Tell me about the '83 strat!

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by teddy boy, Jul 30, 2006.


  1. teddy boy

    teddy boy Member

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    Gents,

    I've been offered an '83 stratocaster for quite a reasonable price. Anybody like these guitars? How is the freefloat tremolo like? Is the guitar good quality? If you had to decide would you take a late 70's strat or this '83 which is in quite good condition?

    Cheers,

    Tom
     
  2. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    The Freeflyte tremolo is a design disaster for several reasons... first, it simply doesn't sound good - it lacks sustain and has a weak tone generally. Second, it's a pig to restring! The ball ends are difficult to keep hooked into their slots while you wind on at the other end, although you can get the hang of it. And third, they have a failure problem - the metal bracket that holds the springs underneath (and which is pressed on by the tension adjustment screw) is too weak and has a tendency to bend and can even crack, especially if the guitar has been set up with very heavy strings and/or the trem adjusted very stiffly.

    I've converted a couple of these guitars to Kahler flat-mount trems - because there's no back rout, you can do a really perfect job that then looks factory-original from the outside :)... although you do have to insert some new wood under the front edge. (One one, I also routed it for the proper teardrop Strat jackplate and fitted the second tone control where the jack was.)

    FWIW, the original reason for both the FreeFlyte trem and the lack of the proper jackplate was simply to cut costs - the bridge especially since the body then did not have to be routed from both sides, which greatly simplified manufacture.

    Apart from that, they're pretty decent guitars still - the actual woodwork is slightly better than a late-70s, closer to the 'Dan Smith' Strat of 1981-82 and the earliest Vintage Reissues - although every one I've come across has had a skinny, usually V-shaped neck which may or may not be your taste.

    But to be honest, if I had the choice of a late-70s or an '83 at the same price, I'd go for the 70s... even though they're often boat anchors. Some of them still do sound good, and the long-term resale value is likely to be a lot higher. The '83 is quite seriously flawed as it is, and although it's fairly rare, I doubt it's ever going to be of any great interest except as a historical curiosity. To make a really good guitar out of it needs mods, and then it isn't original any more.


    If anyone needs it, I have a mostly-complete Freeflyte bridge going spare - one saddle, some of the adjustment screws and the arm are missing, but most importantly the spring bracket is in perfect condition, not bent or cracked.
     
  3. Glowing Tubes

    Glowing Tubes Gold Supporting Member

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    I have one, its a pretty decent guitar actually. I agree that the trem is not the best, but mine works well. Changing the strings can be a pain but not too bad. I originally bought it (new in 83) because the neck felt really great, the guitar still sounds really good, better than a lot of other strats I've played.

    The original pickups sounded good, I did end up replacing them with Suhr V60's and it sounds awesome.

    I'd like to convert the trem eventually to something more traditional but dont know what that would require. I'd be curious to see those Kahler flat mount modded ones youve done Tom.

    All in all, I'd say its a very good strat that could use some modification due to a few poor design issues.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    http://www.kahlerusa.com/home.html

    The 2300 model is the one that fits Strat-type guitars.

    Even this bridge has issues - it also can be a pest to restring for the same reason, but at least you can lock the ball-ends in by tightening the fine tuner up fully until you're ready to tune normally; and the springs have a tendency to stretch, again with very heavy strings and/or violent trem use - but at least they can be changed more easily (though they're also a type unique to Kahler, not a standard Strat type).

    You don't have to fit the nut clamp if you don't want to - if I remember, I did on one of the ones I modded, which was the first one because the owner wanted a locking trem; on the other I did it because the owner just wanted a better trem and I didn't fit the nut clamp (this was the one I put a Strat jackplate on too).

    The biggest problem with fitting it is that you have to fit some new wood under the front edge, where the springs for the Freeflyte pass underneath - but it isn't visible once it's done if you mount the Kahler right up tight to the pickguard.
     
  5. teddy boy

    teddy boy Member

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    Thanks guys!

    A very descriptive analysis of the guitar. I'm glad I asked. I guess I'll give it a miss then...
     
  6. 83stratman

    83stratman Member

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    As far as Std./modern spec Strats, I find the '83/'84s to usually sound superior to American Std./Ser. guitars.
     
  7. 83stratman

    83stratman Member

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    Do you still have the original pickups? If so, would you be interested in selling them?


