Claescaster

Tag: electric guitar

1978 Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978Fender Telecaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant in 1978-79

Earlier this year I decided to buy a late 1970’s Fender Telecaster but ended up with three identical 1978-79 Fender Telecasters. The first 1978 Fender Telecaster was bought from a music store in Italy and served me really well during the summer but then I found this 1978-79 Fender Telecaster from Andy’s Really Great Guitars in Worcestershire, UK that I just couldn’t resist. I should of course have stopped there but stumbled upon a third 1979 Fender Telecaster from a record store in Southport, UK which I bought but now have sold. I’m planning to keep this 1978-79 Fender Telecaster since it’s lighter, 3.8 kg instead of 4.3-4.5 kg, the grain is amazing and most importantly it sounds awesome. It has a really nice full neck profile and I guess this is the Nancy I’ve always dreamt of. Well done me.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978 Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978

It’s always a bit disappointing to take a late 1970’s Fender apart since you realise that the headstock shows one year and all the other parts another. In this case the headstock and body sticker says 1978, #S840573, the pots say mid-May 1979, #1377920 and the neck stamp shows 17th of August 1979, #3395. Well done Fender, well done.

Neck stamps: MMNN*WWYD, Example: 0900*3893 = Week 38, 1979, Day 3
Neck / Body Stamps: WWYD, Example: 0304 = Week 3, 1980, Day 4
Pot codes: MMMYYWW, Example: 1377731 = 137 (CTS), 1977, Week 31
Pickup Codes: OOWWYY, Example: 202378 = Operator #20, Week 23, 1978Taken from Dating Late 1970’s Fender Stratocasters

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978A Fullerton built Fender Telecaster from 1978-79. Body and headstock shows 1978, pots and neck stamp shows mid-1979.

3 original Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978-79The three late 1970’s Fender Telecasters together, 1978 Fender Telecaster, 1978-79 Fender Telecaster and the now sold 1979 Fender Telecaster 

1979 Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979Fender Telecaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant on the 4th of July 1979

As usual when it comes to me and guitars I never just buy one, well I do at first but then I always end up with two or three in the end. Since I really liked my 1978 Fender Telecaster I started to search for others and ended up with three different 1978 Fender Telecaster. Now after serious consideration, and  moving house and realising that I don’t have as much guitar storing space as before, I’ve decided to sell two of them. It was great in a way to get to explore three identical guitars from the same year, to compare the sound, build and feel of them and to learn more about late 1970’s Fender Telecasters. This one is great, it has a few battle scars and the frets are a bit low but that just builds character. All three of these Telecasters have a pretty chunky neck, something I love. They are around 23-24 mm on the first fret and about 24-25 mm on the 12th, not bad for a Telecaster. Unfortunately they weigh like a Les Paul, around 4-4.5 kg, perhaps that’s where the great twang and sustain comes from. As soon as I get the new flat in order I will make some videos of all three to compare them. This guitar is now for sale.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979
Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979I took this guitar apart and checked all the numbers and this one was made in 1979 even though the S8 headstock serial indicates 1978. The neck stamp says #2794 which means week 27, 1979, day 4, that was Thursday the 4th of July 1979. Here are the basic numbers to check:

Neck stamps: MMNN*WWYD, Example: 0900*3893 = Week 38, 1979, Day 3
Neck / Body Stamps: WWYD, Example: 0304 = Week 3, 1980, Day 4
Pot codes: MMMYYWW, Example: 1377731 = 137 (CTS), 1977, Week 31
Pickup Codes: OOWWYY, Example: 202378 = Operator #20, Week 23, 1978

The colour codes I mentioned in my previous post might just have been for Stratocasters because these Telecasters are stamped with a large A, which I assume means nice good looking grain for a natural see through top.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979I filled all the dents on the back of the neck with Nitro lacquer so now you can’t feel them when you play. The volume pot has been changed at some point and the knobs are not the same as on the other two S8 Telecasters. The frets are quite low and I need to replace the first five since they are pretty worn but she plays fine as it is. Except for that, it’s all original and sounds amazing. If I had space for them, I would have kept all three.

