Thoughts on CBS strats?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by thislittleamp, Mar 5, 2021.

  1. thislittleamp

    thislittleamp Strat-Talk Member

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    I’m just about to pick up an early 82 strat an I’m curious to hear what people think of those late 70s- mid 80s guitars? Any owners out there?
     
  2. Fenderbaum

    Fenderbaum Strat-Talker

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    Its either good or bad. CBS era went slowly downhill until they sold it off with contantly cutting cost.
    Early 82, not the best era i presume, but they had ditched the large headstock by then and returned to the original shape which yours should have. But also at that time japanese Tokai, Greco etc surpassed Fender in build quality.

    Also by 82 the US production shut down for a while and they focused on the pre CBS design for a while before the Dan Smith era started.

    Absolutely try before you buy id say.
     
  3. SonOfLerome

    SonOfLerome Strat-O-Master

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    From what I’ve heard, QC was all over the place. the good ones were good, and the bad ones were bad, but there tended to be more bad than good.
     
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  4. John C

    John C Most Honored Senior Member

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    Dan Smith was there in 1981; his first project was to oversee the revision of the Strat back to the small headstock/4-bolt neck model that came out in late 1981. These are the "real Dan Smith" Strats and are reasonably well regarded - not as highly regarded as a 1982 Reissue model (I believe they were calling them "US Vintage" at that point in time) but better regarded than the big headstock models they replaced.

    But they didn't totally shut the line down in 1982 - they did have issues with the first batches of Reissues so that part of the line was shut down for a while, and other models had been discontinued in late 1981/early 1982. Besides the Reissues they were producing the 1982 "Dan Smith" Strats, The STRAT, "standard" Teles, Leads (I, II and III) and the last of the USA Bullets were all in production on the guitar side (an of course whatever basses were still in production in 1982 - sorry, not up on the basses).

    Those "1982" models stayed in production through early 1983; the "Dan Smith Era" models - the Standards (i.e. the 2-knob Strat and top-loading Tele) and Elites went into production circa April 1983; at which point the "1982" models were discontinued except for the Bullets, which moved to the Squier brand and Japanese production at some point in 1983.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2021
  5. joesatch

    joesatch Strat-Talker

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    i have never come across one that was less than 8 lbs. other than that i like em
     
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  6. JDug

    JDug Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Like John C said, it should be a good one (‘82) Beginning of a new era.

    One of my favorite Strats is the ‘79 25th Anniversary model, would love to have one. One of the first Strats I ever saw in person and played ( more like tried to play!) when I was a kid!
     
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  7. CAR63

    CAR63 Strat-Talker

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    I have a '76 hardtail I bought in 1980 . Yes , it is heavy , about 8 1/2 lbs. but it has been a great guitar . Tight neck joint and the 3 screw neck attachment has never been an issue . Mine is the natural finish , a great looking piece of ash . Nothin' like a good piece of ash !!! :D
     
  8. rolandson

    rolandson Most Honored Senior Member

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    Nice thing about Strats, being modular and all...they remained pretty consistent with dimensions and whatnot, such that if there are issues with something, fixes are relatively simple.

    And I never knew the shape or size of the headstock to affect playability.

    I've owned a few Strats. I only regret getting rid of one of them...a CBS (late seventies I think) hardtail. Wonderful sounding, magnificent playing, heavy, butt ugly guitar that I sold.

    Because I'm stupid.
     
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  9. LTigh

    LTigh Strat-Talker

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    CBS turns everything it touches to garbage, be it Fender or Star Trek.

    Since you're at the tail end of that era when they attempted to un-fark themselves, you probably should be fine, but I'd take a MIJ Squier from that era over a CBS MURIKA Fender.
     
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  10. StummerJoe

    StummerJoe Senior Stratmaster

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    data-laughing.gif
     
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  11. Cerb

    Cerb Anti conformist reformist

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    My 1977 Stratocaster is the best guitar I've ever played, including all the more recent models I got my hands on. It's well under 8lbs too. You can kinda see that it's been loved over the past 4 decades.

    IMG_20210204_175359.jpg
     
  12. StummerJoe

    StummerJoe Senior Stratmaster

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    Some are nice, some are not. The good ones are really good though.
     
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  13. Reno922

    Reno922 Strat-Talker

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    There is no area in the guitar world where people are more full of $&^% than when it comes to CBS Strats.

    I have a 1979 Strat and it is the best sounding guitar I have heard in the 40 years I have played. I would love to put it up against any pre-CBS Strat or Custom Shop Strat in a blindfold challenge and see who wins.

    Years ago, I was advised to start recording my practice sessions and listen to them on the way to work, school or wherever. When I started doing this I had no favorable predisposition toward any of my guitars. But when I started playing these sessions back....Dammmm

    Every time I had to hit the rewind button because I couldn't believe what I had just heard. I was playing this 79 Strat. By this, I don't mean my playing was worth a crap, it was just how this guitar sounded.

