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Improving a budget guitar; how far to go?

StuRdesign

Member
Messages
1,977
I was at a charity commemoration event in honour (UK spelling, don't think he made it far in the USA??) of 70s star "Alvin Stardust", previously known as "Shane Fenton". He died from Prostate Cancer four years ago, which was sudden to his friends as he kept his condition secret; all the proceeds went to the UK's Prostate Cancer charity.

Part of the evening was raffling a Strat guitar which had been signed by all of the cast. The guitar is a Stagg, and is pink.
Naturally I'm very pleased to have won the guitar, and want to keep the nature of it's commemoration, so my first step is to dismantle it to have the body sealed professionally to stop any signatures being removed.
I'll then replace it's white scratchplate with a black one. My reason being that many years ago, just before his death, I was given a set of "Full Range" John Birch Strat pickups, in matt black with covered poles. I've yet to hear how they sound, or what "Full Range" entails.
I also have a Fender TBX tone pot unused in my spares box. I'll switch the actual control knobs out for black Tele knobs, I originally thought Chickenheads, but the pickup screws would get in the way.

Anyone have any thoughts on the need to change out the machineheads??? I may yet, not sure, be blocking the trem to stop it moving.

My only block just now, is that two of the sigs are on the protective film of the white scratchplate. I've been trying to think of a way of transferring them, literally, onto the new black plate, maybe by use of a Dremel and a scan or stencil off the originals?

Oh yeah - and I'm earth isolating the cavities too.

Any thoughts gratefully received.

 

8len8

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
14,661
I was at a charity commemoration event in honour (UK spelling, don't think he made it far in the USA??) of 70s star "Alvin Stardust", previously known as "Shane Fenton". He died from Prostate Cancer four years ago, which was sudden to his friends as he kept his condition secret; all the proceeds went to the UK's Prostate Cancer charity.

Part of the evening was raffling a Strat guitar which had been signed by all of the cast. The guitar is a Stagg, and is pink.
Naturally I'm very pleased to have won the guitar, and want to keep the nature of it's commemoration, so my first step is to dismantle it to have the body sealed professionally to stop any signatures being removed.
I'll then replace it's white scratchplate with a black one. My reason being that many years ago, just before his death, I was given a set of "Full Range" John Birch Strat pickups, in matt black with covered poles. I've yet to hear how they sound, or what "Full Range" entails.
I also have a Fender TBX tone pot unused in my spares box. I'll switch the actual control knobs out for black Tele knobs, I originally thought Chickenheads, but the pickup screws would get in the way.

Anyone have any thoughts on the need to change out the machineheads??? I may yet, not sure, be blocking the trem to stop it moving.

My only block just now, is that two of the sigs are on the protective film of the white scratchplate. I've been trying to think of a way of transferring them, literally, onto the new black plate, maybe by use of a Dremel and a scan or stencil off the originals?

Oh yeah - and I'm earth isolating the cavities too.

Any thoughts gratefully received.

You might get more replies in the Guitar forum here.
 

doc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,406
I'd probably either choose to just leave it alone and hang it on the wall or not worry too much about the signatures on the plastic. I've had cheap guitars I thought had some potential as players I've sunk some money and effort into (usually I really like the neck) and those that didn't seem worth it. Is this one worth messing with? I might rather get another cheap one to modify - used you're sometimes out less for the whole guitar than for some of the parts you might put in it.
 

doctorx

Member
Messages
4,481
String it with new strings, set it up and see how the tuners feel. If they are ok, let them be. Other than that, new pots and switch, and the pickups you mentioned. Maybe replace the bridge pieces with better ones if they'll fit. Other than that, leave it be. If it's not enough, just hang it on a wall as suggested.
 
Messages
17,998
what exactly is a budget guitar??

is it simply a guitar with subpar electronics and/or hardware and no iconic name on the headstock?

most of my guitars are "budget"...have or will be upgraded
I could give two flying craps about resale so I have no problem putting 2-4 hundy into it

I have an epiphone dot with...all electronics pups bridge nut have been upgraded
I have another will do the same thing but add a bisgby
200 pups
50 electronics
40 new bridge
12 nut
60 tuners
250 bigsby with v7

I could put a $3000 Gibson logo on the headstock but don't need to...it will sound and play just as good

frets on both of these guitars were fine...nothing found with fret rocker
 

mmn

Member
Messages
165
The sigs that are on the film, can you get them to re-sign if you remove the film?

