Vintage strat guys, opinions, please...

blong

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2,688
Ok, I normally have strong opinions and ideas of what I like and would do. I would never ask such a diverse group their opinions on something like this, but I'm going to b/c I can't make up my mind.

I bought a 1956 strat. The real deal. Authenticated and appraised by Gruhn's, and I have the paperwork. It is mostly original, but it's been refinished (poorly), refretted, and could used a new set of frets or partial refret, and has an aftermarket pickguard. Original pots and switch and bridge pickup are there and fully functional, as is the jack. Everything else, tuners, backplate, bridge pup and cover, tremolo (plate is damaged, as is one of the original saddles, but useable) neck plate, everything else, is there and functional. Neck and middle pickups are non-original cheapo's thrown in by the guy I got it from to get through in a pinch. They are cheap pickups,with the large bar magnet on the bottom.

So, I was going to buy either Fender Pure Vintage 56's or a the Limited Ed. 54's and just put the neck and middle in with the original pickup and electronics and wear the real stuff out enjoying them for myself and hope they survive. But then I thought, well, if I replace two pups, why not save all the electronics and just drop a whole new setup, 56's with vintage spec stuff, and wear that out and keep the original stuff functional. I believe in playing old guitars as they were intended. This guitar would be my number one, but I don't gig any longer. I would play it daily, after I refret it. I will have Pace Guitars in Houston refinish it back to original 2 tone tobacco burst.

But as for the electronics, what would you do? Keep as many original parts in it and add two new pickups, closer to vintage spec, or replace the whole electronics with new stuff and preserve the originals? I am never this indecisive and feel silly about it, but I'd like to hear from a few officionados.

I'm leaning towards just replacing two pickups, and eventually restoring it to as original as possible, but I may want to preserve the originals and replace everything until I possibly sell it way down the road. A third option might be to take the original electronics out and put 'em in the case until I completely restore it with two original pickups, then put it back to as original as possible and play the hell out of it.

Any thoughts or opinions are appreciated. It's a special piece with an incredible neck, the best I've ever played. It's got a really fat V, and the patina is amazing. If I could get photobucket to work I'd post some pics.

Bob
 
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Stev0Griffin

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Can't even imagine how torn you must be.

Congrats on the axe, by the way. ;)

IMO, since only certain parts of the electronics are original, and it's in a condition where it may need a refret, I'd say preserve as much of the electronics as you can. Just get a whole new pickguard assembly up and running, and work on the guitar as you see fit. Maybe in that time, you'll come across some original '50s Fender pickups that you can replace the cheapies with.
 

sting7777

slinger of notes
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566
Measure the original pup and source some nice after markets that are "50's" sounding / wound with the same magnets and close in output. And then play that thing. Enjoy!
 

eigentone

Gold Supporting Member
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9,901
Lucky you.

I'm not your aficionado.

I'd grab a loaded pickguard from a Fender Custom Shop guitar from Stratosphere Parts - off an early or mid 50s repro Strat. I would strongly consider dropping the good bridge pup you have in that.

After that, keep an eye out for original parts at reasonable prices from reputable sources.

My '54 CS Strat sounds just fabulous stock - though everyone here seems to have their favorite winder.

If Stratosphere has no match or if you just want a more accurate match, consider calling Lollar or Fralin -- you might want to send the bridge pup to them to help them create repros for the neck and middle.

Good Luck!
 

Jerrod

Gold Supporting Member
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14,341
I have a 69 Tele that had a damaged pickguard, microphonic pickups and needed a refret. I found a repro guard, put Mare pickups in with new switch, wiring, and pots, and had Mike Lull do a refret. If it's not my favorite guitar, it's close. If I was you (I'm not), I'd do that or something similar, along with a refin, and play the crap out of it.
 

blong

Member
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2,688
Thanks, guys. Confirming what I was thinking seems to be the thinking. Any other way to post pics without photobucket. I just can't get it to log me in.

Bob
 

mc5nrg

Silver Supporting Member
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11,184
Put the old pu in the neck and replace the br and middle with what you think would work for your needs.

