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Mim Strat Upgrade


Keegan
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It says "Discuss gear", so I figured I'd make a quick thread about what I've done to my MIM

Before:

IMG_0170640x480.jpg

Typical piece of crap MIM with plastic nut and cheesy vinyl plastic parts, all white.

First of all, the stupid white plastic crap had to go, so I got an aluminum pickguard, black anodized diamond plate and some metal knobs. It looked silly without pickup covers, so I dyed them by boiling them in coffee(It should be noted that this only works on pickup covers, none of the other plastic pieces will take up any of the coffee pigment). The plastic nut ended up breaking, so I got a nice bone one that looks vintage. Also, I can't stand gloss, so I knocked back the finish to satin on the body and neck, and now it feels much nicer to play.

The trem has also been blocked, the wiring cleaned up considerably, and I took off the string tree.

After:

MIM.jpg

Close-up of the nut:

nut.jpg

A little elbow grease, about $120 for the new nut and pickguard, plus the money the previous owner spent on locking tuners and new electronics, and you have yourself a fine-playing instrument. Could use new saddles and intertia block too... Pretty much all of the factory hardware is crap.

I dunno where I'm going with this really, I just wanted to show it off.

While I'm showing off my guitars, here's my other one, an acoustic:

http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p270/xS...ka/IMG_0021.jpg

http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p270/xS...ka/IMG_0022.jpg

http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p270/xS...ka/IMG_0018.jpg

Mmm, that flamed Asian mahogany is sweet, also known as Natowood.

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Looks well done, though I would round over the edges of the nut a bit more. What are the pickups?

MIM Strats are the perfect base for mods - IMO they play just as well as MIA's at half the price. Mine is black with a parchment guard and Lace Holy Grails and its a dead ringer for Clapton's strat. The trem still isn't the best but I rarely use it anyway.

I thought the HGs were the be-all-and-end-all of passive Strat pups until I installed a set of DiMarzio's in a friends MIA - Area 58 in the bridge and Area 61s in the mid and neck - holy crap! If you ever want to replace your pups, get those!

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Neck and middle are from an '06 Highway One, so they're the new Alnico 3 ones. The bridge is an SD Hotrails. The nut is rounded-over, that's just the fisheyeing of the camera making it look less so.

I probably won't replace the pickups, I'll try Dimarzio if I come across another strat though, after I try EMGs, those are first on my list of strat pickups =P

The MIMs are pretty much just MIAs with B-grade neck wood and economy hardware/electronics. The good thing about the MIMs is you get a say in what hardware and electronics go onto it because you buy them afterwards. With the MIA, you're stuck with whatever you get with no money left over to change it to suit your tastes. Not to say that Fender doesn't have some good stock guitars. I've got my eye on a Jaguar HH and a '72 Tele Deluxe...mostly for the pickups.

Jag: http://img3.musiciansfriend.com/dbase/pics.../1/7/229117.jpg

Tele: http://img3.musiciansfriend.com/dbase/pics.../9/8/269498.jpg

They both need new pickguards though =P

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and I took off the string tree.

I don't think that is a good idea...you do know that the string tree is there for a reason, it provides downward pressure on the nut in the absenced of a tilt back head. Even with staggered tuners, often this wont be enough and you may still want some kind of behind nut dampening to stop sympathetic vibrations...if you look at the LSR roller nut and staggered tuners on my tele...I could only take off the string tree because of the stagger and the in built foam dampener built into the LSR behind the bearings.

Really, without a trem, the tree shouldn't be a problem but a feature of this guitar design.

Also...I do one better...I make do with squiers, good ones admittedly, but many of these can be good. I'm not sure that you can really say that the MIM stuff is necessarily crap...crappy that they change the specs from the originals, but quality wise is not much different than the MIA stuff.

Beware the "hype" with a lot of the parts suppliers...but hey, have fun!

Learning how to do a great setup though is so much better than any parts you might add...a guitar that plays like a dream is better than any amount of fancy parts on a badly set up machine!

btw, couldn't get the pic links to work!

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Hmm, I don't notice any difference without the tree, except that the headstock doesn't look as funny anymore. I don't even have staggered tuners and the 2nd and 1st come in at the same angle as the 3rd.

Speaking of crappy parts, guitarfetish is the only place that I could find blank tele control plates, and the gold is painted on!

I thought that while I was ordering from them I would go ahead and get the electrosocket jack, too. The finish feels sticky, like they just slathered on some black crap that doesn't even properly adhere to the brass that it's made out of. I should have gone with the aluminum jack from stewmac... Oh well. Then I could do my own anodizing, if I could find a big enough chunk of lead.

Lead, acid, and electricity, there's no more fun of an electrochemical process than anodizing.

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Typical piece of crap MIM with plastic nut .....

The "plastic" they use for those nuts is pretty tough stuff. I can hardly get myself to call it plastic. A lot better than the PVC nuts you'll often find on Asian imports. Sometimes the nut action is so high, that if you mark out where the excess material is, and file that off, you can end up with no slots on the unwound strings and very shallow slots on the wounds. Makes a pretty good base to start out with. But I've also seen some where some bozo (apparently at the factory) filed just one string slot too low and at a weird angle and ruined the nut (at least made it too undesirable for a properly tweaked nut). Anyway, I don't think you can surpass the tone those stock nuts produce (after they're tweaked). Of course you can *match* the tone with nuts of other materials.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Speaking of squiers - I have an early 80s MIJ squier that puts any new strat to shame that i've ever played.. Most of the MIJ models were fantastic..

As for the MIMs being crap - my experience is that even worse than being crappy, they are inconsistent.. Which sucks if you are ordering one - but great if you can go to a store and actually find the good one out of the bunch. I had a MIM strat from tne 2000-2002 range and the neck was superb. These new ones with the paper-white satin necks i can't stand though.

I have never bought any hardware from guitarfetish.. however i've had a bunch of their pickups and love them all. The strat set is the only one i haven't tried.. I have vintage tele sets, zebra sets, etc.. I put a set of his retro-sonic pups in my MIM 72 tele deluxe and it was a tremendous upgrade.

Lastly, about nut materials.. I just put a mighty-mite neck on a project build and yanked the plastic nut and replaced with an allparts tusq nut and it's fantastic.. not as obnoxiously bright as bone.. but def better energy transfer than plastic. I can't spend too much time on crafting a bone nut since when you fret a string the nut really doesn't matter anymore.. Tusq nuts are pre slotted and all i did was flat-sand the bottom till i got the action i wanted.

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