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New Pickguard for Fender® '50s Classic Stratocaster®

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The Victim

The plan was to modify and enhance this 2002 MIM Fender '50s Classic Stratocaster building a new pickguard with modern wiring and vintage looks.

I wanted to add a second string guide to get rid of a ringing sound from the G string end, install a set of Dunlop Straplok, and a Callaham Vintage-S bridge with a set of Graph Tech stainless FerraGlide's for better playing comfort.

The parts were ordered from "Guitar Parts Resource" and were delivered fast and accurate.

Some parts I already had:
• 1 set of Dunlop Straplok®
• The Callaham bridge
• AWG22 Wire, PTFE insulated, silver plated, in black and white
• Various capacitors and resistors

The Kit

June 25 2007, the kit arrived from Guitar Parts Resource:

• 1 Fender '57 Stratocaster White Pearl pickguard, P.N. 099-1347-000
• A one square foot sheet of self adhesive copper foil
• 1 Standard Fender 5-way Selector Switch, P.N. 099-1367-000
• 3 Original Fender 250K Split Shaft potentiometers, P.N. 099-0830-000
• 1 set of Original Strat aged white Vol & Tone knobs P.N. 099-1369-000
• 1 Original Strat Aged Switch Tip, P.N. 099-4938-000
• 12 Fender Original Pickup Screws, P.N. 099-4925-000
• A set of concentric stainless pickup mounting springs
• Original Strat String Guides, P.N. 099-4910-000
• Fender Black Felt Washers, P.N. 099-4929-000
• Graph Tech FerraGlide brushed stainless steel saddles, P.N. PG-8000-F0

I immediately dug in to the project and a couple of hours later I had a "new" guitar.

The shielding of the pickguard

This sheet of copper foil is about to be applied to the back (inside) of the pickguard. A good thing to do since the 8-hole '57 Stratocaster pickguard is unshielded.

I used my fingers and some various soft plastic objects, like the yellow Tupperware orange peeler used in the "Noiseless Project" to press out air and wrinkles.

The modern wiring

• Greasebucket™ tone controls at neck and bridge pickups
• Treble bleeder on the volume control

The Greasebucket tone controls "lets you roll of highs without muffling the tone", wired to the neck and bridge pickups.

The treble bleeder on the volume control compensate for the treble loss when rolling down the volume.

All was wired in place using the AWG22 PTFE wire.

The mystery of the tilted neck pickup

The neck pickup had a little problem, it had a small upward tilt and it was persistent no matter what I tried from the outside.

When shielding the body a couple of weeks earlier I saw what caused the pickup to tilt. One of the wires was cut way to short, putting a strain on the pickup, making it tilt. I then decided to wait with the fix. But now was the time to do it.

Replacing pickup wires

Of comes the old pickguard and the pickups is being unsoldered. The body and the old pickguard is already shielded due to a former project...

The wire needed to be replaced, and I might as well replace all wires for all pickups while at it using that high quality AWG22 wire.

The old wires were carefully unsoldered from the pickup. New wires carefully soldered in place. The wires was threaded trough the hole in the base plate and the pickup cover is mounted.

Mounted pup's

The pickups mounted to the pickguard. Instead of using standard Fender "tubing's" at the mounting screws I used concentric stainless steel springs.

The springs can be purchased at "Guitar Parts Resource" in sets of six for about $2. The height adjustment is much smoother and more accurate with springs.

A beautiful white pearl pickguard with aged white knobs and pup covers.

Callaham Vintage-S Bridge

The original bridge was replaced by a Callaham Vintage-S bridge.

Graph Tech Stainless FerraGlides

My favourite saddles, I like them because they are comfortable. No sharp edges when palm muting. A must have to me.

This is the FerraGlides for the vintage Strat tremolo with 2 3/16" E to E spacing. Part number is PG-8000-F0 and they are made of brushed stainless steel.

Putting it together

The assembly, new strings and an intonation.

What about the felt washers then?

Oh, yes I almost forgot...
I changed the original straps to Dunlop Straploks, and the originals was not mounted with felt washers. Now the Straploks is...

The second string tree

I choose to install a second string tree, because of a ringing G-string end. It's the easy way of doing it I know, but it's effective. The new string tree is of the higher type, for a minimum of pressure to the strings.

Further enhancements

The pickups has later been replaced by a set of Fender Hot Noiseless.

The result

Up-to-date specification:

• Dakota Red
• 21 fret maple neck, 7.25" radius
• Fender vintage tuners
• Callaham Vintage Bridge, 2 3/32" E to E
• Graph Tech FerraGlide stainless steel saddles
• White Pearl pickguard
• Fender Hot Noiseless pickups
• Greasebucket Tone controls
• Volume control with Treble bleeder
• Dunlop Straplok system straps