Caught between the horns of a dilemma.

Strat Jacket

Senior Stratmaster
May 11, 2018
2,797
Illinois
Apart from the area behind the bridge, is the black finish original?

If so, I would not refinish it. You could possibly smooth the rout seams and retouch that one spot, since it's already been altered. If you could get the original bridge pickup rewound it would probably be worth it. I think your instincts about getting a pickguard that looks close to original without paying all the money for an actual '65, is right. And I agree that you could probably get the nut grooves fixed.

Anyway, to my way if thinking, I'd restore in the least intrusive ways.
No, the finish is not original. I received the guitar stripped and applied multiple (like, 12) coats of rattle can black lacquer, wet sanding between coats and then topped off with 3 coats clear lacquer. It's not fared well through the decades and whether I stay with black or another solid color, it's time to change it. There are multiple dings, scratches and chips as well as other blemishes that need to go.
 

Strat Jacket

Senior Stratmaster
May 11, 2018
2,797
Illinois
Totally agreed! The wear on the board is great, and with some taller frets, you won’t feel any of the divots. Maybe a slight radius caul to ensure the board is true, but definitely not resurfacing, and certainly not a new board.
@Groundwire, I'll try to get some close-up pix of the neck in it's now "butt-nekkid" condition...those scallops are pretty deep and the frets stand up on their little "islands" fairly proud of the fretboard. My guess is Dan will likely want to even out the fb before re-fretting, but we'll see. I'm all in favor of doing as little as possible to alter an original neck as long as it's playable.
 

sikoniko

Strat-O-Master
Jul 24, 2010
677
Inside A Parallel Universe
I know I'm repeating myself... but focus on getting the body repairs and refinish / refret. get the original pickups rewound and just buy modern repro parts for everything else. If over time you want to source the other original parts, do it as you go. there would be no rush.. You may decide you like it as-is.

I had jm rolph rewind a jaguar pickup for me and he did a good job. He's quite the character, but knows his stuff.
 

Groundwire

Strat-O-Master
Apr 16, 2021
749
Oregon
I know I'm repeating myself... but focus on getting the body repairs and refinish / refret. get the original pickups rewound and just buy modern repro parts for everything else. If over time you want to source the other original parts, do it as you go. there would be no rush.. You may decide you like it as-is.

I had jm rolph rewind a jaguar pickup for me and he did a good job. He's quite the character, but knows his stuff.
Yes to everything you said. I would follow your exact recommendations and would try to source vintage parts over time.

JM Rolph is outstanding (and a character as you said).

Frets, nut, and setup are 90% of it.
 

Murdog

Senior Stratmaster
Gold Supporting Member
May 7, 2021
2,138
U.S.A.
Yes to everything you said. I would follow your exact recommendations and would try to source vintage parts over time.

JM Rolph is outstanding (and a character as you said).

Frets, nut, and setup are 90% of it.
This makes sense to me. It will never be original, even if you restore it to authentic year correct parts. Period correct and original are two different things, IMO. At this point It's can be a really cool partscasters. And when I say cool, IT IS!!! That having been said, I would make it playable and you will have a cool guitar, with classic heritage and a story to go with it. But that's just me.
 
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Strat Jacket

Senior Stratmaster
May 11, 2018
2,797
Illinois
If it's too much right now to restore the neck, I would bolt on a warmoth or some such to get it playable but stash the original away until you can get around to getting the work done. I'm sure that guitar won't mind. 🙂
An interesting course of action, if it comes down to that. I feel that's where the lion's share of the money will go...into getting the neck done right. And if I end up going this route, I'd have a nice neck ready to slap on a Warmoth body afterwards.
 

Strat Jacket

Senior Stratmaster
May 11, 2018
2,797
Illinois
So spent some time on line shopping for new "aged" vintage parts, and looks like there are plenty of options without breaking the bank. One big looming question...I see 57 year old CTS pots, properly dated, for outlandish prices. Is it wrong to think BRAND NEW correct part number CTS pots would be a poor choice, given that pots go bad not infrequently, and get dead spots, crackling and the like? I do realize this is one of the areas a serious collector will go first, right after the neck heel and neck back plate, but isn't a pot a pot in the long scheme of things? Also, I don't intend to re-use the 5 way switch I installed, but would most likely replace it with a Fender OEM 3 position just like it left the factory with. That is, unless I stumble across an original loaded pickguard reasonably priced...
 

