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Kelvin's Guitar/drums stuff and JV Squier refurbishment thread.

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
I thought I'd start a thread showing my oldest guitar getting refurbished; I'll add pictures as it goes along too as I know we all like them. :)

I've had this guitar since I was 17 back in 1982; I always wanted a Strat and when the Squier range came out in 1982 I knew I could just about stretch to one if I traded in my Ibanez Les Paul copy and put my birthday and Christmas money towards it. It played beautifully and I even had the use of a colleague's Fender Twin reverb valve amp to play it through while he has away at sea. I even took it down to the Falklands on a patrol in 1985, so it's well travelled. :)

Over the years I've resprayed it metallic blue, then gloss black. I also modified the tone controls and added a switch to the scratch plate. About 6 years ago I took it apart to sand it back to the bare wood in order to get it refinished in the original two tone finish. However I couldn't find any one locally to do it for me (since I didn't want to DIY again as I wasn't confident about getting the wood colour showing through the 'burst correctly).

I haven't been playing much in recent years (spending more time and effort on AV as some who know me will be aware ;) ), so it sat forgotten in the case. I have a cheap Squier Telecaster and an Ephiphone Les Paul for the odd times I've felt like playing, so it hasn't been top priority.

Anyway, fast forward to this year and I've started going to a local college 'rock school' with my next door neighbour and this has rekindled my interest in guitars. One of the guys there gave me the details of a local guy who is very well regarded, so I'm taking it in on Friday to get the body resprayed and can't wait. :)

I've got a proper Fender '57 scratch plate to replace the one I drilled a hole in for the tone control switches. :facepalm: I've also got two new tone pots (250K as per spec) since the original ones have long gone. I've done a lot of research too and found that mine has the fairly standard American pickups (not the revered 'red bobbin' ones, for those familiar with the JV series), it doesn't have the 'Fender' script on the headstock either (I was slightly disappointed when I collected it as this had just changed over). Obviously the refurbishment and new parts will devalue it to some degree, but I never plan to sell it anyway, so that's academic. It's not as if I could retire on it's value anyway.

Anyway, enough rambling. I'll go and take some photos of the parts and add them to this thread and see if I can scan an old photo of when it was new to add later to this thread.

It's hardly a £1/4 million rarity, but I'm so looking forward to getting it back together and actually playing it again. :cool:
 

hyperfish

Distinguished Member
Please keep this updated, I will look forward to this.

Not as ambitious as your project but I recently stripped and cleaned every bit of hardware from my 76 P bass and took photos along the way. It only needed a tenners worth of parts, foam pickup pads, intonation screws and springs.
I'm not into that ageing and relic stuff. I just wanted it to look it's best.

I found Dave's World to be a great resource. Hundreds of setups, refirbs and repairs with added humour.
Dave's World of Fun Stuff - YouTube

Good luck with it.
 
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KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
I dug out the photos of when it was new:

When new.jpg


When new in case.jpg
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
I transferred the pick ups and original volume pot to the new pick guard and then wired in a new 5 way switch and two new tone pots. I'd done some weird mod to the tone pots years ago, which also involved an extra switch, so that's all been put right with new parts where needed, though I've tried to keep as much of the original bits as possible.

Pile of Fender parts:
Fender parts.jpg


The bare wood body:

Bare body.jpg


New pick guard wired up. I connected it to my amp and tapped on each pick up to check I had it all wired the right way and the tone controls both work correctly. The original volume pot is crackle free (though I have a spare new one just in case if I need it later).

New pick guard wired.jpg


The old scratch plate hadn't yellowed as much as the pick up covers and knobs had and the new plate is only a little brighter than the old one. If only I hadn't drilled the hole in it (circled in red) when I did that tone mod...

Old andnew scratch plates.jpg


Finally a mock up of the guitar in the case. I polished the frets the other night, but I've had a quote to stone them flat and to set it all up which was less than I expected so I'm giving it all to the sprayer like this for him to put back together and set it up properly after sorting the frets:

Mocked up.jpg
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Thanks Hyperfish...I used to work as an Electronics Engineer back in the 1990s, along with my OH, so I had to do a neat job or she'd tell me off and probably redo it herself. :) I quite like the look of the bare wood, but there is a bit of black staining at the edges (should be hidden by the black paint when finished).

I'm already thinking about building a different type of Strat after I get this one back together: I fancy a twin humbucker, with no scratchplate (or perhaps a very small one just behind the strings) using chrome Telecaster knobs in a similar colour to my Z3/Avatar.

