I am thinking of buying a Fender Stratocaster because I love them and getting rid of my Floyd because the speedloader is so annoying in that I can't change to drop D or half a step down with any ease.

How bad are they at holding tune? How much abuse can you give the whammy bar?

I have considered buying a Wolfgang like I had before, with a traditional stlye Floyd on it, because you can undo the nut and change the tuning with relative ease and a lot quicker than I can at the moment.

But the bottom line is I want a strat, something like this one.

I have only ever owned guitars with a Floyd, but if I get a strat I want a maple fretboard, I would probably put a PAF Pro in the bridge or something but wouldn't buy a fat strat already with a Floyd and do it because other than the impossible to find MIJ Iron Maiden Strat I can't find one with a maple fretboard. The 12db boost looks good too on the powerhouse.

The question is how can I improve the tuning stability of a strat? Locking machineheads, and what are those black saddles that some have? Obviously, I realise that you don't wrap much string round the pegs when using locking machineheads, so would I be able to change tunings with them, say all the strings by half a step down from standard and back?

How much will any upgrades improve it? Will it ever be as good as a Floyd for holfing tune, if I don't abuse the bar?

Cheers Craig
Floyd Rose DST-2
Vox AD15VT
It won't be as good as a floyd, but if your careful, you wont go out of tune by more than a few cents.

Locking tuners, an LSR Roller nut, graphite string tees and graphite saddles sound like your best option.
There is no general formula, it comes down to the quirks of the individual guitar. My black strat has horrible tuning stability when the trem is used. My '63 reissue holds tune like a pro with a ton of whammy abuse. The only hardware mods on the '63 reissue are graphite saddles, but my black strat has the same exact set of saddles on it as well. I didn't have to upgrade tuners or anything else. I simply balanced the springs with the strings and paid attention to the tension on the high strings vs. low strings. A little graphite from a pencil in the nut slots and I was good to go. Another key point about the trem setup is string wraps and the string retainer. I keep my string retainer about 1/4" off of the headstock face. This way, the strings aren't at an extreme angle after the nut. I do not use a string retainer on the D or G strings. For the most part, that string retainer is the cause of most of the tuning problems on the G string. Also, I typically keep 1.5 to 2 wraps around the tuning post on the vintage style tuning machines. On the bridge side, the only thing I did there was back off the 4 middle screws on the bridge about a half turn, so the entire bridge assembly pivots on the 2 outer screws only. If you'd like, you could just remove the 4 middle screws all together, but I keep them there because I don't like staring at holes...it nags me.

From the link you posted, it looks like that strat has vintage style tuning machines and the original 6 point bridge, so the setup should be pretty much the same. But like I said, it all depends on the individual guitar, even guitars in the same production line. Some will be solid as a rock, others will drop tune without touching the tremolo.
my 18 year old MIA standard strat has always been great for holding tune without any fancy locking tuners, roller nut etc.

i do put a little grated pencil lead in the nut slots when i change strings, but thats about it.
I've been imitated so well I've heard people copy my mistakes.
- Jimi Hendrix
Thanks for your replies lads.

Some of the advice is in line with personal experiences, I have not owned a strat but played friends ones and some have held tune well, and, as you say others lose it as soon as you pick them up.

I hate the way the machineheads are really easy to knock and they move easily, do the screws in the back change this if you tighten them, so that the tuning pegs are stiffer to turn, and thus less likely to get knocked out of tune?

I think it will be a case of buying one, trying to do a decent job of stringing it as suggested and living with it for a bit. If it really is no good, then I'll go down the upgrade route...

Cheers Craig
Floyd Rose DST-2
Vox AD15VT
how bout a fr dsot-2. i just ordered one off ebay for 200. theyre the ones w/o the speedloader
My strat would stay in tune amazing with teh trem.... untill i bent the trem bar. Just remember to balance the trem with the springs in the back, and id reccomend using four or finve springs. THe vintage style tuners from fender do fairly well in my experience, but if youre serious about trem abuse then theyre no substitute for a floyd.
The trick with undoing the middle fouri screws i dont understand. I did it to mine and i dont notice a difference. Having said that, my trem is still that way, although its now blocked and resting on the body, so no screws are touching. Just the way i have mine.
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Wow you just made us all look retarded for not suggesting that...

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I can use Google.
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13 yr olds should not attempt to make "points". Especially with their heads firmly lodged up their fucking ass.