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Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

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Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 9:15 pm
by DC-Choppah
Price of a new neck, set up with frets and ready to go, that matches the quality of the original is more expensive than what my Luthier wants to do the refret and re-lacquer the neck.

If I can get this neck settled into place right and it holds up with real playing, then I am going to have him do the refret on this neck.

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 9:34 pm
by Wonks
No grub screw in the body? It should act as a shim (if you need it) by slackening off that last neck screw, adjusting the body grub screw then tightening the neck screw. Allows you to adjust the neck angle with the strings still on.

But if that grub screw is missing, then you can still fit a standard shim if necessary.

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 9:35 pm
by Wonks
:thumbup: for having a refret.

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:39 pm
by adrian_k
Wonks wrote::thumbup: for having a refret.
Yep +1, you like playing this neck, can’t guarantee you’ll like a new one as much....

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 11:23 pm
by Wonks
Of course you may like it better. Especially if it has a small headstock. ;)

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 8:53 am
by Wonks
You can get replacement grub screws if it's missing and you feel the neck angle could to with increasing a bit. e.g. https://www.stratcat.biz/972.shtml

Any 10-32 x 1/2" allen-headed screw will do.

Though personally I'd be tempted to just use a sliver of veneer and forget about the micro-tilt bit. Although the screw will be under compression, there's nothing really locking it in place and it could rotate out over time, reducing the neck angle and the stability of the neck. Especially as the nearby machine screw could now be loose . And if it's not actually needed, it's better to remove it than just have it loose in the body base plate.

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 1:08 pm
by Dynamic Mike
If you're scrapping the micro-tilt and redrilling anyway, why not fit a four hole backplate? It's been a while since I've seen one so I'm not 100% sure how practical it is.

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 1:56 pm
by BigRedX
Only just seen this thread so some of the information might be a bit redundant.

However...

How snug is the neck in the pocket without any screws fitted? Ideally it should be a fairly tight fit and there shouldn't be any scope for lateral movement. Also can you date the guitar any more accurately than 1970s? IME the later on into the 70s you get the poorer the fitting and QC on Fender instruments get. This was to do with the router templates being used getting more and more worn as the decade progressed and consequently the size of the route for important things like the neck pocket got more and more generous.

Coupled with the 3 "bolt" neck plate and the Micro-tilt adjustment and you ended up with a recipe for disaster. There's nothing inherently wrong with a 3-bolt neck attachment or the Micro-tilt, except that Fender's engineering practices and quality control were simply not up to the task in the 70s.

The Micro-tilt adjuster works by applying pressure to a metal plate on the neck. Unfortunately Fender were seemingly incapable of fitting these plates level with the base of the neck. That meant that when the tilt screw applied pressure on the neck it was also applying pressure sideways depending on the angle at which the plate had been fitted. And because the neck pocket was oversized there was room for the neck to move sideways with this pressure, leading to the strings falling off the side of the neck on the upper frets.

I was helping out in my local musical instrument trailers in the late 70s and EVERY SINGLE new Fender guitar and bass with this neck joint that came into the shop suffered from this problem. No matter how much the in-house guitar tech fiddled with these instruments the necks would go back out of alignment over time.

The current problem with the neck screws may well be the result of previous over-zealous tightening which was only a temporary fix as the tension of the strings always overcame the tension of the neck screws.

IME the only permanent way to solve this problem is to first sort out the neck pocket so that the neck is held in place snugly and cannot move sideways due to the size and shape of the pocket alone. Once you have done that then you can begin to address the rest of the problems with the neck.

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:13 pm
by DC-Choppah
The serial number seems to indicate 1978 or 1979 as far as I can tell.

There is plenty of wiggle room for the neck in the pocket. With no hardware holding it in place it can wiggle a lot.

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:15 pm
by Wonks
Unfortunately, the way it needs to sit means that it's hard to fit shims down the side to help keep it in place.

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:31 am
by DC-Choppah
BigRedX wrote:
The current problem with the neck screws may well be the result of previous over-zealous tightening which was only a temporary fix as the tension of the strings always overcame the tension of the neck screws.

IME the only permanent way to solve this problem is to first sort out the neck pocket so that the neck is held in place snugly and cannot move sideways due to the size and shape of the pocket alone. Once you have done that then you can begin to address the rest of the problems with the neck.

Right. That is it! I kept taking this guitar to the shop over the years, and I think they just tightened the screws down. Well, now the heads were stripped and the holes were stripped.

The new hardwood dowels seem to be taking. Have not reassembled yet.


So the question is this. Before I reassemble this guy, should I do anything to fix the pocket?

I am not hard on guitars but I do play them! And I do wear my strap connected to the head. Looking for a stable instrument. No creaks/cracks.


I am not sure I see how the pocket holds the neck in place. I mean, once I get my three screws locked down tight that is it right? The pocket is no matter.

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:06 am
by DC-Choppah

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:27 am
by Wonks
That's certainly loose!

Previous photos of when you got the strings running properly seemed to show the neck up tight along the upper side of the pocket. If so, then you can try fitting a shim in the short gap between the neck and the lower part of the pocket.

Because it's the short side of the pocket, it won't be quite as effective as if it was on the long side, but at least it will keep the very end of the neck in place. This in turn will reduce and tendency for the neck to move.

It looks like the tilt grub screw is in place, but not sticking out of the body plate. The right size hex key down the hole should allow you to wind it out completely so there's no risk of it pushing the neck at an angle as BRX suggested it could.

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:07 pm
by BigRedX
Late 70s was a very low point for QC at Fender, although the size of the neck pocket on your guitar isn't as over generous as some I've seen from this era.

As has been said you need to shim the sides of the pocket in order to prevent lateral movement of the neck. I'd not bother with the Micro-tilt as it appears that the plate on the neck is not mounted flat, and use a conventional wood or card shim if you need to change the vertical angle of the neck.

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:12 pm
by Sam Spoons
If that doesn't work what about a couple of dowels (hardwood or, better still, metal) through the body into the heel behind the back plate (engineering solution rather than Luthier)?

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:37 pm
by Wonks
You've then got the issue of lining up the dowel holes, unless you drill them right through the body.

You could always add a couple of extra screws, but hide them under the existing back plate and use recessed neck screw bushings. e.g. https://www.allparts.uk.com/products/recessed-neck-screw-bushings

You'd need to ensure the neck was properly aligned before drilling the holes, so you would need to use some washers rather than the neck plate for an alignment fitting and extra hole drilling.

But really I'd first try a lateral shim down the side of the pocket. And with the newly dowelled holes and no micro-tilt screw, you should then be fine. The least you do, the more value the guitar retains. Maybe not your biggest concern at the moment, but if you do decide to let it go in the future, you may as well maximise your return.

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:20 pm
by Sam Spoons
I was thinking, fit the neck using washers or a spare neck plate then drill for the dowels from the back between the washers/through the spare plate (or pre drill the plate as a guide). I would definitely try something less invasive first though :thumbup:

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:02 am
by DC-Choppah
Neck is back on. Used new hardware. Dowel inserts were the key to making it work. Screws are very tight. Neck seems very stable now. Not using the grub screw. I reshaped the pocket just a bit and the neck seems to sit in there firmly now.

Also the machine screw that came with the new hardware set is much firmer and tighter in the metal threaded hole. The old bolt would bottom out before it was tight. But the new bolt gets fully tight and never bottoms out.

Feels good!


Ok, now about that refret.

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:08 am
by adrian_k
Love it :clap:

Re: Please help with 1970's strat. New neck or frets?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:26 am
by Wonks
:thumbup: :clap: