Sometimes you get what you wish for and recently I have been given the task of working on two Strats, a 62 and a 64! They were brought over by Peter Vardigans who owns a great collection of guitars and a great guitarist to boot.
The 62 was in a good condition (even though it has lost most its paint with a lot of dings – looks great!) and needed a good set-up. One always has to avoid the temptation to try and restore everything back to new so great care has to be taken to make the choices of the amount of restoration on such a guitar. After all, it’s many of those worn parts that gives it the tone. The guitar was taken apart and each part was examined to make sure nothing was badly wrong, often you can find problems with the truss-rod, frets etc but in the case of this 62, nothing was badly worn, just nicely worn so it was left. Surface grime was cleaned away as well as any surface rust build up and frets polished and dressed. One of the problems in old guitars is the electrics where solder joints can corrode or oxidise and pots get noisy. These were all checked and all the suspect joints resoldered. It was such a pleasure setting this guitar up and the sound emanating from it was simply stunning. It’s going back on Monday so I will try and do a video of it when Peter next takes it out for an outing.
The 64 Strat is a much more interesting a case. Peter was not sure about the exact date of this guitar which he had bought back in 74. It had a blonde varnish finish which was badly done (diy I reckon) and not nitro. The serial number was of 73 date but something was not right about the whole guitar and as soon as I took the scratch cover off, it became evident that the guitar was much older, in fact I’m pretty certain of it being a 64. The neck however was not and more likely a replacement of 70’s (explains the serial). What I think happened is that in the 70’s the guitar was put together from other older parts (64 body and electrics) and the serial number kept from the newer one that the neck came from. Peter decided he wanted this one restored back to original 64 state so I stripped it down to have a closer look. When I took the coating off we soon discovered that the guitar had once been painted black but more interestingly under that, it was originally a Fiesta Red. It had also been hooked up as a left hander once upon a time, mmmm makes one wonder… I have a picture of a very famous left hander 60’s guitar god playing a Fiesta Red Strat! One can wonder, right? This guitar is now being completely restored to it’s original colour of Fiesta Red with all the right parts it should have for a 64 strat.
I will put up some pictures of this great challenge and show all the stages of its rebirth, in short, I’m in heaven! I can’t wait to complete the work and plug it in, it should sound great as the wood quality is very high and beautifully aged.