Vintage StratocasterŪ Screws
One of the dead giveaways your prized vintage stratŪ has been molested? The screws. Yes, today you can count on poor quality neck, pickguard and tuner screws from the usual dealers. That's why Lashing Guitars used its supply of NOS and vintage examples to recreate proper nickel plated steel screws.
[Pictured: Early 50's to early 60's partial thread neck/trem claw screw. 60's full thread neck/claw screw. Large head pickguard screw, NOS Kluson screw.]
The Obvious detail is the length. FenderŪ used 2" screws for the neck and trem claw up until the mid- late 60's. Leo thought using the longer thread length made the joint stronger. The maker has to be careful when drilling neck mount holes for these. Fall asleep and you'll go right thru the fingerboard. Fender at times would grind a 16th or so off the ends to insure against this. When CBS took over it seemed logical/faster to use a shorter 1.75" screw. The mechanical difference is debatable. We wont get into that but stick to the the facts. Many "original" neckplate ads on Ebay reveal themselves immediately as they are paired with 1.75" screws. The old school "star head" wood screws are not used for much anymore, Allparts and others sell only 1.75". The head shape on the Allparts versions also differ from vintage. Most people have no idea but its one of the things astute buyers look at first. Can't molest a vintage piece without taking it apart. If the screws are right that's a good sign. It is possible that a repairman would swap 1.75" when refretting an old guitar. But again - there you go - solid evidence of originality, repair, etc. 1.75" used in the trem claw is a huge warning sign. Why would anyone swap out the claw screws? Only one answer - they didn't have access to 2" .... why? wasn't made in the 50's or 60's at the Fender factory. If it was, the buckets of 2" were a reach away.
Quality plays an important role yet less obvious to the eye. Head shape and size is a noticeable detail the educated will look for. Today's import screws are inconsistent in head (usually smaller) size and not the same shape. Production of fasteners has moved a few times over the years and now its all done overseas with varying degrees of quality. Workers from all industries groan about the cheap fasteners available to them. Its true, new fasteners are much softer than the proper steel a few more pennies buys. It is possible get good fasteners, but $ talks and the Home Depot/Allparts bags are noticeably different than vintage examples. A good thing for the vintage shopper. As a guitar maker I obsess over such things and it took a good deal of research to find a manufacturer to duplicate my NOS stock.
The above is how a vintage pickguard screw looks in a vintage celluloid guard. Note how snuggly and gapless the screw fits into its countersink? Made for each other. Now go take a look at allparts screws holding in a reissue. The width of screw head makes a big difference in appearance. Again the "allparts" bags will usually have noticeably smaller heads.
How about the effects on tone? ..... hopefully no one wants to actually go there, If so you'll have to do it without me. I like proper screws for a few reasons. 1) it looks right, 2) proper steel and thread cut works better mechanically and 3) proper steel on the tuner screws will not leave you with a snapped off head (wondering how you are going to dig its remaining thread out for replacement). Proper hole size is the answer to this problem but for some reason Gotoh and others have been supplying really cheap screws with their tuners. They often snap no matter what.
We do not sell FenderŪ guitars and am in no way affiliated with FMIC / FenderŪ. Parts that look like FenderŪ designs are MFG under license by Fender or need no such agreement. Some parts used may be bought wholesale from Fender dealers, therefore you may see a Fender logo or stamp, however these are not new FenderŪ parts and no FenderŪ warranty applies.