Fender 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.
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
A Fullerton built Fender Telecaster from 1978-79. Body and headstock shows 1978, pots and neck stamp shows mid-1979.
Fender 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.
I 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:
I 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.
Vorg by Pearl, built in Japan by Matsumoku in the mid 1970’s
I recently got myself a Vorg Telecaster. These where built by Pearl in the Matsumoku factory and named Vorg for the German market. The previous owner claimed that it was built in 1977 since the serial starts with 7 which could be true, it’s built in the mid 1970’s for sure. It’s all original except for the machine heads which has been upgraded to a set of Schaller. The guitar has been converted to a string through with bushings on the back instead of being top-loaded something that obviously improved the sustain and overall tone. The original pickups looks like they were made by Maxon, something that makes perfect sense for a Matsumoku built guitar of that time. The neck is fantastic, really chunky for being a Japanese guitar. It’s a great sounding and playing Japanese Telecaster that I unfortunately can’t keep. I bought it for my birthday last month but the same week I found another late 1970’s Fender Telecaster so this Vorg has to go. It’s for sale here.
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 Chiaravalle, 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.
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:
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.
I 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.
The new Claescaster, my second attempt at building a guitar
Back in 2014 I built myself my first Claescaster, it was not just my first guitar but pretty much the first anything I ever built. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either so I decided to give it second try and here is the result, the new Claescaster. The truth is that two years ago my wife was pregnant and I thought that was a great opportunity to build myself a Telecaster to mark the occasion. Unfortunately we lost that child half way through so I named the first guitar Greta after the daughter we never had. Two years later we tried again and were blessed with our little Frida, and just before she saw the light of day in early May I had my second Claescaster ready and gave it her name. My wife asked if I was going to build a guitar every time she gets pregnant and I might very well do that, it’s a great way for a man to keep himself busy during the nine long months of waiting. I will try to find some more pictures of the building progress, if not there are some more on my Instagram.
Claescaster – Frida, is not the best Telecaster I’ve ever played but it’s still pretty damn good guitar, and ten times better than the first one I built. My plan was to build a 1952 copy so I could be like Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards or Roy Buchanan with his Nancy. Unfortunately that never happened, or at least not as close as I hoped for. Everything was going great, I had an awesome baseball bat neck with a 7.25 radius, it was actually so fat that I had to reshape it twice, great grain running along the top, everything felt smooth and the edges were pretty straight for being cut and shaped by hand, then I got to the lacquer. I managed to use the wrong lacquer and even though I tried to scrape it off and try again I never got perfect after that. I decided to give up on the brand new look and went for some form of old and worn 50’s vibe instead, which was my secret plan all along, I just wanted to have it perfect before I made it look old. Anyway, I’ve learnt a lot for my next Claescaster.
The body comes from a wood pile I found in the streets of Barcelona and most likely pine. If I remember correctly it was a beam or a bed frame, that I cut in half on the length and glued together to get the width. The neck was from a block of North American maple that I bought in a wood shop here and that I had to saw by hand, which took forever. I used a 6 mm stick of wood for the fretboard markers and jumbo frets from Jascar. The pickups are Artec and the hardware is all from Wilkinson. I will try to get video up so you can hear what it sounds like.
The new Claescaster, my first attempt at building a guitar
As I mentioned before I’ve been pretty busy building a Telecaster from scratch. I have never built anything in my life so this was more of a test to see how hard it was to shape a body, carve a neck, install a trussrod and frets and get it to intonate and actually play properly. It wasn’t that hard. I would say that with some patience this could be done by pretty much anyone. Now I will start to build something a lot prettier and use what I’ve learned from my mistakes the first time around. I promise to take a lot of pictures so you can follow the whole process. You can follow me on Instagram.
I’ve been fairly busy lately building a Telecaster from scratch. I really should have taken more pictures to document the whole journey but I felt that this first one would be more about figuring things out since I’ve never built anything before. The next one will be well documented and hopefully look ten times better than this first rough cut little Telecaster built from some pine that I found in the street. Now I just need to install some frets, hardware and give it a coat of paint. You can follow me on Instagram.
Fender Telecaster TL52-75, ’52 re-issue, Made in Japan by FujiGen between 1987-1989
In loving memory of Nancy, my Fender Telecaster TL52-75, that was sold last night. I miss her already but I’m glad she went to a good home. She lives in Zaragoza now with Juan and I’m sure she will get more love than I could ever give her. Two guitars have left me in the same week, I think I’m still in shock, sad but kind of happy at the same time.
My new Hohner Telecaster, made in Japan in the 1970’s most likely by Morris in the Moridaira factory.
This weekend I received a 1970’s Japan made Hohner Telecaster. These old Hohner’s have a nice solid feel to them and good resonance even though the bodies are made out of plywood, or some form of wood sandwiched together. Having said that, this Telecaster is extremely heavy so maybe they sandwiched a chunk of mahogany together with an ash or alder top layer. This would have put me off if I wasn’t so gay for my old beat up Hohner Strat. This was one of the first Japan made guitars I bought, I found it in a charity shop in Camden in London for £50 in 2009. It’s not the best Strat I have ever played but the neck is really chunky and the pickups sounds really good. It’s the same with the new Hohner Telecaster, pretty nice neck and great pickups. The neck pickup actually sounds a bit like the in-between neck and middle position on a Strat. I would have preferred that the Telecaster neck was a wee bit thicker, but it’s still very playable. Hohner only produced guitars in Japan for a couple of years during the late 1970’s and later moved to Korea like a lot of other brands. I really enjoy this Telecaster but I have too many guitars at the moment and therefore it’s up for sale.
Moridaira (Morris Guitars) Founded in 1967 by Toshio “Mori” Moridaira, the Moridaira factory produced high-quality guitars, including the infamous Morris badged guitar. Moridaira also produced badged guitars for Hohner including Coronado, Futurama, H.S. Anderson, Lotus (some) and Sakai.
One thing that would prove the Hohner connection to Moridaira would be Prince’s Telecaster. He used to play a a H.S. Anderson Mad Cat, as I mentioned in a previous post. Hohner later copied the Mad Cat, first in Japan and later as the Prinz guitar made in Korea by Cort. Those early Mad Cats under Hohner was made by Moridaira. “A little over 500 Mad Cats were made during the ‘70s, including a small batch made OEM for Hohner USA with a Hohner logo in the H.S. Anderson style. Pop artist Prince discovered one of these rare guitars early on in his career, and used it live and on countless hit-records like Purple Rain, 1999, Controversy, etc. for over 30 years now.” Taken from the history page at Mad Cat guitars
I took the guitar a part to look over the electronics and give it a good clean and set it up properly. The Switch is a bit worn so I will order a new one and replace that but the Japanese 500k pots are crackle free so I will keep the rest. This one is wired in an even weirder way than my Greco, with the ground from the bridge going to the first post on the treble pot. There were two big chunks on the back of the neck that was either worn or sanded down, which I didn’t like. I applied some Nitrocellulose lacquer with a sponge for not getting any sharp edges around, which worked pretty well, and then sanded it smooth with 2500 grit paper.
Update: August 30, 2014 I got around to change the 3-way switch so now I finally got to hear the bridge pickup, not bad at all. I also bought 6 new screws that I cut since the original ones were really annoyingly long. When I got this guitar the action was too low for me and when I raised the saddles the screws that are holding them in place almost touched the strings so I decided to replace them with something shorter. I really starting to like this Telecaster now, it has a great twang and feel to it.
My beat up old Hohner Stratocaster, bought cheap in London back in 2009. Notice that the logo is different on these two.