...Or maybe I should just concentrate on improving my playing with this one and the others I already have. :)
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Taking it in tomorrow. It's being done in Nitro so it may take a while, but I'll put finished photos up: Might even put a few bars of sound if I can figure out how.
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Well, I've dropped it off and I think it's going to be a while before I get it back again. Lovely bloke doing the work; turns out he's originally not that far from where I grew up. He showed me another guitar he's working on and loads of photos (including more than a few pretty well known owners too) so I'm confident it will be a great job, though it won't be rushed.

...Now the wait begins. I put new strings and set up my cheapy Squire Telecaster last night, so at least I've got that to play on as well as my (30th birthday present) Ephiphone Les Paul.

Lots of photos will be posted once I get it back. :smashin:
 

KungFuPro

Prominent Member
A good finish will last for years, I've not used nitro or any industrial type lacquer but I've read some can take a month or 2 to properly cure.

I don't have the patience whenever I've refinished a guitar, I'm putting the parts back on before the paint has even dried:laugh:.
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Maybe you're right KungFuPro as there is no news on it being ready yet, but I don't want to rush him. I'd rather it comes back done properly and as you say it'll last for years.

I've kept myself busy sorting out my Epiphone's fingerboard/truss rod/action and similar on my Squier Telecaster. Both are playing even better than previously now that the action is nice and even all the way up the neck.

I've also bought a neat little 5 watt all valve amp to take to rehearsals: It will fit in the boot of my Z3 and I can lift it without straining my back unlike my Line 6 and it can plug into the PA if I find the output isn't enough to compete with the drummer and the other guitars. I compared it to a few other similar amps including a Marshall, but for once I preferred the cheaper option and for some reason the shop had the otherwise identical white version for £70 less than the black one, so £279 instead of £350. I hadn't gone out to find a white amp (seems a bit odd TBH) but it's kind of grown on me and of course sounds the same as the black one which is what matters.

Pictures:





 
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KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Saw him last week; mine is next in the spray booth queue as he's been busy making (from scratch) a guitar for a certain Mr Marvin. :cool: He's also been fitting a new nut and doing a set up on my Epiphone LP over the weekend while I've been away, so at least I should be able to pick that up today or tomorrow.
 
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KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
I got the Epiphone back with the new nut and proper set up; it plays great now, in fact better than ever. He filed the saddles on the new bridge I'd fitted recently to set that up properly too and only charged £30.

Last weekend I changed out the pots, capacitors, switch and jack to resolve all the crackles, pops and poor connection with the lead. I bought the 'proper' CTS pots, orange drop capacitors (0.022uf) and rewired it as it was (ie modern style). I might try swapping to the 50's style wiring to see how I get on, but for now it's much easier to control the volume against the amp and I'm sure it sounds a little brighter. Next step is some new pick ups as this is supposed to be a weak point on the Epiphones and mine are quite microphonic; a pair of Gibson 57/57+ is likely to be the choice. Since I've had it 18 years and even with all the recent work (about £100 including the set up) it still doesn't owe me much.

Today (as per another post) I received some different valves for the Blackstar HT5-R amp to try to sort the rather abrupt gain adjustment on the drive channel. I swapped the 12AX7 (gain of 100) to a lower gain 12AT7/ECC81 (gain of 60). It has worked a treat and now the drive channel can be turned down to a clean setting, or a fraction higher for a just on the edge tone. It doesn't seem to have spoilt the full gain sound as before it was saturated at 9-10 o'clock position, now it's more like 2-3 o'clock. The clean channel is a little quieter of course, but still loud enough for home/recording use.

In practice I think I'll tend to use the drive channel set clean and then use pedals to overdrive it. The HT5-R only has a simple 'tone' control on the clean channel, but the drive channel has 3 band EQ plus an 'ISF' control (nothing to do with video calibration ;) ) which sweeps between 'British' and 'American' tones. It means I can dial in a really nice clean tone with my Tele or Epi LP then hit the OD pedal (or just turn up the amp gain more) for more classic rock tones.

