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Can you help me identify the bridge on this Strat?

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by 1990eam, Dec 23, 2017.

  1. 1990eam

    1990eam Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    27
    22
    Nov 12, 2011
    Argentina
    Hello forum. Years ago I picked up this used Strat at the NYC Guitar Center while I was on vacations. As the months went by and I started doing some maintenance on it I discovered it was not a Deluxe as it had been advertised but rather a "partscaster" with at least the neck belonging to another guitar (Am. Standard according to a serial number check with Fender).

    Anyway, I've been struggling to determine what's the correct tremolo arm for it (it was missing when I bought it) and Fender costumer support didn't seem like they were willing to help much.

    The body is supposed to be an Am. Deluxe loaded body which is supposed to use the snap-in tremolo arms but if I run an Allan wrench in the hole and up the side I can definitely feel some screw threads.

    Is there any way you can help me identify the bridge? I don't feel like spending $40 on different tremolo arms to end up with a bunch that I don't have any use for.

    Any help or advice would be appreciated. Happy holidays and remember, don't buy your guitars at Guitar Center :/


    IMG_20171223_171350.jpg IMG_20171223_171359.jpg IMG_20171223_171411.jpg IMG_20171223_171508.jpg
     

  2. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Captain Crapocaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    59
    May 21, 2010
    In t'grim North
    It's the old American Standard bridge.
     
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  3. vid1900

    vid1900 Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 25, 2016
    USA
    It looks like it's from an American Strat, so a 10-32 Arm should fit.
     
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  4. vid1900

    vid1900 Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 25, 2016
    USA
    In the States, 10-32 means the arm has a #10 diameter (3/16 of an inch), with 32 threads per inch cut into it.

    If you have a local guitar shop, they will have a crazy box of tremolo arms under the counter. You can try before you buy (just in case somebody has re-threaded the hole to a different size).
     
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  5. albala

    albala Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 10, 2012
    stamford, CT

  6. stratcat62

    stratcat62 Strat-Talk Member

    34
    Jan 15, 2011
    California
    That is an American Deluxe Strat, it accepts the pop-in tremolo arm.

    The correct tremolo arm http://stratcat.biz/003-6534-049.shtml

    What may have happened is that someone may have screwed in a 6mm tremolo arm into the plastic bushing and created threads, I've seen this happen a number of times with different guitar stores that don't know what to do with the tremolo arm since the normal 10-32 won't work, it's too small to even touch the inside walls of the plastic bushing and then they grab a larger diameter 6mm Squier screw-in tremolo arm and force it to create threads in the plastic bushing and then they call it good... It's far from good, but I've seen Guitar Center do it twice with brand new Am. Dlx Strat's because they could not find the original pop-in tremolo arm then search their "go to" drawer of assorted tremolo arms and begin the mix and match process of screwing up the bushing and making what ever tremolo arm they find fit by forcing it into the bushing...

    If you can actually see "threads" that are in the black plastic bushing this will be the 3'rd confirmed occurrence that I am aware of that they've done this exact same thing. The bushing may need to be replaced, http://stratcat.biz/003-6614-000.shtml it won't come out without a fight and the replacement bushing should only be pressed in, not hammered in which a lot of people attempt and end up damaging the new bushing. Be sure to back out the two bushing tensioning set screws before removing/installing the bushing.

    Reference this article here http://stratcat.biz/pop-in-tremblock.shtml and you should be able to see the similarities of your tremolo block to the one in the article.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
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  7. stratcat62

    stratcat62 Strat-Talk Member

    34
    Jan 15, 2011
    California
    Does this "supposed" Am. Dlx. Strat have the contoured heal that has this neck plate? http://stratcat.biz/005-9209-000.shtml, then it is an Am. Dlx. Body, as far as the neck the serial should begin in a "D" if it is a Deluxe Strat neck, but as far as that neck being the original for that guitar only the whole serial number can be plugged into Fender's database to determine which color body was mated to that neck at the time of production. We have access to Fender's serial number database if you want to PM us we can let you know what Fender says about this guitar as the serial number on the neck says...
     
