When I bought this guitar off of Craigslist, I was impressed with the vintage look and rustic styling. It was one of those deals where they meet you at a parking lot and you don’t get a chance to plug the guitar in and try it out, so all I had to go by was visual inspection.
The action looked a bit high, but that isn’t unusual with used guitars – sometimes even new ones are uncomfortable to play. The output jack was loose. A screwdriver will fix that easily, but why is it loose?
The bridge was floating way too high, but the frets didn’t show any wear and the overall condition looked good, so I bought it. (The EMG pickups and Grover tuners influenced my decision “just a little“!)
Got it on my bench and plugged it in to discover it had a static hum a bit louder than what I consider acceptable. But worse, when I fretted a chord or touched anywhere on any string, a loud static noise rang out.
This guitar was unplayable! The general thinking on the string touching noise is that the output jack has the wires reversed, but that wasn’t the case here. Something had to be mixing hot and ground further up the wiring.
With the pickguard removed, the problem disappeared. That gave me the idea that when in place, a wire was getting shorted against a pot case or ground wire lead – and sure enough I found the short and fixed it. Problem solved!
The nut slot for low-E was too high, which would make intonation impossible, so that had to be filed down with my StewMac nut files.
To solve the general “hum” problem, I painted the cavities with primer and followed that with two coats of conductive paint, drilled a hole for a ground screw and grounded to a pot case and the foil under the pickguard. Then I cleaned the 5-way switch, the volume and tone pots with contact cleaner.
All pots were 500k and the capacitor was .047, so I’m thinking the sound is going to be pretty dark since only the bridge pickup is a humbucker.
I found two frets that had ends a bit high and filed and recrowned those. Neck relief was good at just five thousandths of an inch. All tuner nuts were loose, so I tightened those.
After cleaning the fretboard, it was time to install new D’Addario #9 strings, set string height to Fender specs (it is a clone of a Fender!), tune and intonate.
I was happy to find that touching the strings no longer had any effect and that the static hum had disappeared. I was even more delighted when I played it and found that, yes it did have a lot of bass, but those bright trebles rang through the mix just fine, creating a unique and great sound.
If it hasn’t sold yet, you can find this guitar right here on my website (link) Better still, drop by and try it out (please call 1st: 727-512-0006)
Note: The whiteboard at the top of this post shows the items checked and their status. Red denotes problems; green denotes resolution of the problems and blue is just…well, blue!