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tt0511 03-05-2008 09:04 AM

strat bridge / year difference / tone diff
I found a used american made strat with rosewood fingerboard. It has the more modern blocky bridge saddles though. Based on the serial number, it appears to be an early to mid nineties manufacture date.

The strat is up for sale for $625, and I've been wanting an american made strat but am questioning if this is 'the one'. I'm wondering if you guys can tell me how much tone difference the vintage saddles make over these block style saddles. I know the new american standard strat went back to an improved vintage saddle because they claim they did lots of testing and found them to be more toneful. This guitar also has a roller nut in it.

I don't know but I'm thinking that this year range of strat probably has a poly finish rather than nitro. Is there a big difference in tone? I just don't want to buy this guitar, which appears to be a good deal, and later wish I'd bought the more expensive american standard strat that is currently being produced with the claimed improvements. I'm no strat expert so I could make a poor decision either way here.

Can you give me some guidance here?

tt0511 03-05-2008 04:17 PM

Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff
okay, since no replies, ...let me ask this a different way, lol.

Do you think there are notable tone differences between the vintage style trem and this more modern block style strat trem, ...or would one have to be overly picky to care? Is it no big deal, or big deal?

jb4674 03-05-2008 04:28 PM

Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff
A Strat is a Strat, as long as it's US made. Sounds like the the strat you're looking at could be a Strat Plus? As far as I remember, the Strat Pluses had lsr nuts on them whereas the regular American Standard series had bone nuts on them while still being outfitted with a 2-point sync. trem.

Personally, there's nothing wrong with the saddles on either trem. If you at some point feel that the tone is being compromised, you can always replace them (it's not that difficult). My vote would be for you to get it.


kspeed 03-05-2008 04:29 PM

Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff
What's the serial number? Like Ibanez, the late 80's and early 90's are considered Fender's "golden age" from a quality standpoint since the employees were out to redeem the company after years of CBS's cost cutting. Pre-CBS Fenders used nitro finishes and I'm pretty sure they didn't start using it again in mass until the late 90's.

I wouldn't worry too much about the saddles. Compared to your pickups, amp, EQ settings, etc, the difference in tone and sustain is miniscule. Also, these are cheap and easily interchangeable. I have niether on my strat - Graph Tech, modern style - and have no qualms with its tone or sustain.

Edit - I agree with jb - $625 for a rock solid 90's strat is definitely worth it, go for it.

tt0511 03-05-2008 04:53 PM

Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff

Well, I asked the guy for the serial number (this is a store) and he gave me 7 numbers. Those numbers started with 101**** but it is at home written down and I'm at work. Looking at Fender's website under dating their instruments, I think the serial number probably actually begins with an "N" and is the reason I'm dating it around 91-92 based on their info and making that educated guess.

The big deal to me is that I love the color scheme! It's vintage white with rosewood and I love it.

David McCarroll 03-05-2008 05:13 PM

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!


David McCarroll
Sydney, Australia

tt0511 03-05-2008 06:44 PM

Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff
Great info you guys! I called and was told that this strat has a few dings on the back of the neck :( I think there is only one that may be a problem, around the middle of neck at the ninth fret, ...where I spend a lot of time, lol.

But, from what I read online, a drop or several more drops of water on this one spot over time will cause that dent to swell back out.

The serial number is I 015270 which according to Fender means:

"A limited number of these "I" series guitars were made in 1989 and 1990. They were made for the export market and have "Made in USA" stamped on the neck heel."

So, it is made in USA, and the fact that it is a limited run just might mean it could potentially be worth something one day I suppose. (something more than it is now, lol)

I think I'll give it a try and see what happens.

elcid 03-05-2008 07:00 PM

Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff
Until someone can explain what "more toneful" means, it remains just a sales gimmick.

ryanb 03-05-2008 07:10 PM

Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff
+1 to basically everything David said. This is a great deal -- you should go for it. I also agree that the current Fenders beat anything previously produced -- even in said "golden age". The difference in the saddles isn't that great IMO, and has more to do with being the "Fender correct" tone than necessarily being a better tone. You may or may not prefer it. I like the block-style saddles. They don't rust, are less likely to have sharp edges, feel better and look better, IMO.

As for the dents in the neck, place a damp towel over the dent and put a hot soldering iron directly over the dent. It pushes steam into the dent that swells the wood fibers back out (assuming it is crushed fibers not cut fibers).

tt0511 03-05-2008 07:51 PM

Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff
Thank you guys SO MUCH! :D I just put it on hold and will be purchasing in the morning. A guitar center has it far away from me, lol. I think this axe is beautiful. All your input helped me a bunch! Jemsite people wrock! Here's some pics of what I'll soon be playing.

I like the fact that it is a little different by virtue of having been produced in the USA but for the purpose of being exported. Not sure how it ended up in the U.S. After the comments about the strat plus I'm wondering if this wasn't supposed to be the overseas export of the strat plus. I found a strat plus for sale and all except the pickups and higher price it looked pretty much exactly like this. I also dig the fact that I'll have a strat with some battle scars. :D

CosmicDebris 03-05-2008 08:13 PM

Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff
It is a nice one dude. You will love it.

This is my Strat Plus

This is my Strat Plus Deluxe which is on its way to me as we speak. Not my pics btw.

tt0511 03-05-2008 08:20 PM

Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff
Oh my! I see you schwartz is as big as mine, LOL. That's beautiful too! Stunning. I love the wood grain on your new axe too. Very cool. I don't know if I've seen that before.

What's the plate on the roller nut? Dunno if it's just different brand than mine or if mine is missing something.

Pics on mine were not taken by me either. Taken by G.C. person. Oh boy I can't wait! Curious to see what pickups are in it too.

David McCarroll 03-05-2008 09:02 PM

Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff
Battle scars are a part of life! Ask Rory Gallagher... well, Rory's no longer with us, but, y'know what I mean.

I'm not 100% that you can steam out a dent in Maple, it is a very dense, close grained timber - my initial suggestion is: LEAVE IT ALONE! See if you can live with it first....

If that doesn't do it for you, you should be able to very carefully fill the dent/hole with superglue, scrape it level and buff it out - it may not be an invisible mend, but you won't be able to feel it. StewMac I believe have a how to somewhere on their website for this - if you have doubts, leave it to a luthier. The worry about steaming it out is that heat and moisture might do little more than loosen the polyurethane finish around the dent/hole, and you end up with a bigger, uglier problem than you currently have.

If that

elcid 03-05-2008 09:03 PM

Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff

Originally Posted by CosmicDebris (Post 793222)
It is a nice one dude. You will love it.

This is my Strat Plus

This is my Strat Plus Deluxe which is on its way to me as we speak. Not my pics btw.

One day I will post mine.

David McCarroll 03-05-2008 09:03 PM

Re: strat bridge / year difference / tone diff
That's just the earlier version of an LSR roller nut you are seeing - the later one (ie: yours) was re-engineered to resemble a more traditional Fender nut with the little sliver of Rosewood beyond it - they both do exactly the same job.

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