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Just finished Refretting and Setting Up My Stratocaster - Questions

Amp360

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
859
I have had this Stratocaster for a long time now. It had no frets left so I re-fretted it myself and I'm happy to say it came out really well.

I got it in kind of a crazy situation where someone had owned me money for over a year and they ended up giving me this as payment, so I don't know a lot about it. It was very unplayable, but I had gotten it working ok. I have a very light touch and don't mind low frets, so it was ok, but I knew it needed some work.

When I was putting it back together I noticed the height adjusters for the saddles were all mismatched. Some were very long, some were short and some were half and half. There was also a big shim in the pocket and the neck was missing one screw.

Anyway, when I got the neck off and unloosened the truss rod, and let it sit for a day. When I checked it out the neck was almost perfectly straight. I put some oil down the rod and it works fine. The re-fret was pretty straightforward and I took the shim out and bolted on the neck - with four bolts!

It was nearly perfect (on the low side) with no relief but one note was fretting out (15th fret high e). I did about an 8th of a turn and it was better but the guitar didn't feel quite right.

I spent a few hours checking the frets, took the bridge off, and re-arranged the screws. Then I changed the springs to be straight and got the bridge off the body just a hair and it's almost there. I did maybe another 1/16th of a turn (barely moving it) and a little while later it's really nice, but about 1% not to my liking - which is fine.

The issue is the adjustment screws are pretty high up. They're fine on all the strings and the action is low, but I would like to come up maybe 1 or 2 64s on the high e, but I don't think there's enough thread left.

Part of me is saying shim it, but part of me is hoping that sitting after the truss rod may resolve this. Any Strat experts?

Also, the tremolo is working better than any I've ever had. It's smooth and returning to pitch beautifully. I've set the intonation with my old Conn Strobe and it's spot on perfect so I don't want to change too much.

322899697_466845028992250_7363125610755050940_n.jpg
 

bursty

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Joined
Dec 25, 2012
Messages
564
you could try changing out the shorter height adjust screws with some longer ones; I have done that myself
may work for you

Killer Strat you have there; 1955?
 

charliechitlins

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Joined
Nov 16, 2021
Messages
1,051
I can't figure out if some of your screws are longer than others or if you are talking about their height/length relative to the saddle. If some screws are longer or shorter, swap a couple.
The truss rod is for setting neck relief, period.
It's not a buzz eliminate or action enhancer.
Anyboody who says, "Your guitar is buzzing? Try backing off 1/4 turn on the truss rod," has no Idea what they're talking about.
The truss rod gets adjusted first thing in a proper set up and stays that way unless you really know what you are doing and have a very specific preference, or are searching for a sweet spot for resonance (which is something I've recently discovered).
I would say, if all your saddle screws are the same length and there is no swapping around to be done, try raising the saddle to where you like it and see if the screw drops out.
If it does, you need a shim.
If I were setting up a Strat and saw saddles jacked up to the limits of the screws, I would suggest a shim and find out if the owner had some very specific preference concerning break angle.
That one note fretting out...if it's the only one, dollars to donuts it's a high fret.
Do you have a rocker?
 

Amp360

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
859
I can't figure out if some of your screws are longer than others or if you are talking about their height/length relative to the saddle. If some screws are longer or shorter, swap a couple.
The truss rod is for setting neck relief, period.
It's not a buzz eliminate or action enhancer.
Anyboody who says, "Your guitar is buzzing? Try backing off 1/4 turn on the truss rod," has no Idea what they're talking about.
The truss rod gets adjusted first thing in a proper set up and stays that way unless you really know what you are doing and have a very specific preference, or are searching for a sweet spot for resonance (which is something I've recently discovered).
I would say, if all your saddle screws are the same length and there is no swapping around to be done, try raising the saddle to where you like it and see if the screw drops out.
If it does, you need a shim.
If I were setting up a Strat and saw saddles jacked up to the limits of the screws, I would suggest a shim and find out if the owner had some very specific preference concerning break angle.
That one note fretting out...if it's the only one, dollars to donuts it's a high fret.
Do you have a rocker?
it's not fretting out at all at this point and the trem is staying in near perfect tune.

Some saddle screws are longer than others. They were originally mixed up. Now I'm using a mix of them and everything is fine, but even with the longer saddle screw my high e is a shade lower than I would like. The more I play it the more I'm getting used to it.

I havea fret rocker and it's not the issue. I think I'm going to let it settle in for a few days. My big concern is if for some reason I wanted to raise the action there would be nowhere to go (without a shim).
 

renderit

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
10,966
I always let things sit at least a week (sometimes a month) after adjustments.

Stresses on wood don't show right away and sometimes even small changes in the geometry may take some time to show the reaction.
 

Amp360

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Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
859
I always let things sit at least a week (sometimes a month) after adjustments.

Stresses on wood don't show right away and sometimes even small changes in the geometry may take some time to show the reaction.

This is probably good advice. I know this morning I seem to be happier than I was yesterday afternoon, when I was not quite as happy as last night.

My other Strats are different, I have a '61 with the rosewood, a 91 Plus (my favorite), and an Eric Clapton with Lace Sensors. Oh, and I have a Masterbuilt non-relic from maybe 13 or 14 years ago also with a Clapton kit but normal pickups.

They're all great in their own way but all different. This one I always had wanted to own but have been disappointed with it for years, so it's nice to see it all working correctly and I'm really enjoying it!
 

Amp360

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Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
859
Part two - started this one today! I decided to re-fret it because I had the wire lying around from the first one and this one really needed it - even by my standards!

I need to find the right pickguard for it. It's missing a screw, but the shield underneath doesn't have the hole for the correct one.

This one actually looks a lot better in person. The light was hitting it just right in the pic and it's not nearly as beat up as it is looking!

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Amp360

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Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
859
Well, it's been a week of fixing up Stratocasters. Tomorrow this one hits the bench! It's actually bronze so it's hard to photograph, but it's probably one of the coolest guitars I own!11!
Those are actually two Strat pickups put close together, not a humbucker. Very unique sounding fiddle!1!!!
 

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Wilko

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Mar 11, 2002
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20,870
If your saddle is too high for the screw, the shim you need goes on the opposite end of the heel. How long are the saddle screws, if they are not long enough to do the job, use longer screws. I persopnally prefer higher saddles so I shim most of my strats. I just use card stock or guitar picks like god intended. Never had an issue to need full shims that fill the whole pocket. That's just overkill.

If that's a real 50s strat, do not shave the heel or neck pocket.

I hope you didn't put more than a drop of oil on that truss rod. And as someone else said, it's only job is to hold the neck to the desired straightness.

As for floating the bridge, I never do that. It'a a pain in the ass and no real benefit. Tighten the claw screws 'til the bridge rests flat on the deck. It'll always come to rest in tune.
 

Amp360

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Feb 16, 2012
Messages
859
Thanks for the advice. I’ve been playing it a lot and it’s settled in and great. I’ve tuned it one time in the past two days.
 
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