sikoniko

Strat-O-Master
Jul 24, 2010
677
Inside A Parallel Universe
So spent some time on line shopping for new "aged" vintage parts, and looks like there are plenty of options without breaking the bank. One big looming question...I see 57 year old CTS pots, properly dated, for outlandish prices. Is it wrong to think BRAND NEW correct part number CTS pots would be a poor choice, given that pots go bad not infrequently, and get dead spots, crackling and the like? I do realize this is one of the areas a serious collector will go first, right after the neck heel and neck back plate, but isn't a pot a pot in the long scheme of things? Also, I don't intend to re-use the 5 way switch I installed, but would most likely replace it with a Fender OEM 3 position just like it left the factory with. That is, unless I stumble across an original loaded pickguard reasonably priced...


I think you are in a good spot to go with modern vintage taper pots at this time. also, try to get the cool repro cap. You won't see it, probably doesn't make much of a difference, but just a cool detail that you will know is there in homage to originality.

65 works to your advantage, because there isn't really a great repro green guard, that I've seen. maybe something new has popped up.. but since 65 transitioned to white, you could easily get a white repro guard and it would still look the part.

The headstock could be repaired to support modern repro tuners. I wouldn't worry about vintage tuners, as mine slip out of tune and I've been thinking about putting them in the case and getting repro's myself.

Enjoy the guitar once the wood is repaired, repainted, and the neck is refretted. If over time you want to start replacing the modern repro's with vintage, I would start in the electronics area. Bill Pandolfi is the guy that can help you source all of the parts you are looking for. He is also the most likely source that could offer you the best deal on a complete 65 drop in guard if you decide to go that route.

Or maybe I would want the saddles, as that is something that is visible.

another thing to consider is that you are in a free and clear spot to experiment with different pickups if you decide what you have aren't cutting for what you are looking for. Remember, Leo designed the parts to be easily replaceable over time. Its just us fanatics that are super OCD on originality. He probably wouldn't understand what the big deal is if he was around today.

Actually, come to think of it, I was with Rick from Garrett Park Guitars (super nice guy) briefly last Sunday and he just got a bunch of vintage parts. Check with him and see if he has anything at a price that works for you. Like I said, it wouldnt be my priority, but sometimes you need to jump when the opportunity is there.

I guess my point here is that you have tons of options... the highest priority is the wood.. the lowest priority in making it period correct, IMO, is the pickguard and tuners.
 
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drp146

Strat-Talker
Gold Supporting Member
Jun 8, 2020
407
Oklahoma
The back story...Some of you may recall from posts in years gone by that I have a 1965 Stratocaster. Not a re-issue, a vintage '65.
I bought it disassembled circa 1978. It was a train wreck, missing the pickguard, wiring, pots, switch, trem springs and claw and having a set of horrid Kluson tuners installed, which I replaced with Schallers. It had obviously been strung with heavy gauge strings as the nut slots are way too loose for the .009s I prefer and the G string pops out of the nut every time I bend it...which is all the time. The frets are badly worn and the fretboard has divots from years of heavy playing; partly from me, and partly from the PO. The lead pup is simply a bobbin with no windings for whatever reason. I slapped a Fat Strat in the lead pup position and put a chrome pickguard on. The wiring and pots I bought way back when are junk. No shielding on the wiring, and this thing hums like a swarm of mosquitos as a result.
But that's not the worst part...
The PO, in his infinite wisdom, decided to install a Bigsby (WHY? For Pete's sake, WHY?) but thankfully never got around to it. He did, however, rout a huge fleur de lis in the top surrounding the bridge cutout, which I managed to fill using scrap wood and wood filler back in the day. It looked OK, played OK, but I never really liked it. In fact, when I bought my 2nd Strat in '02, I pretty much relegated it to the case for the most part. The '02 plays, feels, and sounds better, stays in tune far better and has pretty much been my go-to since I got it in 2004. When the neck pup crapped out a couple years ago, I decided to tear the '65 down and give it a proper rebuild. So, here's the thing;
I realize that with all the trauma induced upon this poor thing, in reality it's nothing more than a Partscaster...even though the neck and body are original. I figure redoing the neck will probably cost me in the $400.00 range (frets, nut and fretboard) and doing a proper inlay of alder on the top will likely run me a couple hundred minimum. It would be far easier to just get a Warmoth pre-finished vintage body, but now I'm looking at even more of a Partscaster. Thankfully the neck pup issue turned out to be a wiring problem. Now I know vintage Strats are fetching tons of money these days, but something tells me if I sink all the money into this thing to return it to it's former vintage glory, I'll never get back what I put into it, even if I did decide to sell it (which at this point in time I won't). In fact, I'm quite sure I could build a partscaster for less than it will cost to rebuild this one properly using a new neck and body.
Common sense tells me just put it back together correcting what I can and play it on occasion. The Village Idiot in me keeps whispering to put it back together with vintage or vintage correct parts and have a professional repair the inlay disaster with a nice piece of matching alder. As it is, I'm kind of paralyzed with indecision so it just sits in the case in pieces. Am I totally out of line thinking there might be some genuine collector value if I handle this properly, or is this just another partscaster?
Thanks in advance for any input from both players and vintage Strat experts.
I would restore it as close as possible to original, using any vintage parts you can find. Newer Fenders and partscasters are far easier and cheaper to acquire. I'd love to have a 60's Strat, just to have one.
 

