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spiritwalker

Aqua Marine

Posts: 3,641 Member Since: 14/02/2011

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Out of the blue a 76 natural hardtail I owned 30 years ago dropped in my lap.
And I thought, why would I want this guitar back?
It has the dreaded 3 bolt neck, black pickguard with black unstagged pole piece pickups, white plastics, and a rosewood neck.

Well to my surprise, this guitar feels quite nice. I'm not sure if it's a fluke but it's really light and doesn't have the 12 coats of plastic on it. The neck feels great and the guitar resonates wonderfully. Just goes to show you never know how an instrument will feel until you put it in your hands.

The pickups, well I'm not so sure.

So I have a white pickguard that I'm looking at wiring. I will keep the original pickguard intact for major resale value. ;)

What pickups you folks would suggest? The pickup cavities are shallow like early Stratocasters.

Thanks

 
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waltzmastering

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,621 Member Since:02/02/2011

#1 [url]

I have a 70's all maple 3 bolt that I really like, but converted it to a 5 bolt neck, and rewired with push/pull volume and tone knobs for splitting to single or double coil on a couple SD stacked pickups.

The pick-ups will most likely depend on what style you play and what tone you're after.  I think Seymour Duncan makes lipsticks style strat replacement pus, which might be interesting for bluesy stuff.


image


 

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spiritwalker

Aqua Marine

Posts: 3,641 Member Since:14/02/2011

#2 [url]

That 5 bolt is an interesting idea. There goes the resale value ;)
Did you shield the cavities?
Did you replace the saddles?

I'm thinking of putting in a set of Fender Custom Shop 1969 Strat Pickups that came with my custom shop Stratocaster when I bought it second hand. It has a set of Michael Landau signature pickups now.

Any other suggestions on pickups?

OK it's cold here

Last Edited By: spiritwalker . Edited 1 time.

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,162 Member Since:04/02/2011

#3 [url]

For strat pickups, I like Jason Lollar, Don Mare, and Curtis Novak. There are many other good ones, as well.

However, the pickups were never the weak point in the 70s Fenders, to my ear. Neither was the 3-bolt neck, which can work FINE if properly implemented.

The biggest problem, sonically, with those guitars IME/IMO was the cast zinc/pot metal bridge components. Rather than the stamped steel saddles and bridge plates, and cold-rolled steel inertia blocks of the '50s and '60s, the 1970s saw them using sintered/cast zinc "pot metal" parts which dulled and weakened the sound.

Of course, '70s strats and teles can sound fine, even great. There are no "rules." But while the pickups may have changed a little, the biggest changes were:

1) cruddy cast metal hardware (but the pickups and the poly finish got most of the blame!!)
2) unseasoned, green wood for the necks, and sloppy tolerance for milling of neck pockets (but 3-bolt neck configuration got nearly ALL of the blame!)

brad allen williams

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waltzmastering

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,621 Member Since:02/02/2011

#7 [url]

spiritwalker wrote:
That 5 bolt is an interesting idea. There goes the resale value ;)
Did you shield the cavities?
Did you replace the saddles?

 

That's ok.  I'd never sell it anyway ; )
It's totally messed with and has Gibson jumbo frets.

image

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,162 Member Since:04/02/2011

#8 [url]

Ah, the 80s. Kind of cool to see a heavily-bastardized strat that hasn't been "restored" and refinished back to a semblance of originality!  

Schaller pickups?

brad allen williams

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chrisj

Gold Finger

Posts: 955 Member Since:22/02/2011

#9 [url]

Wow. Vai fan, X2N? I could be totally off base there but I looked at the whammy and those bar polepieces and switches and I wondered…

Chris Johnson, airwindows.com

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zmix

Aqua Marine

Posts: 3,982 Member Since:20/01/2011

#10 [url]

Ah the poor maligned 1970s Strat...

