Guitars: 1991 Fender '72 Reissue Stratocaster
Thrashing her with The Tone in 1996, Seoul, Korea.
I bought her new in Berlin, Germany in 1992. It was the classic case of seeing her in the window when the store was closed and just "having" to have her! There was just something right about this one. The neck profile is more like an '80 or '81 Strat than a mid-70's. The original pickups had a real nice edge to them too.
I had a volume potentiometer go out on it back her 1997. Although I tried replacing it with several different pots, she seemed to have lost her edge, growl and mojo. I had no other way to describe it. The guitar sounded BAD. I put her in a case and left her sit for a few years.
Playing the '72 RI at the Harnack House, Berlin, Germany 1992.
Eventually I felt just had to try and do something. I cranked the action way up, and reset the intonation. Well, That alleviated most of the issues. Turns out the majority of the problems with this guitar stemmed from the bad frets, not the volume pot as I had originally thought. I adjusted the action at the time I replaced the pot, and forgot that I had done so. I did that in 2005 and she was at least then playable.
In 2006 I sourced pickups and a harness from a 1976 Strat. That really seemed to wake the guitar up. My ears were kinda turned off to the stock pickups after playing my vintage Strats so much. I also added an off-white tortoise shell guard and matching p/u covers at that time. Installing some steel Fender saddles instead of the cast ones helped a bunch too.
Local guitar tech Richard Diaz-DeLeon said he could recrown the frets without having to do a fret job. Well, I let him have a go at it in 2007 it finally played better than ever. I still thought the finish was hampering the resonant qualities of this guitar, but I figured it was about as good it was going to sound.
I had been reading forum posts back in 2009 on MetroAmp about bridges and how they really affect the guitar's sound. I heard that the Callaham bridge really helped newer Strats have a larger, fatter tone. I mentioned this to Richard, and he said Jason over at Spacetone Music just got an unused one in and he was willing to unload it for a good price. The kit included the Callaham bridge, saddles, springs and claw. After I installed it I realized the sustain had improved a LOT while darkening the tone somewhat. The Callaham also gave it more 60's vibe tonally. Which in this case helped even out the tone a bit between dark and bright.
Realizing that I needed a refret to be able to really play this guitar, I had guru Jamie Rodeman refret this axe in 2010 along the same specs of my '75 in addition to a bone nut. This guitar finally WAILED! The bone nut added sustain and a bit of high-end brightness that combined with the bridge made the notes ring out without being too bright or shrill. I finally had this thing just perfect for me after how many years? The only original parts left are the wood, input jack and tuners. It was a project that took literally a decade.
Playing with the Emergency Blues Band Dec. 2011
Now replete with a gold-sparkle pickguard and white P/U covers and knobs, this guitar has been my regular axe with the SA Blue Cats for a couple of years now. She has been rock-solid, and sounds and plays great with extremely balanced tone thru a 1965 DuKane PA head (which I converted for guitar use) and custom cab loaded with a Weber Alnico 12. This guitar has made me more money than any of the others that I have owned throughout the years.