Butcher of Strats

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 28, 2022
3,067
Maine
I’m going purely based on the information given by the OP who said, quote:

“missing the pickguard, wiring, pots, switch, trem springs and claw and having a set of horrid Kluson tuners installed, which I replaced with Schallers […] The frets are badly worn and the fretboard has divots from years of heavy playing; partly from me, and partly from the PO. The lead pup is simply a bobbin with no windings for whatever reason[…] The wiring and pots I bought way back when are junk. No shielding on the wiring, and this thing hums like a swarm of mosquitos as a result.
But that's not the worst part...
The PO, in his infinite wisdom, decided to install a Bigsby (WHY? For Pete's sake, WHY?) but thankfully never got around to it. He did, however, rout a huge fleur de lis in the top surrounding the bridge cutout, which I managed to fill using scrap wood and wood filler back in the day. It looked OK, played OK, but I never really liked it.”

So… now the math on how much OP will have to “sink”, as OP said it, “into this thing to return it to its former vintage glory”:

1) 65’ pickguard - $1,000 to $1,250
2) 65’ harness - $800 to $1000
3) 65’ trem springs and claw springs - $250 to $500
4) 65’ 2-line tuners $500 to $750
5) 65’ bridge pickup w/ cover - $500
6) Refret - $400
7) 65’ OHSC (optional) - $250 to $500

Total: $3500 - $4500

Value of a 65’ refin, all period correct/original except a rough refin and a body route: $9k to $10k. So in other words OP would net $4500 to $5500 hopefully from doing a restoration project like this + he needs to consider the hassle, risk, and time he needs to put into a guitar he clearly doesn’t even care for all that much. Correct me if I’m wrong, but OP can probably get well above $5500 by selling the guitar as is to a chopper/entry-level buyer or chop the guitar himself and make even more (as “unethical” as it may seem to some, nothing inside me is uneasy about seeing this particular guitar becoming an organ donor given its state).

1965 strats are cheaper by the dozen. Sell this thing in whole or in parts and hunt for a deal on a guitar that inspires the OP would be my suggestion (unless he already has a guitar that does it all for him, in which case, take the cash and run). Or hunt for a similar mid 60’s guitar first (that has original finish, no routes, a fretboard that inspires the OP) that’s missing some of the parts that this guitar DOES have (which should get him a nice discount) and use those parts to restore the “new” guitar to its original glory, sell the rest. Money saved, time saved, inspiration guaranteed…

Lastly, I can’t promise the OP that down the road, his current or potentially “new” strat will be worth more money; in fact, no one can. They can go to $0 and they can also go to $1,000,000 as can any other asset. BUT I can promise with a certain degree of confidence that an original cleanish 65’ will always be easier to move than a routed out, refin, restored, butchered and resurrected strat.
But here you describe your idea of who knows what ye even mean, buying "original parts" that are NOT original to the guitar in order to make your idea of what?
"Restored to all original condition"?

There is zero need to buy all those expensive parts to avoid your claim that it has no value as a complete guitar thus must be stripped and sold as parts.

In fact there are tons of buyers who would love to have a player grade 65 Strat with original body and neck still paired from the factory, plus essentials like the original pickups.
Hardware is really expendables, tuners wear out and nobody is excited by old worn out Klusons like they are excited by a good player 1960s Strat with the important parts all there.

Then if an owner decides to sell, and a buyer like you buys it, YOU can go down that road you think the OP needs to go down.