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  8. 1990eam

    1990eam Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    27
    22
    Nov 12, 2011
    Argentina
    Thanks everyone for the responses so far.

    The guitar does have the contoured heel with that neck plate.

    I cleaned the inside of the tremolo arm pocket and tried to take a better look at it. I can see a big gap about 5mm in (could this be where the snap in arm locks in?) followed by what seems to be some threads. I took a photo and labeled it to better show what I mean (red is the area where the gap is, and green the area with threads).

    It was hard to focus on such a tiny space but hopefully you'll get the idea.

    IMG_20171224_105117 (1).jpg IMG_20171224_105127.jpg IMG_20171224_105139.jpg
     

  9. stratcat62

    stratcat62 Strat-Talk Member

    34
    Jan 15, 2011
    California
    It is within the black plastic tremolo arm tensioning bushing that the threads were "created", more than likely by a 6mm tremolo arm being forced/screwed-in. That is an American Deluxe Tremolo Bridge assembly, there is no doubt, it does not accept a screw-in tremolo arm. The best recourse to get back to original specs is to replace the tremolo arm tensioning bushing and get the correct pop-in tremolo arm.

    If you read the article I linked you to about the pop-in tremolo block http://stratcat.biz/pop-in-tremblock.shtml you will see that yours is the same.

    Do you have the tremolo arm that came with this guitar when you got it from Guitar Center? A close-up photograph of that arm would immediately tell me that it is more than likely a 6mm threaded screw-in tremolo arm typically used in a Squier since that is the only larger diameter screw-in tremolo arm that can be used in one of these bridges to create faux threads in the plastic bushing. Like I said before, I've talked to a lot of customers who have had the same issue as you and each time a guitar store has done the exact same thing because they were not smart enough (the guitar store that is...) to realize that they had an American Deluxe or an American Elite Strat that only accepts the pop-in tremolo arm http://stratcat.biz/003-6534-049.shtml and proceeded to screw up the bushing.

    You are going to need the bushing and the correct tremolo arm and you'll be all set.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017

  10. 1990eam

    1990eam Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    27
    22
    Nov 12, 2011
    Argentina
    Thanks again for the help @stratcat62 . That site you link me to is really nice too and with a lot of info.

    It's hard to take a look inside the arm pocket but I don't think I see a plastic bushing in there. Is it possible the threads are on the tremolo block itself?

    Do I have to replace the arm retaining clip too or just the bushing?
     

  11. The Ballzz

    The Ballzz Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 26, 2014
    LAS VEGAS , NV
    Here's how I would approach this. Remove the whole unit from the guitar. Remove the plate from the block. Try your best to get some light into the hole to see what's actually in there. If there are threads, then take the block to a hardware store and "gently" try various machine screw sizes (#10-32, metric, etc.) until I found which size fits most smoothly. Another option would be a new block and arm, in a known thread configuration, that fits your plate.
    Just My Thoughts,
    Gene
     

  12. stratcat62

    stratcat62 Strat-Talk Member

    34
    Jan 15, 2011
    California
    The inside of the block where the bushing installs (the cylinder for lack of a better word) is too large to have threads for even the largest size screw-in tremolo arm, it's inside diameter is 0.310", so if you are seeing threads they are more than likely in the plastic bushing since its inside diameter is approx. 0.218" which would allow M6 x 1.0 size threads to be created within the bushing to allow the typical 6mm Squier type of tremolo arm to be screwed in by creating threads in the relatively soft plastic. When it comes to screw-in tremolo arms there are typically only 3 sizes; 10-32 (3/16"), 5mm and 6mm and neither the 10-32 or 5mm would allow their threads to be created in a bushing that has a 0.218" inside diameter, they are both smaller, only the 6mm would be large enough for threads to be created in this bushing.

