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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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I thought I'd update this thread to show the results of using the Callahan bridge along with cutting a new bone nut. As you can see the strings track the pickup poles better and give plenty of room between the string and the edge of the fretboard. There is some parallax distorting the photos. There is actually more room on the bass side and the spacing is uniform.
I thought I'd update this thread to show the results of using the Callaham bridge along with cutting a new bone nut. As you can see the strings track the pickup poles better and give plenty of room between the string and the edge of the fretboard. There is some parallax distorting the photos. There is actually more room on the bass side and the spacing is uniform.
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like russell vance says this is actually normal for vintage (and reissue) strats and one of their problems, the bridge spacing is really wide, leaving little margin for the E strings. the guitar in question is very likely all stock, and a pretty cool piece.

the problem gets exaggerated if you try to put taller frets on the neck, the fret tops are that much narrower unless you go with a steeper end bevel.

that callaham bridge is the best fix here. fender long ago went with a narrower bridge spacing on their american standard series for just this reason.

There is also a Fender bridge which gets around this problem , it has the same mounting screw spacing , but narrower saddle spacing 2 1/16 ", 07-2290-000 bridge american special / hwy 1. price is $85 in Australia , but Darren Riley has it at about $40 .

Thanks for that info. Some customers may find the price more palatable.

sure, but the quality is nowhere near that of the callaham, or even the original USA vintage reissue bridge.

It had a steel block as I recall , and bent saddles .

HI Guys,

The selection of the Hwy bridge over the Callaham is a matter of choice.   The Callaham unit represents the peak in demonstrable  quality and performance and is made in USA - this will suit Fender Vintage customers who wish to have their instrument improved while maintaining value.   Alternatively, customers on a budget who  just want their instrument to play properly will likely be satisfied with the made in Taiwan Hwy bridge. This is particular to this discussion as there is a discernible difference in quality when the two units are stacked up.

The issue is black and white to me as I have seen way too much junk from Asia to bother about finding out what works and what doesn't - There is excellent  Asian manufactured stuff out there and we use it according to its merits but practically I find customers lean towards known high quality items for more valuable instruments.

Hope that doesn't sound to wishywashy, it's just what we do and I hope it helps.

Rusty.

  

Part of the problem here is that the saddles are tilted and that is forcing the strings to a wider path than normal.  This happens a lot when people confuse the advice that the saddles should follow the radius of the fingerboard.  Yes they should, but not the angle of the fingerboard.  The tops of the saddles should be level, with the heights following the radius.

I hear ya' Richard.

This is one of those little things that drives me nuts when guitars come in like that.

That and the G-B-E strings being wound backwards on a 3x3 head stock - still seeing both of these situations on a weekly basis.

Not sure if setting the saddles parallel to the bridge plate would have completely cured the spacing issue in this case, but it sure couldn't hurt.

Correcting the saddle tilt may not correct the problem entirely, but it will go a substantial way in the right direction.  Based on the photo supplied, and correcting to the degree possible (ignoring parallax) setting the saddles level would put the strings in the position of the red lines in this illustration.  Not perfect, but a lot better.

weird saddle tilt aside, in reality the classic vintage strat layout does leave the E polepieces slightly inboard of the strings on the bridge pickup, that's normal. said pickup is at the widest spot in the string spread and is tilted.

the neck pickup however is pretty close to perfectly lined up under the strings. the suggested replacement bridges leave the strings kind of inboard of the neck pickup magnets.

this is as opposed to the vintage telecaster, where the same wider string spacing lines up perfectly with the bigger tele bridge pickup.

my own tele has a strat neck pickup, and with its vintage bridge both pickup poles line up nicely under the strings.

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