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Old August 7th, 2013, 11:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Advice please on 1952/53 Telecaster

I purchased my first guitar in 1965, a very rough used guitar with the body shape of a Telecaster. I did not realize it at the time but as it turns out (as near as I can tell) the guitar appears to be a heavily modified 1952-53 Telecaster. The bridge has been cut short to make room for a different pickup, however the serial number (3190) is still there. Unfortunately, the body dates as well as the date markings on the butt of the neck cannot be decifered. The (un-grouved) brass bridge saddles, absence of serial number on the neck plate, and the poodle case are also indicative of late 1952 or 1953.

The body modifications are extensive. It has been carved (carelessly gouged) out and one of the original cavities covered to accommodate a different (P90?) pickup, with different controls, knobs, plug, electrical components, all mounted on a different shaped pick guard. The original plug-in hole has been filled. The body has been repainted twice. The bridge base plate, in addition to being cut short, has been modified to allow for top-loading strings by drilling larger string holes and adding a notch. The string-through-body ferrules had been removed and later restored in the original holes.

Both the neck and body have extra mounting holes. It's like someone cut off the neck leaving segments of some of the original screws in the original holes in both the neck and the body. New holes were made to reattach the neck. The position of the new holes are not in alignment with the plate as a result, and another set of short screws have then been used to attach the plate to the body. The tuning keys are a mix of no-brand and branded Klusons with string holes (not slotted) and with ivory(?) knobs that have deteriorated (these can't be original). There is no decal on the neck.

Even though these modifications are extensive, it seems that it could be restored to it's original appearance. Even the damaged area that is not covered by the pick guard could be repaired by filling and drawing in the wood grain. But how do I go about it? Is the potential value high enough that I should consider only a skilled professional, or have the modifications already rendered the guitar unworthy of that kind of scrutiny? Given it's potential value, would it be foolish of me to take this on myself? If I do it myself, I could spend many hours scrutinizing every detail to make sure it is done to the highest standard (and my time is cheap). But what about parts? Is it even possible to find original vintage parts? And if so, would this be cost prohibitive as I would need virtually everything other than the neck and body? How would I fix the bridge? Would it make sense to use a mix of vintage and new components, and over time replace the new components with vintage ones as I'm able to locate (and afford) them? I need some advice since this is all new to me. I also have the original "poodle" case that would need to be repaired and recovered.

Hopefully, this post is appropriate for this forum. If not, please let me know and I'll repost in the correct one. Thanks.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 12:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Very interesting.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 12:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Just my $.02...
The amount of modification on this tele has taken most of the value away.
If you can authenticate the neck, you would have some good value there although it obviously has had some drastic changes made as well.
If I had it, I would probably try to get it back to some form of it's original self, but it would always be a player's guitar and never a "holy grail" collector's tele. Expensive, original vintage parts, in my opinion, would be overkill on something like this- but you or someone else may have another idea.
Good luck!
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Old August 7th, 2013, 12:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'd like to see more detailed pictures - but from what I can see there are a few things that would bother me.

Firstly, the body shape doesn't look quite right for a 52/53 - especially the upper bout and where it joins the body (I would expect more of a "notch"). Also, what happened to the cavity for the original control plate - the current pickguard shape wouldn't cover all of the original control cavity.

On the neck, I can't see the little walnut "almond" shape that covers the truss rod hole at the headstock end and why did the string tree get moved to the post '56 position? Does it have a skunk stripe on the back?

Looks like the bridge, as well as being sawn off, has had the string holes enlarged and re-shaped possibly give it some sort of toploading capability.

Are the holes and ferules still on the back?

My gut reaction would be that it is part of a 52/53 bridge (maybe) on a non-fender guitar.

More detailed pictures would help.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 12:41 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Just the case has some value. Too bad it is so destroyed. Can you identify that pickup? It may have some value also. Even little parts on a guitar like that, single tuners, string tree etc. may have some value. I would probably not sink a lot of money into restoring it. Play it like it is, or sell it, or part it out.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 12:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would play it as-is or with decent p90s and a custom pickguard.

If you want to sell it I would sell it in parts. Likely the neck can be authenticated (isn't there a date on the butt?) and sold for a decent amount. The saddles and the neck plate will bring some money.

I know a guy who has access to a CNC router and I had him repair a couple of these kind of monstrous mutilations of vintage Fender bodies (a double cutaway for instance). The router can cut with super high accuracy the most complex shapes. He could even fix a neck that is totally cut in half. But even with a perfect repair a hacked up body like that will never be worth a lot.

Again I like it better as-is..

Edit: DON'T recover the case.

Last edited by Antoon; August 7th, 2013 at 01:53 PM.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 03:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The only bits of the guitar that have any collectible value remaining are the saddles and screws. Everything is is modded to the point of having no real collector value.

