Claescaster

Tag: Keith Richards

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.

Greco TE-800

Greco TE-800 , Made in Japan, FujiGen 1981Greco TE-800, Made in Japan by FujiGen 1981

I finally found my “Nancy“, this has taken forever or at least four years. I used to have an amazing sounding and looking late 1980’s Japan made Fender Telecaster TL52-75, a great ’52 re-issue that I could never get used to the thin neck on. Then I found myself a 1979 Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500, equally great sounding but not in a mint state like the Fender, same problem there the neck was way too thin. So since 2013 I’ve been trying to find a nice Japan made ’52 re-issue with a thicker neck but without any luck. I don’t have large hands or anything, it’s just that since I mainly play old Levin acoustics from the 1960’s I’m kind of used to thicker necks than what’s standard on Japanese electrics. The solution turned out to be a an early 1980’s Greco TE-800 since they came with a pretty decent V-neck. It’s not the thickest neck I’ve seen or anything, it’s actually quite shy in thickness even though it’s a V-profile, but it’s far better that all the other Japan made Telecaster necks I’ve tried from the 1970-80’s. I’ve seen a few Crafted in Japan Fender ’52 re-issues from the mid 2000’s that has nice V-necks but nothing before that. The USA made Fender American Vintage ’52 Telecaster didn’t have it’s fat U-shaped neck until 1998 either, so this seems more like an 1980-90’s problem than purely a Japanese problem. I blame all the slick fast playing guitarists in the 80’s that wanted super thin necks, the ruined everything for the rest of us. The previous owner of the Greco TE-800, a really nice German man called Lennart, and I have had quite long mail conversations regarding this mythical creature, the unicorn of necks, the V-neck on Japan made Telecasters. In his expertise the V-profile appeared on the high-end Tokai, Greco and Fernades models around 1980-82. Something that I have had confirmed from early 80’s Tokai’s, both Strats and Teles I’ve seen for sale on eBay. This Greco TL-800 lost it’s original bridge at some point, with the serial number, but according the Lennart it must be from 1981. He has had a few other Greco TL-800 in his life and they apparently stopped with the V-shaped necks in 1982.

♪ ♫ ♪ Roy Buchanan – CC Rider

Greco TE-800 , Made in Japan, FujiGen 1981
Greco TE-800 , Made in Japan, FujiGen 1981Greco TE-800 , Made in Japan, FujiGen 1981I really don’t mind how worn this Greco TL-800 is, it’s so beautiful in my eyes. Everything from the chipped fretboard to the cigarette burn on the back of the neck, I’m not sure how someone managed with that. The only part I don’t like is the Wilkinson bridge, it’s actually what I use on the Claescasters but on this guitar I would have preferred something older, more worn and perhaps Japanese. The Greco TL-800 has, beside the V-neck, Nitro lacquer and a Maxon neck pickup and the legendary DiMarzio Pre B-1 in the bridge. I’m not 100% sure that the DiMarzio is for me, it seems a bit too hot for my liking but I will try it with the band first and see how it works in a louder setting.

Guitar Moves

I’ve mentioned before that I really enjoy watching Guitar Moves, but this episode is really hard to beat, freaking Keith Richards!

Dan Armstrong plexi guitar

Dan Armstrong plexi guitarIn 1969 Ampeg and guitar super-guru Dan Armstrong set about revolutionizing the electric guitar. What came next was “clearly” innovative, technologically advanced and well, clear! The Rolling Stones took the stage with Keith Richards sporting the ‘See Through’ guitar and Bill Wyman playing the companion bass. The legend was born.

I have such a love / hate relationship with Dan Armstrong’s plexi guitar. A part of me finds them quite ugly and the other part would love to have one, just to be as cool as Ron and Keith. When Ampeg reissued this model I got super excited and really wanted one, then I realised that unless I played in some Stones or Faces like rock band, it wouldn’t make much sense. They actually have one of these reissues in a Cash Converters here in Barcelona for 900€ which is probably quite cheap.