1978 Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978
Fender Telecaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant in 1978

I sold my 1979 Fender Stratocaster a couple of weeks ago and managed to find myself a late 1970’s Fender Telecaster at the same time. This was my secret plan all along, sell the Stratocaster and get a Telecaster instead. I’ve dreamt of a 1970’s Fender Telecaster for over 20 years and now I finally got one. Ideally I would have loved an early 50’s one but I realised already at 15 years old that a late 70’s is probably all I could ever afford. I found this 1978 Fender Telecaster in Musicarte Strumenti Musicali, a guitar shop in , Italy. I got a pretty descent price but you never really know what you are getting, unless you have seen all the numbers stamped on the guitar you are just taking someone’s word for it to be all original. I’ve also never bought anything from Italy, a lot of eBay sellers refuse to ship to Italy because of problems with the post and perhaps even more, Italian buyers. I just had to trust these guys and luckily it worked out fine. I really love this guitar, the neck is chunkier than the 1979 Fender Stratocaster which I love, the fatter the better. The colour will hopefully darken over the years from the sun which will make it even more Bruce Springsteen and Roy Buchannan looking. Actually, I guess this is my Nancy now, even if she is a late 1970’s natural Telecaster and not an early 1950’s butterscotch one like Buchannan’s. It weighs a good 4.3 kg but is so worth it for the feel of the neck and the sustain of the body. The pickups are pretty damn good too, I really like how sweet it sounds. Overall, an amazing Telecaster and a dream come true for me, even though my Japan made 1981 Greco TL-800 is almost as good. This guitar is now for sale.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978
Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978
Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978

I haven’t taken the guitar apart yet to check that all the numbers match the serial number. I managed to date my 1979 Fender Stratocaster via this site, Dating Late 1970’s Fender Stratocasters, I found it extremely helpful. Since the S7, S8, S9 etc stamped on the headstock are so inaccurate to show if the guitar was made in 1977, 1978 or 1979 you really need check all the other numbers to know what year the guitar was made. Here are the basic numbers to check:

Neck stamps: MMNN*WWYD, Example: 0900*3893 = Week 38, 1979, Day 3
Neck / Body Stamps: WWYD, Example: 0304 = Week 3, 1980, Day 4
Pot codes: MMMYYWW, Example: 1377731 = 137 (CTS), 1977, Week 31
Pickup Codes: OOWWYY, Example: 202378 = Operator #20, Week 23, 1978

Here are the colour that were available in the late 1970’s, I have to try to find #521 stamped on mine to make sure that it was originally natural colour and hasn’t been stripped. Antigua (523*), Black (506*), Blond (501), Natural (521*), Sunburst (500), Tobacco Sunburst (525*), Walnut (522), White (505*), Wine (524*)

I used the 1978 Fender Telecaster for the first time last weekend at our gig at the AMCCC – American Cars 2017 in Platja d’Aro, Girona.

1979 Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtailFender Stratocaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant in 1979

Yesterday I sold my 1979 Fender Stratocaster, which felt a bit sad. I’ve had the guitar up for sale for two years so it was no surprise that sooner or later she would leave me. Then again, when it actually happened I missed her a bit. Well guitars comes and goes, that’s the circle of life and she needed to make room for her sister, my new 1978 Fender Telecaster. Last Sunday I got to use the Stratocaster one last time when we had a gig with the Claes Anderson Band. It sounded great, really twangy even through my solid state Levin amp from the 1990’s.

Claes Anderson Band – Tell my tale when I am gone, Legends Dance Hall in Terrassa 14th May 2017

Hagström HIII

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970The 1970 Hagström HIII is now sold and is going to be sent off to Jose in A Coruña.