Speaking of over drive: A certain green box arrived this afternoon; an Ibanez Tube Screamer TS808 reissue. I wanted one some 30 years ago and couldn't afford it at the time, so bought a different cheaper 'fuzz' pedal. Some say that the reissues aren't quite the same as the original version, but having just played with both Tele and LP trying it out it's as good as I remember...even I sound a bit like Hendrix on the Tele's neck pick up doing my best 'Little Wing' solo (can't wait to try it with the Strat). A genuine 80s one secondhand could have cost £300-400 by all accounts and would no doubt be chipped and scuffed (terrible OCD I have ;) ), so I'm happy with the reissue. For the money I've saved I'm going to put a decent pedal board together with some genuine older 80s pedals I already have: The matching Ibanez PT909 phase tone, Boss CE-2 Chorus and a late 1960s Jen (made in Italy) Cry Baby (I need to check it out as it might need a new pot), plus some other cheapy plastic delay and compression pedals that I will gradually replace with better sounding ones.

Sorry for the long ramble: I can't do much due to a trapped nerve in my back and I've played my guitar so much the last few days (3 hours rehearsals last night with the band too) that my fingers are sore. I'll take some photos and add to this thread (which I probably need to rename as 'Kelvin's guitar stuff thread' or similar :blush: ).

PS. No news on the Strat as yet...
 
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KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Still no news on the Strat yet, but lately I've been playing drums at rehearsal with the band I'm in as the existing drummer just never turns up. I've also swapped over to playing electronic drums at the college class I go to (I still learn each new song on guitar too, but in my own time). I haven't played for over 25 years, but seem to have picked it back up OK, I was self taught on the kit but I was trained on the snare drum when I was in a Military band many years previously.

So after starting off looking at the £500 electronic kits the budget crept up and up (as it does ;) ) but I settled on the Roland TD-15KV which has much better mesh heads (they feel more like acoustic ones to play) and it uses a proper high hat stand. That way I hope to be able to transfer to the acoustic kit at the rehearsal room without too much trouble.

I'll take some pictures once I get the kit set up, but here's a generic one from Roland for now. (I couldn't take it away today as I'd gone in my Z3, so I'll go back tomorrow to collect it).

td-15kv_kit_gal.jpg
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
As I had time to think over night I started reading up about the next model up...so this afternoon I went in and changed the order to a TD30K instead of the TD15KV. The different parts individually would have cost close to £2k extra to change later (less whatever I could get for the old bits). However, having been there before with this sort of thing (AV speakers for one ;) ) I decided that it would be cheaper in the long run to go for the '30 now.

It has a better snare pad with positional sensing (it's even more realistic than the '15KV pad to play). A better 'brain' with much more in depth editing of the sounds. A better bass drum pad (much more like an acoustic bass drum to play) and an extra crash cymbal. While there is an even more expensive model with a further upgraded snare and high hat and extra tom toms it uses the same 'brain' so there's no reason why I couldn't add the better snare later and recycle mine as an extra floor tom tom.

The only thing is that it's a bit bigger than the TD4/11 kits I showed my OH when I first started looking. :blush: It's a bit much in the living room, but the plan is to use it in the conservatory in winter as we don't go out there much. For now I'll have to put it away in various places when not in use.

TD30K drum kit.jpg


TD30K drum kit 2.jpg
 
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KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Well since the full kit is a bit much to leave up all the time, I bought a separate snare stand today so I can leave a 'lite' version set up in on of our smaller spare bedrooms. That way I can practice anytime I feel like without having to set the whole kit up. Just ordered 4 x stereo 1/4" jack leads from eBay so I can make up a little loom so I can use the 'brain' as well if I want to hear the proper drum sounds rather than the pads alone.

I played on the acoustic kit at the rehearsal room on Friday and the TD30 is close enough that it didn't take long to adapt to the feel of it. A different story at the college evening class I go to as their e kit is really different and quite off putting after playing the '30 at home, so I'm rethinking how I'm going to go about learning more.

Hoping to get round to adding some 'live' drumming to some of my 8 track recordings soon too, though I need to find a way to get the recordings off this old 'zip drive' recorder once mastered to stereo.

Lite HD30K set up.jpg


PS: The Strat is supposed to be ready in about 2 weeks time. :)
 

Marshall Mike

Distinguished Member
The white Blackstar looks pretty cool, haven't seen one of those before. Did you upgrade the stock pick ups on the Epi?
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
I've been lent a DiMarzio pick up from one of my band mates which I've put in the bridge position. It's definitely clearer than the standard Epi one, but I can't fully raise it up to the strings without modifying it so it's not as loud as it could be. I'm thinking in terms of Bareknuckle 'Mules' or 'Emerald' pick ups eventually, but got a few other things to sort out outside of AV/guitars so will have to wait.

I tried the Epi/Blackstar into a 4 x 12 Marshall cabinet at rehearsal on Friday. It sounded great,with a much richer bottom even and a decent clean sound too, though a bit like using a Mini to pull a HGV trailer I suppose. I haven't room for a 4 x 12 at home, but now I know how it sounds I might do some recording using the rehearsal room one.

