Repair sheet

– Fender 2000 American series Stratocaster, SN xxxxxxxx, made in the USA Corona plant. 

Current value range – £ 1,000 to £1,200

Weight =  3.6 kg. 7.93 lbs.

Note – Guitar delivered with Fender contoured hard case the lower corner of which, on the hinge side, was saturated with some liquid, probably water. Mopped up with paper towels it looks brown (tea?), but that may be dye from the black fake fur case lining.

Body – 2 piece Ash body, fitted with ‘straplock’ strap buttons. Routed for H/S/H. Finished in a rare colour – White blond transparent poly, body cavities coated with black graphite conductive screening paint. In very good condition apart from a 2cm chip at the back of the bottom edge of the body. Some light scratching on the pick guard. Neck pocket stamped 11th June 2000.

Fender 2000 American series Stratocaster
Fender 2000 American series Stratocaster

Neck – 1 piece, extended fretboard 22 fret, 9.5 inch radius maple neck finished in a matte polyester. Skunk stripe in very light walnut. Fender decal in gold ‘spaghetti’ script with black outline, ‘made in USA – STRATOCASTER, Original contour body’ script in black. Black plastic fret markers. Stepped height (E an A tall, D,G,B,E short) Fender, screwless square cast sealed tuners. Truss rod adjustment at the heel of the neck, 1/8” hex key for adjustment, walnut plug around the hole. One T type string tree. 4 bolt Fender Corona California chromed neck plate with tilt adjustment hole. Tilt screw 1/8” hex key. Heel stamped 16th August 2000, Charvez, Martin G. End of neck stamped 4th of August 2000.

Hardware – 3 ply cream white – black – white 11 hole pick guard secured with chrome cross head screws. 3 Fender, bobbin wound, single coil pickups, with 3/16 inch Alnico 5 rod magnets, rubber mounts. The back of the bridge pickup has large black cross head screws fitted between the E/A and B/E magnets. Middle pickup is reverse wound, reverse magnet polarity, for hum cancellation in the combined positions. White pickup covers. 2 point tremolo with sintered steel saddles (0.05” hex key for saddle height adjustment), fitted with 3 springs.

5 way pickup switch (missing the switch tip). CTS pots, 0.022uF tone cap. First tone control is wired for the neck pickup, the 2nd tone control has a ‘no-load’ pot and is wired for the middle and bridge pickups. Guitar delivered strung with – 0.009, 0.011, 0.016, 0.024, 0.032, 0.042 Fender bullets (except for top string which was a ball end)

Problems – In for a set up. Neck pocket is oversized and the neck has moved in the pocket so the low E is near the edge of the fretboard. Action is high (neck has too much forward relief).

Work done – Neck removed and cleaned, neck pocket side shimmed so the neck cannot tilt towards the low E and the strings are centred on the fretboard. All frets showed some traces of lacquer from the neck finishing process, frets from 11th onwards still completely coated in lacquer. Lacquer removed and all frets polished (almost no visible fret wear). D and top E tuning machine nuts were loose – tightened. Switch tip replaced (and glued on). A new set of D’Addario EXL120 strings fitted and neck relief (truss rod), neck tilt, saddle height and intonation all set.

Vibrato bridge (‘tremolo’) – The Fender set up notes for a two point trem say that the two pivot posts should be adjusted for height such that the trem bridge plate sits flat against the top of the guitar when the tremolo arm is pulled hard up. In the rest position (guitar tuned to standard pitch) the spring tension should be adjusted so that back of the plate should float at 1/8 inch or 3.2mm (this is very similar to the set up for the vintage 6 screw trem). As supplied this is how the trem on this guitar was set.

Guitar tuning problems

– why your guitar may not stay, or sound, in tune

The pitch of the open strings on stringed instruments depends on three things; their vibrating length, their unit mass and their tension. Unit mass means – how much the string weighs for a unit length, i.e. grams per centimetre or ounces per inch. The vibrating length is set by the distance between the nut and the saddles, and should be fairly stable. The unit mass of each string is closely related to its gauge, with the strings getting gradually thicker and therefore increasing in unit mass, from the top string to the bottom string. Once a particular set of strings has been fitted the unit mass obviously should not change. (Note – it is possible to occasionally get a set of ‘bad’ strings where one or more strings sounds bad or out of tune). The open strings are tuned to the required pitch by changing their tension using the tuners. Since string length and unit mass should be fixed and stable, instability in string tension is usually the cause of the open strings not staying in tune.

Guitar Advice
Guitar Advice

If the open string tuning is stable, but the guitar does not play in tune then intonation is the problem.

Tuners

Tuners are rarely the cause of tuning instability because the gear ratio (between 14 to 1 and 18 to 1) makes it almost impossible for the tension load from the string to rotate the tuning post. Although loose tuners, not properly attached to the headstock of the guitar, or damaged tuners, can be a problem. It is extremely common to find loose tuner nuts on guitars that are a few years old, apart from anything else, the wood of the headstock tends to shrink as a guitar gets older. It is certainly worth checking and tightening these nuts and any small securing screws at the back of your tuners, from time to time.

