Where to start...

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Where to start...

Post by IronSkillet on Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:33 pm

Hey guys, I expect to be posting in this particular area pretty often and for a long while because I've just purchased a (thoroughly) used 1987 Spectrum SX and it needs... well it needs alot of work. As a preface to all of this, understand that I'm very much a guitar noob. I've only been playing for 4 months, and this is the first electric I've owned. I'll be posting pictures soon, but let me try to inventory the current state of the guitar:

Neck: All original. It's straight, I had a friend teach me how to check that before handing over the dough. The pocket is also nice and snug, I couldn't slide a business card in anywhere. Tuners are original, effectiveness has yet to be fully determined.

Body: Chipped, beaten, scuffed and otherwise abused but no cracks or serious (sound altering) physical damage.

Electronics: This is where things get dicey. The last owner has purportedly replaced the wring with that of a 70's Strat. He insists he used Fender licensed parts, but who knows. He also informed me (as I walked to my car, guitar in hand) that he had accidentally soldered two wires in the wrong places so that the 5 way blade positions were atypical, but all functional. None of the switches have knobs, but that's an easy fix.

Bridge: I guess somewhere along the line somebody broke or just got dissatisfied with the original bridge and (judging by the workmanship) in a fit of psychadelic induced mania retrofitted a short-base Ibanez branded floating tremolo. It was described as a Floyd Rose, but I honestly wouldn't know the difference. The tremolo seems to work as intended apart from some troublesome play/wiggle in the actually trem arm. I'm not sure, but I'm thinking that would be a fairly easy fix. The trem also seems to throw the thing out of tune rather quickly (although the intonation is already quite off).

I had the guy throw in some parts, what he described as a "rolling nut", and a new string tree assembly. In any case the parts are new in their respective packaging. I'm not quite sure how to determine if the nut needs replacing, or what exactly a "rolling nut" would accomplish, but I've got 'em.

So all that to say... where should I start? In your opinion, what's the best place to begin from a skills necessary/results achieved standpoint? I really appreciate any help, and I'm totally open to being made fun of, so your jabs and advice are welcome. Thanks guys!

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Re: Where to start...

Post by westcoaster on Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:57 pm

Best way forward would be to get some pics up as soon as you can, some real talented guys here when it comes to fixing abused westies.
The rolling nut is meant to remove friction when using a trem, if you are not totally confident about your wood butchering skills I'd leave well alone, the installation needs to be 100% precise or you'll screw up your intonation (shouldnt be necessary anyway)

As far as the existing nut is concerned, any buzzing when you play open strings can be caused by the nut being worn out, slots too deep (there are other causes of this but I'm keeping it simple). Conversely, when you fret at the first fret it should be comfortable - if the slots are not deep enough it will take a lot of effort - also creates intonation problems. There's lots of info online, one of my favourites currently is the 'crimson guitars' site, Ben has loads of really good vids which really explain this stuff well.

As far as the electrics are concerned you should be able to find the right schematic By clicking on the westone info link above, lots of useful stuff there.

Hope you can get it up and running the way you want.

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Re: Where to start...

Post by IronSkillet on Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:11 pm

Thanks Westcoaster. Yeah, I actually didn't notice any significant buzzing just tooling around with it last night, which surprised me. For all its faults, the thing sounds pretty damn good! As wacko as the guy was who sold it to me, he seemed to have some affection for it, and played it regularly. The first fret is also pretty comfortable. Really the main issues so far as I can tell are going to be

1) The bridge, and tuning thereof

2) Intonation

2) The electronics, correcting the solders

3) The tremolo arm wiggle

and a distant fourth...

4) Cosmetics

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Re: Where to start...

Post by gittarasaurus on Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:21 pm

well for starters,
it is obvious that you have good judgement because you bought a westone guitar.

the neck originally had a string lock behind the nut. is that still present? (if the seller included string trees, i'm guessing there is no stringlock. that item may be hard to replace). if it is present, then a roller nut is kinda pointless.

for the trem you will need to check to make sure the scale length is correct or you will not be able to intonate the guitar properly. you should measure along the high E string, from the inside face of the nut to the string contact point on the saddle. it should measure 25 1/2".
if that measurement is correct, then you should be able to adjust the rest of the saddles to the correct positions.
if the length is not correct, there are replacement tremolo systems that do work. and there are Bendmaster tremolos available occasionally.

