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> Swaping Pickups
Captain Insaino
post Apr 29 2011, 10:42 PM
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I have a black 79 fender stat, all original, decent shape, the finish is faded a bit but not much. When I bought it I payed $1000 for it in 1995. I have recently seen stock 79 strats on ebay for $1500. So I have made $500. My problem is that I was thinking about swapping out the pic ups for something hotter, but at the same time I dont want screw with it and maybe make it worth less. What would you do if you were me ? Rip the guts out and go for it or keep it stock.



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post Apr 29 2011, 10:51 PM
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I'm no expert, but it seems that if you gut it, the value will drop. I only speculate that because maybe the pickups will be obsolete soon = rare and worth a lot more. That thing, already being 16 years old, will be worth a lot of money one day.

I dunno. Anybody have an expert opinion? smile.gif

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post Apr 29 2011, 11:07 PM
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How about replacing the pups, but keeping the original ones too. That way you just put them back if you need to in the future smile.gif

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post Apr 30 2011, 12:21 AM
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Keep the originals with you (in the hard guitar case, there's a little room specially make for them, lol - well they fit there nicely and safe in their cases), when you come to resale it keeps the price the same, if someone is after the original deal.


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post Apr 30 2011, 03:04 AM
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Since its a Strat you can put in another loaded pickguard, the only soldering you would have to do would be grounding the tremolo. This way you can save the loaded pickguard thats in it now without making any modifications to the wiring. When you want to sell the guitar just put the old loaded pickguard back in.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Apr 30 2011, 12:10 PM
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It really depends on what you want to do with your guitar. There are two values that your guitar can have, and you are free to go in any direction:

1. Collector's value

Collector's value is determined by the age, condition, nostalgic value, originality, quality, historic value etc. You guitar has some of these factors:

- Increasing age value, because it is from year 1979, thus being 32 year old instrument that can be considered vintage.

- In mint condition, this guitar is going to be worth a lot in couple of decades, although bare in mind that every single scratch or dent is cutting down value significantly. For example, for couple of scratches, guitar's price can go from 2000$ to 1900$ easily.

- Your Fender is a CBS one, and during 70ties they made lots of Strats, specially black models. Quality, originality, historic value and nostalgic value are low on these particular models, because there are still lots of them, and many are not that great pieces. However, if you want to keep this values as high as possible, and possibly increasing a bit over time (as their number is decreasing), you should definitely stick to all original parts. Non-original parts cut down the price significantly on all vintage models, and if you try to sell one, one of the first questions you will get from buyer is always: "Is it all-original instrument with all-original parts?". This is normal, cause nobody wants to pay big bucks for something that has been modified, wetter they need it for playing or just for plain collecting.

2. Player's value
This value is a lot different than the collectors one. It's focused primarily on playability and tone quality of the instrument. It does however has some connections with collector's value factors.

The strat you have could prove to have good player's value for you as a player. This means that if the actual piece of wood and built quality is good (and not all are, quality standards were lowered during CBS era), it could prove to be excellent studio, and even stage instrument for you. Old vintage fenders that are modified can have great life as studio guitars, because of their rich sound that sits so well in the mix.

In order for your guitar to have proper player's value (and this value can be high as well!), it has to have:

- Smooth and singing wide sound range with rich bell-like harmonics
- Solid Fender character (with Strat usually determined by the amount of punch and twang in the tone)
- Notes without excessive vibration (usually Strats have problems with G string, it oscilates on higher frets)
- Reasonably good sustain, specially when bending higher frets (bad made Fenders will cut sustain when bending higher frets, because of the small fretboard radius and worn down frets)
- Hardware that works properly (no loose parts, no problems with the tremolo)
- Electronics that works properly (no loose knobs, no crackling or noise, wax potted pickups to prevent microphonics)


If you are looking for ways to increase collectors value, there isn't much to do actually. Keep it in original case (if you have one), or in any proper case, in reasonably solid moisture and temperature conditions, change strings once per year, and play the guitar every week a bit. Keep all original parts, and don't swap anything. If you really need to swap something, be sure to keep all the original parts, and let the professional guitar tech handle the job.

If you're looking to increase player's value, so you can play it and enjoy this guitar, you have lots of things that you can do. Here are some tips:

Changing pickups is one of the first things, and I would advise changing to Texas Special pickups, or something similar, as these complement the Strat character very nicely. They are widely regarded as one of the (if not the) best Fender pickups. Variations of these pickups are made by all other big and small manufacturers, and that would be a good choice as well, although Texas Special ones are standardized. Pickups on your guitar were not that great in terms of quality, and you should check if they were wax potted at all.

Next thing you can swap is hardware. On those old guitars, they really didn't put good tremolos, so that would be a good thing to swap. by upgrading to Wilkinson tremolo, graphite or bone nut and locking tuners, the guitar will be well-balanced, with good tone and sustain, and proper tremolo ability. Also, increasing the number of springs would create better transfer of vibrations from the strings to the body, thus enriching the tone a bit.

Changing the electronics: in modern era, electronics is so advanced that it will provide much better tone and feel than before. By replacing the original wiring, pots, caps, wax potting pickups and other things you can refresh the instrument's tone a lot, and also incorporate some new features that you like (like different wiring options, boost option, different tonal characteristics, different tone when lowering the volume, no buzzing, no treble roll-off etc.)

Replacing frets will provide better intonation, sustain, note definition and player's feel.

And in general, guitar tech should inspect guitar, give it a proper player's setup, and you're ready to go.


In essence, the most important thing with that particular guitar is that the wood is old. Nothing is more important than that on a guitar. You have a proper foundation for a rich tone with that '79 strat. It's a solid platform featuring old wood, and nothing can replace that on new guitars. You can upgrade new guitar as much as you want, but older will always sound better and richer (if quality wood was chosen back then). Old wood is irreplaceable, and becoming increasingly rare in whole world.

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Apr 30 2011, 12:12 PM

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Bogdan Radovic
post Apr 30 2011, 05:24 PM
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Hmmm it's a tough question.
If I were you I would definitely keep that Strat stock!
I would get a new guitar if I wanted different sound.
But yes - you could probably replace the whole loaded pickguard and keep the old stuff.

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