The late ’70s through the early ’80s marked the last few years of CBS as Fender’s evil overlords. Transitional guitars and serial numbers from this period can be deceiving, and sometimes they can even be off by 5 years. There is a lot to cover from this interesting time in Fender’s history, but today, I want to cover the Dan Smith Strat and the 2-knob Strat. A lot of people get them mixed up with one another, but they are very different in features and price.
The Dan Smith Stratocaster Features and Brief History
Enter the Dan Smith Strat. Its features were clearly meant to evoke a visual return to Fender’s glory years. Gone are the big Chevy Monte Carlo Fender-looking headstock, the Bullet truss rod adjustment, and the dreaded 3-bolt neck (which was actually Leo Fender’s idea).
The Dan Smith Strat featured a 4-bolt neck, a cavity on headstock for truss rod adjustment, and pre-1966-shaped headstock. The CBS block letter logo was still applied to the smaller headstock, which made it look kind of awkward. The bridge is the same cast saddle bridge you should find on a ’70s Strat. The “Smith Strat” was only issued only in 1982, and is generally thought of as an improvement over ‘70s models. The Smith Strat brings in good money in today’s market ($1,300-$1,600, if the condition is nice).
The 2-Knob “New for 1983” Stratocaster Model
After a half decade with no model changes, 1982 brought the Dan Smith Strat and its many changes. But in 1983, yikes. The result: a completely redesigned Stratocaster (and Telecaster). This was CBS Fender’s last design before selling the company, and production briefly went to Japan while the new Fender company re-tooled, and prepared for USA production.
One major change was that the ’70s bridge was gone and replaced with a new bridge called the “Freeflyte” bridge. Never heard of it? That’s because it only lasted one year. Though it does work well, it bends under its own weight when pushed down. It featured new saddles and a one-year-only “pop-in” tremolo bar, which commands over $200 in today’s market since they are so scarce and it’s the only bar that fits this model. This bridge was designed by Schaller to be a top-loader, and therefore, the 1983 2-knob Strat has no back plate.
You guessed it! The 2-knob Strat has only two control knobs: one master volume control and one master tone control. The spot for the third knob became the location for the guitar’s input jack.
The recessed plate on the front of the guitar was gone. A single-ply pickguard that resembles the plastic ’50s pickguards replaced the three-ply white/black/white ‘guard. The headstock remained small, but instead of the awkward larger font, this model boasted the smaller gold outlined Fender logo.
The 1983 Stratocasters are not the world’s most loved variation, but in most cases, they are still pretty good guitars. A 1983 Strat is worth about $1,000-$1,200 if the condition is collector’s grade and if it comes with its nearly impossible to replace trem bar handle. There was a short run of 2-knob Strats in Marble (better known to collectors as the “Bowling Ball Strat”), which go for about 4 to 5 times the price of a solid color or Sunburst.
1982 Dan Smith Stratocaster Value: $1,300-$1,600 and beyond
1983 2-Knob Stratocaster with Bar Value: $1,000-$1,200
1983 2-Knob Stratocaster without Bar Value: $650-$800
1983 2-Knob Marble Stratocaster “Bowling Ball” Value: $3,200-$5,000
Whether you’re looking to purchase a prized vintage Strat or a more modern used Strat, Sam Ash has got you covered. Be sure to check out our entire inventory of used Fender Stratocasters here. From guitars, basses, and amps to drums, keyboards, audio, and orchestral, Sam Ash is proud to offer an extensive array of used and vintage gear at our dedicated Sam Ash Used Gear site.