In defense of the 3 bolt neck...

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by audiopablo, Feb 26, 2020.

  1. audiopablo

    audiopablo Tele-Meister

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    I've got multiple Fenders now - all of them 4 bolt - but my first tele was a 3 bolt MIM 72 deluxe. Bought it in the late 90s or early 00s, and that thing was my #1 forever.

    Since my band mostly flew out-of-state for shows (not that we had a lot, but a few a year), it meant that thing was always checked in baggage and rode in the belly of a plane and through baggage claim. It's probably been on at least 50 to 100 flights over the decades.

    My case was nothing fancy - since they always got beat up and cracked - I'd get the generic hard plastic shell variant and hold it together with duct tape and stickers. I've seen the guitar and case get tossed around in vans, and once saw it fall out of the back of one in Ecuador and just roll down the highway.

    It's been in extreme weather - hot as you know what in Mexico, humid as balls in Miami and Summer NYC, and cold as you know what in Winter Chicago. It even went from the extremes of the heat in Lima Peru, up through one of the highest paved road (Ticlio, Peru on the way to a show in the Andes town of La Oroya) and I couldn't wait 24 hours to open it up.

    It's bumped into other musicians, sound guys in cargo shorts, light rigging, tall side fills, slammed a few cymbals and hardware, fallen multiple times during shows and sound check as I needed to prop it up on something while I played synth for half the show and only sometimes had a stand at the venue. I have seen that thing fall from leaning on an amp dozens of time, losing poly chips from the body, never much else.

    My playing days are done for a while (kids) so I don't play it much. I've been foolishly chasing tone and nirvana, buying, selling & trading all sorts of teles (and others) looking for the new #1 (it doesn't exist).

    I pulled that tele out yesterday. Only 2 setups ever in its life and it's like butter. No fret sprout. Smooth neck. And that neck is still straight, still solid, aged like fine wine. Its three-bolt neck has never failed, and is a testament to a design that's held up for me just fine. Oh, it sounded great to me, too. Now in defense of those non-cunife WRHBs...
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2020
  2. corliss1

    corliss1 Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Lies - no pictures!
     
  3. bumnote

    bumnote Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    When they're done correctly, the 3 bolt is just as good as the 4 bolt. Poor quality control, like what Fender frequently had in the "bad old days" and 3 bolt, 4 bolt , 5 bolt...it's not going to matter. The 3 bolt design and bullet truss rod weren't bad ideas at all, the micro tilt feature built into the neck was a great idea...unfortunately the quality control at Fender back when they were introduced wasn't what it had been in the past or what it became again after CBS sold it.
    I've never owned a 3 bolt...yet...but I will. I wouldn't let that stop me from buying one, it's a solid design that works.
    I've got an 83 MIJ Squier P-Bass that I've had since I was 16, one set-up sometime back in the late 90's. Granted I'm not a bass player, but it does get sporadic heavy use from time to time. I've had to tweak the intonation a few times, but other than that nothing. I've tuned that thing up, played it, put it back in it's case for 6 months, pulled it back out and it's off by 2 or 3 cents. Amazes me every time..
     
  4. John C

    John C Friend of Leo's

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    All correct - the 3-bolt attachment was designed by Leo Fender and George Fullerton; it was the last design Leo delivered to CBS/Fender under his 5-year consulting agreement that expired at the start of 1970.


    In fact Leo used the 3-bolt on his Music Man instruments in the 1970s and on his G&L instruments in the 1980s, and the current owners of G&L kept the 3-bolt around until 1997 - and they admit that they changed to a vintage-style 4-bolt (i.e. no micro tilt) for marketing purposes; they hadn't had any failures or complaints from owners, just from dealers that they had a hard time selling them. Both MM and G&L of course were much smaller than Fender and could maintain higher levels of QC, plus they used slightly deeper neck pockets as these designs had a 22-fret neck with no overhang.
     
