Buying a 1971-1974 Stratocaster would appreciate any advice!

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Parksie, May 23, 2021.

  1. Parksie

    Parksie Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    436
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2020
    Location:
    Sydney
    I am thinking of buying a early 70's strat.

    Ideally a 1972, 1973 or 1974.

    Ive done a little research and prefer a 3 colour sunburst with a rosewood neck.

    I would appreciate any tips or advice any one may have.

    Anything to be wary of or any red flags?

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    Cheers from Sydney.



    s-l1600-3.jpg s-l1600-2.jpg
     
  2. nutball73

    nutball73 Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    3,392
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2013
    Location:
    Southern UK
    My personal view, having been a contemporary of 70s strats (during my teenage years) is I wouldn't bother. There is nothing a 70s strat can do better than either a 60s strat or an 80s strat. And there are a lot of things they do worse.

    If you are a collector then you'll pay a lot of money to find an original one - most were modded in some way to make them work. Bridges were awful, neck joints very variable (some good, many not), pickups were weak so more often than not swapped out.

    If you played one back then, maybe you have an affectionate memory of one - but that's the only reason I can see for owning one!
     
    Blue Beagle, zimbo, Neil.C and 10 others like this.
  3. Olliebongo

    Olliebongo New Member!

    Age:
    55
    Messages:
    8
    Joined:
    May 16, 2021
    Location:
    Hastings
    Clearly you’ll get mixed reviews. Mostly people seem to be fairly scathing about them but my limited experience is the opposite. I’ve had a ‘73 for 30 years and it’s still my favourite guitar. It plays beautifully, it’s light, and the bits you’d expect to be unstable are rock solid. The triangular neck plate has never once been a problem and the vibrato bridge stays in tune even in the face of some pretty aggressive wrangling. Mine is a battered, road worn thing and I’d never part with it. Oh, and it sounds great to me. So I love them. I have no doubt others will tell you otherwise and they’ll be the ones to tell you what to look out for.
     
  4. Parksie

    Parksie Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    436
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2020
    Location:
    Sydney

    Thanks for your honest and insightful comments.

    Sound like you have a great guitar.

    I understand that the later 70's strats were hit and miss however I have rad that the earlier ones were OK?
     
    Tguitarfloyd and Cerb like this.
  5. Parksie

    Parksie Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    436
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2020
    Location:
    Sydney
    Thanks mate. Good insight.

    Im looking for an original guitar without any modifications.

    Did you ever play any decent ones?
     
    drp146 and Cerb like this.
  6. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

    Messages:
    42,361
    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    I have memories of playing many, none affectionate. :D
     
  7. mad axe man

    mad axe man Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    3,087
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2016
    Location:
    ontario canada
    love em or hate em - i love em...if you can find one at a good price worth checking out
     
    trevanorak and Robins like this.
  8. Parksie

    Parksie Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    436
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2020
    Location:
    Sydney
    Do you think rosewood or maple neck make any difference??
     
  9. Parksie

    Parksie Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    436
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2020
    Location:
    Sydney
    Tguitarfloyd likes this.
  10. nutball73

    nutball73 Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    3,392
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2013
    Location:
    Southern UK
    Personally, no. But the ones I played were new in the shops - I never actually owned one because they were very expensive for (IMHO) a poorly finished guitar. I would spend a lot of time hanging around the guitar shops playing everything new that came in. By 1978 I had enough money to buy either a new strat, a Gibson Marauder, or an Aria PE-1000 - all 25.5" scale and similar in price. The strat and Maruader were both rubbish finish-wise; the PE-1000 still hangs by my desk.

    Funny thing is, I don't remember Teles being as bad at that time (other than the strange brown colour).
     
    Archtops and Thrup'ny Bit like this.
  11. Cerb

    Cerb Anti conformist reformist

    Age:
    41
    Messages:
    13,763
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2016
    Location:
    Sweden
    Go for it, but try them first and find a good one.

    I have a 1977 Stratocaster. The best guitar I've ever played. It has none of the issues normally associated with 70's Fenders.
     
  12. Cerb

    Cerb Anti conformist reformist

    Age:
    41
    Messages:
    13,763
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2016
    Location:
    Sweden
    Yes it does, but not beyond personal preference.
     
    jtoomuch likes this.
  13. slowesthand

    slowesthand Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    2,267
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2011
    Location:
    NY
    One thing it can do better than a 60s Strat is cost much less.
     
  14. kurher

    kurher Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    503
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2017
    Location:
    3rd Stone from the Sun
  15. Michael919

    Michael919 Most Honored Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,327
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2011
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    This is the most important reply.

    If you intend to play it and not just collect, make sure to try it due to all the variability in those years as others mentioned.
     
    drp146, Olliebongo and Cerb like this.
  16. nutball73

    nutball73 Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    3,392
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2013
    Location:
    Southern UK
    Neil.C, drp146, jbylake and 6 others like this.
  17. Cerb

    Cerb Anti conformist reformist

    Age:
    41
    Messages:
    13,763
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2016
    Location:
    Sweden
    The price of the 60's strats drives up the price of the 70's strats which drives up the price of the 80's strats. It's collectors and a desire to own a vintage instrument. As an instrument, no guitar is worth $5000, much less $10000, $15000 or $25000. Heck, no guitar is even worth $3000, as an instrument.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2021
    Enikoy, RadioFM74 and nutball73 like this.
  18. stormsedge

    stormsedge Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,126
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2012
    Location:
    East Tennessee, USA
    Wow! I say if you are in that price range...get what makes you happy:cool:!
     
  19. kurher

    kurher Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    503
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2017
    Location:
    3rd Stone from the Sun
    Yes, indeed. Handmade original instruments are a different story altogether though.
     
    drp146, RobZ69 and Cerb like this.
  20. crashbelt

    crashbelt Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    827
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Location:
    England
    20201113_081722 2.jpeg I'm not very expert on 70s Strats but my experience of this 74 has been great.

    My bits of advice would be:

    1. The staggered polepiece pickups are better than the level ones. Staggered ones were phased out during 74 I think.
    2. Check for poorly cut neck pockets. Mine is tight so the neck doesn't move despite being 3 bolt.
    3. Weight varies a lot in the 70s - mine is Blonde over lightweight ash. Weighs 7lbs 5oz. Avoid heavy ones.
    4. Hardtails beat trem versions because you avoid the tone sucking one-piece pot-metal bridge plate/block.
    5. The poor quality F tuners can be replaced with high quality modern repros.

    Good luck - there are some very good early 70s Strats in amongst the rubbish.