I'd suggest a tele type or humbucker that fits the sc bridge position, a tone control on the bridge. Make the middle rw and reverse polarity to the 50s pup you moved to the neck.
 

kracdown

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Silver Supporting Member
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5,978
I wouldn't ever put new run of the mill fender pickups in such a cool guitar... talk to Klein or Lollar or any of the other fabulous pickup makers who can wind you something that will pair perfectly with the original bridge pickup... have it refretted and refinished (although, I'd go with someone like Danocaster on something like this) and try and find either an original guard or something that looks close. Don't bother with anything modern fender, because the boutique guys are making stuff much closer to what originally came on that guitar... the real stuff doesn't really wear out. I've got tons of 50/60 year old gear that's working just fine with no end in sight (besides frets). If the bridge pickup is weak, you can have it rewound and matched to the new pickups by the same winder.
 
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blong

Member
Messages
2,688
Here are some pics. Brace yourself, the pickguard is horrendous, but I have an old single ply from a guitar I worked on years ago. Owner gave it to me. It's off an old strat, but I haven't done anything as of yet. I just acquired this thing last week...

59413-573ab1b33788f662ba82ab8fa4302ebd.jpg

59414-95fb1003f6424e34fd2fc150c43b339a.jpg
 

zztomato

Member
Messages
11,391
Put the old pu in the neck and replace the br and middle with what you think would work for your needs.

I was going to post this same idea.
Check out how that bridge pickup sounds in the neck before doing anything. If you get a great neck tone from it then arrange everything else to suit. I think I would go with all new wiring and switch but find an old style .01 cap.
 

LaceSensor1

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,331
Doesn't it come down to money? Sounds like you may have plenty of that.

The coolest option would be to have a known luthier who is good at restorations have a go at it. A lot of those issue could be fixed using the original equipment. If you re-do the frets go with SS.

You def need a new pick guard asap.
 

Boomstick

Member
Messages
313
What I would do is send the bridge pickup to Jason Lollar and have him rewind it and then send you a neck and a middle to be faithful to the guitar to pair with it. If it was me...
 

theanthonyv

Member
Messages
2,010
I'd leave the pickups alone and never switch away from the functioning one. Nothing sounds as great (i.e., warm) as an aged original pickup. But if you do swap anything out, I'd go with Lollars or Rocketfires. Both are very vintage sounding.
 

blong

Member
Messages
2,688
So, it took me a while to figure out the best way to post 'em, but there's the pics. I think I'm transferring the electronics to an old pickguard I have, then putting in better neck and middle pup, and will later on add an original neck and middle pup when I find them at a reasonable price. I've found a few, but they are asking more than I paid for the guitar for just 2 pups. I also have some old polystyrene parts I found at a shop and they sold 'em to me unknowingly. I also have an original shielding plate from a 55 strat. I'm gonna restore it over time, but for now, I'm gonna get it in good playing condition.

I thought about SS frets, mainly so it does not have to be refretted for a much longer time, but I may go with NS. It has large frets on it, I may go with 6105's. I really like that fretwire. Not a fan of the skinny old stuff, and it's already a player. It sounds fantastic, even the Peavey neck pup and Squier middle pup sound great. But, I want to restore a piece of history as much as possible. I restore old guitars, but I don't have a spray booth, so I don't do refinishes. I recommend a few people and let my clients decide. I will probably go with Ron Pace in Houston b/c I can drive it to him. Any suggestions, I'm open. While I hate the idea of relic'ing a guitar, I think a new finish with the worn neck and parts would look silly. Any thoughts?

Thanks for any input.

Bob
 

bluesoul

Member
Messages
4,646
Bob...what kinds of sounds are you looking for? I have owned several vintage strats over the years....the Rocketfire total 60's capture the vintage strat sound I hear. Another great wind for a late 50's sound I like are the Dawgtown 59's. Best pickup I have heard for strat into a blackface fender clean...with no pedals! 68/69 Dawgtowns are another favorite. A lot of great choices...the list could be long. If I was to pick one set for all the stuff I do...Rocketfire easily wins. So I guess I do have a favorite!
 




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