Blog of the day

The Selvedge Yard, The Rolling Stones guitars backstage in 1969
The Rolling Stones guitars backstage in 1969

I really love The Selvedge Yard it’s easily one of my favourite blogs. It’s such a great mix of everything a modern man that is stuck in the past likes. Here is a great new post, The Rolling Stones | Road worn, forlorn & almighty guitar porn

 

Gibson SG

Gibson SG Gibson advertisement Solid Hit 1961

Gibson SG Custom and Gibson SG Standard 1961 catalogue
Solid hit. Gibson SG Custom and Gibson SG Standard from the 1961 catalogue, They looked a lot less evil back then

I have always had a weird love – hate relationship with the Gibson SG. Even though I really like both AC/DC and Black Sabbath the SG has kind of been ruined, or rather over exposed, through Angus and Toni. A bit like the Fender 52′ Telecaster which feels a lot like Bruce Springsteen and Keith Richards, even though neither actually plays a 52′. I have just seen too many young boys playing rock riffs on a Cherry SG Standard or SG Special for considering owning one myself. On top of that my woman thinks they look evil, EVIL I tell you. Then again, imagine an early Seventies walnut SG Deluxe or Custom in it’s worn wood colour. That’s pretty sexy, or even sexier a fancy pants white SG custom with gold hardware. The only problem is that they tend to come with 3 pickups and I can’t play guitars with 3 pickups, I end up hitting the middle one all the time. That’s why I prefer Telecasters instead of Stratocasters, even though I love the sound of the Strats middle pickup, I just keep hitting it and I it’s in the way when I’m trying to chicken / hybrid / whatever you want to call it, pick with my fingers.

1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul Custom
An original 1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul Custom

GIBSON SG 1970 catalogue
GIBSON SG 1970 catalogue

GIBSON SG 1972 catalogue
GIBSON SG 1972 catalogue

I’ve been quite tempted for a while to get myself an old Greco, Ibanez or Tokai SG, ideally white and gold but with just 2 pickups, as explained above. The problem is that most of the Japanese SG’s that shows up on eBay are early 1970’s ones and I don’t think they will live up to my expectations. I doubt that a bolt on neck cherry Avon or Columbus SG copy will stand a chance next to for an example my Greco EG-600 Les Paul Custom from 1980, which makes it a bit silly even if you could get one for 150€.

1972' Greco SG-400
Greco catalogue from 1972, just look at the white and gold Greco SG-400

Keith Richards playing Midnight Rambler on a white Gibson SG Custom at the Nicaragua Benefit, Jan 18th 1973 © Lynn Goldsmith
Keith Richards playing Midnight Rambler on a white Gibson SG Custom at the Nicaragua Benefit, Jan 18th 1973 © Lynn Goldsmith

Jimi Hendrix on a white Gibson SG Custom
Jimi Hendrix on a white Gibson SG Custom

Now we are talking, Keith and Jimi on a white Gibson SG Custom. The guys below looks pretty cool too, even if they went for the more classic Cherry instead of Walnut or white. Well I guess Eric Clapton doesn’t count since he went bananas and had someone on acid paint his.

Duane Allman Gibson SG 1961
Duane Allman with his 1961 Gibson SG

Pete Townsend Gibson SG
Pete Townshend playing a Gibson SG in 1966

George Harrison from The Beatles’ 1964 Gibson SG
George Harrison 1964 Gibson SG

Eric Clapton's
Eric Clapton’s “The Fool” a 1964 Gibson SG

Guitar of the day

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard “Keith Burst” Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

A very well known and documented guitar with the most incredible provenance that has etched its mark on the eternal pages of rock ‘n’ roll history, most notably with the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. The guitar is an original 1959 Les Paul Standard that was purchased new in March 1961 from Farmers Music Store in Luton, United Kingdom, by John Bowen. John played with Mike Dean & the Kinsmen and he had a Bigsby Vibrato fitted at Selmer’s in London before trading the guitar in there for a Gretsch Country Gentleman in late 1962. The guitar was later purchased by Keith Richards, who was playing guitar in a little known outfit called the Rolling Stones. Keith Richards used this guitar extensively in the early days of the Rolling Stones and it was seen regularly from autumn 1964 until 1966 when Keith began to favour a Les Paul Custom. Appearances on ‘Ready Steady Go’ and classic songs like ‘The Last Time’ and ‘Satisfaction’ have been played on this guitar. There are many great photographs of Keith and the guitar. Keith was the first major rock star to use a ‘Burst’; he was probably partly responsible for inspiring both Clapton and Page to pick up Les Pauls. Keith owned and used a Les Paul Standard way before Clapton had one, before Jeff Beck, before Peter Green, before Jimmy Page, Mike Bloomfield, Joe Walsh, Billy Gibbons, Duane Allman etc. (need we go on?).