And it can always be improved by a proper fret dress and set-up.
 

StuRdesign

Member
Messages
1,977
Thanks for all of your replies.

I don't intend hanging it on a wall, nor reselling it.
I had a bit of a try out with it last night. The machines "feel" weak but I'll see if they hold tune for a while.
Most of it for me is appearance. I don't much like the pink with white parts look of it, the new pickups I want to try are black so I thought I'd add black to match. Not sure how far I'll go with that. I want it to be a player, and a respectful tribute to the cause and people who gave it to me. For now I'm thinking of taking off the Stagg name on the headstock, and having an "Alvin" transfer made to replace it - and a lazer eteched neckplate with a picture & text to commemorate the event.
Right now for my own preference, I'm also toying with making it a hardtail.

By playing it last night I've already damaged one of the sigs on the scratchplate. So I'll take it off ASAP, scan it, and use the scan to trace an etch of the image onto the new black scratchplate, cutting thru' the top black layer so that it's cut out of the white layer; if that makes sense?
 

Stike

Member
Messages
14,106
I was at a charity commemoration event in honour (UK spelling, don't think he made it far in the USA??) of 70s star "Alvin Stardust", previously known as "Shane Fenton". He died from Prostate Cancer four years ago, which was sudden to his friends as he kept his condition secret; all the proceeds went to the UK's Prostate Cancer charity.

Part of the evening was raffling a Strat guitar which had been signed by all of the cast. The guitar is a Stagg, and is pink.
Naturally I'm very pleased to have won the guitar, and want to keep the nature of it's commemoration, so my first step is to dismantle it to have the body sealed professionally to stop any signatures being removed.
I'll then replace it's white scratchplate with a black one. My reason being that many years ago, just before his death, I was given a set of "Full Range" John Birch Strat pickups, in matt black with covered poles. I've yet to hear how they sound, or what "Full Range" entails.
I also have a Fender TBX tone pot unused in my spares box. I'll switch the actual control knobs out for black Tele knobs, I originally thought Chickenheads, but the pickup screws would get in the way.

Anyone have any thoughts on the need to change out the machineheads??? I may yet, not sure, be blocking the trem to stop it moving.

My only block just now, is that two of the sigs are on the protective film of the white scratchplate. I've been trying to think of a way of transferring them, literally, onto the new black plate, maybe by use of a Dremel and a scan or stencil off the originals?

Oh yeah - and I'm earth isolating the cavities too.

Any thoughts gratefully received.

That guitar has a polyester clear topcoat. No new clear finish will chemically adhere to it so it will need to be sanded first which will remove the signatures. Any finish applied without sanding first will eventually delaminate and come off.

Your best bet for preservation is clear pickguards material used for acoustic guitars.
 

ant_riv

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,951
I suggest taking pictures of the guitar, so that the signatures are clearly visible.
I’d choose the best and make it poster-sized.
I’d place the poster near my amp, whenever I used that guitar at a gig, and not worry about the signatures again, since you have no plan to resell the guitar. I’d have a title added to the poster, commemorating the individual and a dialogue box with details (date, raffle location, etc.) at the bottom somewhere.

As to part replacement, on a ‘budget’ guitar, I’d replace any part that kept the guitar from being serviceable for it’s intended use. I always keep the original parts together and labeled so I can replace them if I ever sell the guitar. The quality/expense of the parts isn’t an issue to me, as I nearly always buy used, and expect the parts are only ‘on loan’ to the guitar.
 

Jon Silberman

10Q Jerry & Dickey
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
43,053
In the past, I've gone quite a way upgrading some budget guitars. I wouldn't do it again. I'd buy a better one from the start.
 

cap10kirk

Member
Messages
8,997
The big problem, as Stike mentioned, is the finish will have to be sanded for a clear coat to properly adhere to the guitar. If you want to keep the signatures intact, either hang the guitar on the wall and don't play it, or put something like an adhesive clear pickguard material over the signatures.
 
Messages
449
By playing it last night I've already damaged one of the sigs on the scratchplate. So I'll take it off ASAP, scan it, and use the scan to trace an etch of the image onto the new black scratchplate, cutting thru' the top black layer so that it's cut out of the white layer; if that makes sense?
You might be able to find someone with a laser engraving machine that can reproduce the signatures from an image and burn them into the new plate.
 




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