Claescaster

Category: Japan

How to… refret a guitar

Tokai Love Rock LS-55 Les Paul Standard "Made in Japan" 1991Tokai Love Rock LS-55 Les Paul Standard “Made in Japan” 1991

Today I did it, I decided to go all in and cross the final frontier when it comes to DIY guitar work and ordered everything needed for refretting my Tokai. It has really poor frets, well not only does the frets have big groves in it but it’s hardly any frets left. It’s such a nice guitar and she deserves to be brought back to her former 1991 glory. I have thought about this for a long time, well I’ve thought about refretting her since I bought her, but if I should pay someone 240-340€ to do it or if I should just learn how to do it myself. I have to say that my trust in the quality of any form of workmanship south of the Pyrenees is pretty low. I have seen too many people charge too much for things that I could have done better myself, hopefully I’m right this time to. I bought quite a lot of things from G.M.I. tools in Greece, a fret leveler, fret puller, hammer and then I got a neck support caul and a fret rocker from Guitars & Woods in Portugal. I always try to buy things from my Mediterranean neighbours if I can to help their economy out during the recession, even though I doubt that any of these eBay sellers pay tax.  I struggled a lot when it came to what type of crowning file I should get, I watched a lot of Youtube videos to see what people were using but everyone had a different opinion. In the end I went for two fancy Japan made Uo-Chikyu files from Japarts in Canada, mainly because they were made in Japan and I’m gay for Japanese guitar things, and they had a cute fish as their logo which made me happy. I read a lot of good things about Dunlop’s fret wire on European forums, they seem to be pretty standard here, and a lot of bad things about them on American forums so in the end I trusted the Yanks and bought Jescar fret wire instead from Philadelphia Luthier. All in all I spent 172.73€ for tools that hopefully will last me a lifetime, two sets of fret wire, one for my Tokai Les Paul and one for a Strat/Tele, I don’t think you can get Jescar here so I thought I might as well get an extra set. I also got a cheap set of fret wire to practice with, I was going to refret my old Morgan neck, the original neck to the first Claescaster, just to try to get used to pulling frets and hammering new ones in. If I would just refret one guitar I guess I could just have paid someone 300€ to do it for me, but the main thing for me is to be able to crown and polish the frets on all my guitars, before they get big groves in the frets so I can’t play them. I’ve also notice that I tend to not play some guitars just because they have a bit of fret wear, not because they are hard to play, just because I don’t want them to get worse. That’s a ridiculous excuse for not playing your favourite guitars. I prefer to learn how to do it myself so the cost of refretting a guitar is 12-14€ for the fret wire, and then of course a huge amount of my time but that’s not as precious as having to pay 300€ for someone else to do it for me. Wish me luck!

Here is a list of what I ordered:
Hiroshima Files Uo-Chikyu Medium Radius Fret Crowning File
Hiroshima Files Uo-Chikyu Fret End Dressing File
G.M.I. fret-fingerboard LEVELER 400mm(15.75”)
G.M.I. fret puller-luthier’s tool-MADE IN GERMANY     
G.M.I. fret hammer-luthier’s tool-MADE IN GERMANY
G.M.I. fretboard guards    
Bahco replacment files for G.M.I. fret bevel(3 different cuts)
Guitar Neck Support Caul
Stainless Steel Guitar Fret Rocker Laser Cut – Luthier
Set 2.5mm Wide Nickel Silver Fretwire
Jescar FW47104 Electric Medium/Jumbo Fretwire Pre-radiused 12″
Jescar FW43080 Electric Medium Fretwire Pre-radiused 9.5″

Hobbs Music P-bass

Hobbs Music
Dani has decided to put the Hobbit up for sale. It’s a really nice bass that I helped him to fix up, more about that here.

Martin D42/D45 Made in Japan copy

Alvarez Yairi 5070

I’m after a Japan made Martin D42/D45 copy. If anyone happens to see one for sale, please let me know. It doesn’t have to be a Alvarez or Yairi, Morris, Mountain, Suzuki, Aria and pretty much anything else would do as long as it’s made in Japan in the 1970’s or early 1980’s. However, it has to have the hexagon inlays and binding around the top and soundhole.