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

Keith sold the guitar to Mick Taylor in 1967 when Taylor had replaced Peter Green (who in turn had replaced Eric Clapton) in John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers. The Bluesbreakers’ classic British Blues sound was forged when Clapton plugged a ‘Burst’ into a Marshall JTM45 combo and Peter Green followed suit, later selling his ‘Burst’ to Gary Moore. Taylor had stood in for Clapton when he failed to show for a gig one night and ended up playing Clapton’s own Les Paul, so it was inevitable that the young Taylor would go for the same guitar and he exclusively played this Les Paul up to his joining The Rolling Stones two years later. Before Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page was a red hot session musician who cut his teeth on a 3-pickup Les Paul Custom fitted with a Bigsby. It is possible that Jimmy considered buying the ‘Keith Burst’ from Richards or maybe just used it in the studio? We aren’t entirely sure but we know that Jimmy used the guitar on at least one mid 60’s recording session. Eric Clapton used the ‘Keith Burst’ in 1966 with Cream at the Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival. There are several photographs of Clapton with this very guitar at the concert. Maybe Clapton borrowed it from Keith?

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

Mick Taylor made his live debut with the Rolling Stones at the famous Hyde Park concert in July 1969 after the shocking premature death of Stones guitarist Brian Jones. The concert was immortalised by Granada Television, who filmed and released it as ‘The Stones In The Park’. Taylor used the guitar to play ‘No Expectations’ and ‘Love In Vain’; Taylor was also filmed with it backstage in the band’s dressing room trailer before the show. The guitar appears next on the Rolling Stones’ 1969 tour of America, when Keith and Taylor both played it; the film ‘Gimme Shelter’ documents Keith using it for ‘Honky Tonk Women’. There are also many photos of Mick Jagger with the guitar at some 1970 recording sessions, which may be the last documentation of this instrument in the hands of the Rolling Stones. Its disappearance is shrouded in mystery and controversy: Rumour has it that the guitar was stolen in 1971, either from the Marquee Club during the Stones’ ‘Farewell Tour’ of the UK, or from Nellcote in southern France during the recording of ‘Exile on Main Street’. Dave Brewis of Rock Stars’ Guitars recounts a story he heard from the next owner, Cosmo Verrico, who played guitar with the Heavy Metal Kids, who were signed to Atlantic Records alongside the Stones. The story goes that a Stones representative gave the guitar to Cosmo to replace one that was stolen. What is definite is that Cosmo did own the guitar until 1974, when he sold the guitar to Bernie Marsden of Whitesnake. Bernie owned the guitar for a little over a week. He sold it to guitar enthusiast Mike Jopp and thought he had done well when he made £50 profit. Mike Jopp owned the guitar until 2003 when it was sold to a private investor. The ‘Keith Burst’ was next seen in late 2004 when it was offered up for auction by Christie’s in New York. A private collector purchased the guitar in 2006 and it currently resides in Europe. Taken from Richard Henry Guitars

Mick Taylor with Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard
Mick Taylor with the “Keith Burst” 1959 Les Paul Standard

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500
Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500, Made in Japan by FujiGen in August 1979

Yesterday the newest member of my Greco family arrived from Japan. I went a bit bananas last week when I saw that my favourite eBay seller Tokyowax was selling a Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500 so I bought it straight away. These Greco TL-500 are pretty rare, there are about 3-4 Greco TE-500, the Thinline version, for sale on eBay at the moment but I have only seen 2-3 Greco TL-500 for sale in the last two years. I’m not sure if they produced more Thinline copies in late Seventies than normal Telecasters or if people refuse to sell them, but you rarely see these and when you do they are normally very expensive. I got mine fairly cheap since one of the string ferrules on the back was missing. Well I shouldn’t really call it cheap and now the import tax from Japan had increased as well, I had to pay 95€ instead of the normal 75-80€.  I didn’t have to do much to her, everything was pretty well set up already. The frets looked pretty bad so I polished them, oiled the machine heads, tightened all the screws and restrung her. She plays amazingly, even better than my old mistress, my Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500 Thinline copy. It might seem weird that I put my old “Nancy”, my Fender Telecaster TL52-75, up for sale and then bought a new one the same week. The truth is that even though I love my Japan made Fender, I don’t dare to use it since it’s in such a good state. I prefer guitars that are older than me and have a couple of battle scars already. I guess I’m also a bit gay for late 1970’s Greco guitars.

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500
The body has quite a few marks on it but the back of the neck is like new and that’s the only thing I really care about.

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500
The frets looked pretty bad so I masked the fretboard and polished them with 400 and 800 grit and then wire-wool. It looked like they had put the frets on before they applied lacquer to the neck and then after 35 years of playing half of it had worn off. The electronics seemed to be in good order and the guitar sounded awesome when I plugged it in so no reason to mess with that.

Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500N, Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500, Greco Les Paul Custom EG-600C
Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500N 1977, Greco Les Paul Custom EG-600C 1980, Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500 1979