Replacing missing parts like guard and tuners with same year parts from other parted out guitars simply does not make a guitar "all original again".
Those choices are new hobbyist owner small time collector whose pride and joy is an old guitar they get to make a fun project out of sourcing old parts for.
If that is their particular obsession.
 

Butcher of Strats

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 28, 2022
3,067
Maine
I never sent it to Dan...I got distracted by life and then Covid happened...
That's why I chose him, though. One of the best in the biz and I go back to reading his stuff in "Guitar Player" Magazine back in the 1970's...
I need to re-establish contact with him and get it sent off for eval.
As far as the body goes, I need to get busy with the Zip Strip and get those dozen-plus layers of paint off to see what I did to fill that nightmare void and go forward from there. Sounds like a good winter project, anyway.
IIRC Dan charges $450 and up for a fret job, but I'm thinking possibly only a few frets might need replacement and the rest can be leveled. Also I've seen where he has filled nut slots with his magic goo and re-cut them; that would also be to my liking as it would keep the neck as original as possible. I also need to start looking for a good rewinder that could rewind the bridge pup to factory specs so I can re-use that as well.
For pickup rewind there are lots of guys who have a buddy with a sewing machine gizmo, and also lots of small shops trying to keep up with irate customers etc, but I have had Fralin rewind a few vintage Fender pickups and they are all you want in a trustworthy shop for that service.

As for Erlewine charging as little as $450?
Not a bad price for top rep shop, and well worth to extra insurance of a guy who really knows what needs to be done to get the frets out of that deeply worn thin board with minimum damage.
Fair enough to hope for replacing only some frets and Dan will have suggestions.
If marginal, I would go to all new and taller than original to get longest life out of the refret.
Dan is also as good as it gets at replacing frets with no sanding at all if that is the right move.
Other techs are out there at the same level but we get enough reports of highly recommended shops doung hack work.
 

GuitarTalk

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 7, 2021
98
Canada
But here you describe your idea of who knows what ye even mean, buying "original parts" that are NOT original to the guitar in order to make your idea of what?
"Restored to all original condition"?

There is zero need to buy all those expensive parts to avoid your claim that it has no value as a complete guitar thus must be stripped and sold as parts.

In fact there are tons of buyers who would love to have a player grade 65 Strat with original body and neck still paired from the factory, plus essentials like the original pickups.
Hardware is really expendables, tuners wear out and nobody is excited by old worn out Klusons like they are excited by a good player 1960s Strat with the important parts all there.

Then if an owner decides to sell, and a buyer like you buys it, YOU can go down that road you think the OP needs to go down.

Replacing missing parts like guard and tuners with same year parts from other parted out guitars simply does not make a guitar "all original again".
Those choices are new hobbyist owner small time collector whose pride and joy is an old guitar they get to make a fun project out of sourcing old parts for.
If that is their particular obsession.
1) OP literally said the guitar looks like sh!t, sounds like sh!t and plays like sh!t… and you are telling him to waste time putting more cheap after market parts on it and spending time and money to have someone dress its frets, rewind pickups etc?

2) Please re-read OP’s original post and then mine. We clearly have different interpretations of what OP meant when asking whether it’s worth “restoring the guitar to its former vintage glory”. If you can’t see how someone can correlate “restoring to vintage” with buying original VINTAGE parts, there’s nothing further to be said.

3) You have an issue with the word “original”? Semantics. When you see a set of “original vintage unopened PAF’s”, if you don’t understand why it’s important state that they are in “original” (not messed with) condition, idk what to tell you.

There’s also a reason why the market for these vintage parts is this insane (ie sum of original parts is worth MORE than an all original guitar). It’s not me who thinks this way, it’s the market. Hence why, again, my advice was purely based on the financial implications of what I interpret as “restoring to vintage”.

4) Saying things like “hardware is expendable” is completely subjective and also poses a slippery slope. At a certain point, all you have left is not a 65’ stratocaster but a kitchen chair with Schallers and a couple parts from the 60’s. I completely understand that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but saying stuff like “nobody is excited by old worn out Klusons” is subjective wishful thinking.

5) The last overreaching assumption you made was when you referred to a “buyer like me”… “A buyer like me” would never do any of what the OP is asking about. I was just answering, as objectively as I could, his question based on my interpretation of his end goal.

