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Strat neck joints - 3 screw vs 4 screw


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Okay... I've got a '74 and it has the oft'belittled 3 screw Micro-Tilt adjustment as many early '70s models sported.

 

I've read numerous opinions over the years that faulted this arrangement for reasons of poor sustain, necks being ripped off and lack of stability in the adjustment. Interestingly I've noticed nothing wrong with this system outside of the fact that my LP has far greater sustain and I've never actually had to make an adjustment.

 

? Has anyone ever had one lose its' neck?

? For those 4 screw owners.. have you ever shimmed your neck pocket?

? For those with both... how appreciable is the difference in sustain?

 

I've encountered lots of opinions but I'm not sure they were written by players with a penchant for practicality :freak:

I still think guitars are like shoes, but louder.

 

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Originally posted by Guitars are like shoes.

? Has anyone ever had one lose its' neck?

? For those 4 screw owners.. have you ever shimmed your neck pocket?

? For those with both... how appreciable is the difference in sustain?

 

I've encountered lots of opinions but I'm not sure they were written by players with a penchant for practicality :freak:

I've got a Strat 74 too. This one is the heaviest strat I own but sound it's Ok. I also have a 69, 87 plus, 95 Plus Deluxe, 62 reissue, 98 Fat Strat Deluxe. All of them has differences in sustain.
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I have a mid 70's three bolt. Yeah, it's heavy. The previous owner fit a brass nut and ESP vibrato system, and a Duncan 1/4 pound in the bridge position. The sustain isn't bad. What is bad, I can move the neck with my bare hands. If I notice the whole guitar is suddenly out of tune, I just lean on it until the neck "ticks" back into the "right" spot. Scary. Also a persistent buzz at the 6th fret on low E.

 

I have another bolt on (not a strat) with 4 bolts, and the stability is beyond question. Sustain is OK, comparable to the strat, but nowhere near my SG.

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Often the problem with the early 3-bolt necks was that the neck pockets were too big, which contributed to the above problems. I know a guy that can makes his notes sing with sustain on those. What a lot of people don't realize is a lot of sustain comes from your left hand as well.
"I look for whatever will cut the deepest... whammy bars and wah wah pedals can't be used as just gimmicks. They have to reflect and express your feelings." - Jeff Beck
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Just a curious side note. I was in a music store a couple of years ago and picked up a new G&L Legacy. I was surprised when I flipped it over and saw 4 bolts. Did they change this after Leo's passing was my thought; the salesman was non-commital when I asked about this. On the positive side, I see guys gigging with 70s era Strats and they seem to sound fine to me. Never owned a 3 bolt though.
...touched down in the land of the Delta Blues.....in the middle of the pouring rain....
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Note that a Gibson LP or SG will have WAY more sustain than any bolt neck Fender just because of the design.

 

In the 70s, the prevailing wisdom was that heavier denser woods sustain better. So manufacturers, including Fender, started pumping out heavy ash and maple-bodied guitars (some with heavy brass hardware). The reality is that just because a wood is dense doesn't mean it will contribute to sustain. A lot of heavy, dense woods stifle the strings' vibrations and actually mute the sustain.

 

Lighter woods can resonate more freely and yeild more sustain. Of course there are a lot of other factors as well such as the way the neck is attached, the design of the hardware, string tension, etc.

 

So the lack of sustain on a 3-bolt Fender may have just as much to do with the wood as with the neck attachment.

 

BTW, it wouldn't be too hard to add a fourth bolt.

 

Back in the 80s, 3-bolt Fenders were generally looked down upon. 70s Fenders were considered dogs in general. It's only in the last few years that they've become collectable (and overpriced in my opinion). While I've played 70s Fenders that were awesome (inclusing my own '71 Tele), all the 3-bolt models I've tried were heavy and sounded kind of dull. I'm sure there were many exceptions though.

"You never can vouch for your own consciousness." - Norman Mailer
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