Hagström HIII

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970Hagström HIII, Made in Sweden 1970

I found a Hagström HIII back in April that I felt really sorry for and had to rescue, or rather save it from being slaughtered and sold for parts by someone else. Unfortunately it wasn’t a bargain and I probably wouldn’t have bought it if I wasn’t drunk at time, I need to stop browsing eBay on Sunday evenings. It had all the parts but the fretboard and frets were in a terrible state and the electronics weren’t working properly, basically a nice guitar and worth the price if it was working. All the hardware cleaned up nicely, I love the Van Gent machine heads, a complete set tend to go for 100€ on their own, and it had the original tremolo, pickups and pickguard. I had to remove the old frets, even out the fretboard and then refret it to get it playable. After waiting for over a month I finally got the switch needed from Hong Kong here we are, a fully restored and working 1970 Hagström HIII. Even though I love the look and sound of this guitar I can’t seem to get used to the fast Hagström neck, the fastest neck in the world, and therefore it’s for sale.

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970Hagström HIII made in Älvdalen, Sweden between 1970-1972. It’s the 491st HIII made in a series of totally 708 guitars, this was the last run ever of this model since it was replaced by the more 1970’s looking Hagström HIIN

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970I started with taking the guitar apart and cleaning everything with a toothbrush and some soap and then polish up all the hardware.

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970The electronics was in fairly good state but needed to be grounded properly. Also the on/off wasn’t plugged in and the bridge pickup’s switch wasn’t working properly so I had to wait a month for a new one from Hong Kong. Now everything is soldered up properly and is working fine.

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970The back of the neck was a mess, dents and groves everywhere so I filled them with Nitro and sanded everything smooth before I buffed it up with metal polish so now you can’t feel it.

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970The main problem with the fretboard was the deep groves in it, it almost looked like the first 5-7 frets had been scalloped. The original frets were really uneven too so I decided to refret it completely. I pulled out the old frets, sanded the fretboard even and then gave it 10″ radius before I re-cut the fret slots and installed new Jescar jumbos.

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970I levelled, crowned and polished the frets and in the end the fretboard looked pretty damn good if I may say so myself.

Hagström HIII and Hagström HII Made in Sweden 1970Hagström HIII and my friend Rafa’s Hagström HIIN, both Made in Sweden in 1970, same body but different pickups, electronics and head shape

This video was shot before I changed the bridge pickup’s switch so it’s cutting out occasionally, that has been sorted now with a new switch. I posted these two videos so you can here the difference between Hagström’s fat single coils and their humbuckers.

Here is a new video of the Hagström III with all the switches working, unfortunately my amp is acting up and is making hell of a noise

1979 Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtailFender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail
Fender Stratocaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant in 1979

This weekend I restored my 1979 Fender Stratocaster to it’s original state. One pot has been changed at some point and I needed to put in a new 5 ways switch but the rest seems to be all original. Well the middle pickup is a bit of a mystery, I’m not sure if it’s a Fender pickup or if it’s something completely different, either way it sounds awesome. It has staggered pole pieces, something that Fender stopped with in the mid 1970’s so I would say that it’s either an older Fender or a newer Japanese pickup. I really like the look of the guitar now, a classic late 1970’s 3 tone sunburst hardtail Fender Stratocaster. The guitar is for sale here.

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail
First I had to check that the original pickups even worked. After getting pretty strong readings I decided to install them, now I knew in which order to put them too since they weren’t marked with neck, middle and bridge.

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail
I filled the old holes from the gold Gotoh machine heads with a tooth pick and normal wood glue, it worked really well. When I removed the terrible shielding job that was done before I could for the first time see the serial number, this body was made on a Monday in the 5th week of 1979. The neck is from 1978 which makes sense if it was put together early the following year. I have to go through the soldering again though, there is something that isn’t right. I noticed when I had put it back together that there something wrong with the middle pickup, it sounded like a wah wah stuck in one position. Well first thing I realised was that the switch was the wrong way around so that has been flipped now, then after a lot of detective work I figured out what was wrong. The middle pickups wires was the other way around, the white was the ground and the black was going to the switch. There was also an extra capacitor on the second tone pot that I had to remove. Now everything works perfectly and it sounds awesome, I really love this guitar. Thanks again to Dating Late 1970’s Fender Stratocasters for all the useful information.