    The first thing I would do is simply get the correct tremolo pop-in arm, if threads have been created in the bushing it may not be detrimental to its usage and installation of the arm. Install (pop-in) the new (correct) tremolo arm into place and make any adjustments to the two tensioning set screws on the back of the block to get the rotational friction of the arm to a desired point. The lower tensioning set screw can only be adjusted by removing the bridge and typically the lower one is used to alter the way the arm engages / disengages the retaining clip, even if it is backed out to a point where it is not pinching in on the bushing it won't cause installation issues of the arm but it will pinch the bushing around the arm if it is tightened too much and make the arm harder to install and remove (pop-in, pop-out). The upper tensioning set screw can be adjusted by installing the tremolo arm and pressing down on it (dive bomb) to expose the upper tensioning set screw under the top plate on the back side of the bridge and making its adjustment with a 3/32" hex wrench, typically the upper screw is used to pinch the bushing in tighter around the arm to dictate the arms rotational friction, but be sure to keep downward pressure on your tremolo arm while the hex wrench is in the upper tensioning set screw and making its adjustment and remove the hex wrench before releasing the downward pressure on the tremolo arm otherwise when you release the downward pressure on the tremolo arm the hex wrench will come down and impact the surface of the body behind the bridge and you won't be happy with the damage to the finish of your Strat.

    If you do decide to replace the bushing you will need to remove the bridge from the guitar, disassemble it by removing the saddles and the top plate then you will have access to the bushing. The bushing may not need to be replaced. But if it does need to be replaced it is not going to come out easy, it has been pressed in. The retaining clip should be inspected to make sure it has not been damaged, you can compare its shape to the one in the article I sent you earlier, but more than likely it may be OK since what appears to have happened is that the correct tremolo arm was not known and a improvisation was made to fit a screw-in arm. Guitar Center has done exactly this a number of times that I know of, who knows how many other times, probably lots!

    What I have done in the past to remove these plastic tremolo arm tensioning bushings after I have completely disassembled the bridge and removed the two tensioning set screws, removed the retaining clip and have only the bare block with the busing installed in my hand it to take one of the small (refillable) butane torches and direct its very small focused flame directly down into the bushing with the tip of the torch basically butted up against the entry of the plastic bushing and heat up the bushing a little bit, not too much, just barely enough to soften it from top to bottom and not even enough to discolor any of the grey paint on the block, your just softening the bushing and then immediately you can use a small pointed object such as an ice pick or awl to poke through one or both of the two small holes in the side of the block where the two tensioning set screws were installed and you can push the bushing up and out of the block. Once you have lifted the bushing up an 1/8" or so you could use a needle nose pliers to grab the top rim of the bushing and pull it out.

    A simple way to install the new replacement bushing is to press it in place with a vise by positioning the new bushing in line (parallel) with the cylinder in the block that accepts the bushing and gently closing the vise to gradually push the bushing into the block. Typically one can use a couple blocks of wood on each side of the vise jaws to allow soft contact with the bottom of the block and the top of the black plastic bushing. Make sure the bushing stays in line with the cylinder / hole in the block, don't allow the bushing to tilt to one side or the other or you may damage the bushing. Once the bushing is all the way in with its top side flush with the block I usually gently countersink the bushings top side to create a taper for the arm to insert into it. You can see this here http://stratcat.biz/003-6530-000-comp.shtml. If you find that the bushing is just a tad short from being pressed all the way into the block, typically the bushing may only be a very small fraction of an inch from being installed all the way flush with the top of the block, then simply place a piece of 220 grit or so sand paper on a very flat surface, typically on top of a sheet of tempered glass works great since it is flat and smooth and run the blocks top side surface that mates with the top plate along the sand paper to basically "surface" the block and bushing to create a flat/flush surface ready for mating with the top plate. Keep the blocks top / flat side flat or parallel with the sand paper. The article I gave you a link to earlier shows how the retaining clip is to be installed correctly and at this point it is a good idea to make your adjustments to the two tensioning set screws with just the bare block in your hand. The main focus should be with the upper set screw, the lower one is one that can cause issues with firm installation and extraction of the arm if you tighten it too much, I typically just leave it installed to a point where it is not pinching in on the bushing and not dictating any change in the arms rotational friction.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2017
    1990eam likes this.

  13. stratcat62

    stratcat62 Strat-Talk Member

    34
    Jan 15, 2011
    California
    There is not going to be "Legit" threads in this block, it's an American Deluxe tremolo bridge, it accepts a pop-in tremolo arm. Any attempt to get a screw-in tremolo arm to match the incorrectly created threads in the plastic tremolo arm tensioning bushing is just leading down the road of continuing with the problem created by Guitar Center.
     

