Tag: Hagström HIIN OT

Fender Telecaster Japan TL52-75

Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue, Made in Japan Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue, Made in Japan by FujiGen between 1987-1989

As a Roy Buchanan fan I always dreamt of owning my own “Nancy“. The story how Roy found his Nancy is pretty interesting. In 1969 Roy got fed up with the music industry and enrolled in a school to learn to be a hairdresser. One day during class he saw a guy walking pass the window carrying an old butterscotch blonde Telecaster and Roy fell in love at first site. He chased after the guy and told him that he could pick any guitar he wanted in a nearby music store and in the end bought him a new purple Telecaster to trade for the 1953 Fender Telecaster, serial number 2324, that later became his beloved Nancy. My story wasn’t that interesting. I had kept an eye out for a Japan made ’52 reissue and one day I saw that my favourite eBay seller in Japan, Tokyowax had one for sale. So in October 2012 I became the proud owner of a Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue, Made in Japan by FujiGen between 1987-1989. There is no way to find the exact production year of these A-serial Telecaster with the serial number on the bridge plate. However, it must have been made between 1987 and 1989 since it’s a TL52-75. They were called TL52-70 between 1984-1986 and then changed to TL52-700 in 1990. I do love Nancy, she is an extremely heavy and amazing sounding Telecaster but I still struggle a but with the neck. She has a typical mid eighties Japan neck, really flat and fast playing, without any doubt the fastest guitar I have after my 1975 Hagström HIIN OT. The problem is that I’m not such a huge fan of slick and easy to play necks. I like quite high action and really fat necks so I have to make an effort to play, it’s a part of the feeling for me. Nancy is still an awesome guitar and sounds great from stock, everything is made in Japan, machine heads, pickups, switch and pots. However, there was one thing that really annoyed me, the brass saddles. If you live in a Mediterranean coast city like Barcelona, you will have to adjust your guitars a lot to cope with the humidity. I have to adjust the truss-rod and saddles on most of my guitar when the seasons change and with Nancy it was a nightmare. The only screwdriver that was small enough to fit for adjusting the height of the original saddles was a tiny little weak thing that I got for my watches. Since I didn’t have strength enough to move the screw while the guitar was tuned I had to loosen the string every time, then tune it again. I was also a bit disappointed with the intonation high up on the neck so I decided to change for my favourites, Wilkinson compensated brass saddles. I found a set really cheap from Swivel Electronics in Singapore and a couple of weeks ago I got around to change them.

♪ ♫ Roy Buchanan – CC Rider

Fender Telecaster TL52-75 The old ones might have had more sustain since they were heavier and seemed more solid but to be able to adjust the height with a simple Allen key, without having to loosen the string is more important to me.

Fender Telecaster TL52-75 All done, I’m sure they will look old in a few month and blend in perfectly with the rest of the hardware. The humidity here in Barcelona seems to age metal very quickly.

Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue, Made in Japan I bought Nancy because I wanted a blackguard ’52 re-issue but quite soon I realised that everyone else in Barcelona had one too, well not a Japanese but still. It suddenly felt and looked more Bruce Springsteen than Roy Buchanan so I decided to change to a tortoise shell 5 hole pickguard to make it look a bit more Country-,  Swamp-, Southern rock. 

Set neck or bolt on

A lot of people I have met over my 20 years of playing guitar have told me how horrible bolt on guitars are. This is the general opinion amongst guitar players and it can easily be seen in the second hand value of old Les Paul or SG copies for an example. “Oh it has a bolt on neck, well then I’m not interested.” I think it’s important to remember a few things. Most guitars were bolt on in the beginning, especially Japanese guitars up until 1973-74. It seems like it was only Gibson and the American makers that knew how to make set necks or maybe it was just too expensive to copy for brands in Europe and Asia. If you look at all the amazing German guitars from the Sixties like Hohner, Höfner or Italians like Eko, or even Swedish like Hagström, they will most likely be bolt on up until the early 70’s. My Hagström HIIN OT that was made in Sweden in 1975 has a bolt on neck, this was standard for a lot of brands back then. This was not a cheaply made instrument and back in the day it was good enough for both Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix. It’s an amazing guitar and I doubt it would be any better if it had a different neck joint. With a set neck I think they would have had to make both body and neck thicker, which would be hard for Hagström to sell since they were known for having the fastest necks in the world. A combination of thin necks, special H truss rods and amazing Swedish wood was their selling point when they broke in to the American market in the late Sixties. I don’t think that Frank Zappa thought his Hagström guitars were useless just because they had a bolt on neck.

Frank Zappa Hagstrom guitars

For me the quality of the guitar in general and what type of wood is being used is way more interesting than if the neck is screwed on or glued. There is a lot of discussions whether set necks has greater sustain or not and again, it’s probably more down to the wood than which type of neck joint the guitar has. I guess there could be a slight difference in sound depending on how the neck is joined together, at least if you are going to believe this Guitar Player article. Then again, it’s not really fair to compare a Gibson guitar with a Fender guitar. I think pickups, body shape and wood has more to do with why a Telecaster and a Les Paul sounds differently, not the fact that the necks are joined differently. It would make more sense to compare two Japanese Les Paul copies of equal age and quality, one with a set neck and one with a bolt on. I doubt that you could hear the difference.

If we are going to trust the old, set necks has more sustain, then all Fender instruments should have less sustain. I would have to say that I disagree since I have played and heard Stratocasters with amazing sustain. Again, I believe that the quality of the wood is causing the sustain, not the glue or screws. The most important part, as always, is to play what you like and don’t care what other people say. I’m 100% sure that a Japan made Les Paul copy from the 1970’s with bolt on neck that cost ¥50 000 back then sounds better than any modern far east made copy with a set neck. It’s all about the quality of the instrument, not how the neck is joined to the body.

Westone Les Paul Made in Japan MatsumokuMy bolt on Westone Les Paul copy from the 1970’s made by Matsumoku in Japan.