Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Sydney Australia
Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff
Okay - the guitar is definitely a Polyurethane finish, only Custom Shop Fenders from that era would have had a Nitro finish - this shouldn't worry you overly as every Fender guitar from about 1969 up until the introduction of things like the EJ signature and the "thin skin" models had poly finishes.
Regarding the saddles - if your Strat has a roller nut, I'd imagine it is a Strat Deluxe, some came with Lace Sensors, some didn't - the entire bridge assembly, roller nut, changed string tree, better tuners etc was a fairly successful attempt to equip Strats with a non-locking viable alternative to systems like the Floyd/Kahler etc - they do in fact work very well. Fender went to a solid milled Stainless Steel saddle on these bridges for two fairly obvious reasons - unlike the vintage style pressed steel saddles they will not rust or corrode, and they have a lot more mass, hence SHOULD contribute towards the sustain of the guitar.
The counter to that is a general (possibly totally incorrect) belief that Stainless Steel imparts a somewhat harsh and brittle tone to instruments - this is a criticism levelled at Stainless Steel frets - having two guitars with Stainless Steel frets, I'll be darned if I can hear any difference.....
In any case, as someone else said, a set of bridge saddles are cheap - Callahams make a set of pressed steel saddles that fit directly on a Fender two point trem, so for about thirty bucks you can experiment to see which sounds better to you.
These are great guitars - I don't necessarily agree that early 80's to 90's was a "golden age" for Fender, as the guitars rolling out of their US factory right now are as good as anything they have made, but the axe you are considering buying is a great Strat, and for about $625 she seems like a steal!