  14. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985 Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    51
    Nov 14, 2013
    Alabama
    Wow, TLDR
     

  15. stratcat62

    stratcat62 Strat-Talk Member

    34
    Jan 15, 2011
    California
    The advise is for 1990eam, he'll read it, he has a genuine interest in understanding his guitar.
     
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  16. 1990eam

    1990eam Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    27
    22
    Nov 12, 2011
    Argentina
    Thanks for the detailed input. You really know your Strats! I'll make sure to get the right parts just in case but I hope I don't have to take the whole bridge apart to fix this.

    Kind of off topic question: Are Deluxe bodies completely compatible with Am. Standard necks? The bridge was set up in such a weird way (locked against the body with the saddles really high to compensate). I did a full set up on the guitar but didn't care to change that since I didn't have the tremolo arm anyway. I'm afraid to find yet something else wrong with it.. Or it might be that I'm just too suspicious about this guitar already (regardless, I do like how it plays TBH).
     

  17. stratcat62

    stratcat62 Strat-Talk Member

    34
    Jan 15, 2011
    California
    Taking the bridge apart and off the guitar is really simple and to work on a Strat you should feel comfortable about working on most aspects and the bridge is no exception. The bridge is removed by simply removing the strings and un-hooking the tremolo tension springs and it falls off the guitar. To remove the saddles is a couple minutes of work and you can get to the heart of the problem to move forward with determining if the bushing is damaged and needs replacing or not. Setting the intonation takes no longer than to tune to pitch, so that's not a problem in re-assembling the bridge.

    The necks are compatible but their mounting holes are not the same. The Deluxe as the asymmetrical mounting, so any American Standard neck would need 1 additional mounting hole drilled to mount on the Deluxe body. I've seen some OEM Fender necks have 5 mounting holes where they could be mounted on either the Standard or Deluxe body, but not all are that way.

    Don't let certain aspects about the guitar that you are uncertain about deter you from learning more about them in order for you to take care of issues yourself, the Strat is a very easy guitar to work on and with a little hands on experience you can become more confident in taking care of anything that may need attention.
     
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  18. The Ballzz

    The Ballzz Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 26, 2014
    LAS VEGAS , NV
    Thanks for all the great info. My sincerest apologies for my incorrect advice. Even though I read the whole thread, I had thought we were still in the identification stages. Also, I've never had any dealings with the "pop-in" arm system, so the tutorial is greatly appreciated to add to my arsenal!

    FWIW, I've generally avoided guitars with the pop-in, as many descriptions sounded a bit fiddly, but with this new found knowledge, I won't be so squeamish!

    Thanks Again,
    Gene
     

  19. elduderinoTF

    elduderinoTF Strat-Talker

    144
    Mar 29, 2017
    Texas

  20. stratcat62

    stratcat62 Strat-Talk Member

    34
    Jan 15, 2011
    California
    I think the pop-in type of Fender tremolo arm is a good thing, it eliminates the problem with screw-in tremolo arms such as loose or sloppy mating within the tremolo block and you will never experience a broken tremolo arm. Not everyone has broken a tremolo arm but some just seem to always break them and it is the threading that causes the weak point in a tremolo arm that is where the arm will break due to the flexure and pressure being placed on the last portion of the threads where it meets the smooth shank portion of the arm. Another nice aspect about the pop-in tremolo arms is the ability to dictate the rotational friction, so you can have a tremolo arm that rotates either freely or with a bit of resistance to keep it where you put it. Fender adopted the pop-in tremolo arm system with the American Standard's Strat successor, the Professional Strat and yet the bridge retains all of the original visual character of the bridge that is typical of the vintage Strat with the exception of the two point pivot, but the arm is traditional in style with the plastic tip that matches your accessory color, unlike the Deluxe, Ultra and Elite Strat that uses the same pop-in tremolo arm system but accepts the larger diameter tremolo arm and thus has an arm similar in style to a Floyd Rose where it does not have a plastic tip, the tip end of the arm is simply rounded.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017