Hondo II P-bass

Hondo II P-bass

My friend Dani bought himself a Hondo II P-bass copy the other week, well I had to buy it for him since he doesn’t have a eBay account. I took it home and spent my Sunday morning with her,  it wasn’t much work needed. The electronics are pretty old but it works and sounded pretty cool so I think we should keep it as it is for now. However, the actions was extremely high so I had to first adjust the trussrod a bit and then put in a shim in the neck pocket to get the angle of the neck right. Now it’s as low as it can go without any buzzing and it feels really nice to play.

This bass is now for sale.

Hondo II P-bass I love the wood grain, really beautiful. We bought the bass from a UK seller but it seems to have been sold in Canada originally.

Hondo II P-bass Pretty descent wood, good weight and really solid. I’m not really sure what type of pickup that is but it works and sounds good. I folded a business card and used as a shim to get the neck right and to lower the action. I couldn’t find any markings anywhere so we are still not 100% that it is made in Japan, it could be Korean made. Anyway, it feels really nice and seems to be pretty good quality so it doesn’t really matter.

Fender Japan TN72G-FT/MH SWH

FENDER JAPAN TN72G-FT/MH SWH

We went and saw Crosby, Still & Nash when they played here last Monday. They were like I had expected, old. Crosby and Nash did pretty well but Stills has lost the plot completely, but I think he did that 40 years ago with his cocaine fueled hubris. He can’t sing any more, which could happen to the best of us, so he decided to just play endless guitar solos instead. I’m not sure if he is in to free-jazz but the solos sounded horrible and they seemed to never end.

Crosby, Stills & Nash Setlist at Jardins del Palau Reial de Pedralbes, Barcelona, Spain 2013-07-08
They looked a bit like this

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151824462428714&l=994714882144620479
And they sounded a bit like this, without Stills of course. Please excuse the shaky hand of the camera man, he was trying to drink bourbon out of a hip-flask at the same time.

It was nice to see a couple Gretsch White Falcons on stage though, which reminded me of a pretty awesome new Japanese Telecaster I saw a few months back. The Fender Japan TN72G-FT/MH SWH, a Telecaster version of a White Falcon. I guess it could be a bit much for a lot of people with all the gold but I love it. However, I’m not sure if I’m willing to pay ¥230,000 for it, it’s about $2,270. They seem to be pretty hard to find in Europe but here is an eBay seller that sells them for 1740€ plus shipping and import taxes. I guess I have to wait a few years until they appear second hand for hopefully a bit less.

Fender Japan '72 Rissue Telecaster TN72G-FT MH

Fender Japan TN72G-FT/MH SWH

FENDER JAPAN TN72G-FT/MH SWH

We went and saw Crosby, Still & Nash when they played here last Monday. They were like I had expected, old. Crosby and Nash did pretty well but Stills has lost the plot completely, but I think he did that 40 years ago with his cocaine fueled hubris. He can’t sing any more, which could happen to the best of us, so he decided to just play endless guitar solos instead. I’m not sure if he is in to free-jazz but the solos sounded horrible and they seemed to never end.

Crosby, Stills & Nash Setlist at Jardins del Palau Reial de Pedralbes, Barcelona, Spain 2013-07-08
They looked a bit like this

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151824462428714&l=994714882144620479
And they sounded a bit like this, without Stills of course. Please excuse the shaky hand of the camera man, he was trying to drink bourbon out of a hip-flask at the same time.

It was nice to see a couple Gretsch White Falcons on stage though, which reminded me of a pretty awesome new Japanese Telecaster I saw a few months back. The Fender Japan TN72G-FT/MH SWH, a Telecaster version of a White Falcon. I guess it could be a bit much for a lot of people with all the gold but I love it. However, I’m not sure if I’m willing to pay ¥230,000 for it, it’s about $2,270. They seem to be pretty hard to find in Europe but here is an eBay seller that sells them for 1740€ plus shipping and import taxes. I guess I have to wait a few years until they appear second hand for hopefully a bit less.