     
  8. dpeterson

    dpeterson Member

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    mine's autographed by yngwie, scalloped, and has hs3's in it :0

    the bridge is neat in the fact there is no back plate, it's all concealed within the pickguard. as far as tone goes on this one, with the hs3's it's not meant to sound like a strat ;)

    it's an 84 though i think..

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Chris Rice

    Chris Rice Member

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    I bought one and sold the neck on ebay. It already had a Kahler installed in the 80's. The stock pickups sound great, I used one in a customer's guitar, still have the other. Mine came with a Duncan Hot Rails in the bridge.

    All the pics I took when ebaying it:
    http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v328/wildricechris/1983 strat/


    I'd sell the body, bridge, and pickguard for cheap if anyone's looking for this stuff.
     
  10. 83stratman

    83stratman Member

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    Yep, '84. Rosewood on these didn't come out until '84.

     
  11. squeally dan

    squeally dan Member

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    [​IMG]

    I like the pickups in the 83 strats!
     
  12. FlyingDutchman

    FlyingDutchman Member

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    I love my 83 strat. Ive been thinking about selling it lately but I cant think of something I could replace it with that would play as good. I agree that the trems arent the best but Ive owned two of them and never had a problem. I was thinking of modding mine but decided to keep it completely stock in hopes of it going up in value...

    Why is this 2 year old thread being bumped? I just realized this.....
     
  13. Glowing Tubes

    Glowing Tubes Gold Supporting Member

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    I've been trying to find a solution to the trem on this thing for a long time.
    I'd like to see if it will take a skyway trem but I'm not sure that will be cost effective. Its a great sounding strat, I can only imagine how it would sound with a decent quality trem on it.
    Any suggestions?
     
  14. mrface2112

    mrface2112 Member

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    i've got an '83 3-tone sunburst. yeah, the freeflyte is a bit of a PITA.....but you get used to it after a while. just don't use the bar, treat it as a fixed bridge, and you'll be fine.

    the 83 strat is the first strat that's ever felt right to me. it's mostly the 12in radius neck, it's the first strat i've picked up and wanted to take home. i think it's one of (if not) the only production years for a strat with a 12in radius.....although the modern SRV and EJ models have em too.

    the solid back really adds to the resonance of the guitar.

    mine's been routed for a "regular" jack and had the 2nd tone knob put in--apparently when it was the "shop" guitar in Stuutgart (before the original owner bought it--he was in the air force). sadly, the original pickups are long gone. i've since dropped Fender Custom Shop Fat 50's in the neck and middle and a Duncan JB Jr in the bridge....and it's an extremely flexible guitar. it's my #1.

    i've wanted to source another '83 neck so i can put together a double-humbucker strat too....so if anyone out there's got one, let me know. :BEER

    i got mine for $500 in jan 07. it's amazing how much they've gone up in just the last year.


    cheers,
    wade
     
  15. radialaced

    radialaced Member

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    I don't use the trem on my 83. in fact the trem is set flat down against the body.

    I like how quickly i can restring it....i see no problem with stringing the bridge.

    I like the neck carve and the frets.

    the 83 that i have is my lightest strat at 7.0 lbs. it's also the most resonant strat i have.

    I paid very little for mine and it's now one of my keepers.
     
  16. morris jessup

    morris jessup Member

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    I have two 83s

    Lefty and Righty.

    I think these babies are rare birds and will someday be worth a pennny or two.

    Regardless. Yes the Hitler's revenge German built bridge is not for the weak of mind or dexterity challenged.

    But if you look around you can download the original manual. Which shows you how to make the bridge rise and float over the body like a regular strat. BEAUTIFUL resonant sustain. A unique sound not like my other strats or teles.

    I think I'm the third owner of one and I can see that the original owner put in some seymour Duncan Alnico 2 pickups Reverse wound to get the Hendrix sound and elongated the whammy bar.

    The lefty is a frankenstrat set up righty but everything is date and manufacture correct.

    The SD Pickups have a unique tone. But the original pickups on my lefty are very nice too.

    A unique instrument that maybe was too complicated for some and in many ways ahead of it's time.
     
  17. Madison

    Madison Member

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    Bought this '83 brand new. It's the only piece of gear I've managed to hang onto over the years.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Baxtercat

    Baxtercat Member

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    Ancient two-knobber Strat thread resurfaces.
    Still, the nice Biflex necks should be mentioned. Flatter, wider, larger frets than late '70s.
     
  19. robelle

    robelle Member

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    Hit me up if you ever wanna part with that lefty.
     

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