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Author Topic:  Strat Bridge Help
Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post  Posted 30 Jul 2020 9:51 am    
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Not about steel no, but I know we have a lot of guitar players here too. I need some help figuring out which bridge to use for replacement on a 78 Strat.

Everything is frozen on it, so I'm just going to replace the entire thing.

I'm not even sure it has the right saddle type bridge on it to start with, but looks like a replacement would be with the bent Fender stamped type saddles and bridge.

Spacing in 2 3/16 best I can tell. I'm not going with any of the Callaham or high end stuff. The guitar has had a refin and some other not-stock odds and ends. I'm just replacing the nut and bridge and would like to get somewhere near the stock config. like the owner wants. No mods, etc. Thanks.




Looking at this 50's Fender unit clickhere or perhaps the similar Wilkinson with the push in trem bar.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 30 Jul 2020 11:51 am    
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Looks like that would be a good replacement. Very Happy
Erv
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ajm

 

From:
Los Angeles
Post  Posted 31 Jul 2020 7:33 am    
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Make sure that your measurements are correct.
- The E to E string spacing.
- The distance of the screw mounting holes.

I have had good luck with GFS Guitar Fetish.
They make/sell complete bridge units for whatever spacing you need.
They also offer different block materials, etc.
Not real expensive.

You will probably want to buy a tremolo/vibrato arm also if the bridge that you select doesn't come with one.
There are various thread sizes for those also.
Make sure that you get the right one.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 31 Jul 2020 8:01 am    
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I have floating Wilkinsons on my guitars. They work great, no tuning issues. I realize the one you are replacing is a screw-in type mounting plate.

The only reason I would steer you away from Wilkinson is that while the push-in trem bar seems like a fine innovation, it’s an idea that needs some refinement, IMO.

The Fender RI will have the Fender stamp on it, so that’s cool. Maybe worth another 15 bucks to your client.

You don’t need to be advised to check specs, do you Jerry? Hey, check the specs mister! Hope all that rust on the mounting screws didn’t ruin the pilot holes.
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 31 Jul 2020 11:07 am    
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1970s Strats like this came with a period-specific cast Mazac bridge like this one - https://www.ebay.com/itm/383652386176. The stamped saddle bridges were discontinued from 71 through 82 or so. So from what I see on your pics, that looks like original style bridge/saddles to me.

There must be a pile of those bridges/saddles out there, because a lot of people ripped them off 70s Strats to add stupid stuff like Floyds and so on. But searching doesn't yield much right now. I think a lot of sources just aren't doing much right now. I used to get stuff like this at guitar shows, and of course they're not happening right now either.

Fender has also done a bunch of fairly accurate 70s Strat reissues, but the ones I've seen have the stamped saddles.

If you're replacing the whole assembly, I would avoid anything with the skinny little inertia blocks as are on the Mexican Strats. Measure the string and hole spacing carefully, and if you don't want to clean up and add a couple of the correct Mazac bridge saddles (which can be found in onesies and twosies), then I suggest you find a 50s/60s style vintage trem that fits and be done with it. Myself, I'd probably just grab some vintage Mazac saddles and clean up the rest, adding screws and springs as needed. This guitar is refinished roughly and a bit beat looking, so as long as the saddles, bridge + inertia bar, springs, and claw work well and you have a trem bar that fits, that will probably look best and work just fine on this guitar. If you don't have a trem bar that fits, that will be another PITA, so in that case, I'd probably just go with a vintage style bridge assembly. But you wanna make sure everything is gonna line up correctly before ordering.

Replacing bridges on a real 70s Strat can be a bit of a pain. Nobody really reissued the correct parts because there's not much love for many aspects of 70s Strats.
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post  Posted 31 Jul 2020 11:46 am    
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Yes, well the saddles are like modern Strat saddles. The intonation springs and screws are a mess. Some rusted up, some sheet metal screws, some machine type.

I don't think I want to pursue chasing down saddles and associated parts for this, so I'm just planning on replacing the entire thing.