Fender Japan '72 Rissue Telecaster TN72G-FT MH

Fernandes The Revival RST-50 ’57

Fernandes The Revival '57 Stratocaster
Fernandes The Revival RST-50 ’57 Stratocaster
Made in Japan, 1988

We were up in Vitoria last weekend for the Azkena rock festival, I had to see The Black Crowes, and I managed to find this little beauty in a Cash converter. It’s a Fernandes The Revival RST-50 ’57 Stratocaster made in Japan probably in 1988. It’s a bit of detective work left to do, I’m still not sure if these were made in the FujiGen or the Tokai factory. It’s most likely made in 1988, well if you can trust Guitar world crazy in Japan, but he seems to know his stuff. The number on the back plate has nothing to do with the year but the first digit of the number stamped on the neck seems to indicate the production year, at least during the 1980’s. Mine has #Y80801 and ’57 stamped and the heal so that should be a Fernades RST-50 ’57 Strat from 1988. However, this guy on eBay claims that Fernandes changed from the proper Fender head to a sharpier head in 1986. He claims that mine should have been made between 1982-85 since it has “Electric Sound Research Group” under the Fernandes The Revival logo on the headstock. I think I’ll go with the Guitar world crazy guy, he seems to know a thing or two. We can be pretty sure that the material is the following, both Guitar world crazy and Music-Trade Japan says the same. The RST-50 ’57 were made between 1981-90, came with Revival Logo, had a 3-piece alder body a Small head and a 1-piece maple neck, poly lacquer, L-5000 Vintage Arched PP Gray Bobbin pickups, separate Diecast & FSRG Press saddle. However, then it says that from 1984 the pickups changed to VS-2 and the saddle to non press marked which is weird since mine clearly has “Revival F.S.R.G” stamped on them. It has quite a lot of fret wear but since the neck felt so amazing I couldn’t resist. Now I finally have an awesome “Blackie” copy so you all can call me Claes Clapton from now on.

Update 2013-07-06
Fernandes have found a new dad. She got adopted this Saturday by a lovely sound engineer, that happened to live two streets away from me, so she could be the jewel in his growing collection of Japanese guitars. I wish the best to both of you.

Fernandes The Revival '57 Stratocaster

Fernandes The Revival '57 Stratocaster

Fernandes The Revival '57 Stratocaster

Fender Telecaster Japan TL52-75

Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue, Made in Japan Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue, Made in Japan by FujiGen between 1987-1989

As a Roy Buchanan fan I always dreamt of owning my own “Nancy“. The story how Roy found his Nancy is pretty interesting. In 1969 Roy got fed up with the music industry and enrolled in a school to learn to be a hairdresser. One day during class he saw a guy walking pass the window carrying an old butterscotch blonde Telecaster and Roy fell in love at first site. He chased after the guy and told him that he could pick any guitar he wanted in a nearby music store and in the end bought him a new purple Telecaster to trade for the 1953 Fender Telecaster, serial number 2324, that later became his beloved Nancy. My story wasn’t that interesting. I had kept an eye out for a Japan made ’52 reissue and one day I saw that my favourite eBay seller in Japan, Tokyowax had one for sale. So in October 2012 I became the proud owner of a Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue, Made in Japan by FujiGen between 1987-1989. There is no way to find the exact production year of these A-serial Telecaster with the serial number on the bridge plate. However, it must have been made between 1987 and 1989 since it’s a TL52-75. They were called TL52-70 between 1984-1986 and then changed to TL52-700 in 1990. I do love Nancy, she is an extremely heavy and amazing sounding Telecaster but I still struggle a but with the neck. She has a typical mid eighties Japan neck, really flat and fast playing, without any doubt the fastest guitar I have after my 1975 Hagström HIIN OT. The problem is that I’m not such a huge fan of slick and easy to play necks. I like quite high action and really fat necks so I have to make an effort to play, it’s a part of the feeling for me. Nancy is still an awesome guitar and sounds great from stock, everything is made in Japan, machine heads, pickups, switch and pots. However, there was one thing that really annoyed me, the brass saddles. If you live in a Mediterranean coast city like Barcelona, you will have to adjust your guitars a lot to cope with the humidity. I have to adjust the truss-rod and saddles on most of my guitar when the seasons change and with Nancy it was a nightmare. The only screwdriver that was small enough to fit for adjusting the height of the original saddles was a tiny little weak thing that I got for my watches. Since I didn’t have strength enough to move the screw while the guitar was tuned I had to loosen the string every time, then tune it again. I was also a bit disappointed with the intonation high up on the neck so I decided to change for my favourites, Wilkinson compensated brass saddles. I found a set really cheap from Swivel Electronics in Singapore and a couple of weeks ago I got around to change them.

