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Okay, I've mentioned in a prior thread that I was intending to post this information for anyone in the TS community who might be a left handed guitarist starting out like myself and would like the option of having a left handed stratocaster with a humbucker and two single coils for a setup.

Just for those of you who don't know, fender does not make any stratocasters that are left handed and have a humbucker installed. You can purchase a humberbucker in single coil format, but its not quite the same thing as having the real deal. With a standard humbucker, you can purchase a greater variety of custom pickups for musical variety. Now it is true that a humbucker is a little small for a stratocaster in that the magnets don't perfectly align with the strings, therefore I am posting my DIY mod to install a Seymour Duncan JB trembucker. A trembucker is identical to the standard humbucker, but with a larger spacing between magnets to perfectly align with the stratocaster layout.

The following modification has been done for a left handed standard (made in mexico) stratocaster, since a beginner will usually start out with a standard and move up to an American stratocaster when they can afford one.

The greatest difficultly to this modification was finding the right pickguard. Few aftermarket pickguard makers have left handed pickguards and to complex the task, the pickguard is setup for an American strat which has a screw hole alignment which is slightly off from the standard strat (American uses English standard, while Standard uses metric standard). You either have two choices, fill the holes and redrill for the new pickguard, or order one without mounting screwholes and drill your own to match the existing holes in the guitar; I chose the latter.

Here is a picture of the standard stratocaster as I purchased it:


When opening up the stratocaster by removing the strings and pickguard you can see the following electronics:


As you can see there is some foil glued to the back of the pickguard to help shield the hum which can couple into the single coil pickups since they have no noise cancelling capability like a humbucker. An American strat typically has noiseless single coil pickups unless other types like the Tex-Mex pickups or ones of vintage variety are ordered.

After removing the electronics from the pickguard you can see the routing of the guitar body which is called HSS routing (Humbucker, Single Coil, Single Coil). An American strat has HSH routing and is a little more versatile when making modifications.


Prior to installing the pickup, I downloaded a copy of the Fender wiring diagram for the standard left handed strat and have included a schematic which I created from following the wiring layout and buzzing out the 5-position switch with an ohmmeter.

I have attached the wiring diagram as a pdf attachment since I could not find it in a jpg format. The schematic diagram is as follows:


I was able to find an aftermarket custom pickguard maker under the url: http://www.terrapinguitars.com and ordered it with the following options:
Stratocaster Style Pickguard
•Orientation - Left Handed
•Material Selection - 507 White/Black/White .090
•Neck Pickup - Strat Single
•Middle Pickup - Strat Single
•Bridge Pickup - H2 Humbucker
•Mounting Holes - NO Mounting Holes
•Control Holes - Control Option 1 = Standard 1,2,3,SW
•Bridge Cut - Standard Bridge Cut
•Pickup Switch Mounting Holes - Standard Switch Mounting Holes
•Beveled Edge - With Beveled Edge
•Template - Use Stock Template
•Special Instructions - Priority mail; signature required & insured( $3.00 additional)
Shipping method per John at Terrapin Guitars. Cost: $31.00
Priority Mail Shipping with signature confirmation and insurance. Cost: $10.00

Once I received my new pickguard, I need to drill mounting holes in the pickguard to align with the existing ones on the body. In order to do this, I reversed and placed cut finish nails in the mounting holes so they were just slightly above the surface of the guitar body. I then pressed the pickguard down until the nails made an impression on the back of the pickguard. There may be a better way to do this, but this is what I chose. I then used a 5/32 drill bit and proceeded to drill the holes from the backside of the pickguard where the impressions were clearly visible. When I finished, I aligned the newly drilled pickguard to the mounting holes to insure everything was perfect.

Next, I desoldered the connections to the 5 position switch and mounted the new pickup from the backside as can be seen in the following photo:


I then created a diagram to show the electrical connection for the 5 position switch and how I would wire it to place the trembucker in the bridge position and use the middle tone control for it. The neck and middle single coil pickups would both share the neck tone control.


Here is a schematic I created for the new pickup arrangement:


Once I rewired the guitar per the new switch position drawing and reassembled the guitar, I ended up picking up a severe amount of hum from the single coils. I determined it to be the lack of aluminum foil shielding on the new pickguard, than the original. So I went back and removed the components from the pickguard and layed out some aluminum foil as flat as possible on a newpaper and sprayed it with 3M Super 77 Multipurpose adhesive. I then did the same for the back of the pickguard. Next, I waited 5 minutes and placed the pickguard down on the aluminum foil and began to smooth out any creases before it set. I proceeded to trim the foil surrounding the pickguard before letting it dry and reinstalling the electronics.

Once I got the components back together and the pickguard mounted, I noticed the hum was immediately gone as I hoped. Unfortunately, since it was an unforseen step, I did not take a photo, but I did of the reassembled guitar with it restrung and here it is:


Now, I have a true humbucker fat strat, all for a cost of less that $120 for the pickup, pickguard and assembly material. I'm no expert in playing, but it is noticeably different when used with a good tube amp.

There is a definte fullness and clarity to both the low and middle range of the guitar using the JB trembucker. It is quite a popular pickup and I got a chance to hear it played on a right handed fat strat that someone had modified to install one.

Hopefully, once I get the time to become a better musician, I'll be able to take advantage of its true potential.

Hope the writeup was worth it.
 

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