Then I have to deal with removing the mounting screws to which Fred alludes. I may have to dremel some crosses or slots in order to get a good grip on them to remove them.

I'm way more familiar with Tele guitars so this Strat is sort of mystery to me far as finding replacement parts as you state Dave.

I started looking for something with the modern saddles, but then the other dims didn't spec out.

At this point, it's looking like the vintage RI unit to which I referred might be the best solution, but I'm still open to ideas.

Yes, I have measured all the points and will try and make sure to get one that will basically drop right in the existing cavity.

The finish is a bit rough, but the guitar looks pretty good overall considering all the beer joints it has visited. It's a heavy axe, certainly no cherry, and we're not trying to make it so, so just basically put back into good playing condition will please the owner.
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ajm

 

From:
Los Angeles
Post  Posted 1 Aug 2020 8:42 am    
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Here is a link to a chart showing the various string spacing and mounting hole spacing dimensions over the years.
The post is about a Squier, but the chart is for various Strats.
It's about the second or so post down.
If you Google something like "Strat string spacing" and look at Images, it's posted all over the internet.

http://offsetguitars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=111555


The Callaham site has a table/chart that basically says the same data.
It's not hard to find on their site.

The other dimension to be aware of, which probably won't affect your situation, is the body thickness/depth.
I think it applies mostly to Squiers, but you may want to measure it just to be sure.
Callaham also has a page on their site discussing this.
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Jim Fogle


From:
North Carolina, Winston-Salem, USA
Post  Posted 1 Aug 2020 10:22 am    
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AJM.

What is the Callahan site? I'm not familiar with it. Is it an instrument repair website?
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post  Posted 1 Aug 2020 10:38 am    
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Thanks for the charts info.

http://www.callahamguitars.com/

A company that specializes in aftermarket vintage type parts. Lots of high end stuff.

Babicz is another such source. http://fullcontacthardware.com/

Both out of my league, but very popular among many.
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post  Posted 1 Aug 2020 11:14 am    
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Fred, what is the issue with the Wilkinson push in trem arm, if you care to comment?
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 1 Aug 2020 11:48 am    
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Jerry, the Wilki trem arm slides into a plastic sleeve that fits inside a metal flange with a tiny set screw in it. The arm is held in by that set screw slightly crimping the sleeve and creating pressure on the arm to hold it in place at any height you want. Great idea.

Setting that screw at the right tension so the arm doesn’t move vertically but loose enough so it can be moved laterally with a minimum of effort can be tricky. And, I had to take the arm out to get my guitar back in the case. I tend to be a little aggressive with a whammy, so the arm had to be adjusted pretty tight. So, that set screw had to be set every time I played and unscrewed every time I packed up. Plus, I think I pushed it in too far one time and went through the bottom of the sleeve - popped the cherry, you might say.

Anyway, it was a PITA that worked great. I really did like the way it handled and kept the strings in tune. But, mechanically speaking, I think the screw-in type arm has yet to be improved upon.
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post  Posted 1 Aug 2020 1:06 pm    
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Thanks for the description Fred. I appreciate all the pertinent info I've received here. I'm still looking and trying to figure the best option.
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Jim Fogle


From:
North Carolina, Winston-Salem, USA
Post  Posted 2 Aug 2020 9:45 am    
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Jerry,

I appreciate sharing the links and background information.

The Callahan website is impressive. There is a lot to see even if you're not interested in parts.

The site for Babicz Guitars is not as extensive or impressive looking as Callahan's but it's still nice to see.

One of the things I appreciate about this forum is how knowledgeable the members are and how they don't mind sharing their knowledge.
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Godfrey Arthur


From:
3rd Rock
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 3:03 am    
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I would go original Fender replacement parts.

The boutique clone parts while they are an exercise in let's see what we can hop up next, is not a guarantee that your guitar is going to improve in sonics.

The use of different metals may make a machinist grin ear to ear but the overtones and emphasis of ghost notes from your guitar's body might make one cringe.

Redesigning the parts on a guitar is expensive to experiment with, time consuming and you may not like what you hear or have to pay for in the end.

Neutral
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