  5. elpico

    elpico Tele-Holic

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    These days even some of the most popular acoustic guitars have bolt on necks and they're holding up to a lot more string tension than your usual electric does without issue. Taylor is probably the most well known (and those use a three bolt neck too). Bolt on necks are also used by Collings, Breedlove, Bourgeois, Seagull, Huss & Dalton... probably many more. Leo had the right idea.
     
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  6. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I've got a 76 Strat on the brown truck right now...I hope I'm as lucky...but my experience with a 74 Tele Custom is similar.
    Nothing has led me to believe it's any less stable than a 4 bolt.
    And...don't get me started waxing poetic about the WRHB....
     
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  7. Fendereedo

    Fendereedo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've got no issue with 3 bolt. My vintera 70s custom has it. Makes no difference to imo to stability, or anything.
     
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  8. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I have an Art & Lutherie Ami that has taken a lot of abuse in the past 15 years.
    When I got worried about the neck angle, I contacted the factory and they told me to peel off the paper label inside to expose....the bolt!
    Who knew?
    One tweak and, presto.
    Amazing little guitar for 180 sheckels.
     
  9. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Afflicted

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    But we want pics of that warrior please!
     
  10. bo

    bo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I had a '79 Music Man Sabre II that I hauled all over creation. In the end the finished was badly checked and the preamp was getting noisy when I finally unloaded it. The three bolt neck was never an issue. Only some CBS era Fenders had issues with that neck. Don't let that be a factor in purchasing a guitar from that era (but do check it out in person first).
     
  11. Manual Slim

    Manual Slim Tele-Afflicted

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    I love mine.
     
  12. Bruxist

    Bruxist Friend of Leo's

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    I have two Squier SQ strats from 1983. Both 3 bolts. Both solid as a rock -- and you should see how the white one had been abused!
     
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  13. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    The three bolt tilt neck is a superior design while the four bolt is an anachronism.

    Today though anachronisms sell and old reps still rule the webpinionminions.
     
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  14. tery

    tery Poster Extraordinaire

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    3 bolt tire rims save time and material too .

    [​IMG]
     
  15. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    It wasn't that long ago that everyone was dissing 3 bolts necks. Then they kinda became a thing. During that period I passed on one at a pawnshop that had just come out of the back because in the back of my mind was "nobody wants these things". Sunburst, 3 bolt, hard tail, Strat. $500 with case. The thing just vibrated in my hands, lots of sustain. I should have bought that.
     
  16. dannyh

    dannyh Tele-Afflicted

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    I’ve owned a couple. Had a late 70’s 3 bolt neck Strat that was solid as a rock. Had a earlier 70’s 3 bolt that shifted if you looked crossways at it. You can’t generalize either way. As with anything it all depends on the guitar in question...imo.
     
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  17. aerhed

    aerhed Friend of Leo's

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    Right there is how it's done boys. IMG_20200226_100908.jpg
     
  18. Jackson753

    Jackson753 Tele-Meister

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    That looks like a G&L 3 bolt neck plate.

    Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk
     
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  19. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    My ‘65 Danelectro has three bolts and micro tilt, and it’s as stable and solid as any other guitar I’ve owned. If a Danelectro can do it, a big company should be able to.
     
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  20. rob2

    rob2 Tele-Holic

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    ....the only issue was the little plate the big bolt goes into on the heel of the neck....the screw holes seem to have been drilled fractionally big,those two came loose,the owner tightened the big bolt,then they got looser and on....seems to have affected the strat with its high sales vol more than the others...I've never heard a complaint about the basses despite their extra bulk...
    .....those I've worked on with issues you unscrew the plate,the two small screws come out in a cloud of maple dust....
    ....it was a premium feature,thats why the workhorses(tele,precision)the student(bronc,mustang) and the poor sellers (jazz,jag) were left alone...strat,thinline,custom,deluxe were the premium models of that time so they got the feature..
    I have 7,no issues at all...75,76 x 2 strats,74,75 thinline,73 custom,72 tele bass....if it keeps the stupid vintage prices away from the '70's a bit longer all the better!
     
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