After not doing much on the guitar this for a week or two, the new electronics I ordered arrived and kick-started me back into action. First to arrive was the Tonerider Alnico IV Classic humbucker, nicely packaged in plastic presentation case – I’ll just have to wait to find out how it sounds… Next were the other replacement electronics: the 500k pots, a 0.047μF and 0.022μF cap and a couple of toggle switches – this will form my Tone Switch and Coil Tap.  I also managed to source a set of Wilkinson EZ-Lok machineheads which arrived the same day. They’re a much more sturdy construction than the cheap old ones with a very smooth action – the only issue is drilling out the headstock to accommodate the larger spindle. I probably won’t attempt this with the cordless hammer drill… I also managed to get a coat of primer on the body, however this only served to reveal the crap job I’d made of the sanding!

Tonerider Alnico IV Classic Humbucker

Tonerider Alnico IV Classic Humbucker with new pots and 5-way switch

Starting to disassemble the scratchplate

Starting work on the scratchplate

Scratchplate with all parts removed

All parts removed!

Scratchplate marked out for humbucker ready for cutting

Marking out the template for the humbucker ready for cutting

Continue to Part 7

DIY Strat – The Return of the Legend Part 5: A slight change of direction and a bit of Photoshopping

Posted in Guitar with tags , , , , on January 26, 2011 by misterjrtaylor

I had mentioned in Part 2 that I would include a Tone Switch in the wiring scheme for the Legend, effectively being able to switch in a capacitor in addition to the tone pot – this method, is apparently, not the best way and I’ve been pointed to this thread on Guitar Nuts, which allows selection of capacitor on the tone pot. A much more sensible option.

Since I’ve stripped the body back to bare wood, and until I can locate some sander sealer locally, I’m a bit stuck with the project – so instead I’ve Photoshopped what I hope the final guitar will look like.

Legend strat with bridge humbucker and addtional toggle switches

This process has also helped determine the position of the additional toggle switches required for the coil tap and tone switch.

Continue to Part 6

DIY Strat – The Return of the Legend Part 4: Progress!

Posted in Guitar with tags , , , , on January 24, 2011 by misterjrtaylor

After spending a lot of time reading about the best way to strip the remaining finish off the Legend, I settled for plain old hard work. Depending who you believe, Nitromors either will, or won’t touch the polymer lacquer. Some people recommend a thick coating of the stuff, wrapping it in cling film and leaving overnight. Others state the best way is with a heat gun. Both these options seem to have obvious draw-backs: high potential for personal injury coupled with probable damage to the guitar.

So, I lumped for hand-sanding the guitar body (with a little help from the orbital sander to get the lacquer off). The whole process “only” took a few hours, and isn’t strictly finished yet, but good progress was made – including removing the horrible white gloss I’d started to repaint the guitar with 5-ish years ago.

Starting work

The final result (although I took these pics before completing the job – the remaining black paint on the cut-out is now gone!)

Some spots of the original wood sealer can still be seen in the grain, but as I’m going for a solid colour I don’t this as an issue. The next step is to spray with primer, sand, spray with primer, sand, spray with primer…

Continue to Part 5

DIY Strat – The Return of the Legend Part 3: Subconscious Influences from 1988

Posted in Guitar with tags , , , , on January 20, 2011 by misterjrtaylor

I’ve just been looking through my collection of guitar books and found the one from which I learnt to play. I haven’t look inside its covers for probably 15 years, but I can still remember the layout, text, illustrations and music on every page. Usborne Music Guides: Learn to Play Guitar only boasts 64 pages, but I must have spent countless hours absorbing every detail in that book.

And some of it must have stuck: the front cover shows almost exactly the guitar I have chosen to make the Legend into…

Usborne Music Guides: Learn to Play Guitar

A blue strat with rosewood fretboard and white scratchplate – the PAF style bridge humbucker is, obviously, an afterthought. Strangely, the cover also shows an almost exact replica of the EKO Ranger acoustic, borrowed off my cousin, which I learnt to play on.

Continue to Part 4