1979 Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail
Fender Stratocaster, made at the Fullerton plant in 1979

I have always loved the 1970’s Fenders with the classic 3-tone sunburst. I guess it started when I first picked up the guitar and fell in love with the big headed Strats but nowadays I’m probably more in to Telecasters, even though they are way to expensive and hard to find. That was the main reason why I put my Claescaster together, to have a Telecaster that looked like late 1970’s Fender but for a lot less money. I actually bought a Tokai Silver Star back in October for the same reason, that I’m completely gay for 1970’s Fender 3-tone sunburst. So when I was down south for Christmas and walked past a small guitar shop in Lorca and saw a 1979 Fender Stratocaster in the window I couldn’t resist. It was the only second hand guitar they had in the whole shop, vintage guitars are really tricky business in the south of Spain since people aren’t really used to pay more money for something old when they can get something brand new for less. The price was ok and I could even live with 1980’s looking Seymour Duncan hot rails, switches and all, and since I really like gold hardware that wasn’t an issue either. The problem was, is it real, is it a US made Fender Stratocaster from the late 1970’s? The man in the shop said yes, the serial number on the head starts with S8, that is 1978, and it says made in the USA under, what more do you need to know? I tried to explain that there are a few other numbers on an old Fender that you have to check to be sure, and that the decal on the head is very easy to fake and stick on yourself. The man would hear none of this, he was sure he knew more about old guitars that this weird foreigner that had just walked in to his shop, on top of that, he really trusted the guy that he was selling it for. I said I had to think about it and left. I went home and started to read everything I could find about late 1970’s Fenders and found this site, Dating Late 1970’s Fender Stratocasters, extremely helpful.

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail

I spent the whole Christmas just thinking about the guitar, was it worth it even if I couldn’t know for sure that it was made in 1978, or if it was even a real Fender? On the morning of the 26th we got the seller to travel in to the guitar shop with the original pickups, that was my first demand, if I saw them then hopefully I would be convinced that it was real. When we arrived to the shop the guitar was still there in the window and I was presented with a shoebox with all the original hardware, machine heads, bridge and pickups. I felt fairly sure that it was the real deal, I mean who would bother to bring in a box with old Fender stamped hardware for a fake guitar? I asked one last time if the old man in the shop had any proof that the guitar was real and he got really annoyed, saying that I could either take it or leave it. I managed to calm him down and explained that it would be a fairly common procedure to take the neck off if you sell old Fenders, or at least show the bottom of the pickguard, especially since there are a few questionable late 1970’s Fenders circulating in Spain that I’m 99% sure weren’t made at the Fullerton plant in the USA. The man just kept saying that it says USA on the head, that means it’s not made in Mexico, I had to explain that they didn’t start to make Fenders in Mexico until 10 years later, after the Fullerton plant had closed down and Fender had moved to Corona. He wasn’t convinced, and neither was I, but after seeing the pickups which pointed at 1979 and seeing the original hardcase which is the type Fender introduced in 1979 I felt that it was close enough, and bought it. I’m glad I did because as soon as I returned to Barcelona and I could take the guitar apart I found the proof needed. Even though I really like this guitar I have it listed for sale if anyone is interested in buying it.

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail Ideally I would have liked to find a few more stamps in the neck pocket but they have either been sprayed over or there used to be a sticker that have fallen off. The neck has a serial number on the end that points at 1978 so together with the S8 serial on the head I guess it was made in 1978. The serial number under the pickguard points at 1979, just like the original pickups. The pots are unfortunately the general CTS pots that can’t be traced and the body has been shielded, which I didn’t want to remove, so I couldn’t find any numbers there. The matching stamp on the heel and neck pocket is the quality stamp Fender used in the late 1970’s. The Seymour Duncan pickups sounds way better than I expected, a bit too hot for more liking perhaps but still pretty nice. I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep it like this for a while or return it to it’s former glory with it’s original pickups and hardware.

