What exactly is my guitar?
May 2, 2009 8:32 PM   Subscribe

I purchased a used guitar several years ago (Pictures). I'd like some helping ID-ing it and finding more info about its various features. At first I thought it was a '72 American Fender Telecaster Custom, but a few things don't match up. The serial number only reveals its age range, nothing more.

Specs that I can tell:
- 21 frets
- Sunburst finish
- 1 humbucker pickup (neck)
- 1 single coil pickup (bridge)
- 'Ashtray' style bridge with 3 saddles
- 1 volume knob, 1 tone knob
- 3 way selector switch

Questions I want answered:
1. What model is this guitar?
2. Where was it manufactured? (Japan? Mexico?)
3. What wood was used for the body? neck?
4. What finish (poly or nitro) for the body?
5. What does pushing of pulling up on the tone knob do?
6. Are these the stock pickups?
7. Any other info is appreciated...

I'm sure I may have more later. Thank you!
posted by cuando to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
I think it would be fair to say that whatever model that guitar may be, it didn't come off the factory line looking the way it does now that it's in your possession. The push-pull knob certainly suggests some after-market customizing. With a humbucker in the neck position, the most likely use for the tone knob is coil-tapping of that pickup. Or it could be a series/parallel switch. Do you notice much difference in the sound when you pull up the knob? The neck pickup looks similar to the ones that Fender puts in the Albert Collins signature model so the pickups could be stock.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:04 PM on May 2, 2009

seconding wabbitwax, it is probably not stock. afair, the customs said 'telecaster custom' or 'custom telecaster' on the headstock, depending on year. but it does have the top binding like a custom.

take the pickguard off and see if the rout for the neck pickup has finish in it like it was done at the factory, or if not, like it was done later. see if there's a date code on the neck, on the body, and if they agree within a few weeks. it may have a non-original neck.

te neck is maple and rosewood. the body is either ash or alder, probably ash as it has a clear finish.

a great website for all things tele is www.tdpri.com. i'm sure someone could answer all your questions.
posted by KenManiac at 9:23 PM on May 2, 2009

That looks like a sweet guitar & a great purchase.

+1 maple neck / rosewood fretboard
+1 going to another, more specialized forum
+1 the push/pull knob is probably a coil tap to turn the humbucker into a single coil pickup (solo the humbucker pickup using the selector switch & see what pulling this knob does)

I'm not an expert, but if I had to guess, I'd say the body is Ash.

Additional specs:

- String through body
- Body binding

You may get some more clue if you start taking things apart. The safest/easiest thing for you to take apart is to remove the neck from the body - first remove or at least loosen the strings so they're completely slack & then simply unscrew the neck plate. Be sure to leave the guitar flat while you do this & be careful not to strip the screws.

Is there some sort of stamp on the butt of the neck? On the body? If the body has a big ole turtle "Warmoth" stamp burned into it then there's your answer - it's not a Fender body. If the body just has a few numbers, like a date, or a letter or something stamped into it, then it may well be a Fender & would help you date it.

Anything more than that and I'd take it to a guitar shop. You can look under the pickups & at the control pots under the electronics, but be *very* careful not to make any of the wires come loose - part of the value of a guitar is in having the original solder points since original solder points are proof that the guitar has its original electronics.

Fender did do a humbucker-humbucker tele during the early 70's, probably in an effort to compete with the Les Paul. A little googling for HS Tele turns up a few current tele models that have your pickup configuration, so there's no reason to believe the pickups couldn't be stock.
posted by MesoFilter at 9:53 AM on May 3, 2009

My strong suspicion is that it's a custom guitar, built from parts by a "licensed replacement parts" manufacturer like Warmoth, WD, or USA Custom Guitars, and using a reproduction waterslide decal on the headstock. Most likely from Warmoth - the finish looks almost exactly like the "cherry burst" in Warmoth's catalog, and Warmoth necks usually have thick fretboard seen on your guitar.
Like Mesofilter said, remove the neck and see what's stamped on the heel and in the neck pocket.
posted by zombiedance at 3:22 PM on May 4, 2009

Nthing what others have said about this probably being a custom job with licensed parts and decals. You'll most likely never find a factory Fender model with all these features.

Regarding the comment about the Albert Collins signature Tele: Headstock decal is wrong, color is wrong, and it's missing the binding on the back. The chrome humbucker cover is the standard issue for nearly all humbucking pickups in guitars, both factory and aftermarket.

Fender's Telecaster Customs from the 1970s had some very specific features that do not appear here: A specially designed "wide range" humbucker in the neck with split pole pieces; an oversize pickguard extending to the upper bout of the body for a Les Paul-style toggle switch; and two volume and two tone knobs ala Gibson. Behold.

But it seems you know that already. I would also say this is not a Fender guitar from the 1970s because of the four screws attaching the neck to the body Fender used a three-bolt neckplate throughout the 1970s.

The script of the logo also is more in the style of 1950s Fender guitars. Fender logos from around 1967 until the end of the 1970s had the solid-black "Fender" in cursive with the guitar model underneath in bold capital letters.

The headstock also appears to have modern tuners, which suggests the neck at least is not meant to be a reissue of any vintage model.

Given the glossy, relatively unmolested appearance of the finish, I'd say you're looking at a much newer instrument, probably finished (a refinished body is also possible) in poly. The input jack also does not look like what Fender installs stock.

Also, you mention a serial number. Where was it? Fender put its serial numbers on the bridgeplate or neckplate before 1977, but it's relatively easy to swap in an old neckplate. But again, if the serial suggests 1972, the neckplate design is all wrong.

If you're at all interested in drooling over more of these vintage details, here's a place to start.
posted by DeWalt_Russ at 11:15 AM on May 6, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your help.

I never would have thought that my guitar was a conglomeration of so many aftermarket parts. I think I thought it was some model I'd never heard of that the original owner changed by adding a new pickup or knobs or something.

The guitar is great to play & sounds okay and I got a very good deal on it. I'll be doing some small tweaks & I'll post here if I find anything else out.

Serial # - The number is stamped on the bridge plate and looking it up on Fender's site just reveals that it was amde in the last ten years. When I said I thought it was a '72 I did not mean I thought it was actually from 1972. I meant that I thought it was a recent guitar built as a replica of Fender's famous '72 telecaster.
posted by cuando at 10:31 AM on May 7, 2009

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