Still no word on the Strat; I don't like to rush him but it's been longer than I expected: It was '2-3 weeks' about a month ago...
 
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Marshall Mike

Distinguished Member
I wonder what speakers were in the Marshall cab, if you knew you could buy a 1x12. I have an orange 1x12 with a V30 and tried it with a couple of 1 watt Marshall's, orange dark terror and a H&K tubemeister 18. Every single one of them sounded amazing so I knew it was the right one for me :thumbsup: I might even buy another to create a mini-stack lol
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Yes, I think I might have a look in the back of the Marshall to see what speakers are in it. The Blackstar has a 16 or 8 ohm output jack, so unless they are 4 ohms connected in series then I'd be able to run a single one. Of course I could just replace the one in the Blackstar's cabinet, but I think part of the effect is the larger cabinet as by comparison the Blackstar sounds a bit 'boxy' (not that I'd really noticed before I tried the 4 x 12 though).

I'm tempted to get a 2 x 12 cabinet eventually and get rid of my existing Line 6 Flextone III amp (similar size) and use either the Blackstar into it and maybe get some small heads like you've done, perhaps one of the Vox 5 or 15 watt Night train one if they sound anything like an AC15/30.
 

Marshall Mike

Distinguished Member
Any news on your strat yet?
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
No...it's becoming a sore point now. :(

I know he doesn't like to be rushed (I was with him when someone else rang up chasing up and it seemed to aggravate him and I got the impression it had the opposite effect), but if I don't chase him up it'll get left 'on the back burner'. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. Seems to work best if I email him about some other guitar question and slip in the 'how's the Strat coming along' somewhere. Running out of ideas of what to email him about now though...

Lately I've found a few 'craftsmen' for various jobs I want doing (carpenter and a brick layer) but they all seem to need pushing along to do anything. All well and good being able to turn out 'high end work', but if it never actually arrives then what's the point??!

On other news, I'm thinking about building myself a small Fender amp clone, either from a kit (I'll certainly 'buy in' the cabinet at least) or maybe from an old amp circuits book I have somewhere. I'm not that happy with the Blackstar's clean sound, so looking around for alternatives: I'd love a Fender Twin Reverb to play the Strat through (I borrowed one once many years ago and it sounded superb), but they're big, loud, expensive and I'd never be able to move it.

Thinking of a modified 5E3 type 'Tweed' amp (in a proper Tweed cabinet as I think it'd look OK in the living room). Possibly something like this one:

Amp Maker: Guitar amp kits and parts :: Guitar amp kits :: N5X 5W British overdrive amplifier

The kit, plus valves and speaker would be around the £300 mark, plus another £200 for the 'Tweed' cabinet. The only issue is not being able to try it out before building it. On the other hand, if it doesn't quite sound 'right' I'd have to spend some time tweaking components. Maybe I need to try something fairly similar first to see if it's even close to the clean sound I'm after (I have a feeling this one is more like a Mini Marshall).
 

Christian 71

Distinguished Member
If you have the electronic experience go for it. It's point to point so should be easy enough.

I considered doing it myself, but I don't have enough of an electronics background to diagnose when something goes wrong. May start with some pedals and work my way up.

Off topic slightly but if you are after a good fender clone check out Subzero amps the mods that the guy at RAT amps does. The subzero amps use the same circuit as the Fenders. You could always try some Rat type mods and put in a nice tweed case like this
Fender Hot Rod Deluxe 112 Enclosure (Tweed)

The RAT guy regularly puts Epi Junior 5w board kits on ebay for under 40 quid as well. The epi Juniors are fender champ clones
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
That's a great idea buying the Fender enclosure to fit the amp to. Plus I'd be able to try it out in the shop first to get an idea of the tone with a Fender head (Andertons stock the new Deluxe reverb head that I was looking at). I'll have a look for the RAT guy too.

I used to work as an Electronics Engineer building and repairing valve and transistor PA type amps for the MOD (with my OH too who did the wiring), so I should be OK building a kit. I did once put together a copy of a master volume Marshall (just the pre amp stage), which I plugged into the power amp of an old transistor combo amp. I was after more of a distortion sound at the time, but it worked quite well. It was a mess appearance wise though and these days much easier to buy something off the shelf that looks decent.

The kit appeals more just because I'd be less likely to get lost in the design and development of it and be able to get on actually playing something.
 
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