I have two, a 1974 "hardtail" and a 1979 in rare cherry burst, these represent the two ends of the 1970s era guitar..  the 74 is essentially a 68 strat with a three bolt neck (there is *nothing* wrong with the tilt neck adjustment, but so much misinformation and anxiety about imaginary issues...!!!) and the 79 is the last of the breed.

These are both amazing instruments, the pickups and body finish are completely different, the 74 still has a lacquer finish with a  nitrocellulose top coat, so it has yellowed like crazy (so much for "Olympic White").  The quality of the metal is different, certainly.. the tilt neck adjustment on the 1974 works like a fine piece of automotive engineering, but the 79 has oxidized and become stiff.

I strongly suggest you do nothing to the guitar, learn what's magic about it already...!   The 79  is the one I bought first, those flat poled pickups are the the most glassy chimey and translucent pickups I've heard... the 74 is different too...

KIF_1476.JPGKIF_1366.JPG

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waltzmastering

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,621 Member Since:02/02/2011

#11 [url]

chrisj wrote:
Wow. Vai fan, X2N?

 

Maybe..   I used to transcribe his stuff  ..
The 2 black pick ups are Seymour Duncan (forget models) and the creme one is a DiMarzio X2N. 
The nut is only 1.5 inches across, which seems thin to other necks, but is pretty easy to play.
I like Chucks more proper strats

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,162 Member Since:04/02/2011

#12 [url]

Interesting, and highly unusual, if your 1974 strat has a lacquer finish. 1968 was the year Fender "officially" went away from nitrocellulose lacquer on everything EXCEPT the headstock face. This is because the Fender decals they used at the time reacted with the new finish, so they kept spraying lacquer on the headstocks only, causing the headstocks to yellow and check at a far different rate than the body and rest of the neck.

The move away from lacquer happened around July or August of '68 I think, perhaps slightly later, but the rollout was (as usual for Fender) inconsistent. Sometimes you'll see a lacquer one sneak through slightly later, but I've never seen a true lacquer finished Fender as late as '74. But with Fender, very little surprises me. Have you tested a spot inside one of the cavities with acetone? If it's nitro, the acetone will dissolve the finish. If it doesn't dissolve the finish-- it's not lacquer of any kind.

FWIW, the newer catalyzed finish they went to was NOT immune to checking or yellowing-- it would check in big, deep cracks and it yellowed with UV exposure (especially on the white guitars). There are lots of "banana pudding" 70s strats out there which were formerly white but do not have lacquer finishes.

Another interesting thing to note-- virtually all Fenders had Fullerplast, a catalyzed varnish sealer coat, under the nitro lacquer from '63 on. So all of the stuff about nitro lacquer "breathing" and giving better tone is highly suspect if people consider those guitars to sound good (which they do).

brad allen williams

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zmix

Aqua Marine

Posts: 3,982 Member Since:20/01/2011

#13 [url]

My 1974 has that same narrow neck, 1.5" at the nut, with a fairly deep round and narrow profile, I remember playing a Strat that felt like that at a store as a kid and could never find that "Cello Neck" since...
The 1979 has a 1 5/8" width at the nut but the profile is a very comfortable shallow "V"..

I disassembled both of these, down to the last screw, and cleaned and restored them.  My next project it to disassemble the "F" tuners, soak them in naptha and re-grease them...

To me it's all a part of learning an instrument..!!!

Neck of the 1974:

KIF_1438.JPG

The body of the 1979:

KIF_1344.JPG


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zmix

Aqua Marine

Posts: 3,982 Member Since:20/01/2011

#14 [url]

soapfoot wrote:
Interesting, and highly unusual, if your 1974 strat has a lacquer finish. 1968 was the year Fender "officially" went away from nitrocellulose lacquer on everything EXCEPT the headstock face. This is because the Fender decals they used at the time reacted with the new finish, so they kept spraying lacquer on the headstocks only, causing the headstocks to yellow and check at a far different rate than the body and rest of the neck.

