Technical question: String spacing on Stratocaster trem

Discussion in 'Other Cool Guitars' started by loudnlousy, Feb 28, 2019.

  1. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    After a few hours of playing my new MIM Fender Jimi Hendrix Strat model my fingers are still not quite accustomed to the someow wider string-spacing on this one.
    The bridge is perfectly installed and the strings run parallel to the fretboard edge.
    But I feel that the low E string and the high E String are nano-bit to close to the edges of the fretboard. They are not exactly falling from the board but it feels unfamiliar to my hands. This is obviously not a matter of correct setup but a matter of construction. I never experienced this on another Strat before. Obviously there are differences in string-spacing on vintage 6-bolt Strat-tremolos. The MIM Strat of my buddy has definitely an about 1 mm narrower string-spacing.
    Are they interchangeable without having to drill new holes for the six bolts?
     
  2. swivel

    swivel Synchromatic

    584
    May 13, 2018
    PNW
    The USA are too wide IMHO. I didn't realize some MIM were too. The standard MIM should be 2-1/16 wide which I like. I had to fill and drill to install the narrower on my USA. What string width are yours? Here is a chart and it appears there is one that uses the wide 6 holes on a narrow format! The Callaham in the center: (I bet it's expensive though)
    [​IMG]
     
    Merc, loudnlousy and Ricochet like this.
  3. swivel

    swivel Synchromatic

    584
    May 13, 2018
    PNW
    BTW, I bought a complete MIM Fender bridge assembly new on Ebay for $25 a couple years ago. Not sure you still can or not.
     
  4. Ricochet

    Ricochet Gretschified

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    I’m surprised they opted to keep the original wide US spacing. That sucks, I detest how the strings fall off the fretboard.
    Weird they took the liberty to adapt the fretboard radius to 9.5” modern player spec but kept the stupid wide string spacing.

    Don’t laugh but I bought a GFS MIM sized trem for my Strat with full brass block and upgraded the saddles to steel and it’s seriously pretty good. Way better than the stupid zinc blocks I pulled from US Fenders.
     
    swivel and loudnlousy like this.
  5. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    Thank you for this valuable information, swivel. Mine is obviously the American Vintage model and the model on the Strat of my friend is the Mexican Standard.
    It is really remakable how much difference in the way an instrument feels this very small differences makes.
    The American Vintage narrow would be the solution for me. Do you know whether -besides Callaham- Fender is offering this version of the trem?
     
  6. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    I fear that I have to drill new holes for the 6 bolts if I would do so. The chart from swivel confirms my concern.
     
  7. swivel

    swivel Synchromatic

    584
    May 13, 2018
    PNW
    Probably, I think the Callham adaptive model is like $150! I drilled for 1/8" dowel and glued the dowels in. It's all hidden under the trem anyway... The center two holes are so close they almost dont need to be filled. I put screws in those and drilled pilot holes through the trem plate to get them right on after filling with dowels.
     
    loudnlousy likes this.
  8. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    Thanks to your chart @swivel I found a Fender-made model with the narrower string-spacing and the standard vintage base-plate with fitting bore-holes: The Highway-one model seems to fit just right for about EUR 60. Just ordered one.
     
    swivel likes this.
  9. swivel

    swivel Synchromatic

    584
    May 13, 2018
    PNW
    Good to know!
     
    loudnlousy likes this.
  10. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    So I bought a Fender Highway One American Vintage Tremolo with the narrower string-spacing.

    After a late evening spent with some really helpful youtube instuctional videos (from an italian guitarbuilder with a very funny accent) and half a bottle of vodka :)eek:) I decided to install the new trem. (1 a.m.)
    As it turned out the vodka was not a good idea to start with (and the shag pile in my living room did not help either). Because at some point all the little springs and screws rolled from the table right into the abyss of my carpet. Being very long-sighted I had to search for those little items with a magnifying glass...
    After I regained all those little pieces I decided to stop at this point(4 a.m.) and continue the next day....

    So I tried my luck the next morning.

    After some puzzeling I found out that the original American Vintage Tremolo on my Mexico Strat was metric while the new American Vintage narrow was measured in inch.:confused:
    The old tremoloarm did not fit the new sustainblock.
    Interchanging the blocks was not possible because the width of the drill-holes for the tremolo block on them is slightly different. (Interesting to mention that the holes in the base for the six screws that connect it to the guitar have perfectly the same mesurement on both. That`s totally illogical but it saved me from drilling extra holes into the body.)

    So I ordered a new tremolo arm and finanlized the little mod.

    Now the outer strings do not fall from the fretboard anymore. Trem works absolutely great. No tuning issues at all.

    Only issue : The trem-cover on the back is not designed for the narrower stringspacing of the new bridge. So the holes in it do not center with the stringholes in the sustainblock...:confused:
    I decided to leave it off my guitar and call it a day.
     
    Ricochet likes this.
  11. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
  12. Ricochet

    Ricochet Gretschified

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Nice job. Strings run more accurately over the pickup pole pieces too.
     
    loudnlousy likes this.
  13. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    That`s a nice side effect. Still struggeling on the perfect pickup-height. 2,2 mm on the bass-side and 2 mm on the treble side should work, though.
    What felt totally strange to me was re-stringing this guitar.
    Because of the reversed headstock the high e-string had to had quite a number of turns more to not to slide off the slotted stringpost. Broke three strings during this operation and felt like an idiot after 3 decades of playing strats.
    I ended with bloody fingertips on that -otherwise easy- but reversed routine.
    IMG_2621.JPG
    Really beautiful and spectacular playing guitar otherwise. I especially like the nice colour:
    IMG_2614.JPG

    They obviously put a lot of effort into the design and engineering of this special signature guitar. Beauuuuutiful pickups, great
    fat D-shaped neck. (But I really whished for a more U shaped first position on this one).
    The nearly perfect strat. What I am missing is 1 kg of weight less, a bit more attention to smooth bodyshaping and nitro laquer instead of poly.
    Really looking forward to check it with my newly acquired Mesa Stiletto tomorrow.
    It should be quite a heavy task. The stiletto is a quite harsh-sounding Marshall type of amp and this special guitar has some very funky , trebly properties. Could be a desaster. Let`s see.....
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
    Ricochet likes this.
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