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3 Bolt Neck

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by jerryo, Dec 6, 2009.

  1. jerryo

    jerryo Strat-Talker

    Aug 19, 2008
    Any of you guys own an old Strat with a 3 bolt neck ?

    Fender has re-released the Blackmore Strat and it has a 3 bolt neck
    so I got to wondering.

    Is it a secure system compared to the 4 bolt modern models ?

    What was the reason Fender went to the 4 bolt design ?


  2. fenderkev

    fenderkev Most Honored Senior Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    Back In Blighty
    I owned 2 70's Strats and never had a problem with the 3 bolt system, though the guitars in general weren't great compared to modern Strats. Fender only introduced the 3 bolt in 1971 after 17 years of the 4 bolt, and actually claimed this would be an improvement with neck angle adjustment. They went back to the 4 bolt at the end of 1981 because most players didn't like 70's Strats and there was a clamour to go back to the pre 1965 model.

  3. BOD2

    BOD2 Strat-O-Master

    Feb 28, 2008
    Scottish Borders, UK
    There was no fundamental problem with the 3-bolt design, it's just that Fender had quality control issues around about the same time and this sometimes resulted in loose neck joins. It was the quality control and not the design that was causing any problems.

    A properly executed 3-bolt neck (as you would expect on a current guitar) should be just as good as a 4-bolt neck.

  4. jerryo

    jerryo Strat-Talker

    Aug 19, 2008
    thanks for the input :)

  5. nadzab

    nadzab Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    I have a 2008 Classic '70s Strat with the 3-bolt neck, and it is rock solid. If the guitar is well-constructed overall, the 3-bolt system will give you no trouble whatsoever.

  6. thaus

    thaus Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 6, 2007
    London Canada
    They saved money by using one less bolt and a smaller piece of metal for the neck plate......all adds up!!

  7. StratmanR2S

    StratmanR2S Strat-Talk Member

    Dec 4, 2009
    San Diego
    3 bolts(screws) secure it just fine. No one really likes to use the tone robbing tilt feature though. Set it up wood to wood and your good to go.

  8. 07 road house

    07 road house Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 1, 2009
    I have heard of a lot of people moding this kind of neck plate back to a 4 bolt.

  9. gliderider22

    gliderider22 Senior Stratmaster

    Jun 13, 2009
    would you sit on a 3 legged chair? just saying.

  10. 07 road house

    07 road house Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 1, 2009
    very carefully. LOL:p

  11. T-Bodz Terry B.

    T-Bodz Terry B. Most Honored Senior Member

    I don't own one but have a couple of buddies that do!
    They appear to play really well. I don't mind them!
    No issues when I played them!

  12. tonyw

    tonyw Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 29, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    My G&L ASAT has a 3 bolt neck and never a problem in all the years i have played it hard

  13. valvewhiz

    valvewhiz New Member!

    Dec 7, 2009
    Birmingham England
    My 1977 3 bolt strat is as steady as a rock,
    I must have got a good one!:)

  14. Jabs

    Jabs Strat-Talk Member

    Apr 15, 2009
    My Taylor Classic has one bolt =)

    3 works just fine as well, if the joint is made properly

  15. Strat-Talk

    Strat-Talk Administrator Staff Member

    Apr 20, 2006
    Hill Country, Texas, USA
    Admin Post
    The 3-bolt neck was a scapegoat. Fender's overall quality sunk to new lows during the decade of the 3-bolt neck. So, when looking at a used Strat guys would simply look at the back and if it had a 3-bolt neck we know it was "one of those" Strats. And, we wouldn't buy them.

    Fender in 1979 went back to a 4-bolt for the 25th Anniversary Strat and it was a hit. So, it was just a matter of time before the 3-bolt neck went bye bye.

    I see articles claiming that Fender invented the "3-Bolt Micro-tilt neck" but my 1964 Sears Silvertone guitar has a 3-bolt micro-tilt neck on it. So, I guess Danelectro was on to this years before Fender.

    And, yeah, G&L's have 3-bolt necks without problems. Leo thought it was a better idea.

  16. mutato

    mutato Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 10, 2007
    I have two mid 70's Strats and the 3 Bolt setup is perfect. Tight fitting and works as designed. Plays and feels no different than my 4 bolt reissue Strat.

  17. nb1234

    nb1234 Strat-Talk Member

    Sep 8, 2009
    Sure, if the legs were spaced far enough apart! Once nice thing is they don't rock on uneven floors - which is also why cameras use tripods and not quadpods! ;)

  18. IainR

    IainR Strat-Talk Member

    Aug 17, 2009
    I had either a 73 or 74 (Iforget which now) 3 bolt with bullet truss rod etc etc. Everyone I knew said that'll be crap then. And were then amazed when it blew their socks off. One of the best Strats I've had. I fully agree with the posts above QA/QC was generally a bit crap then and the joint was the scapegoat. I would be very surprised if there was any issue with a new version. Plus if you're lucky enough to get hold of an original almost certainly someone will have loved it enough to fix any foibles it escaped the factory with.

  19. thirdstoned

    thirdstoned New Member!

    Apr 8, 2011
    fennville, michigan, USA
    3 bolts are A-OK

    My favorite of the several old strats I own is a '71 3 bolt. Not sure why but happens to be the most stable neck of the lot. The 3 bolt concept is a sound engineering concept - 3 points should be more stable and level, and, as someone mentioned, the basic idea of why a tripod is used for stability.

    Like someone else mentioned previously, there were other issues with some of the Fenders of the era and the 3-bolt was a convenient way to refer to these. I do recall we tended to avoid them during that time period though the neck mounting design was never the issue... There definitely were however some general quality issues at Fender at the time including some pretty sketchy pickups (I replaced pickups on mine, one at a time with various others and finally, after too many $$$ and lots of soldering, came up with what is now my favorite Strat of all that I've owned and currently own.

    It has that great sound I always sought and more sustain than my others (maybe due to the somewhat heavy, dense body wood?) Based on my experience, I'll buy another 3 bolt the next time I run across one, prices tend to be lower and my collecting budget is not what it used to be!

  20. cosmeaux

    cosmeaux Strat-Talk Member

    Jul 3, 2011
    My '72 three bolt neck is rock solid... never any issues.