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtail Fender had grey bottom pickups up until 1979 and then introduced black bottoms without serial numbers in 1980. I’m not sure if the bridge pickup is from 1980 and the others from 1979 or if it has been changed sometime in the last 35 years. The 3 screws neck plate and the saddles has the correct numbers and they machine heads looks like they should too. The original hardcase is actually way lighter and easier to carry than I expected, it has grown on me even if it looks a bit plastic and 1980’s for my normal taste. My first guitar was a Japan made 1993 Fender Squier with a rosewood fretboard and even though I prefer maple fretboards these days, there is something quite nice about a rosewood Strat. I also really like that it’s a hardtail, I never use the tremolo so I prefer a hardtail any day of the week, they feel more like a Telecaster too. All in all, this was not only my first USA made instrument but a pretty awesome guitar on it’s own that made me fall in love with Stratocasters again. Thanks again to Dating Late 1970’s Fender Stratocasters for all the useful information.

Paul Bigsby

Paul Bigsby
Paul Bigsby died on June 7, 1968. While most guitarists know him because of his wildly popular Bigsby vibrato, most are not aware that Bigsby is widely considered to have crafted the first true solidbody electric guitar. Bigsby was a motorcycle mechanic during the 1940s in Southern California. He became friends with noted country star Merle Travis when the two met at a motorcycle racetrack. Travis discovered that Bigsby was a notorious tinkerer, and asked Paul if he could fix a vibrato tailpiece on a Gibson L-10. Bigsby ended up replacing the vibrato with a better one of his own design. Travis then asked Bigsby in 1946 if he could build an entire electric guitar, complete with pickups that wouldn’t feed back. Using a design from Travis, Paul created what may have been the first solidbody electric guitar. The guitar had a single cutaway and a headstock that featured all the tuning pegs on one side instead of the standard three per side arrangement. This was similar to a design used a centrury before by German luthier Johann Stauffer. It would later show up in a very similar form on the Fender Stratocaster.
Taken from National Guitar Museum

Merle Travis Paul Bigsby guitar
Merle Travis guitar built by Paul Bigsby in 1946, the first guitar that Bigsby built

THE STORY OF PAUL BIGSBY - FATHER OF THE MODERN ELECTRIC SOLIDBODY GUITAR by Andy Babiuk
If you want to read more about Paul Bigsby there is plenty of info at Premier Guitar, or you can by the book.

Update: December 18th 2014, I just found this pretty cool video about Paul Bigsby’s third guitar he built in 1949 for “Butterball” Paige

Guitar of the day

Brian May, Queen, Big Red

The Red Special is an electric guitar owned by Queen guitarist Brian May and custom-built by him and his father, Harold. The Red Special is also sometimes named in reviews as the Fireplace or the Old Lady, both nicknames used by May when referring to the guitar. A guitar that would define Brian’s signature style, it was purposely designed to feedback. He has used it on Queen albums and in live performances since the band’s advent in the early 1970s. The name Red Special came from the reddish-brown colour the guitar attained after being stained and painted with numerous layers of Rustins’ plastic coating. The name Fireplace is a reference to the fact that the wood used to make the neck came from a fireplace mantel. The pickups are three modified Burns Tri-Sonic and the tremolo system is known as the knife-edge tremolo as it features a knife-edge. The tremolo rocks on a knife-edge that is linked to a couple of motorbike valve springs in the guitar. The tremolo-arm itself was made from a saddle bag carrier from an old bike and a knitting needle from his mother.. Wikipedia

Brian May of Queen Red Special

Brian May of Queen Red Special