The move away from lacquer happened around July or August of '68 I think, perhaps slightly later, but the rollout was (as usual for Fender) inconsistent. Sometimes you'll see a lacquer one sneak through slightly later, but I've never seen a true lacquer finished Fender as late as '74. But with Fender, very little surprises me. Have you tested a spot inside one of the cavities with acetone? If it's nitro, the acetone will dissolve the finish. If it doesn't dissolve the finish-- it's not lacquer of any kind.

FWIW, the newer catalyzed finish they went to was NOT immune to checking or yellowing-- it would check in big, deep cracks and it yellowed with UV exposure (especially on the white guitars). There are lots of "banana pudding" 70s strats out there which were formerly white but do not have lacquer finishes.

Another interesting thing to note-- virtually all Fenders had Fullerplast, a catalyzed varnish sealer coat, under the nitro lacquer from '63 on. So all of the stuff about nitro lacquer "breathing" and giving better tone is highly suspect if people consider those guitars to sound good (which they do).

What, did you read that on the internet?  (EDIT: PS: I agree is is nonsense surrounding "breathing"..!!)


Seriously though, fender used nitro overspray until the super-poly coatings of the mid to late 1970s, but typically only on "Custom" colors, like this Olympic White.

Alcohol will also dissolve nitro, I inadvertently made this guitar 3 shades lighter when gently wiping it with isopropanol.

Look at the weather checking, which is only on the topcoat, not the paint..and the pristine white color where the pressure of the bridge didn't allow any oxygen to reach the finish:

KIF_1459.JPG

Last Edited By: zmix . Edited 1 time.

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,162 Member Since:04/02/2011

#15 [url]

the narrow neck is the "A" width. It's relatively rare. On a '74 Fender there's no easy way to tell. On a '60s Fender, the nut width is on the date stamp at the end of the neck.

Almost all Fenders were the standard "B" width.

The neck stamp on my '62 jazzmaster says "4OCT62B." This means it was a jazzmaster neck (jazzmaster code is "4") made sometime in October if 1962 with the standard "B" width neck. 4 means "jazzmaster," not the 4th of October.

There was also a "C" width, which was larger and wider. This was pretty rare, too.

by the time your '74 was made CBS had gone to a different, less-easily-decoded date code system for the necks.

brad allen williams

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,162 Member Since:04/02/2011

#16 [url]

zmix wrote:

soapfoot wrote:Interesting, and highly unusual, if your 1974 strat has a lacquer finish. 1968 was the year Fender "officially" went away from nitrocellulose lacquer on everything EXCEPT the headstock face. This is because the Fender decals they used at the time reacted with the new finish, so they kept spraying lacquer on the headstocks only, causing the headstocks to yellow and check at a far different rate than the body and rest of the neck.


The move away from lacquer happened around July or August of '68 I think, perhaps slightly later, but the rollout was (as usual for Fender) inconsistent. Sometimes you'll see a lacquer one sneak through slightly later, but I've never seen a true lacquer finished Fender as late as '74. But with Fender, very little surprises me. Have you tested a spot inside one of the cavities with acetone? If it's nitro, the acetone will dissolve the finish. If it doesn't dissolve the finish-- it's not lacquer of any kind.


FWIW, the newer catalyzed finish they went to was NOT immune to checking or yellowing-- it would check in big, deep cracks and it yellowed with UV exposure (especially on the white guitars). There are lots of "banana pudding" 70s strats out there which were formerly white but do not have lacquer finishes.


Another interesting thing to note-- virtually all Fenders had Fullerplast, a catalyzed varnish sealer coat, under the nitro lacquer from '63 on. So all of the stuff about nitro lacquer "breathing" and giving better tone is highly suspect if people consider those guitars to sound good (which they do).

What, did you read that on the internet?  (EDIT: PS: I agree is is nonsense surrounding "breathing"..!!)


