Sunday, May 29, 2011

Get a grip

It's a long weekend so I started it by knocking one of my minor projects on the head.

First up the mahogany strat needed a little wood removing from the jackplate route so I could fit the slightly bulky stereo socket I had to go with the pickups. There was probably a subtle way to do this but I just hacked at it with a 10mm drill bit until the plate fitted.

Given I could see myself messing about with the pickups a bit I fitted a 3-way connector to the battery, socket and earth leads. I've a load of this kind of stuff kicking around from rewiring my various dodgy motorcycles. With a plug fitted I could just wire the scratchplate up and plug it in. It also means I can mess about with alternative pickups just by sticking them in a scratchplate and fitting it.

As I am 'hot rodding' this strat I've also fitted some locking machine heads in the style of Schaller RotoGrip ones. The Schallers or equivalent Sperzels are quite pricey but AxesRUs do cheap and cheerful Korean copies. I'd previously used these on the black Tele and I'm hoping that this will help keep it in tune when using the tremolo.

These machine heads have a pin running down the middle of the shaft that you tighten down onto the string as it passes through the hole. It also makes stringing the guitar dead easy.

So, having done this I wired up the Reflex pickups according to the diagram I've got and found that the mid/high controls didn't work at all.

I wasn't that surprised as I realised while doing it that there was a spare black wire not mentioned in the diagram and it had originally been connected to the single pot controlling the treble/mid boost.

So I simply desoldered the blue wire from the two pots and soldered this black one to both instead. While I was there I also removed the earth connection to the pots. It seemed to make sense as it wasn't connected to the treble/mid pot originally.

With this done the pots worked well but the mid boost was in reverse, so I had the guitar apart yet again and swapped the connections to sort this.

I'm glad I fitted that plug so I could whip the scratchplate on and off easily.

With the guitar finished off I remember why I liked the Reflex pickups in my EC29. These single coil sized ones do a pretty convincing single coil sound with the mid/treble boost in the neutral position but absolutely scream when you wind the boost up. With the boost turned down it does some interesting 'thin' and 'flat' sounds that work much better clean than overdriven. I can't see me using these much though.

The combination of locking machine heads and new tremolo seem to work well too. I can see me playing this guitar a fair bit over the next few days. It needs a little more setup too, I've floated the tremolo, adjusted the action, made the saddles match the radius and done the intonation but want to go back and tweak it a bit more.

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