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Frankenstrat vs Iron Gear - The Installation

Last weekend the deed was done and I installed my new Iron Gear pickups in my Strat (if you don’t know what I’m talking about look here)

I thought I would share some of the photos with you as modifying a vintage guitar already hacked about by previous owners is a slightly different prospect than the brand new guitars that are usually worked on in youtube videos. I decided to go for white pickups as the aged cream coloured pickups most people offer on “aged” guitars look really fake to me and I like to age my own gear. 
Here are all my tools laid out ready for the job (There’s nothing worse than getting half way through a task and not having what you need) 


The first task was removing the strings. My top tip if you have a guitar with a floating bridge is to put a shim under it before you remove the strings so it doesn’t fall off the posts.Paying cards work best, but I used a nearby notepad. 


My first issue was getting the scratchplate off, one of the screws had rusted solid on the top and required some tweaking with pliers to remove. Once that was sorted off came the scratch plate (Notice the unfaded lake placid blue under the scratchplate).


Only then was the full horror of the hacked about wiring revealed. The new soldering iron was powered on but immediately started emitting loads of white smoke (That’s what you get for £6 from Amazon). I figured it was probably burning off some ill advised anti corrosion coating on the metal and left in running in the garden for half an hour after which it was behaving its self. Desoldering is usually a fairly simple task but as you can see in the next photo dodgy repairs left the volume pot with a lump of solder on it the size of a Malteser which my plucky 30W smoke belching soldering iron declined to melt. Eventually after trying until some of the insulation on the wiring started to fry I resorted to hacking it off with a soldering iron. 

With the old pickups removed fitting the Iron Gears was fairly painless. They are really well made (better than the Fender USA originals) with single conductor waxed cloth cable and all the vintage goodies. The only issue was that the supplied springs were a little big so rather than cut them down I used the old ones. 

With all the pickups in I put the guitar back together and added the two rather jazzy roller string trees as the old ones were getting corroded leading to some tuning problems.

Pleasingly it worked first time once I got the strings back on. I recorded some tone samples before I changed the pickups so for my next post I’m going to give some sound clips so you can judge for yourself if you think it sounds better but I’m very impressed so far. 

Published 12 Apr 2011

Engineer & Musician
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