Late 70's Strats??

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by MK333, Mar 16, 2019.

  1. Mitchell Pearrow

    Mitchell Pearrow Well-Known Member

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    I had purchased a brand new 78 strat, with in 1 year I had it routed for a Humbucker, I sure wish I hadn’t sold it! Cheers Mitch
     
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  2. Georgiatec

    Georgiatec Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Looking for something I don't remember what.
    I have a partscaster now with a '76 middle pickup. It works well in this position because while they are weedy they have great tone. I only ever use the middle pup clean and out of phase with either neck or bridge. There is no doubt they are great for this use. However I had a full set of '78 and fitted them to a '94 Japanese fotoflame '62 RI I had....still lovely clean, but just hopeless for overdriven tones.
     
  3. axe4me

    axe4me Well-Known Member

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    My '74.............

    74 White Strat.jpg
     
  4. slide222

    slide222 Well-Known Member

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    well i sold the guitar but kept the pickups , and put then in a home build and they became my favourites , thin and high treble tones which really complement with my usa special strat that has less treble and a very slight thicker sound , texas specials
    but I have thought the best combonation for me and what I like best would be the 78 single coils in the neck and middle position, and a texas special in the neck position as the 78 (level poles) are a bit too thin sounding and would be better with a texas special
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  5. junk notes

    junk notes Active Member

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    Do the YJM and used a four bolt neck plate.
     
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  6. Georgiatec

    Georgiatec Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Looking for something I don't remember what.
    Here are mine.
    The '79 shortly after I bought it in 1980, being modelled by my mates cousin from Boston Mass.
    The next three are (l-r) my Partscaster. This guitar has a SD JB in the bridge, the '76 Strat middle and a SD hot rails neck pup. The JB has coil tap via push pull tone control and bridge & neck in series via the other tone push pull.....This guitar is better than most "proper Strats" I've ever played. Next is the '99 USA Standard. Finally the Jap '94 Fotoflame '62 RI with '78 pickup set. I swapped this guitar for a '15 Gibson Firebird V.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  7. Adieu

    Adieu Well-Known Member

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    Oh come oooon, mates' cousin my ass

    Own it :)

    It's ok to have looked slightly ridiculous both as an adolescent AND in the 80s in general, we all did!
     
  8. Georgiatec

    Georgiatec Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Looking for something I don't remember what.
    I was quite young looking for my age, but not that young. I bought that guitar close to my 20th Birthday. I think Serge (mate's cousin) was 10 years old in that pic. Note MXR distortion on the floor....although could have been a Boss OD1, Ahh just noticed the footswitch so would have to be the MXR.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  9. DaDoc

    DaDoc Well-Known Member

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    I've heard that YJM takes 70's Strats and converts them to four-bolt. I've seriously considered doing the same to mine..They've been modded so much over the years they have no "collectors value" left anyhoo!
     
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  10. stringtree

    stringtree Well-Known Member

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    Now your talking DaDoc!! :cheers: Make that guitar your own!! :dude:

    Who cares about collecting if that means not playing them, and to what end....play that guitar, that was its original purpose! :metal:

    Imo, the saddest place on earth for a guitar is in its case stuck in some closet somewhere....LOL
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  11. bad565ss

    bad565ss Well-Known Member

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    I owned several mid 70's vintage Strats back in the 80's. We didn't consider them to be great guitars.
    They were plentiful and cheap so if you were a broke young man a 5 year old Strat was a $200-$300 type of deal. I bought a new Strat in the late 90's that I think was a Big Apple model maybe? Candy Apple Red with a Duncan Pearly Gates in the bridge position. American made. That was a much better guitar than any of my 70's beaters.
    I wouldn't personally pay the prices people seem to think these guitars are worth based on their age.
    They're building better new ones for less.
    Same for Gibson (speaking of 70's vintage).
     
  12. anitoli

    anitoli Well-Known Member

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    Which is exactly why i don't leave any guitars in their cases, they will never get taken out. I just leave them scattered around the house.
     
  13. RLW59

    RLW59 Well-Known Member

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    I'm old. In '76 I bought a brand new '75 Strat. And I like to reminisce about bygone days, so a long and rambling post.

    Youngsters have grown up in a world where there are dozens of Strat models. So many different Les Paul models it makes you dizzy.

    It wasn't like that back then. Until '79, there was one Strat model. You could always get a hardtail instead of the trem, but for a long time that was the only standard option. In the '50s you couldn't get a rosewood fretboard, and if you wanted something other than sunburst a dealer had to special order it (or find a big dealer who had pre-ordered Custom Colors to have something other than sunburst in stock).

    When they changed 2-tone sunburst to 3 color sunburst, 2-tone was gone. If you didn't like the garish red band, oh well. If you sent your 2-tone '54 in for a factory refinish, it came back 3-color.

    After mid'59 when they switched to rosewood boards, for a couple of years you coudn't get a maple board. Then maple became a special order option -- but it was a separate maple board glued onto the neck with no rear skunk stripe, not the original 1-piece design. In '69 the optional maple boards went back to 1-piece, but now encased in thick poly -- and the standard rosewood necks now got skunk stripes and headstock plugs (easier to do all the truss rods the same way, rather than have 2 production processes).