♪ ♫ Roy Buchanan – CC Rider

Fender Telecaster TL52-75 The old ones might have had more sustain since they were heavier and seemed more solid but to be able to adjust the height with a simple Allen key, without having to loosen the string is more important to me.

Fender Telecaster TL52-75 All done, I’m sure they will look old in a few month and blend in perfectly with the rest of the hardware. The humidity here in Barcelona seems to age metal very quickly.

Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue, Made in Japan I bought Nancy because I wanted a blackguard ’52 re-issue but quite soon I realised that everyone else in Barcelona had one too, well not a Japanese but still. It suddenly felt and looked more Bruce Springsteen than Roy Buchanan so I decided to change to a tortoise shell 5 hole pickguard to make it look a bit more Country-,  Swamp-, Southern rock. 

Hobbs Music P-bass

Hobbs Music

Back in January I bought a really nice Japanese made Precision bass for my friend Dani from South City Music. Well he paid for it but I had to order it since he doesn’t have an eBay account. He is as addicted as I am when it comes to buying instruments online so he doesn’t trust himself with an eBay account, probably for the best. It was pretty beat up but looked really nice in dark sunburst with a maple fretboard. It wasn’t a proper brand it just said Hobbs Music on it, which turned out to be Hobbs Musical store in Lancaster so I assume they imported it in the Seventies from Japan and put their own name on it. Anyway, the bass arrived but Dani wasn’t happy with the pickups so it was put a side for six months and now we ordered a set of Artec Alnico V P-bass pickups and new bridge and pickup covers from Custom world guitar parts. Dani fitted everything but passed the bass over to me to just look it over. He had done a good job, the wiring was correct and the soldering looked good. I did my best to clean it up, adjusted the saddles to get the action down and sorted the intonation. It’s a really heavy and solid bass, good wood for sure and the maple neck is amazing to play on. I plugged it in to check that everything was in order and sat for a half an hour playing bass by myself, something I never do. It felt quite a lot like my Japanese Jazz bass copy from 1978. It’s unbranded too, or rather someone has removed the logo on the headstock so I don’t know what brand it is. I can’t really jump to any conclusions from just two basses but I have a feeling that the Japanese basses are as well made as the guitars, even if it’s and unbranded instrument. I did an earlier post about the quality of Japanese guitars.

Hobbs Music Friday night fun, Swedish beer and a Japanese bass from the 1970’s

Hobbs Music The Hobbit, from Hobbs Musical store in Lancaster. Next step would be to get some new machine heads.

Hobbs Music  Everything seems to be in order, Dani had done a good job. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the Japanese that routed that control cavity, seems like a pretty uneven job.

Hobbs Music Dani kept the original pickup covers, really nice in black and white. Notice my best friend in the top right corner, nothing works better than an old toothbrush when it comes to cleaning metal parts. It works great for removing grime from the bridge, saddles, machine heads and frets. If they are really dirty, a bit of oven cleaner speeds up the process.

The Claescaster

A quick update on my new Claescaster. The Mighty Mite Swamp ash body that I ordered from USA back in the beginning of March might finally be on it’s way. I saw this update when I tracked it this morning, “Customs clearance processing complete”. I presume that means that they will finally send me my body that has been stuck in Madrid since the 14th of March. How can something take a month to clear? The thing that annoys me the most is perhaps not that I had to wait for more than a month, but that they charged 40% on top of the original price including shipping. A body that cost $150 that I paid 170€ for including shipping and then I had to pay an extra 68€ in import tax and custom fees. I have imported two guitars straight from Japan without any problems so I couldn’t even in my wildest imagination think that it would be this bad just because the package came form USA. The Japanese guitars I bought, on two separate occasions, were delivered with DHL Express, cost $125 and was here within 48 hours and the tax was only about 18-20% of the actual price, not price plus shipping. I think I paid around 70-80€ when I imported Nancy, a Fender Telecaster ’52 re-issue Made in Japan from 1987-1989, but she cost six times more than the new body did. Well at least now I know that you can’t buy things from USA if you live in Spain.

Fender Telecaster TL52-75, '52 re-issue Made in Japan, FujiGen 1989 Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue Made in Japan, FujiGen 1987-1989. There is no way to find the production year of these A-serial Telecaster with the serial number on the bridge plate. However, it must have been made between 1987 and 1989 since it’s a TL52-75. They were called TL52-70 between 1984-1986 and then changed to TL52-700 in 1990