If you want me to get subjective: a “buyer like me” would save $20k+ to buy an all original or largely original vintage guitar at a good price. A guitar that inspires me every day and about which I have no reservations. I don’t touch butchered strats, refins, routes, messed around electroincs, replaced pickguards etc...

If I were to be in a situation where I can’t afford the exact vintage strat I want and saving isn’t an option, then I would take $10,000 to a local Fender custom dealer and have them build me the EXACT strat I want… and if I don’t like it when I receive it, then I return it, lose my deposit if I have to, and ask them to try again until it’s perfect…
This is the only other way I would have any pride of ownership of a guitar with a Fender logo on the headstock. Personally and subjectively, I prefer this path instead of having to wait a year for my butchered “vintage” strat to move at a loss on Reverb after sinking a bunch of time/cash into it because “Butcher of Strats” on Strattalk told me I would have “tons of buyers” if I still don’t like it after my project is done.
 
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Butcher of Strats

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 28, 2022
3,067
Maine
1) OP literally said the guitar looks like sh!t, sounds like sh!t and plays like sh!t… and you are telling him to waste time putting more cheap after market parts on it and spending time and money to have someone dress its frets, rewind pickups etc?

2) Please re-read OP’s original post and then mine. We clearly have different interpretations of what OP meant when asking whether it’s worth “restoring the guitar to its former vintage glory”. If you can’t see how someone can correlate “restoring to vintage” with buying original VINTAGE parts, there’s nothing further to be said.

3) You have an issue with the word “original”? Semantics. When you see a set of “original vintage unopened PAF’s”, if you don’t understand why it’s important state that they are in “original” (not messed with) condition, idk what to tell you.

There’s also a reason why the market for these vintage parts is this insane (ie sum of original parts is worth MORE than an all original guitar). It’s not me who thinks this way, it’s the market. Hence why, again, my advice was purely based on the financial implications of what I interpret as “restoring to vintage”.

4) Saying things like “hardware is expendable” is completely subjective and also poses a slippery slope. At a certain point, all you have left is not a 65’ stratocaster but a kitchen chair with Schallers and a couple parts from the 60’s. I completely understand that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but saying stuff like “nobody is excited by old worn out Klusons” is subjective wishful thinking.

5) The last overreaching assumption you made was when you referred to a “buyer like me”… “A buyer like me” would never do any of what the OP is asking about. I was just answering, as objectively as I could, his question based on my interpretation of his end goal.

If you want me to get subjective: a “buyer like me” would save $20k+ to buy an all original or largely original vintage guitar at a good price. A guitar that inspires me every day and about which I have no reservations. I don’t touch butchered strats, refins, routes, messed around electroincs, replaced pickguards etc...

If I were to be in a situation where I can’t afford the exact vintage strat I want and saving isn’t an option, then I would take $10,000 to a local Fender custom dealer and have them build me the EXACT strat I want… and if I don’t like it when I receive it, then I return it, lose my deposit if I have to, and ask them to try again until it’s perfect…
This is the only other way I would have any pride of ownership of a guitar with a Fender logo on the headstock. Personally and subjectively, I prefer this path instead of having to wait a year for my butchered “vintage” strat to move at a loss on Reverb after sinking a bunch of time/cash into it because “Butcher of Strats” on Strattalk told me I would have “tons of buyers” if I still don’t like it after my project is done.
Yeah sorry I read the start of this post and since we clearly come from opposite views why bother to argue.
I have been fixing old Fender guitars for 42 years.
"Former vintage glory" is actually all brand new when originally made.
Rewind the pickups, refret the neck, refin the body, and replace any bad hardware with new quality parts.

I also did antique house restoration and violin repair.
Vintage cars (a little bit) too.
Sourcing old rusty worn out parts is only one option, not the only way of restoring stuff.

You think old rusty tuners are better?
Fine you made your points, I made mine.
 
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GuitarTalk

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 7, 2021
98
Canada
Yeah sorry I read the start of this post and since we clearly come from opposite views why bother to argue.
I have been fixing old Fender guitars for 42 years.
"Former vintage glory" is actually all brand new when originally made.
Rewind the pickups, refret the neck, refin the body, and replace any bad hardware with new quality parts.

I also did antique house restoration and violin repair.
Vintage cars (a little bit) too.
Sourcing old rusty worn out parts is only one option, not the only way of restoring stuff.

You think old rusty tuners are better?
Fine you made your points, I made mine.

All good, I respect that. It was a long day :D
 


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