    The original small head was totally gone after they introduced the big head in '65.

    '72 they stuffed a bunch of big changes down our throats.

    You want the original steel bridge instead of the cast zinc POS? "Ha ha, tough. Buy a used one."

    Want a 4-bolt neck? "Sorry, we know better than you and we say 3-bolts are now enough."

    In '72, none of your Strat heros had chrome Bullets poking out of their headstocks.

    Rock had been getting more distorted year by year -- so they gave us the weakest, thinnest sounding pickups they had ever built. Yay?
    -------------------------------
    So we didn't judge Strats solely on their own merits. We compared them to the previous versions, and to our ideas of what a Strat "should" be.

    To make matters worse, CBS was growing increasingly dissatisfied with their return on investment. So they kept raising production quotas without spending money on more machines or more people.

    Workers rushed bodies on the belt sanders -- taking less wood off the forearm contour and tummy cut meant they could do more bodies per shift. Oversize neck pockets meant you didn't need to trim even the goopiest finish out of the pocket. Punch the frets in, hit 'em hard with a file and take a lot off to level them, swipe the hard edges with sandpaper -- "QC will pass it - QC passes everything".

    Glue 5 pieces of wildly mismatched Ash together, then spray it with a natural (clear) finish? "Whatever."

    The cast Zamak bridge was created because it was much cheaper to make. It wasn't advertised, never claimed or intended to be a tonal or functional improvement, just less expensive to make. "Who cares if the steel trem arm can strip the block's threads easily? That's misuse, not warranty."

    As the decade wore on, rumors of poorly seasoned wood swirled.

    There were some well-made ones, and the worst '70s Strats were still "professional grade" instruments. There were lots of way crappier guitars. But the build quality generally wasn't as good as it had been, and the Japanese were starting to build copies that were better than some Fenders.
    ------------------------
    As a pre-internet teen, I saw that natural '75 with tuxedo plastics hanging on a shop wall, and thought it was the sexiest looking thing I ever saw.

    The only functionally bad thing was the sloppy, slippery neck pocket. Had to be careful not to jump around (or sneeze) because the neck would shift and throw it out of tune (plus the high E would hang off the edge of the board above the 5th fret). But I got really good at yanking it back into position while I played. And eventually read some fixes in a Guitar Player column.

    But the more I learned about Strats, the more I wished it was more like old ones. Maybe just because we always want what we can't have?
    ---------------------------
    I kinda think that if CBS had offered a mostly original-spec Strat alongside the modern "improved" Strat, they might not have the same bad rep. A lot of it really was our resentment at being forced to accept the changes.

    But having said that, the Mexican Classic'70s Strats are way more consistent, and better than all but the best mid to late '70s Strats. (Not because the '70s Strats were horrible, but because the MIMs are pretty darn good.)

    Of course the MIM's poly will take decades to yellow, just like the originals. So if you like the current aged look of the '70s, there's that.

    And I guess "historical significance"?
     
  14. El Gringo

    El Gringo Well-Known Member

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    Fender Custom Shop is building masterpieces truly !
     
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  15. Petri358

    Petri358 Well-Known Member

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    For me those 70's Strats are awesome platforms for "Superstrats". I just love that narrow but still meaty neck.
    Since the neck/pocket has to be taking care of, those (to me) thin sounding pups changed to something "fatter" and let's not forget a double locking bridge :applause:
    I have one -79 and two -76 Strats and not one of them are stock.
     
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  16. RLW59

    RLW59 Well-Known Member

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    Related thoughts to ponder: the vintage market, and the aftermarket/upgrade industry.

    In the '50s and '60s, old Fenders and Gibsons were just "used guitars". In '69, you could buy a mint '54 Strat for less than a brand new one.

    You could buy a Bigsby, or a De'Armond clip-on pickup to turn your acoustic into an electric, or Grover Rotomatic tuners. That was about it for aftermarket items.

    Bill Lawrence started making replacement pickups in the mid '60s, but that was a really small business. We only know about it because it was the earliest precursor of an industry that was about to blossom.

    Elderly opened in '72. The Guitar Trader in RedBank NJ opened around then. A brand new Les Paul Deluxe was something like $600. But Guitar Trader's 73 quarterly price lists had '59 bursts at $3K.

    Gas was $0.25/gallon. The average new car was under $3K. I had a $100 Penco/Ibanez SG. The idea of a $3,000 guitar blew my little mind.

    Duncan and DiMarzio set up shop, and their pickups sold like McDonalds hamburgers. CBS and Norlin were giving us their idea of how "modern" pickups should sound, and they didn't satisfy the people who wanted vintage tone, nor the people who wanted hotrodded tone. So Duncan gave us the SLS1 and the Quarter Pound, the '59 and the JB. DiMarzio's PAF and Super Distortion.

    Schecter and Charvel started making Strat/Tele replacement parts, and within a few years you could build a partscaster entirely out of aftermarket parts. As mentioned by others, back then we started thinking of '70s Fenders as "mod platforms", as starting points that could be turned into better guitars. (I'll prolly bore y'all someday with a chronical of the crazy shit I did to my '75.)