5 way switch is easy to correct the wiring

nobody around here is going to make fun of you, just lots of friendly and helpful people here to help you make your westone, YOUR WESTONE.
put up some pics when you can, and with a little help from the folks around here, you will have a fine guitar to play.

welcome to the forum! Big Thumbs Up

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Re: Where to start...

Post by IronSkillet on Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:43 pm

Very cool, thanks gittarasaurus. I don't think there was a string lock, at least not currently installed on the guitar... could be one of the random parts he pulled out of a drawer and handed to me loose.

You're going to cringe when you see pics. It's obvious this was a really beautiful guitar, but man it's taken a beating. The most distinctive feature of the guitar, the blue fretboard is even marred with a big ugly solder burn at the 6-7th fret. Why? How? I can't begin to imagine.

I may need to look into those replacement trems. Ugh I feel like that would be a real PITA to install properly...

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Re: Where to start...

Post by IronSkillet on Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:40 pm

Pics from the Craigslist ad where I found the guitar:










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Re: Where to start...

Post by corsair on Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:15 pm

What's the plan for this one, buddy; restoration to OEM, or a reliable player? Restoration may be a long drawn out affair as you need so many parts, which are, of course, no longer available new!

It sounds like you need everything that bolts or screws into the wood if restoration is your plan; even the knobs are orphans, found only on Westones! If you want a player, then life will be a little easier though still a little fraught as scale length could be an issue.....

The solder iron mark on the neck; could be someone was trying to remove a fret and was using a soldering iron to heat the wire and thereby kill the glue that holds it in the fretboard?

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FWIW, an after market esoteric nut is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist, and a great way to convert your money into someone else’s.

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Re: Where to start...

Post by IronSkillet on Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:57 pm

Hey Corsair,

Yeah I'm not interested in restoring it to OEM, just in getting its dignity back and as gitarrasaurus said, make it MY Westone. That involves cleaning it up and yes, making it a reliable and sweet player

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Re: Where to start...

Post by gittarasaurus on Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:57 pm

those are some tiny pics...
did you buy that guitar from Jukebox Johnny in AllenTX? i was talking to him trying to buy that guitar. it took about a month, just to get crappy pics...
i guess i'm glad i gave up.... these are the pics he sent me

it looks like the original string lock in the last pic, you are very lucky to have that.

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Re: Where to start...

Post by IronSkillet on Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:17 pm

Haha holy crap, yeah. Jukebox Johnny is quite a character, isn't he? Allen is about an hour each way for me, but fortunately I was able to talk him down to about half of what he was asking. Thanks for posting bigger pics.

So that's the string lock, eh? I thought that might be what it was, but I honestly wasn't sure.

The Westone world is a small world, huh?

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Re: Where to start...

Post by gittarasaurus on Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:08 pm

oh, good job! you really got a good deal then. it will be well worth your time to get it fixed up.

take a look at the stringlock. if you remove the bolts and the lock plates, there should be a shim underneath each lock plate. you will need those to properly hold the strings in place. if they are missing, there is a forum member that has some extras.

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Re: Where to start...

Post by Stefan 4 on Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:27 pm

I have what I believe to be a completely original sx. I'll get some pics up since you confuse them as a reference. The paintwork on mine is pants! But hopefully I'll get test sorted this Christmas Smile

These are lovely guitars Smile

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Re: Where to start...

Post by Barry on Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:21 pm

Hey IronSkillet, I don't believe you've been directed to our web site.
Click HERE to see the reference entry on your guitar, and here are some other SEARCH results found on the site.

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Re: Where to start...

Post by Westbone on Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:26 am

Sell it and buy a complete one, they're cheap enough.Very Happy

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Re: Where to start...

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