converting 3 bolt to 4 bolt

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by wombat66, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. wombat66

    wombat66 Member

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    on a 70's strat.

    Is this possible or desirable?
    If so how and what are the issues?
     
  2. Shiny McShine

    Shiny McShine Member

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    I did it with a body. It paid off.
     
  3. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Senior Member

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    Main issue that comes to my mind is the headstock side holes are real close to being in the same position as on a 4 bolt, but not close enough to just use them as is, without it being a little kooky. And by kooky, I mean you end up with these dual holes. Maybe "figure 8 looking holes" would be a good way to describe it.
    Sometimes it happens that when the 3 bolter was installed and holes drilled, the neck was not shifted into the optimum position in the pocket. And if that's the case, then sometimes when converting to 4 bolt, you shift the neck in the pocket more correctly (talking about outer E strings being correct distances from fret-board edge) and new hole locations (headstock end of heel) are far enough away from original screw holes that you can drill a complete new hole, without it riding shotgun with the original hole, but it would still be awfully close. Probably still have the screws threads going through into the original holes *at least*
     
  4. 2203Lad

    2203Lad Member

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    I would say there are a few factors to consider.

    If this is a guitar you plan to keep, and if you have trouble with the neck moving around, then it might make sense. I have a 70s Strat that had the 3-bolter and I had constant tuning problems due to the movement of the neck. I bought a new Fender neck (new in about 1981 or so) and found a guy to do the conversion. I think I got lucky and got a better neck (also went from maple to rosewood fb) and it played great. I still have the guitar, it is my favorite.

    The guy who did mine put it on nice and straight, but cosmetically it wasn't perfect. As you can see in this image, the 4-bolt plate is shorter than the 3-bolt plate, and you can see where the old plate was.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. wombat66

    wombat66 Member

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    actually thats not what I was thinking about

    I want to keep the original neck and body,
    just want to add two new holes and a new plate.
    The neck is pretty stable but I can hear it go sharp if I lean into it or pull on it. I was thinking that adding two bolts would keep it solid, if they don't compromise the integrity of the wood.
     
  6. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    70s strats are on the serious up in the vintage market so don't do it.
    If you want to improve to rigidity of the joint just take out the micro tilt grub screw and tighten down the neck with the machine bolt leaving the screws snug (not neck striping tight ) this will now be as solid as a four bolt.
     
  7. gbm

    gbm Member

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    Honestly, I'd just try to avoid leaning into it or pulling on it unless I was prepared to be a little sharp.
     
  8. wombat66

    wombat66 Member

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    good advice all around, thanks.
    The guitar may not hold a lot of vintage value since the original bridge, tuners and pickups are long gone,
    but I guess adding new holes may be a bit ill-considered.
     
  9. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    changed parts are not as big a deal as finish and the wood itself, especially on the 70s strats where the original bridge was a crappy molded pot-metal hunka' anyway.

    +1 to trying to get wood-to-wood contact by backing out the tilt screw. that will also improve things by allowing you to lower the saddles relative to the plate.

    thin shims on the sides of the neck in the neck pocket gaps can help thing to be more stable as well.
     

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