Fender Strat makeover

Gear

I spent today sprucing up my first guitar, a 1993 Mexican Fender Stratocaster, giving it a full clean and replacement pickguard.

After some years out of favour – I was hooked on hollow bodies with P-90s or humbuckers while playing with the Ranters (2013-2015) – I’m friends with this Strat again. The body shape is a natural fit, the slim neck a better match to my hands, while the neck pickup sounds fantastic.

I’ve played this Strat heavily in recent months. The neck finish felt sticky, affecting the playability and slowing down my fretting hand. The rosewood fretboard was drying out. Also, the pickguard and rear of the guitar body were plastered with stickers from my teenage years and the 2000s. (Bonus points if you recognise the three-letter catalogue code prefix between the pickups!) Time for a new look.

Strat before makeover

Before makeover

I removed the strings, then:

  • oiled the fretboard and scrubbed it with a toothbrush
  • polished the frets
  • sprayed WD40 in the pots and pickup selector
  • cleaned the bridge with a toothbrush
  • removed the sticker glue gunk with a diluted solution of Stardrops

I replaced the pickguard with a new red tortoiseshell version, which pairs nicely with the naturally aged white plastic. Feeling proud of doing something practical (not my forte), and after replacing the final screw, I ballsed the job by re-attaching the bridge tone pot too tightly and snapping the shaft. It was probably rusty and ready to break after 23 years of twisting.

So, I did what other overreaching DIYers do; I took the guitar to someone who actually knows what they’re doing and exchanged cash for the skills to finish the job.

I’m so pleased with the result. The Strat plays like a brand new guitar but with all the little dints and dings that are personal to me. The neck is fast, playable and smooth again. Finally, it looks darn classy and not a little mean!

Strat after makeover

After makeover

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