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Old August 13th, 2004, 01:52 AM   #1 (permalink)
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early '70's tele neck pickup question

Hi, I'm looking at a '73 or '74 tele to buy and don't know
if the neck pickup is the original one or not.

First of all, do early '70's neck pickups have a grey
bottom on the bobbins like the '65 and up tele bridge
pickups, or are they black like the '50's and '60's tele
neck pickups?

What color should the plastic coating on the leads be;
black and white, black and yellow, or something else?

Should there be shielding on the pickup lead wires?

What is the typical measured resistance on a '73-4
neck pickup?

(FYI, this pickup has a black bottom bobbin, a
black plastic shield over the pickup lead wires and
measure about 8K)

One other question, this is a 'walnut brown'
standard tele. The pickguard is definitely a fender
guard, but it's a 3-ply black-white-black model.
I know they were making 3-ply black guards on the
Custom and Deluxe teles of that era, but does anybody
remember if a black guard is the correct color for
a brown '73 standard tele?

Thanks, Uncle H.

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Old August 13th, 2004, 05:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Dear fellow enthusiasts,

I noticed about 20 people read my question, but nobody
replied, so I broke down and called Lindy Fralin today
and this is what he said:

'70's Fender neck pickups
always had black bottom bobbins and are virtually
indistinguishable between '70 and '82.

He also said that they always measured 7 to 7.5 K,
unless they are breaking down.

As far as shielding goes, he said he occaisionally
sees "metal-braided shielding on top of a white coat
of plastic over the leads", but that the idea of a
black plastic shielding is not ringing a bell with him
and he doesn't think that would be original.

Lindy thinks that the lead wires would usually be
black and white on the neck pickup (and black and yellow on a bridge pickup), but that isn't always the case.

On the subject of the color of the lead wires, I can
tell you that in my experience, the yellow and the white
coating look almost, but 'not quite', translucent in a 'cheese-y' way, like the coating material is real cheap!

By the way, if any of this info doesn't make sense to
people more experienced in electronics, it's probably
my fault, not Lindy's. Your Uncle, Harry
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Old August 15th, 2004, 04:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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My experience...

This'll make you all shudder...

In 1969, while in high school, I bought a Fender Telecaster (Nocaster?) #0735 and a TV-front deluxe amp...for $ 75.00 from the brother of my barber. The tuners were shot and the neck p'up did not work. My father and I replaced the tuners with new Fender "F" tuners and I ordered and soldered in a new Fender neck p'up...and threw the old one away (arrgh!)...anyway, I distinctly remember the new wires were plastic black and white leads...much easier to strip than that cloth stuff...LOL!

(Sold the amp right away, for $ 25.00, to a lady who was to use it for folk-masses...

Sold the guitar in 1985 so I could buy a video-tape recorder and camera)
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Old August 15th, 2004, 10:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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yep...the leads on my 72 are black and white, and the bobbin is black....
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Old August 16th, 2004, 04:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Black/White/Black Pickguard

I also have a "brown walnut" 70s era standard telecaster. It has the pickguard you are describing. I'm pretty sure its original because the sticker on the back of the pickguard has a number that matches the serial number on the headstock.

I don't want to take the pickups out, but the wiring is cheap plastic insulation, black and white for the neck and yellow and black for the bridge. All soldering looks original. Rear pickup has staggered poles. Very bright sound. Most treble of any tele I own.

Interestingly, the neck stamp in the pocket says 1981. The serial number on the neck relates to 1978, the pots are coded for 1974. Body is a typical 70s "no notch". Seems to be two piece ash. The walnut brown finish is see-thru.

I guess fender just used parts from whenever when building a guitar. The guitar seems to be of all original manufacture.

Hope this helps.
If it sounds good, it is good.
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Old August 16th, 2004, 11:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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ash or alder?.....neck pocket stamp numbers....

Smilin' Dave,
Thanks for the input. Your pictured tele looks very, very much like mine.

My brown body is light brown on the top and back,
but quite dark on the sides. It's not a fade issue, or a
product of the way the wood grain took the stain,
I think it's a deliberate finishing decision (maybe
to hide the 'join' lines on different body pieces,
I dunno?).

My body is alder, not ash. Why? 'Cause, it's very light
for a '70's tele and the grain patterns
just don't look like ash.

I'm not implying that ash weighs more that alder;
I do mean to imply that Fender wood buyers in the '70's were less interested in the 'water weight' of the wood they aquired than in the previous decades and a lot of
ash bodies are HEAVY!!. Plus, I remember reading that ash is a more 'labor intensive' wood to work with than alder and that Fender,from '56 on, used alder on strats and teles, unless they were finished in 'blonde'.

Of course, we all know Fender 'rules' aren't set in stone;
I bet there are plenty of non-blonde bodies that are
ash instead of alder, but it's worth a look to check.

Dave, I have a thought for you to consider about the '1981' neck pocket stamp on your body and whether it
denotes the year of manufacture for your body.

In the neck pocket, sometimes you'll see a stamped number like '1981', or something similar, that's actually part of an INSPECTOR'S stamp.

The number will be surrounded by a circle and often the number will bi-sect or 'cut in half' the term 'INSP'
(for inspector or inspected?) inside that circle.

My body has an 'INSP' circle, complete with a bi-sected
4-digit number, in the neck pocket.

My tele also has an inspection mark
(circle, 'INSP', [very similar 4-digit number to the one
in the neck pocket, but a little different]) on the flat neck surface that mates with the pocket, the 'bottom' of the neck).

This particular neck stamping is a 'mis-print',
or half-print, so it looks faded, barely there.
In fact, I thought it had imprinted off the body marking, but it lines up in a different place and it's not in 'mirror-reverse' wording.

Anyhoo, my guess is that '1981' ain't the year of manufacture, which just leaves you with a '78 serial
number and '74 potentiometer dates. That's not bad!

On the subject of potentiometers, one other thought about why your brown '70's tele is the 'treble-iest' tele you own.

I know that this has been discussed in other threads, but LOTS of '70's teles use 1meg pots instead of the 250k ohm pots that Fender used in the '50's and '60's.

I've read that the higher the potentiometer resistance number, the 'treble-ier' the sound.

You could certainly argue that:
1) Leo thought 250k pots sounded good for his single
2) Gibson thought 500k pots made a comparitively
'fatter' pickup like a humbucker sound thinner
than they would with 250k pots and
3) 1 meg pots are like putting an ice pick in the temple!

Anyway, thanks to every body for replying to my query.
I've learned a lot and it sure has helped having people look at wires and pickup bobbin colors. I really appreciate

Hey, Dave, if you look at that neck pocket stamp again, I'd be real interested to know if it's an inspection stamp.

Your Uncle, Harry
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Old August 18th, 2004, 08:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Neck Stamp


I'm pretty sure that's a date stamp. Its written in a large font square across the neck interface. I can see the INSP stamp and this number is larger and removed from it.

About the pot value, you were right, the tone pot is 1 Meg.

I think the wood is ash, it looks like my other ash teles. Its about medium weight. not too heavy.
If it sounds good, it is good.
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