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1997 V-Series Strat - Bridge Splays Strings Too Widely?

This guitar just came in with an action complaint. It is a '57 Vintage Reissue. The action is fine, but playing it revealed that bending strings on the high E, especially above the 12th fret, causes the string to roll off the fretboard.  The outer string slots seem to be well-positioned on the nut but the strings seem to be excessively splayed near the end of the neck at the pocket.  I loosened the neck screws and torqued the neck laterally towards the big horn and retightened. This helped the high E, though not enough, but put the low E on the edge.  My first thoughts are that either the neck is too narrow at the pocket or it has a foreign trem bridge (assuming the guitar is made in the USA.  The guitar is stock and has not "Made in Japan" sticker or stamp. I know these guitars were made in Japan in the early '80s but I thought production was moved back to the states somewhere around 85-87.  If so, perhaps the parts inventory was shipped back from Japan and used on the new v-series? All thoughts and solutions appreciated.

SPECS:

Nut width: 1⅝
Bridge hold down screws: 2¼ center-to-center
Outer strings are outside bridge PU poles.
V-series Strat - Neck - 7/7/97
SN:  V096269

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A combination of tighter spacing in the nut (with the E/e strings about 3,5 mm from the side) and some sanding on the sides of the metal saddles pushing them together may work. In the picture it looks like the treble e string is too close to the side at the nut.

Or simply new and not as wide saddles.

Thanks for your ideas!

I tried lifting the outer strings at the nut and moving them dramatically inward. The strings' position at the other end only changed an infinitesimal amount.

Wouldn't thinner saddles still be centered on their adjustment screws? If so, then wouldn't this only work if the saddles were offset inward on their screws?

No luck with the nut then. I was thinking that the downforce from the strings could keep the saddles in place bringing them closer together.

Well. Somehow the strings at the bridge needs to be closer or the neck wider. No easy fix in sight.

All the vintage strat and teles have the wider bridge spacing. It's just the nature of the beast. This is why I'm always careful when refretting these guitars, to always keep the fret ends. at the heel as vertical as possible, so as to not put any more bevel into the frets than is absolutely necessary. this buys the player a bit more lateral wiggle room.

Barring a refret, perhaps the only other option is replacing the bridge.

Thanks!

I've owned quite a few vintage strats and teles but never one where the problem was this severe.

Your bridge comment brought me back to an earlier thought: a bridge with vintage mounting holes but the narrower Mexican string spacing at bridge. I remembered Callaham made something like this. Check out this product description:

"Callaham V/N Model Strat Bridge Assembly

This is a complete assembly that has vintage 2 7/32" (56mm) mounting spacing but with the narrow 2 1/16" (52mm) string spacing. It will fit any body with vintage mounting.

It is specifically for those who have the E strings too close to the edge of the fretboard or use humbucking pickups. Your strings will now be better positioned on the neck and line up over the poles of humbucking pickups."

Very pricey at $165.

I have one if their vintage bridges on a guitar. Great quality. Be nice to know if anyone has used this particular V/N solution.

I'm looking at your picture and it looks like you may be able to narrow things by being certain the bridge pieces are not angled, ie, they are parallel to each other. The high e looks like it isn't centered on the saddle. The low e, at the nut,  looks too close to the edge of the neck. So you might be able to fiddle with things, including a new nut, to get things better.

Or, before springing for the Callaham (which I am certain will be very nice)  try accomplishing the narrow string spacing on a temporary basis, at the bridge to see if the Callaham bridge will work.

Have you considered cutting in strings slots in the saddles? I think if you get the neck centered just a bit better and tighten up the string spaces by cutting in slots, you should be able to milk the system enough to get it playable. Saddles are replaceable if that bothers you, it would bother me far worse to have a guitar that you have to fight to play.

Hi Guys,

I've dealt with this problem before.  The strings take their straight path from the nut slot and the bore through the base plate.  The saddles, if slotted to try to move the string path, simply pivot to align themselves with the aforementioned string path and the problem remains.  Similarly, no amount of nut spacing narrowing will change the string path to alleviate the hangover up at the 12th and beyond to any significant measure.

This problem is simply a manufacturing design defect that is continued with because unsuspecting players keep accepting rubbish like this from established Brands. 

The Callagham (or similar) narrow spacing bridge is the fix but even this will be marginal in this extreme case.

Regards,

Rusty. 

I mentioned this to the manager at Corona a few years ago , he said to cut a narrower nut . This always seemed to be accepted as normal on the L series stuff . I had already cut the nut , which did get around the problem , luckily coz it was an SRV with a lefty gold bridge , bit thin on the ground the narrow gold lefties !

"The strings take their straight path from the nut slot and the bore through the base plate. The saddles, if slotted to try to move the string path, simply pivot to align themselves with the aforementioned string path and the problem remains."

Doh! Yes, you are absolutely correct. I didn't really think that suggestion through before posting. Glad someone is paying attention around here.

Thanks to everyone for helping me diagnose this problem. I'm always glad when Rusty chimes in as he's a densely packed packet of info.

I'm going to cut a new bone nut and I've ordered the Callaham V/N bridge. I'll post an update next week as to how effective the fix.

Sure looks to me like the saddles are tilted - it's a common mistake that folks make when they hear that the saddles should follow the radius of the fingerboard.  The tops of the saddles should be parallel to the bass plate of the bridge, but their height adjusted to follow the fretboard radius..  Angling them cants the strings outward toward the edges of the fingerboard.

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