Repairing my Fender Strat

About a year ago, I bought my second-hand Fender Stratocaster. It’s one of my favourite guitar now.

But a few days ago, the volume knob became loose. I could feel the entire volume control unit (beneath the pick guard; that’s the large white plate you see on the guitar body) move. Not good. And then the sounds was intermittent. Definitely not good.

I loosened the pick guard screws to access the inner workings. Several problems were apparent.

The volume control unit: After some time examining how it was bolted on (at first I thought it was glued to the pick guard from beneath), I discovered a hex nut held it in place. To access the hex nut, I pried off the plastic volume knob with a small flathead screwdriver. Then tightened the nut.

OK, one problem solved.

The other problems was less straight-forward (although to a guitar tech, they are simple problems).

Basically, the wiring and connections was broken and/ or loose. Needed to be re-soldered.

There was a soldering iron at home but I needed soldering tin. Bought some the next day. Then got to work.

Removed all the guitar strings. Loosened the pick guard screws.
DIY guitar repair - Fender Stratocaster

Flipped the pick guard over and this was what I saw:
DIY guitar repair - Fender Stratocaster

Took the chance to examine the pickup wirings.
DIY guitar repair - Fender Stratocaster

The problem areas:
DIY guitar repair - Fender Stratocaster

  • Spot #1: The picture shows the volume control unit. There’s a hard wire that’s soldered to the other two tone controls. The connection was broken. Must have been due to the loose nut.
  • Spot #2: Frayed and loose wirings.
  • Spot #3: Loose connection to one of the soldered points of the pickup selector switch.

DIY guitar repair - Fender Stratocaster

Here’s a closeup of the pick up selector switch:
DIY guitar repair - Fender Stratocaster

Right after I took those pictures, I went to work. I don’t have a lot of practical experience or skill in soldering. Steady hands required, for sure. In the end, I managed to muddle through and not burn up anything.

Re-strung the guitar. Works well now.

My Fender Stratocaster

Two weeks ago, I bought a pre-owned (OK, call it “used”) Fender Stratocaster. From Guitar77 (basement of Peninsula Excelsior Shopping).

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster

I checked the Fender website serial numbers (mine’s a Mexican model). Must be something built in 1996 or 1997 (more pictures below).

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster

Why did I buy this?

Part indulgence, and part curiosity. Now that I’ve tried a Les Paul and also a bass, I thought it was time to try out a Strat. Meaning, it would be something I would use (rather than buy on a whim and then be an expensive dust collector).

I didn’t want to spend too much on one though. A friend told me they might have used models at Peninsular. I dropped by one day with the intention to try rather than buy. The Guitar77 outlet was the second shop I visited that had used Strats. Asked if I could try a few on display. Decided this one was it. Somehow the sound was more mellow than the new model. And cheaper too.

It’s got some superficial blemishes — cracked paint job, scratches, rust spots.

But the neck feels really RIGHT and the body just resonates. I guess this is a sign of old age/ maturity. I no longer go for looks that much. It’s the feel and sound that matters.

[note: The photos are licensed under a CC-BY license, and can be found as a set here.]

Clay Wolfie

This was done a few weeks ago. My first attempt at clay modeling. Absolutely no clue how to do it then (still not too sure how to do it properly but so long it doesn’t fall apart, I guess something is done right).
Clay Wolfie - 1 of 6

Basically I rolled the clay into round shapes and started sticking them together. I scraped and wet the surfaces that required joining (not knowing how it would hold). Well it’s dried and still holding together. Only air-drying required.
Clay Wolfie  - 2 of 6 Clay Wolfie  - 3 of 6 Clay Wolfie  - 4 of 6 Clay Wolfie - 5 of 6
I had something vague in mind when I started but didn’t sketch anything on paper. Just mucked around with the clay, adding one piece to another and winging it as I went along. It was supposed to be a bear but by the time I got to the head, I decided it was to be a dog, and then it looked more like a wolf in the end. Hence, Clay Wolfie!
Clay Wolfie - 6 of 6

[View the pictures as a Flickr slideshow]

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Flying ‘V’ Guitars – constructed in Second Life

I made a few guitars while mucking around in Second Life. I’ve put up a few for sale over at Have sold two as of this post. Decided to price them at L$50, which is equivalent to USD$0.10 each. I don’t intend or expect to make any serious money (real or otherwise). It’s more to experiment with the creation/ buying/ selling process.

Here’s the link to a video of how one was made. In Second Life (SL), you build things by using something called “Prims” or “Primitives”, i.e. “Primitive Shapes”. Everything in SL is built out of Prims.

The information provided at the SL website on creating stuff is sketchy at best. I’ve not found any blogs that provide a tutorial (I have to admit I didn’t search very throughly). What you might want to do is to ask if people can explain to you how it works. Most people I’ve encountered in SL are very willing to share what they know, but always be polite and don’t push your luck too far, if you know what I mean. There’s also a great place to learn how to build stuff (I’ll add the link as soon as I can log back into SL).

I made one basic guitar shape (modeled after the Gibson “Flying V”) and subsequently played around with textures and colours. I was advised to use as few prims as possible. The one I’ve made has 37 prims. I think that’s not too bad. Most guitars I’ve seen in SL so far are made with less and usually with a texture/ image (which reduces the need for more prims).

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Machinima: Building my first guitar in Second Life

Kevin produced this video, while I showed him how I constructed a guitar in Second Life. The background music was from this song that I composed earlier.

He’s blogged about it here, and here’s my post at Rambling Librarian.

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Extreme Origami

Holy folded paper dragons! This is amazing! (via Lucian)

BTW, this was designed and folded without the aid of any computer program (inspite of what the article title says). Read the whole story, here — The Extreme Sport of Origami: A physicist’s computer program speeds the creation of stupefyingly complex paper sculptures. By Jennifer Kahn. DISCOVER Vol. 27 No. 07 | July 2006

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