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    Finally, I finished the second Telecaster-style guitar with Dream Machine brass hardware. You might remember my first build report about a Dream Machine Telecaster clone. Even back then when I started that first project, I already got the body and neck to start a similar project with these but never found the time to complete it. The idea behind the project was to assemble an affordable guitar that looks great, and – most important – sounds great and gives you the ‘Walk of Life’ Schecter Tele sound of the tapped F520T / F521T pickups and the brass bridge, in other words a guitar with high-quality brass hardware and electronics but without any parts so cheap that they might ruin the sound of the guitar. It turned out to be a really great guitar, great look, great feel & great sound. As I already have more guitars  than I have room for, I put it for sale into my online shop.

    DM-Tele-sb-600-3

    The body is a really nice looking, extremely light sunburst Tele body. I have no idea how old it is exactly (I guess you can call it ‘vintage’), or who made it. It is not 100% accurate compared to the Fender specs, e.g. it is only about 90% (ca. 40 mm) of the Fender body depth (44 mm) but still it seems to be a great piece of wood without anything indicating inferior quality. The grain looks great, the tap tone is nice, and, given its age, it is completely dry tone wood. There are some dings & dongs, e.g. at the edges of the body, so it looks  a bit ‘naturally relic’ed’.

    DM-Tele-sb-600-1

    I got the neck together with the body. It has a rosewood fingerboard without center dots (like Mark’s ‘Walk of Life’ Tele, although this one has little dots on one side of the fingerboard, between the two lowest bass strings). So the look is similar to a dotless Schecter but you still have something that helps to orientate. The neck even has a slight flame on the peghead.

    DM-Tele-sb-600-4

    I used a set of brass hardware that I produce myself, even the control plate is brass like on vintage Schecter Dream Machines. The pickups are two ‘Walk of Life’ pickups, clones of the original Dream Machine pickups of the early 80ies.

    DM-Tele-sb-600-5
    Here is a first video:

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    With the following video I was trying to demonstrate the basic sound difference between a vintage Schecter Dream Machine and a ‘traditional’ Strat.

    The Dream Machine is from about 1980, it has a Koa body and a one-piece Pau Ferro neck. The three pickups in the brass pickguard are the tapped F500T’s. It has s a hardtail brass bridge.

    The Strat is a 1983 Japanese vintage Squier Stratocaster, unmodified.

    Of course the amp & effects settings are 100% identical for both guitars. Also they both have new strings of the same brand and gauge (Fender 09 – 40). Each of the three pickups on the Schecter can be switched to the ‘normal’ coil (tapped) or the overwound (full) coil but I will only use the tapped pickup positions of Schecter in this video, as these are more comaparable to the Fender pickup sound.

    Beside the sound difference, note that there is less hum and noises with the Schecter as the metal pickguard and the copper tape around the pickup coil provide a better shielding.

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    For better hum shielding, the strings on electric guitars are normally grounded, which means they are connected  internally to the ground of the guitar. For this purpose, usually a ground wire is connected somewhere to the guitar bridge, in the case of a Stratocaster with tremolo this is normally a wire from the case of the volume pot to the ‘claw’ that helds the tremolo springs. As the springs are – like the whole bridge – made of steel, the bridge is grounded via the tremolo springs, and the strings via the bridge.

    Many guitarists, even the guitar freaks, are not  aware that there are two different ways how this was done on the classic (= vintage) Strat. And I have never seen this issue discussed in any guitar book or website, so let’s cover it with this blog post.

    The ‘normal’ way (as it is on most Strats and copies) with a wire from the volume pot to the tremolo claw was  not the original way how  Fender did it but was introduced about 1964/65. In all the years before, the wire went from the tremolo claw to the ground lug of the output jack! Electrically it does not matter whether it runs to the volume pot or the output jack (except some  theoretical arguments that might cause a very small and usually negligible difference) but to build a ‘vintage correct’ Strat (or Schecter Dream Machine) it is of course important to know.

    The wire runs (see picture below) from the tremolo claw through a drill hole into the electronics cavity, from where it directly runs through the drill hole to the output jack cavity where it is connected to the jack.

    Stratocaster_Body_Cavity

    Original Fender style (before 1965): ground wire from tremolo claw directly to output jack

    The ground wire on the Schecter Dream Machines and on the mk-guitar.com pickguard replicas

    On their Dream Machines, Schecter used the original style that Fender used from 1954 to 1964, the wire from the tremolo claw to the output jack. The pickguard is  connected with only two wires, the hot (yellow) and the ground (black) wire. It is a bit different on my replica pickguards which feature the post-1964 style. They come with a third wire, that is soldered to the ground plate of the pickguard (where also the ground wires from the pickups are soldered) and must be connected to the tremolo claw. I did it this  non-original way because it is the most common way on a Strat. If I delivered these without this ground wire, you need to connect the existing ground wire from the tremolo claw on your guitar to the output jack. If you have bad luck, the wire will be not long enough to reach the output jack, or the drill hole between the electronics cavity and the output jack is not wide enough for three wires instead of two.

    ground-schecter-pickguards

    Remove (unsolder or clip) this ground wire (the one to the tremolo claw) for the original wiring style

    If you build your own Dream Machine and want to do it the vintage-correct style, you can unsolder the ground wire on the replica pickguard (or simply cut it close to the solder point) and run a wire from the tremolo claw to the output jack. I could have shipped the pickguards without this ground wire, and instruct you to solder the one on your guitar yourself to the ground plate of the pickguard but this requires a strong soldering iron as the shielding plate and the whole metal pickguard absorb a lot of heat so that the solder does not flow very well, an effect that is by the way much stronger with the brass or chrome pickguards compared to the white aluminium pickguard.

