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Changing/Modifying my '79 Strat Neck
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Ronnieg
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#1
18th November 2012
Old 18th November 2012
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Changing/Modifying my '79 Strat Neck

I purchased my USA Strat new back in 81. I know the ,79 serial numbers covered a few years due to CBS working the parts backstock.

It has a Maple neck and the three screw micro tilt plate at the base and the "bullet" design at the headstock.

To be fair it's always been a bit of a dog to set up due to a slight curve in the neck. A gret luthier who set it up for me all those years ago said I'd never really get a decent action on it. But i was young and the look of the guitar outweighed the practical and I kept it.

Well the guitar has been gigged and played loads over the 20 years and the frets and condition of the neck got quite worn.
I kinda put it into retirement as i happened to buy a telecaster with a fanatastic feel to it , so goodwas the Tele that it really did make me realise how damn hard i had to work to play the Strat!
But over the last five years i feel it's a shame i won't / can't use the Strat ...
So,......
I was going to put a new neck on it... i really prefer Rosewood now.
Then i thought...

Can a skilled Luthier shave down the existing neck and apply a rosewood fretboard. That way i get a great neck and retain the guitar complete , serial number et al.

Any Advice?


Cheers

Ronnie
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#2
19th November 2012
Old 19th November 2012
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Dervish Riff is offline
You'd be better off with a new neck, it'll probably be cheaper than fixing you old one--plus you can put that crooked one in a drawer, where it belongs.

There's probably another serial number on the body, either the neck pocket or the control cavity.
#3
19th November 2012
Old 19th November 2012
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Get a skilled Luthier to shave down the existing neck and apply a rosewood fretboard
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#4
19th November 2012
Old 19th November 2012
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I'm with the other guy I'd swap out necks. It's not like the guitar police are hot on your trail and planning to send you to a re-education camp. I was playing around with one of those guitars last summer. How's your back after 20 years? lol Man were they heavy! This is assuming of course yours was ash as well. The fretboard was scalloped if I remember right. I'm just the opposite I prefer maple now. A luthier could certainly redo it but I can only imagine the cost. It would take a while to get your neck back. You can always put the only neck on the wall like a trophy. From the sounds of it like the one I played you'd be starting from scratch anyway because it would need to be refretted. You could also just semi retire it and look for a new one. That way you can always go back to it if you change your mind.
#5
19th November 2012
Old 19th November 2012
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Bill@WelcomeHome is offline
Buy a new neck. Maybe even a Warmoth? You can get them in several configurations with different radii, neck, fretboard woods and fretboard inlays. I have one in solid birdseye maple with an ebony fretboard.
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#6
20th November 2012
Old 20th November 2012
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Warmoth makes great Fender replacement necks. I've bought many over the years. Never got a bad one.
#7
20th November 2012
Old 20th November 2012
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It's a big job, but it would be less money to have a luthier replace the neck with a Warmoth - theirs are the best aftermarket necks, hands down. A skilled luthier could do the fingerboard replacement and make it play better than a new strat. However most luthiers are NOT skilled, so be careful who you trust with the job - the guitar repair business is rife with wannabes and hacks. The ones who are true craftsmen generally have almost legendary status among their clientele, and are in high demand. If you decide to have the job done, seek out the best luthier you can find, or you're likely to regret it. Even if you replace the neck with a Warmoth, you should make sure the guy doing the job is qualified. If I sound jaded, it's only because I have seen so much bad workmanship on good guitars. It makes my want to cry every time I see it.
#8
20th November 2012
Old 20th November 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
It's a big job, but it would be less money to have a luthier replace the neck with a Warmoth - theirs are the best aftermarket necks, hands down. A skilled luthier could do the fingerboard replacement and make it play better than a new strat. However most luthiers are NOT skilled, so be careful who you trust with the job - the guitar repair business is rife with wannabes and hacks. The ones who are true craftsmen generally have almost legendary status among their clientele, and are in high demand. If you decide to have the job done, seek out the best luthier you can find, or you're likely to regret it. Even if you replace the neck with a Warmoth, you should make sure the guy doing the job is qualified. If I sound jaded, it's only because I have seen so much bad workmanship on good guitars. It makes my want to cry every time I see it.
Agreed. Lotta hacks.

Not that bad a job putting a new neck on there. The hardest part is drilling the holes in the new neck, as you should buy it undrilled. I've seen hacks go through the fingerboard, drill too small and cause splitting and binding, too big and cause a loose neck, in the wrong place and having the high e hang out like a cheese cutter, etc... get that lined up right and you're 90% there. It shouldn't need shimming unless your guit's neck slot is messed up.
#9
21st November 2012
Old 21st November 2012
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New neck, definitely.

It's not a difficult job, is certainly a lot cheaper (assuming you had the workl on the old neck done by somebody skilled), and almost definitely will give a better result.
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#10
21st November 2012
Old 21st November 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennybro View Post
Agreed. Lotta hacks.

Not that bad a job putting a new neck on there. The hardest part is drilling the holes in the new neck, as you should buy it undrilled. I've seen hacks go through the fingerboard, drill too small and cause splitting and binding, too big and cause a loose neck, in the wrong place and having the high e hang out like a cheese cutter, etc... get that lined up right and you're 90% there. It shouldn't need shimming unless your guit's neck slot is messed up.
Drilling the holes isn't too hard if you know what you're doing - that part goes pretty quick...

The trickiest part is making the nut. It takes a skilled craftsman to fabricate a nut. It's been a few years since I've seen or installed a Warmoth neck. They didn't used to come with a nut - maybe they do now - not too sure... The string spacing needs to be uniform, and the slots should be just a few thousandths of an inch wider than the string. The slot depth is very critical - a couple thousandths too deep, and your open strings will buzz - a couple thousandths too high, and your action will be stiff. The job requires a set of nut files, which aren't cheap (the best ones are the Swiss made Grobet "jeweler's" files - about $18 apiece). Crafting and fitting the nut itself (usually from bone) also requires a fine degree of precision.

I'm not sure if Warmoth dresses their frets these days - they didn't used to. They just installed them, and left the job of leveling, crowning, polishing, and smoothing the ends to the person who installs the neck.

None of this is rocket science, but it does require the ability to work within the kind of tolerances that machinists do (within .001" or .002"). The quality of workmanship on fretwork and the nut is a good indicator of the skill of the luthier, and will make or break the playability of the instrument.
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