Squire neck TLC & a humming Fender USA Stratocaster

Life is never dull at here at Tonefinder Towers. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I get to meet some amazing people and am priviledge to be able to work on some incredible guitars.

Highlights so far include a very nice mid-to-late eighties Squire Strat that needed a lot of attention on the neck. The frets were is a shocking state but after a bit of TLC is was back on form. I also had a rather good Ibanez electro-acoustic in for a setup because it’s owner was having issues at the upper frets, especially when he was using a capo. Again some TLC was called for and the owner was over-the-moon with the guitar when I dropped it back to him.

A Fender USA Stratocaster with no cavity shielding
A Fender USA Stratocaster with no cavity shielding

And let’s not forget the Fender USA Stratocaster that was in dire need of a refret, setup and an investigation in to a lot of buzzing/humming when the guitar went within ten yards of an amp. The guitar itself was in good shape for it’s age and how much action it had seen but the buzzing/mains hum was a bit of a head-scratcher. All the USA strats I’ve worked on in the past have been pretty tight in terms of quality so this one was a bit of a curve ball. All became clear when I took the scratchplate off; there was 0% cavity shielding!

This obviously couldn’t be left as it was. This guitar is being played in pubs, clubs and various other venues where space can (and will) be tight and where the guitarist will very often be standing right next to his/her amp so good cavity shielding and good quality wiring is a must.

That looks a bit better! - Fender USA Stratocaster with copper cavity shielding installed.
That looks a bit better! – Fender USA Stratocaster with copper cavity shielding installed.

After a little bit of work the cavity was fully lined with copper foil. Notice the slight lip around the edge of the cavity? This enables good contact with the shielding on the back of the scratchplate. It’s a time consuming job but the results are worth their weight in gold (or copper).

The next job on the list for this guitar was a complete refret but I won’t bore you with the details of that other than to say that it was a maple neck that had seen a rather dubious refret in the past.

Then came the electrics. After some consultation with the client we decided to give the (in)famous ‘greasebucket’ wiring a try. As you probably already know, I’m a huge fan of this wiring system and when combined with wiring the bridge pickup to a tone pot (the middle pickup’s pot is my preferred choice) the tonal capabilities of the guitar just open up.

Here’s what the client had to say about the new wiring: “Luver….lee! Very nice across all pick-up selections. I felt it was a little ‘darker’ (in a good way!) than before whilst still retaining all the Strat tonality.” I don’t think I could have put it better myself.


The coming week will see me working on two more Gibson Les Pauls, a Vintage SG, a Aria bass plus some other guitars in for setups and fret levels. I’ve also got an old Fender Strat in with a rosewood neck that’s now crumbling apart. Interesting (and fun) times!!

Oh, and there will be an annoucement very soon about a very, very exciting project that I’ve been involved with. I know I’ve mentioned it before but there’s a lot of R&D involved with this one and I want to make sure it’s all 100% spot on before unleashing the news on to the world. It’ll be worth it, I promise :o)

Rock on!!