Part of last weekend’s work was sorting out an old Squier Stratocaster for my young friend Zubin Mitra. He’s a budding guitarist and a great singer, all the ripe old age of 15! The guitar was handed down from his uncle, and hadn’t been used in a while. He took it to a couple of stores and was told that the neck was twisted and would take major repair, so I offered to look at it. It was in need of a thorough cleaning and setup before anything else!
The first step was to check the action on the guitar, using a straight edge. Straight up it was evident that the action was way to high to really play anything after the 5th fret comfortably. To fix this, I tried to tighten the truss rod by a quarter turn, but it was too tight to move. Evidently the neck had bent over the years and was too stiff for any further adjustments. Many people at this stage make the mistake of forcing the truss rod by turn it further, but this can lead to the rod snapping inside the neck, thereby ruining the neck and leading to VERY expensive and tedious repair work.
Here’s a close up view of the action at the 9th and 12th frets
I removed the neck from the guitar and clamped it onto a table, applying pressure behind the 7-9th frets, in order to straighten the neck a bit. This eased the tension on the truss rod and made it easier to tighten safely.
Once this was done, I moved to the bridge and adjusted the height of the same to match the fingerboard radius, ensuring a smooth playing feel. All in all it reduced the action from 6mm at the 12th fret down to 3mm!
The next step was to clean the age old dust of the guitar and wipe down the fingerboard with a rag soaked in zippo fluid.
Lastly, gave the volume and tone knobs a good cleaning and checked the pickup wiring to make sure everything was in place and we’re good to go!!
Here’s to the happy owner with his baby