Rescued 1970 Fender Mustang

Bringing your older offset back to life.
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deejaid
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Rescued 1970 Fender Mustang

Post by deejaid » Sat Apr 04, 2020 11:02 am

So as I said in my intro post, I got into Mustang’s rather coincidentally as I saw a listing for a beat up old Mustang on Craigslist and after seeing the listing for a few weeks decided to drive into the city and pick it up. I figured it would be cool for my kids even if I wasn’t a fan. I thought the shape of the Mustang was pretty cool but I never considered buying one at retail price. For $220 though I liked the thought of picking up a vintage guitar that needed love.


The old guy selling the guitar knew nothing about it. He was a junker who cleaned out old houses and sold anything and everything. He thought it was a 1969 as the neck stamp is a 1969 B neck but the neck plate serial number dates to 1970. The guitar was really beat. The original finish was stripped from the body and the headstock although some of the original Competition Blue could be seen in the pickup cavities and the back of the neck still had the original finish. The body had been routed for a humbucker in the bridge and had a poorly cut pickguard. The frets were pitted and green and the headstock had seen at least three different sets of tuners as evidenced by the Swiss cheese holes from the many different mounting screws. The original neck pickup was there as well as the trem, but the bridge was missing. Here is how it looked when I got it home.

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I started mocking up the guitar with a 1970’s vintage Bill Lawrence L-90 humbucker and decided that instead of bringing it back to original I’d make it more of a modded 70’s rock guitar. I figured it had been modded enough already it wouldn’t lose anymore value by further mods, plus there are plenty original condition Competition Mustangs still circulating.

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I believe the guitar sat in a moist area for awhile as the controls were completely rusted. The pots and wiring needed replacing and the original switches were long gone so I decided to go with a 3-way toggle switches on the lower horn. I liked the idea of a black body with a black pickguard so I shot it with some Reranch black nitro.


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I ordered a replacement pickguard from Warmoth and give it a bit of an aging treatment. I wired in a new volume and tone pot with a Bill Lawrence Q-filter in place of a standard tone control.

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The neck needed a refret so I hammered the frets out sideways (a tip I learned online) and refretted with Stew Mac medium frets, a bit wider than the originals. Also refinished the headstock with a reproduction decal and nitro lacquer. The neck shape is the best part of this guitar. .92” thickness at both the 1st and 12th fret so no taper at all. Combined with the 7.25” fretboard radius and 1 5/8” nut width I’ve still have yet to find a better feeling neck shape.

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Finished it off with a replacement bridge and black speed knobs. The combination of light weight, short scale length, and perfect neck carve make it a joy to play. The addition of the Bill Lawrence pickups and Q-Filter make it very versatile too.

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I am now a complete Mustang convert. My Les Paul and Strat are both up for sale and I’m planning on doing a few more Mustang builds including a Maple neck version with vintage Dimarzio Super Distortion/ PAF combo and a Johnny Winter inspired Mustang.

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Re: Rescued 1970 Fender Mustang

Post by HNB » Sat Apr 04, 2020 1:51 pm

Sexy! Reminds me of those black Musicmasters. :D
[Christopher]

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Larry Mal
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Re: Rescued 1970 Fender Mustang

Post by Larry Mal » Sat Apr 04, 2020 1:56 pm

Looks great! That Bill Lawrence blade pickup and Q filter will make you popular with Mike (mbene) around here.
Back in those days, everyone knew that if you were talking about Destiny's Child, you were talking about Beyonce, LaTavia, LeToya, and Larry.

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Re: Rescued 1970 Fender Mustang

Post by deejaid » Sat Apr 04, 2020 2:03 pm

Larry Mal wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 1:56 pm
Looks great! That Bill Lawrence blade pickup and Q filter will make you popular with Mike (mbene) around here.
Thanks Larry!

I’ll have to search some of mbene’s posts. I’m a big fan of original Bill Lawrence/Wilde pickups. They sound awesome and are very affordable.