To answer the question, yes this guitar could be made to replicate its former self. You could sink a lot of money into it, get professional wood work done on it, use only vintage parts, etc. Its just a matter of, is it worth it to you? It won't give the guitar any more re-sale value (if that's what you're after.)

If it were mine, I'd restore it, mostly myself, using mostly new parts. Have a modern reissue bridge made with the original number stamped into it. Get a replacement decal. Fill the wood myself. Refinish it...maybe send it off to be professionally reliced. I would put some money into it if I were certain that is a 53 at heart. I'd want to do it for personal satisfaction.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 04:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MrTwang View Post
I'd like to see more detailed pictures - but from what I can see there are a few things that would bother me.

Firstly, the body shape doesn't look quite right for a 52/53 - especially the upper bout and where it joins the body (I would expect more of a "notch"). Also, what happened to the cavity for the original control plate - the current pickguard shape wouldn't cover all of the original control cavity.

On the neck, I can't see the little walnut "almond" shape that covers the truss rod hole at the headstock end and why did the string tree get moved to the post '56 position? Does it have a skunk stripe on the back?

Looks like the bridge, as well as being sawn off, has had the string holes enlarged and re-shaped possibly give it some sort of toploading capability.

Are the holes and ferules still on the back?

My gut reaction would be that it is part of a 52/53 bridge (maybe) on a non-fender guitar.

More detailed pictures would help.
The lower part of the control plate cavity has been covered and painted over. With my finger I can reach under the cover and into the wiring channel all the way to the plug location.

I had not noticed the position of the string tree, but you're right. Maybe the neck is considerably newer than the bridge. There is a skunk stripe on the back.

Yes, the bridge will support a top load and the holes and ferrules are still in place on the back.

How would I go about authenticating the neck (and body)? It seems that before I do anything that would be in order.

Thanks for your reply. Here's some more pics...
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Old August 7th, 2013, 04:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Mr. TWang makes a point. From what I can see, I would think that this is not an early Tele body. IF it is, it has been modified in such a way as to not look like one. I don't like that upper bout, bass-side cutaway...not enough 'curl' to it, imho. I also don't see the router's hump.
OF course, the pics are not taken in such a way as to show these points well. IT could be just the camera angle. STraight on shots of the neck/body joint area with a light background and with the neck mounted would tell us a lot.
Thet said, the value has been hurt very much. IF a restoration were to be undertaken, imho, only a pro with some experience would make it worth the while...and it will always be a guitar that would command a much-reduced value in the marketplace.
IT would make a good Deluxe with the big pickguard and humbuckers. Teh case and the neck compose almost the entirety of any vintage value....and you might be surprised what they would bring from the right buyer.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 04:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The case may have some value, but only if you leave it as it is.
The wrong thing done trying to repair it, or any recover will cost most of any value it has.
You may be able to make the guitar look pretty good, but it will never have much value.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 05:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by japete View Post
The lower part of the control plate cavity has been covered and painted over. With my finger I can reach under the cover and into the wiring channel all the way to the plug location.

I had not noticed the position of the string tree, but you're right. Maybe the neck is considerably newer than the bridge. There is a skunk stripe on the back.

Yes, the bridge will support a top load and the holes and ferrules are still in place on the back.

How would I go about authenticating the neck (and body)? It seems that before I do anything that would be in order.

Thanks for your reply. Here's some more pics...
From that angle, it looks like a Fender neck to me - and obviously pre-CBS because of when you bought it. Any markings on the end of the neck or the back at the body end? Someone should be able to chip in with ideas for dating it even if the markings are hone but close-ups of the dot markers around the 12th fret as well as an end-on shot showing the truss rod screw and one of the back showing the various screw holes might help.

That body still doesn't look quite the right shape to me though - even taking in to consideration the way it's been butchered.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 06:01 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Thats a '50's Carvin pickup
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Old August 7th, 2013, 06:34 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Should the neck fit snuggly in the body? This one does not, as there is about 1/16" play. Here's a closeup shot of the upper cutaway.

The neck markings on the end are not recognizable to me, but it looks as though there may have been something there at one time...

Any markings on the body have been painted over.

The neck back has paper (spacer) glued to it covering any markings that might be there.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 07:15 PM   #14 (permalink)
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The spacing of the dots at the 12th fret would indicate 1953-1959 (in 1959 they started swapping over to rosewood fingerboards).

If there's no sign of a hole being filled in around the D/G tuners, the position of the string tree would point to mid 56 or later.

Does the back of the neck have a slight V shape or is it quite rounded? If V shape then I'd say mid 56 or 57. If more rounded (U shape) I'd say 1958.

Unfortunately the broken off screws and the necessity of drilling new ones in non-standard places will seriously impact its value if you decided to part it out..