    People talk all this bull%%*, CBS cut corners..blah.. blah.. blah...

    Leo Fender is who cut corners. Every time in every way.

    Leo thought he was building mass produced disposable toasters - not art. Every time he found a cheaper way to build his guitars, he did so. If he found a cheaper part or material, he used it. He didn't even keep a full time staff employed. It was part-time, unskilled migrant workers using power tools on an assembly line who really built the pre-CBS Strats everybody is now paying a fortune to own.

    Consequently, none of his guitars are remotely similar. Here is a great video comparing two 1954 Strats. If you didn't have to fast forward to the 5 minute mark to hear this guy start playing, this video would probably have 10 million views.



    But the point is.... how remarkably different these guitars sound.

    There is no magic 'pre-CBS' sound that can only be obtained on one of these old guitars.

    Because there was no reproducible template for how these guitars were made, they all sound different.

    CBS tried to fix this.

    They standardized parts, production techniques and improved engineering in almost every way.

    When you look at a 3 bolt micro tilt neck, this is a precision machined piece of equipment. It obviously cost more to build that than just drilling 4 holes and shoving 4 bolts thru them.

    The Bullet Truss Rod? That's genius compared to having to remove the neck from the body to adjusted it. Then, after reinstalling the neck, if you got it wrong, you have to take the neck off and try again.

    The pickups? There is no reason to stagger the pole pieces in today's era.

    Virtually every change CBS enacted was to improve quality not diminish it.

    Over the years, they added shielding to the pick guard, used shielding paint added extra grounding.

    Just tell me which of these necks looks better engineered?

    The PreCBS neck -
    PreCBSnecks.jpg
    or the CBS neck -

    CBSneck.jpg
    People act like CBS just sat around overdosing on stupid pills for 20 years. It's all just crap.

    Hendrix is the guy who showed the world what a Strat could do. Every time he had a choice between a pre CBS Strat or CBS Strat, he always chose the CBS Strat. Even though he had to pay twice as much to get it, he gladly did so.

    Almost every famous Strat that exists has one thing in common. The aren't production line preCBS Strats that came from the factory. They are Partscasters or are CBS guitars.

    Clapton's Blackie is made up of at least 3 different guitars.

    Glimour's Black Strat is a CBS Strat, with more modifications than I have time to list.

    Hendrix's woodstock guitar is a CBS Strat.

    Van Halen's Frankenstrat...Partscaster.

    SRV's guitar...Partscaster.

    The solo on Sweet Home Alabama...CBS Strat.

    I can go on and on and on...

    The point is all these famous guitars, all these famous solos... almost none came from a unmodified pre CBS Strat.

    Yet today, people are losing their minds, paying 'buy a house' type money for a guitar to reproduce a sound a Pre-CBS guitar never made in the first place.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2021
  14. ptb1

    ptb1 Strat-Talker

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    I thought a 77 had the serial number on the front of the headstock?
     
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  15. ptb1

    ptb1 Strat-Talker

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    True, but at the same time the owners had one major goal - to increase the volume and save cost. That resulted in different cases as:
    Reduced staff.
    "Weard" tools/machinery was not replaced (as often as it should).
    Increased haste in the whole production.
    Reduced quality control.
    Guitars put aside in quality control was anyway pushed out to dealers.
    ++

    A lot of guitars from this era was really good. A lot were not.


    I agree. The list is long.
    But, remember one reason for all these partscasters. It took 3-5 different guitars to make a good one;)
     
  16. dbolt

    dbolt Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    My 73 sounded great, wouldn’t stay in tune for 5 seconds. Wish I had it back so I could put hide glue in the neck pocket as one rather famous player has done.
     
  17. Cerb

    Cerb Anti conformist reformist

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    They do. Until someone knicks the guitar and scrapes it off.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2021
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  18. Bob Spumoni

    Bob Spumoni Senior Stratmaster

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    I have a cij '68 reissue which is my favorite strat. It's got the pencilneck and the paddlehat. What effect those have on tone, I've no idea, but I am never skeptical about the importance even of the smallest design feature, material choice, or detail of construction. I have always attributed much of my '68RI's sound to it ash body, but of course I really have no empirically nailed-down reason for believing this. (I do still insist, of course, that those who think body material can make no diff are full of it.)
     
  19. ido1957

    ido1957 Senior Stratmaster

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    My 78 sounds great through the right rig and it is a partscaster because I switched out the tuners and pickguard when I bought it lol.
     
  20. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    I have a very similar story, except mine is olympic white and it's right at 8 lbs. Really, the only thing I don't like is the very narrow neck. It's right at 41mm at the nut.