    The original wiring has the advantage that it is a bit more comfortable to work on the  electronics of the opened guitar, as only two wires instead of three connect the pickguard to the guitar. One thing however is important NOT to do as this causes a danger of hum due to a ground loop: never use both ground wires (from the pickguard to the tremolo claw + from the tremolo claw to the output jack).

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    I am an official Kluson dealer now, so you can get the correct Kluson guitar tuners for a Schecter Dream Machine replica now in the online shop of my site.

    During the Van Nuys era, Schecter used Kluson guitar tuners for their guitars ans basses. I have seen a lot of Schecters from this time with Schaller tuners but I guess that these were not factory-original. Remember that authorized Schecter dealers could assemble guitars from Schecter parts, and if the customer wanted Schallers, I guess the dealers put them in (Schaller tuners were common because they were considered as the best guitar tuners at that time).

    It seems Mark’s Schecters all had Kluson tuners (it is sure for the Strats but I cannot say with 100% certainty for the red and black Teles as we don’t have enough high-resolution pictures of these). I personally like the Klusons better than Schallers, mainly as I love that the string ends disappear in a hole in the split shaft of the tuner.

    Kluson double-line tuners on a 1980 Schecter Dream Machine

    Klusons were also the tuners on all vintage Fender guitars, before they were replaced with the Fender keys (labelled with a “F”) that were in fact manufactured by Schaller in Germany. The earliest Fenders had Kluson tuners with no label, from 1957 to 1964 Fenders had the so-called single-line Klusons, from late 1964 on double-line Klusons. The terms single-line and double-line refer to the “Kluson Deluxe” label on each tuner: both words in one line in the centre of the tuner are single line, while double line means one line for “Kluson” (left) and one for “Deluxe” (right). To my knowledge all Schecter Dream Machines had the double-line Klusons.

    These tuners are still manufacturerd today.

    Get them here in silver (nickel) or gold.

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    I was involved in a few discussions about the possibility of buying guitars with Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra) from the US  – e.g. Fender Strats from the  early 60ies – on the Strat-Talk Forum. After talking with two officials from Germany’s authorities / customs I got some new information which I want to present with this blog post.

    In Short – Brazilian Rosewood (Dalbergia Nigra)Brazilian rosewood is the wood of fingerboards on many vintage guitars like Fenders or Gibsons from the 50ies or 60ies. Due to its endangered status, it was CITES-listed on Nov. 6 1992 in Appendix I (the most protected, same status as ivory or some turtle shells), and illegal to trade. Guitar manufacturers replaced it with other sorts of rosewood, e.g. Indian or African rosewoods which are similar but not identical in look and sound.Although all these vintage guitars were built before the date Brazilian rosewood was protected, many restrictions apply to these as well, making it difficult (or even impossible) to sell or buy such guitars.

    Still possible: importing a vintage guitar for private purpose

    Selling guitars with parts of Brazilian rosewood  – both commercially and private – requires a special permission within the EU. Importing (or exporting) these into (or from) the EU commercially is in most cases not possible!

    Brazilian rosewood on a ’62 Stratocaster

    However, for private purpose it is still possible to get export and import permission for pre-convention instruments, in other words guitars built before 1992 .  Buying a Strat from someone in the US is not commercial automatically. If you don’t buy the guitar to resell it (or to make money from it in any other way, e.g. to sell photos of it), it is for private purpose.

    It does not matter here if you buy the guitar from a shop or a private person.

    ****Now the bad thing: you can never ever sell the guitar again, not to anyone, no exception.****
    [Regarding the five digits prices for e.g. vintage Strats from the early 60ies, buying such a guitar becomes econmically difficult: it is still true that it will keep its value, or the value will even increase further, but you are not allowed to sell it!!?? ]

    You are allowed to perform with the guitar in public (seems ridiculous, but this was not sure some months ago) . This is because in such a situation you don’t primarily display your guitar commercially but your music. However, if you plan to display the guitar on e.g. a guitar show, or print pictures of it e.g. in a book you are going to sell, it is considered commercial.

    Importing the guitar commercially – e.g. to resell it – is usually not possible. The only two exceptions are :
    – the guitar was made before 1947 ,
    – or if the guitar has once been imported into the EU before 1992, and you are going to re-import it.

    How to do import a vintage guitar from the US into the EU

    If you buy a Strat on e.g. ebay, the first thing that is required is an export permission from the US. To get this is the seller’s job!  The permission can be obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website (application form here) , it costs USD 75, and processing time can be up to 60 days (or even longer) !!

    The seller then needs to send a copy of the form (a scan via email will do, the original will travel with the guitar) to the buyer. With this export permission, the buyer can then get an import permission from his country’s authorities (in case of Germany, it is the Bundesamt fuer Naturschutz). The import permission will cost  20 Euros (price for  Germany).

    Prices and authorities might vary from country to country, but the same should be true for any EU country as these laws are EU-wide laws.

    One thing that is very important: On the export permission from the US, field #15 must be stamped by the export customs office. For this reason, the seller must take the instrument to one of the export customs offices in the US to get it stamped there!

    If this is missing – which seems to be often the case when just leaving this job to the post service – the guitar cannot be imported into the EU, in other words will not pass the border to the EU. The missing stamp cannot be received afterwards.

    The guitar will then be confiscated and will remain in the possession of the government forever (but can e.g. be given as a permanent loan to a public music school etc.). The buyer’s money is lost then, no compensation.

    I wrote a few blog posts about selling vintage guitars within the EU before, see the list with links to related blog posts below (in very short: it is possible to sell a guitar with Brazilian rosewood within the EU with a special paper that is available if the guitar is proved to be built before 1992 and was imported into the EU before this date. If it was imported after, you cannot sell it!)

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