No reason why you couldn't end up with a fantastic "player's" guitar though.
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Old August 7th, 2013, 07:59 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Those broken off neck screws can be removed without any drilling, and in such a way that the original screw size can be used again, in the original existing screw hole.

Wouldn't the string tree be the butterfly type for 2nd half of 56? On my late 56 the trussrod nut is also quite close to the fretboard, like this one seems to be. It is hard to see but the picture of the back of the neck does suggest a bit of a V profile (?)
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Old August 7th, 2013, 10:50 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Yes, looks like the string tree was swapped - maybe it came from the same source as the '52 bridge?

In 1965 when the OP bought this there was no aftermarket parts and no vintage market. Not even a pre/post CBS distinction.
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Old August 8th, 2013, 05:12 AM   #17 (permalink)
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That body is weird. It looks like it had a proper Telecaster control cavity that was veneered over? Is the top a veneer therefore?
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Old August 8th, 2013, 05:01 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Only the lower part of the control cavity was veneered over. A ledge was carved out of the body to support a small piece of 3/16" veneer.

I'd say the neck was more rounded and not a V shape (but I have nothing to compare it to).

There is no sign of a filled hole for the string tree.
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Old December 25th, 2013, 07:28 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by japete View Post
I purchased my first guitar in 1965, a very rough used guitar with the body shape of a Telecaster. I did not realize it at the time but as it turns out (as near as I can tell) the guitar appears to be a heavily modified 1952-53 Telecaster. The bridge has been cut short to make room for a different pickup, however the serial number (3190) is still there. Unfortunately, the body dates as well as the date markings on the butt of the neck cannot be decifered. The (un-grouved) brass bridge saddles, absence of serial number on the neck plate, and the poodle case are also indicative of late 1952 or 1953.

The body modifications are extensive. It has been carved (carelessly gouged) out and one of the original cavities covered to accommodate a different (P90?) pickup, with different controls, knobs, plug, electrical components, all mounted on a different shaped pick guard. The original plug-in hole has been filled. The body has been repainted twice. The bridge base plate, in addition to being cut short, has been modified to allow for top-loading strings by drilling larger string holes and adding a notch. The string-through-body ferrules had been removed and later restored in the original holes.

Both the neck and body have extra mounting holes. It's like someone cut off the neck leaving segments of some of the original screws in the original holes in both the neck and the body. New holes were made to reattach the neck. The position of the new holes are not in alignment with the plate as a result, and another set of short screws have then been used to attach the plate to the body. The tuning keys are a mix of no-brand and branded Klusons with string holes (not slotted) and with ivory(?) knobs that have deteriorated (these can't be original). There is no decal on the neck.

Even though these modifications are extensive, it seems that it could be restored to it's original appearance. Even the damaged area that is not covered by the pick guard could be repaired by filling and drawing in the wood grain. But how do I go about it? Is the potential value high enough that I should consider only a skilled professional, or have the modifications already rendered the guitar unworthy of that kind of scrutiny? Given it's potential value, would it be foolish of me to take this on myself? If I do it myself, I could spend many hours scrutinizing every detail to make sure it is done to the highest standard (and my time is cheap). But what about parts? Is it even possible to find original vintage parts? And if so, would this be cost prohibitive as I would need virtually everything other than the neck and body? How would I fix the bridge? Would it make sense to use a mix of vintage and new components, and over time replace the new components with vintage ones as I'm able to locate (and afford) them? I need some advice since this is all new to me. I also have the original "poodle" case that would need to be repaired and recovered.

Hopefully, this post is appropriate for this forum. If not, please let me know and I'll repost in the correct one. Thanks.
As for question being, this being the right fourm the answer is yes! These guys are amazing and come from pros to beginners under the best of minds and experience(s)! The other part would be how much of yourself can you actually want to accomplish. The cost would be outlandish, but like a true short bridge cut from the '52-'53 era would bring in more than say a Glendale if done right because of it's roots,a newer indexed history, and of an interested resourceful party which there would be for originality. Same thing with the neck or whatever could be salvaged but you're going in the same vain as it present state but in another direction. You'd be best to part it out or keep it with newer compromises,'50s Carvin pickup are EXTREMELY rare, shorty cut from a true Fender '50s era ,neck restored with era correct pieces can add up to a lot of trade,interests, or Ducats in this forum's potential!
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Old December 26th, 2013, 06:44 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Japete.
I'm with those saying restore it as much as possible ( maybe 'relic' parts etc. ). No reason you may not end up with a really good guitar, & certainly an jnteresting conversation piece, too !

Both my vintage Teles -'66 & '67, both maple-caps- would be considered 'player-grade', but they're also both exceptionally good guitars !

P.S:
Google a guy named Deke Dickerson..I'm pretty sure he'd take that old Carvin p/u off your hands in a heartbeat..put the $$ toward parts.

Nice dilemma to have ;o) !
Best,
Jeff.
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