Seriously though, fender used nitro overspray until the super-poly coatings of the mid to late 1970s, but typically only on "Custom" colors, like this Olympic White.

Alcohol will also dissolve nitro, I inadvertently made this guitar 3 shades lighter when gently wiping it with isopropanol.

Look at the weather checking, which is only on the topcoat, not the paint..and the pristine white color where the pressure of the bridge didn't allow any oxygen to reach the finish:

image

No, I learned it from buying and selling vintage guitars since roughly age 15, before there WAS much of an "internet," and being around vintage guitars since about age 12, and reading many, many actual print books, and learning directly from some of the industry's foremost vintage guitar experts, in person, with guitars in hand. I've also probably owned about 50 old guitars, currently own half that many.

So, no, I did not "read that on the internet." 

That does indeed look like nitrocellulose lacquer. Which I've never personally seen on a '74 strat. I do think that's interesting!

 

brad allen williams

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,162 Member Since:04/02/2011

#17 [url]

...I should say "which I've never personally seen as a TOP COAT on a '74 strat BODY."

The color coats themselves continued to be lacquer for quite a time. But the urethane is the only top coat I've ever seen on a '74 Fender.

But, like I said before, with Fender, nothing is entirely shocking. Though things did get a bit more standardized in the CBS years. Still, it's easy enough to imagine that they already had lacquer in the gun for the headstock faces, and somehow it was just expedient to shoot a couple guitar bodies as well.

But I do maintain that, to my knowledge, what you have seems unusual TO ME.

brad allen williams

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seth

Ruby Baby

Posts: 5,527 Member Since:26/01/2011

#18 [url]

Brad, do you know the neck codes for Jazz basses? I always assumed the number before the month was the day.

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,162 Member Since:04/02/2011

#19 [url]

seth wrote:
Brad, do you know the neck codes for Jazz basses? I always assumed the number before the month was the day.

"7" was jazz bass! "5" was precision, and I think "6" was the Bass VI.

The codes started in 1962, and some of them changed in 1965.

At first, "1" was jaguar, "2" was stratocaster, "3" was Telecaster. In about '65 or '66, stratocaster switched to "13" and jazzmaster and jaguar switched, too, but I can't remember what they switched to. 

I'll see if I can find a legend of all the codes on "the internet." I hope Chuck will forgive me!

brad allen williams

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,162 Member Since:04/02/2011

#20 [url]

Here's a complete list, from the legendary old provide.net/~cfh site:

1962 to 1968 (mostly) Neck Stamp/Model designations. Starting about April 1962, Fender went from a hand written neck butt date to stamped date. Usually the date had a code (often mistaked as a day of the month/year) preceeding the date, to signify what model the neck belongs. Note in 1966 many model numbers changed. Here is a list of those codes and the years that they were used.

1 = Jaguar 1962-1965
2 = Stratocaster 1962-1965
3 = Telecaster
4 = Jazzmaster 1962-1965
5 = Precision Bass
6 = Bass VI
7 = Jazz Bass
8 = Musicmaster II, Mustang, Duo-Sonic II 1964-1965 22 fret 24" scale model
9 = Musicmaster II, Mustang, Duo-Sonic II 1964-1966 21 fret 22 1/4" scale Model. Also found on 1969 Swinger "Arrow/Musiclander" models.
10 = Coronado 1 and 2, and some 1966 Jazzmaster and Stratocaster necks
11 = Bass V
12 = Electric 12 and Maverick/Custom model
13 = Stratocaster 1966-1968, many 1966 Jazzmasters too
14 = Coronado 12
15 = Jaguar 1966-1972
16 = Musicmaster II, Mustang, Duo sonic II, and Bronco
17 = Mustang Bass and MusicMaster Bass
18 = Coronado Bass
19 = Jazzmaster and Coronado 2
22 = Stratocaster 1968-1972
23 = Telecaster Bass
27 = Villiager 12
28 = Shenandoah 12

brad allen williams

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