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Re: Rescued 1970 Fender Mustang

Post by Larry Mal » Sat Apr 04, 2020 2:44 pm

deejaid wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 2:03 pm


I’ll have to search some of mbene’s posts. I’m a big fan of original Bill Lawrence/Wilde pickups. They sound awesome and are very affordable.
Mike was the guy who got me considering Bill's later pickups, which wasn't all that hard to do, I have a Gibson Marauder with his pickups from back in the day. Mike suggested I check out his Microcoils, so I put those in a G&L Legacy, and they inspired me so much I put in some of the noiseless single coils in a Fender Bullet and I like them pretty good.

Mike is also pretty enthused about the Q filter, but if I ever get one of those I'll just have somebody else put it in for me. He'll be excited to hear what you think of yours.
Back in those days, everyone knew that if you were talking about Destiny's Child, you were talking about Beyonce, LaTavia, LeToya, and Larry.

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Re: Rescued 1970 Fender Mustang

Post by deejaid » Sat Apr 04, 2020 7:53 pm

Larry Mal wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 2:44 pm
deejaid wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 2:03 pm


I’ll have to search some of mbene’s posts. I’m a big fan of original Bill Lawrence/Wilde pickups. They sound awesome and are very affordable.
Mike was the guy who got me considering Bill's later pickups, which wasn't all that hard to do, I have a Gibson Marauder with his pickups from back in the day. Mike suggested I check out his Microcoils, so I put those in a G&L Legacy, and they inspired me so much I put in some of the noiseless single coils in a Fender Bullet and I like them pretty good.

Mike is also pretty enthused about the Q filter, but if I ever get one of those I'll just have somebody else put it in for me. He'll be excited to hear what you think of yours.

Many Bill Lawrence enthusiasts have a level of technical understanding about electronics and pickups that is astonishing, unfortunately I’m not one of them. I reached out to a very knowledgeable member of another forum who helped me get the Q-Filter wired up. I love the range of sounds it allows as the tone control becomes very useful.

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Re: Rescued 1970 Fender Mustang

Post by Con-Tiki! » Wed Apr 08, 2020 5:13 am

excellent.
i went through a phase where i was buying those old BL pickups and putting them in everything.
I love them.
not the fiddly little wires, though...


cool looking guitar, glad you went after it
(Christopher, also)
I've been to one World's Fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that's the stupidest thing i ever heard come out a pair of headphones.

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Re: Rescued 1970 Fender Mustang

Post by mbene085 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 9:46 am

deejaid wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 2:03 pm
Larry Mal wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 1:56 pm
Looks great! That Bill Lawrence blade pickup and Q filter will make you popular with Mike (mbene) around here.
Thanks Larry!

I’ll have to search some of mbene’s posts. I’m a big fan of original Bill Lawrence/Wilde pickups. They sound awesome and are very affordable.
Larry is absolutely right, you and I will get on just fine.

I have a couple of sets of Wilde pickups and a Q-filter waiting for a free day when I can get to installing them.

Your Mustang looks fantastic, how are you finding the Q-filter? Using it much? And which neck pickup is in there?

Jaguar/Mustang builds/mods are my main offset passions. Over the years I got more and more into jags, then Mustangs as well, and started going deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of noiseless pickups and interesting switching schemes. I have a feeling I'll enjoy all your future builds.

Welcome!

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Re: Rescued 1970 Fender Mustang

Post by deejaid » Wed Apr 08, 2020 6:01 pm

mbene085 wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 9:46 am
deejaid wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 2:03 pm
Larry Mal wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 1:56 pm
Looks great! That Bill Lawrence blade pickup and Q filter will make you popular with Mike (mbene) around here.
Thanks Larry!

I’ll have to search some of mbene’s posts. I’m a big fan of original Bill Lawrence/Wilde pickups. They sound awesome and are very affordable.
Larry is absolutely right, you and I will get on just fine.

I have a couple of sets of Wilde pickups and a Q-filter waiting for a free day when I can get to installing them.

Your Mustang looks fantastic, how are you finding the Q-filter? Using it much? And which neck pickup is in there?