The gearing in tuners often has some slop, some backlash, so strings should always be adjusted up to pitch. Twisting the tuner button down almost always leaves some slack.

String slip at the anchors

Strings slipping where they are anchored at either end (at the tuners and at the stop bar) will cause tuning instability.

There are a variety of recommend ways to ‘knot’ the string ends around the tuning posts, but these are mostly unnecessary. It is not generally understood that the taper found on most tuning posts is there to cause the strings to self lock through increasing the friction of the string around the post as it comes up to tension. The tapered shape of the tuning post causes the coils of the string around the post to constrict and the rapid increase in friction ‘locks’ the string to the post. This doesn’t work well if the strings are not neatly wrapped with just two or three turns around the post (possibly more for the plain strings) with the string leaving the post towards the nut, near the bottom of the post. The constrictive locking action can be increased on most tuners by throwing the first loop of string over the top of the end of the string, where it passes through the hole in the tuning post, and then guiding successive loops to form below the string end.

Strings, particularly new strings that have not previously been tensioned, can slip at the bridge anchor. This is because the loop and twist used to attach the ball to the end of the string can act as a slip knot. Properly made, modern strings, very rarely have this problem.

Many ‘authorities’ including some very famous guitar players, recommend ‘setting’ or stretching a new set of strings by grabbing the middle of each string and giving it good strong pull away from the guitar. The idea behind this is that the momentary jerk of added tension helps to remove any slack from the coils at the tuner and seats the ball end firmly home at the bridge anchor. The only problem with this is that it can damage the string by causing permanent bends in the sounding length of the string. It may also damage the guitar, particularly an acoustic, by greatly increasing the wear on the bridge plate. If your guitar is well maintained and you install your strings carefully and correctly then yanking violently on strings, particularly on modern strings which are mostly made to very high manufacturing standards, just is not necessary. Correctly installed, new strings should settle to a stable pitch very quickly.

Music Lessons Hove
Music Lessons Hove

Friction at the nut and saddles

Whenever the strings are fretted and/or bent there is an increase in tension. In order for the open string tension to remain constant and the string to stay in tune, the entire length of the string between the anchor points (the tuners and the bridge anchor) must be able to stretch and then to relax to the tension it previously was at, as notes are fretted and bent. Friction over the nut, or over the saddles, can stop this happening. Friction over the nut is usually the biggest problem and it manifests as open, previously in tune strings, going and remaining slightly flat following fretting or in particular, bending. As it is fretted the string is stretched and slides through the nut, then once the fretting finger is lifted the string sticks in the nut, storing tension in the length of string between the tuner and the nut, while the string between the nut and the bridge remains slightly slack and therefore flat.

In the case of Gibson guitars, Corian, a DuPont synthetic developed to make kitchen worktops and sinks has been used, rather than the traditional bone, to make guitar nuts used on many of its models. Corian seems to be particularly problematic and a frequent cause of sticking nuts on Gibsons where there is high friction across the nut due to the 14 degree headstock rake, and further bends in the string path due to the position of the tuners. For many of its 2015 electric guitars Gibson has now moved to using a metal adjustable nut which may have solved these problems.

Intonation – what it is and how to set it

Intonation describes how accurately a musical instrument conforms to a particular tuning scheme. The vast majority of modern guitars are designed and built to conform to equal temperament. Equal temperament itself is a tuning compromise that allows instruments to be played in different keys without sounding out of tune.

For guitars, the act of fretting a string increases the tension on that string and therefore tends to push that string sharp. Ideally, temporarily reducing a string to half its length should cause the string to sound at exactly one octave above its open note, but because of the tension increase due to fretting, the octave tends to be slightly sharp. This can be corrected for by adjusting the string length so that the distance from the octave fret (the 12th fret)  to the saddle is slightly greater than the distance from the nut to the 12th fret. Almost all electric guitars are fitted with a bridge with six individual saddles. The position of the saddle under each string can be adjusted by a small screw. To intonate the guitar each saddle is moved backwards (to flatten) or forwards (to sharpen) until the note fretted at the 12th fret is precisely the octave above the open string note. Even this is a compromise because the notes near the nut still tend to play a little sharp compared to precise equal temperament. Some guitarists may prefer to adjust the octave a little flat to ‘sweeten’ the lower notes.

Intonation adjustment is best carried out with an accurate tuner that has a discrimination of one cent (many tuners only have 3 cent calibration because 3 cents is regarded as the accuracy of human pitch perception). A very careful touch is needed when fretting the 12th fret since it is easy to unintentionally slightly bend the note. Without a tuner it is possible to use the octave harmonic of each string to compare to the 12th fretted note, but experience has shown this is not as accurate as using a good tuner.

Ideally the intonation should be adjusted for every set of strings fitted. Usually, as long as the same type of strings are used this is not necessary, but it is required if the string gauges used are changed or even sometimes if what are apparently the same gauge of string but from a different manufacturer, are used.