1983 Strat 2 knob upgrades

Denton

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I inherited one of these Strats, and I am interested in doing some upgrades to it. The pickups sound harsh to me, but that’s just a simple swap. What I am interested in is a replacement bridge. I am a strat newby as far as interchangeable parts, etc., so I was curious if there is a more vintage style bridge that would be a bolt in replacement for the contraption that is on it?
 

John C

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I inherited one of these Strats, and I am interested in doing some upgrades to it. The pickups sound harsh to me, but that’s just a simple swap. What I am interested in is a replacement bridge. I am a strat newby as far as interchangeable parts, etc., so I was curious if there is a more vintage style bridge that would be a bolt in replacement for the contraption that is on it?

No; there is no interchangeable bridge for the FreeFlyte tremolo - it was a unique piece with the springs under the pickguard (no back routing for the spring cavity, etc.). I'm not even sure if the larger/"deluxe" version that came on the Elite Strats of that era is interchangeable with the Standard version. The only way to replace those bridges is with some fairly major surgery to the guitar - you would have to rout the back for a traditional spring cavity as well as adjust the routing around the bridge, drill holes for the pivot screws (or pivot posts if you're going to use a 2-post type tremolo), etc. I recall these sometimes being routed out for a Kahler flat-mount tremolo, but even that requires some routing on the top for the Kahler mechanism.
 

Denton

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I guess I should have clarified...I don’t need the tremolo system. I’d like a hard tail type bridge. It may just not be possible.

I like the neck, so maybe I’d be better off finding a loaded body from Stratosphere or something.
 

Matthias

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They just went up in price believe it or not. If you sell, you should be possibly be able to get a used, later Am Standard which is a much better guitar without the cost of mods and the value lost through modding.

If it has sentimental value and you want to keep it, I’d suggest tightening the spring claw until the tremolo’s effectively disabled (if possible on those things) and replacing the entire wiring harness so you can return it to stock if they keep climbing in value. I think the only thing to desolder is the trem claw - the rest is on the pickguard. Should get you at least most way there.
 

John C

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I guess I should have clarified...I don’t need the tremolo system. I’d like a hard tail type bridge. It may just not be possible.

I like the neck, so maybe I’d be better off finding a loaded body from Stratosphere or something.

Sorry; I thought you meant a different tremolo. I agree with @Matthias - the way that trem is made just tighten it all the way down so it's sitting flat on the face of the guitar and call it a day; otherwise you may be better off getting a more traditional body from somewhere else and using that neck for a build. I also agree with him that these are increasing in price - if there's no sentimental attachment to the guitar then try selling it and buying something else.

Here's what the body is routed like under the pickguard:

zemmwumuqsljaqghhng1.jpg


ilfx6dx8gfatcrqne0ny.png


There were some hardtail Standards back in the day but they are few and far between; I found this hardtail on Reverb and while there's no photos with the pickguard removed to how the body is routed it looks like the bridge has to screw into wood that is removed for the tremolo:

nh5dicnyo2leleyamtha.jpg


https://reverb.com/item/31391376-fender-1983-hardtail-stratocaster
 
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Tone Chase

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The pickups are really good in these guitars. Adjust the pickups until they are balanced, but have the volume knob set at 7. It will sound as good as any Stratocaster, or better that has the volume knob dimed.

Now you have the option to roll up to 10 to really push pedals harder, or stronger natural overdriven tone. Mine is still my favourite Stratocaster, out of the dozen I kept.

Also, as said above, you can lock down that bridge to the point where it is essentially a hard tail, with springs underneath, for additional sustain generating abilities.

I have had mine since 1984, and won’t part with it. It is that good!
 

Fretting out

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The pickups are really good in these guitars. Adjust the pickups until they are balanced, but have the volume knob set at 7. It will sound as good as any Stratocaster, or better that has the volume knob dimed.

Now you have the option to roll up to 10 to really push pedals harder, or stronger natural overdriven tone. Mine is still my favourite Stratocaster, out of the dozen I kept.