Jaguar/Mustang builds/mods are my main offset passions. Over the years I got more and more into jags, then Mustangs as well, and started going deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of noiseless pickups and interesting switching schemes. I have a feeling I'll enjoy all your future builds.

Welcome!

Thanks for the welcome!

Yes, the Q-Filter is used all the time as I have it wired as an EQ and an L filter so there is no standard tone control. The Q-filter is connected to a push-pull pot. Down position the Q-Filter is connected to a cap and resistor, up position is just a 10k ohm resistor.

The neck pickup is a Wilde L-298 which the Wilde website says is their most responsive noiseless single coil when used with the Q-filter. Again, I just wanted a tone control that was useful. I was tired of having a tone control that was always on 10 because rolling it off meant wooly, muddy pickups.


I have another Q-Filter in the parts drawer that will more than likely go in my next build too. ;D

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Re: Rescued 1970 Fender Mustang

Post by mbene085 » Thu Apr 09, 2020 6:03 pm

Makes sense, the 298 is Bill's highest-inductance strat-sized pickup so it should be able to take most advantage of the Q-filter.

I don't know if I've ever spoken to a real, live Q-filter user before. Could you share the schematic for the push/pull you used with it? What's the tonal effect of the switch in "lcr" vs "lr" configuration?

I have an L500XL/L500R pair and a q filter waiting in the parts drawer, they're my highest-inductance pickups I own so they seem like a logical pairing but I admit I wasnt sure which of the available wiring diagrams to choose for the filter circuit.

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Re: Rescued 1970 Fender Mustang

Post by deejaid » Thu Apr 09, 2020 9:20 pm

mbene085 wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 6:03 pm
Makes sense, the 298 is Bill's highest-inductance strat-sized pickup so it should be able to take most advantage of the Q-filter.

I don't know if I've ever spoken to a real, live Q-filter user before. Could you share the schematic for the push/pull you used with it? What's the tonal effect of the switch in "lcr" vs "lr" configuration?

I have an L500XL/L500R pair and a q filter waiting in the parts drawer, they're my highest-inductance pickups I own so they seem like a logical pairing but I admit I wasnt sure which of the available wiring diagrams to choose for the filter circuit.
Sure, here is the schematic I used.

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So the down position on the push pull pot is the “EQ” which is the Q-Filter with the supplied Cap and resistor that came with the filter. The “L” filter is the Q-filter with a 10k ohm resistor, no cap.

The easiest way to explain how it sounds to me at least is the EQ sounds like winding being taken off the pickup but still maintaining its tonal character. The L90 still sound like a humbucker, just less output. The L-298 being a high output single coil in the neck position of a 24” scale guitar sounds a lot like a noise-free a P90, again with less output when turned down. The capacitor prevents the lows from being lost when turned down.

The “L” filter is like the windings being taken off but because it has no capacitor to prevent the lows from being lost it makes the pickups sound much more like single coils for a Strat like tone.

Honestly though, I couldn’t tell you what resistors or capacitor I have in there right now. I bought a box of 1000 or so resistors and caps of different values to experiment. I don’t recall what I ended up with in there, should have written it down I guess. ;D That’s the fun of using Wilde/Bill Lawrence pickups, they can be modified so many different ways with different values.


Like I said, I am not one of the Bill Lawrence acolytes that knows everything about electrical engineering like some of the guys I’ve spoken with seem to. I just wanted pickups that sounded great and have a wide range of useful sounds which I think the Q-Filter along with Bill’s pickups accomplish.

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Re: Rescued 1970 Fender Mustang

Post by mbene085 » Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:25 am

Thanks so much for that description. It makes sense that the capacitor can be used as a low-pass filter (like a traditional tone control) in conjunction with the Q-filter to maintain lows. I never thought of that, to use a switch to have a "low output humbucker" soubding mode vs a "single coil" sounding mode.

I guess I'll have to do some more reading on cap values to figure out what to do with mine. Thanks, your post was extremely helpful.

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