    Part of that is just that the guitar market was continuing to grow, and good ol' American entrepreneurs found niches to exploit.

    But they found those niches because CBS and Norlin weren't giving people what they wanted. No player ever asked for a 3-bolt neck. It allowed larger tolerances in production and faster assembly/setup -- it was entirely a cost-cutting feature. Of course the marketing dept sold it as a "feature" -- it lets you make an adjustment (nevermind that after a proper initial setup, it should never need that adjustment). 3-bolt to 4-bolt conversions are common, but have you ever heard of someone converting a 4-bolt to 3-bolts?

    When NorlinGibson finally reintroduced the Les Paul, everyone wanted something like the '59 LP Standard.

    Nope. Custom with multi binding and block inlays if you wanted humbuckers. LP Deluxe had single binding and trap inlays, but only came with mini-hums. Same rout as P90's, but the factory wouldn't put them in.

    (Small, limited run of '68 and '69s with P90's, and a really nice batch of Customs with alnico Staples don't count. Real '54~'56's hadn't exploded in value that early - they were easier to find at about the same price as the early reissues. Basic supply and demand says those reissues weren't the right guitars to reissue at that point in time.)

    You can say that the CBS and Norlin era guitars caused/created the vintage market, the upgrade/parts market, and the high end Japanese replicas that started in the late '70s.

    (People who love Gibson's Historic series and Fender's Vintage Reissue/Time Machine stuff owe a huge debt to the Japanese, but that's another long post for another time.)

    There's been a lot of revisionism, a rehabilitation of the CBS/Norlin era. And that's not incorrect -- in this age where you can get any guitar you want, they're just another set of features/specs. They don't "objectively suck", they aren't terrible crap, they have some unique features (Fender has never made and probably never will make the cast Zamak bridge again, so the Classic'70s and AVRI'70s don't have those -- and no one else makes them).

    But the bottom line is that back when they were the only Gibsons and Fenders you could buy, people were dissatisfied enough to inspire several new sub-industries.

    And those sub-industries were so successful, CBS and Norlin gave up. Sold the companies. And the new owners revived the companies to new heights of success by dropping just about all of the '70s features.

    If CBS/Norlin floats your boat, that's fine. Danelectros, National plastic electrics, Teiscos-- they're sheer and utter crap. But they've made amazing music, and CBS/Norlin are way better than those. Long and storied recording/performance history, used by legendary players in every genre.
     
  17. anitoli

    anitoli Well-Known Member

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    If that 4th bolt cost .06 cents and they made 500k of those guitars they saved 30k. Great idea right.
     
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  18. Petri358

    Petri358 Well-Known Member

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    Just wondering that how much more that 3 bolt micro tilt system did cost?
    The heel routing, two steel "plates", 4 wood screws, machine screw for ther 3rd "bolt",allen head screw for the tilt adjustment and new 3 bolt neck plate.
     
  19. AlvisX

    AlvisX Well-Known Member

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    I got my 79 brand new at GC Fall of 1980. $400 w/ohsc
    I was 17 ,my parents gave it to me for Xmas / upcoming graduation
    It weighed quite a bit , but not as much as other"s . Had a cast zinc block and about a 1/16" of finish
    I didn't give a f__- ,it was a strat ....like Hendrix,like Rory
    I still had a lotta stuff to learn .....but I was ofF !
    I traded the body for a '72 body about 1994 and I sold the neck ,which gave "adult" me cramps , in 2004
    Sadly ,all I have left of that guitar is the neck plate ,tuning gears and one pickup ....what a rotten fckn kid !!

    Seriously though, EVH just kinda weaned me off the official Fenders
    If I needed a surfboard with pickups, I could slap together one on my own that suited me better than anything off the shelf

    Now mahogany slabs of furniture (Gibsons) are another story......
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
  20. RLW59

    RLW59 Well-Known Member

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    The plates/disks did add material cost. Way more than the cardboard shims they had previously used, when needed.

    But "when needed" added a lot of labor cost. Screw the body and neck together with the truss "guesstimate" adjusted, string it up, tune it while adjusting the trem springs, adjust saddles. And pray they don't have to be too high or too low, because that means taking it all apart, guessing how thick a shim it needs, and putting it all back together again.

    And between truss and shim adjustments, sometimes they had to do all that repeatedly.

    MicroTilt and headstock-adjust vastly speeded up the average assembly time. Labor is by far the biggest cost, more than offsetting the cost of the added plates and grub screw.

    Further time/labor saving. The old design, they had to try very hard to get the neck pocket and neck heel perfect, to minimize the number that would need shimming. Before CNC, that was high precision hand fitting.

    Being able to adjust the angle without disassembly meant they could be quicker and sloppier when the heel of the neck kissed the belt sander. The pocket could be randomly shallower, deeper, angled -- often because the new system allowed the painters to leave thick blobs of poly in the neck pocket.

    (Same for over-wide pockets -- bigger gaps meant they didn't have to scrape/sand the "Thickskin" poly off the sidewalls, regardless of blobs, drips, buildups.)
     

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