Also, as said above, you can lock down that bridge to the point where it is essentially a hard tail, with springs underneath, for additional sustain generating abilities.

I have had mine since 1984, and won’t part with it. It is that good!

Do you know if these had the X-1 pickups like the Lead II ?
 

Kloun

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While these may not be the most beautiful or beloved stratocasters made, as has been mentioned they are collectible. Their weird features were only made a short time, and as such some people will pay more than a "regular" strat for one of these things I don't think you should fiddle with too many mods. It would be more cost effective to just sell it and get a new guitar rather than fiddle with it and destroy value.
 

trev333

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I think that small hole on the front edge has a fitting /screw that locks the bridge down?...

I have an 83/4 here.. but I've never taken one apart to see.....

kahler 83 bridge.jpg
'83 RW Strat.JPG
 

John C

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I think that small hole on the front edge has a fitting /screw that locks the bridge down?...

I have an 83/4 here.. but I've never taken one apart to see.....

View attachment 752541 View attachment 752553

It's not specifically a "lock down" but that is where you insert an allen wrench to adjust the spring tension; you would use that to screw the bridge down as tight as it can go. Here's the owners manual for the 1983-83 Standard series guitars from the Fender website:

https://www.fmicassets.com/Damroot/Original/10001/leg_gtr_Standard_Series_Guitars_(1983).pdf
 

2 Headed Goat

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Interesting in the manual there is reference to a dummy coil... the Standard Series didn't sport these... perhaps they borrowed that section from the Elite Series tho I thought those had just active pu's...
 

tvas22

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I’ve always quite liked these... I’ve got no use for a third pot. I always thought the dan smith strays had a cool look about them, is the body shape slightly different?
 

John C

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Interesting in the manual there is reference to a dummy coil... the Standard Series didn't sport these... perhaps they borrowed that section from the Elite Series tho I thought those had just active pu's...

I think they did borrow it from the Elite series manual - they did not have active pickups, they had alnico pickups without exposed polepieces, the dummy coil under the pickguard for noise reduction, and the mid-boost circuit that was active. They also had the TBX tone control - basically the 1983-84 Elite electronics evolved into the Eric Clapton Strat electronics.

I'll admit that I was definitely not a Tele person back at that time; just a Strat person so I didn't pay much attention to the Elite Teles but I think the Elite Teles have minibuckers under the covers and don't use a dummy coil

EDIT: Here's the manual for the Elite Series - looks like Fender just lifted the same diagram and text for the Standard Series manual.

https://www.fmicassets.com/Damroot/Original/10001/leg_gtr_Elite_Series_Guitars_(1983).pdf
 
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2 Headed Goat

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Ah, interesting. sounds sorta similar to Leo's MM designs in a way... in that the pickups weren't active per se tho they were boosted by onboard circuitry...
Funny re the Elite circuitry evolving into the EC Strat trimmings...
 

jvin248

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.

+1 "deck" or fix the trem, put away the trem arm, and play it like a hard tail.

Lower the pickups for better tone, try tipping bass vs treble sides, measure and find different pots 'n caps to push the tone around too. Swap your pickups last as that's the most expensive change.

Or buy a new pickguard and load it up with all new pickups and controls. Then when you sell this guitar someday you are just a pickguard swap away and a collector will be very happy with the all-original parts.

.
 

Tone Chase

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Even the pick guard is unique. The pattern for the screw holes is different up top, similar to an earlier era of Stratocaster. It is only one screw difference, but it matters to purists. Then there is an additional screw near the input jack.

Most, who have played my two knobber, can’t believe how much fun it is. They never expected it to be that good.
 

adjason

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I've got one of these- I think the pickups sound great, great neck and one tone knob makes sense. My first good guitar 25 years ago. The negative is the tremolo bridge- lock it down and leave it like a hardtail...then just play on
 

Denton

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I don’t know if my ears are just spoiled because Ive had Lollars in my basses and guitars, but these pups just have that metallic sound.

Are the pickguards interchangeable with 3 knob ones?? I just assumed they weren’t. That would make it easier for sure. I’d just remove the third pot and put the jack in that place.
 




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