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Fender Bullet Owners Club

Discussion in 'Guitar Owners Clubs' started by jays0n, Jun 18, 2009.

  1. jays0n

    jays0n Tele-Meister

    357
    Jan 11, 2009
    San Francisco, CA
    BTW gang, I am somewhat considering selling my nicer Bullet (one that started this thread). It is all original, never worked on at all, has original case and case candy like warranty, instructions, and signed inspection card etc. I am afraid I will end up modifying it, if this project comes out okay :) it is in collectible condition and might be better in a collection rather than being played. If anyone is interested, I might be into discussing a sale. PM to discuss.
     
  2. LeadSeries

    LeadSeries TDPRI Member

    36
    Dec 4, 2014
    ohio
     
  3. LeadSeries

    LeadSeries TDPRI Member

    36
    Dec 4, 2014
    ohio
    the rosewood necks were all made in Korea. They were shipped to Fullerton, and assembled there. That is why the decal is over the finish on the headstock. I'm so sick of people claiming these necks to be leftover 60's necks. I had one. It was terrible. Two frets were popping out. I've seen them with missing dot markers. People have to remember that this was Fender's attempt to make a very inexpensive student guitar to compete with Japanese imports.
     
  4. LeadSeries

    LeadSeries TDPRI Member

    36
    Dec 4, 2014
    ohio
    the ply bodies were also made in Korea.
     
  5. Santiago

    Santiago TDPRI Member

    Age:
    41
    19
    Mar 14, 2009
    London UK
    Interesting, people here seem to be relatively happy with the rosewood necks.

    I had two tele plywood bullets in the past with rosewood necks. In the first one (a standard) the neck was twisted and it was impossible to get a low action with it. In the second one (a deluxe) the neck was great, it played really well - I'm sorry I sold it, I did it to finance my Fender Statocaster Plus.

    Last week I managed to find myself a new Bullet, a tele-shaped standard with a solid-wood body (dated to May 1982, as are the potentiometers) and a rosewood neck (no skunk stripe, no 21-fret marker, Kluson tuners, no code beyond the one on the headstock, serial beginning with E11, no "made in the USA", radius is very flat, but I don't know if it's 12" or 14", it also included one of these old Fender cardboard shims in the neck pocket) that plays fantastically well, I have set it up at standard action, but actually I think I could have gone lower without fret buzz.

    The body has a sticker on it with a serial that matches the serial on the headstock, so this unusual transitional combination seems to have been made at the factory.

    Clearly, before developing the 2nd run of Bullets (strat-shaped), some tele-like bodies were made in solid wood in USA (they are the ones that have softer curved edges). There is no evidence that the same was done for necks (although in the chaotic world of Fender everything is possible, it would help explain the variation in profiles), so it's very likely that necks originating in Korea were used until they ran out, probably with finishing and work done in the USA.

    My conclusion would be that the solid-wood body was USA-made and the neck probably made earlier in Korea but finished in the USA in 1982?

    What seems to be true is that the rosewood necks can be hit and miss. There are reports of them being excellent necks but also of some people having problem with twisting, etc... So it's probably something to look out for when buying a rosewood Bullet.
     
    jays0n likes this.
  6. Santiago

    Santiago TDPRI Member

    Age:
    41
    19
    Mar 14, 2009
    London UK
    By the way, I should have said hello before writing. I participated in this blog when I bought my first Bullet many years ago (the one with a twisted neck, it had apparently belonged to Paul Cook from the Sex Pistols!).

    I am enjoying very much my return to Bullet-land, playign my new one a lot and reading up here on the latest discussions and information.

    One thing that I have been investigating is the extent to which my tele standard bullet sounds different than my '91 Stratocaster plus.

    Both have a classic Fender-y sound, but the Bullet is brighter, louder and has what seems like a clearer sound with fewer harmonics (which was how I remembered my previous Bullets too).

    From reading in this thread and my own trial and error, it seems as though the differences come from the following:

    - The pickups are in different positions. The Bullet neck pickup is slanted, with bass end of the pickup being in a similar position to the Strat and the treble end being further from the neck. It's a cool sound, reminiscent of the shortscale guitars that have a similar neck position (Mustang, Duosonic).

    The bridge pickup is not slanted and is much closer to the bridge than in the Stratocaster. That seems to give much more trebley sound that I find less usable on its own than that of the Stratocaster bridge pickup, but at the same time it's cool because it's unique.

    - The bridge of the standard is part of the metal pickguard. Based on its lower mass and the fact that the pickguard is less tightly attached to the body than a normal Stratocaster bridge, this may be behind some of the tone differences too (perhaps the "cleaner" less resonant sound I was talking of?). It would be cool to A-B a Deluxe and a standard to check whether this is the case.

    - The pickups of the Bullet are louder than the Lace Sensor gold pickups of the Strat plus. The pickups of the Bullet are meant to be Mustang pickups from the late 70s and early 80s, the same as Dan Smith and other Stratocaster pickups of the time.

    - Some of the loudness difference may come as well from the fact that the metal pickguard is likely to have an impact on how the pickups work, reinforcing them to some extent and making them stronger. Again, some A-B ing of a Deluxe and a Standard would be very interesting.

    - Finally, the shape and size of the instrument and the wood they are made from is different. The Strat plus has one-piece poplar body and a maple neck and fretboard, whereas the Bullet has what looks like a three-piece body (alder, ash, poplar?) with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. I hear more low-mids in the Stratocaster than in the Bullet, maybe that's that.

    Overall I am happy with the Fender Bullet as being sufficiently different from my Stratocaster to justify keeping both.
     
    jays0n likes this.
  7. bluespenny

    bluespenny TDPRI Member

    5
    Apr 13, 2014
    Canada
    Need some advice, going to look at an early bullet today (E 1008XX). It looks excellent, with case and patent applied for sticker intact.
    But, it has a Fender Bullet Deluxe decal (with made in USA) but the guitar has the standard's metal pickguard with built in bridge. As far as the owner knows, unmolested.
    I know bullets can be all over the place in terms of parts: is this a red flag for anyone?
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
  8. Santiago

    Santiago TDPRI Member

    Age:
    41
    19
    Mar 14, 2009
    London UK
    Hi! I have not heard of that combination before, but I'm sure more experienced forum members will jump in.

    Fender are notoriously chaotic about parts, so it could conceivably have happened (I have read reports on this thread of the Patent Applied For sticker being put on plastic pickguards in some cases!), but I have not heard of this happening specifically. I suppose the proof of the pudding would be to remove the neck and check whether there is a sticker on the neck pocket that matches the serial on the neck.

    In the end the deluxe neck is identical to the standard neck, so it's not a problem - but I cannot say whether the mix-up is likely to have happened in the factory - hopefully someone here can help you - Good luck!
     
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  9. jays0n

    jays0n Tele-Meister

    357
    Jan 11, 2009
    San Francisco, CA
    Bluespenny, if you get that Bullet you can take it apart and look for serial number stickers. Sometimes they are in the neck cavity or in the body cavity and will match the serial number on the neck.

    A lot of people like the necks from the early basic models and it is possible someone swapped them though. I agree with Santiago (who I remember well from the early days of this epic thread; good to hear from you); the necks should be the same. Don’t worry about the sticker, if it feels good and is level etc then just enjoy!!!

    For me, personally, the weight and size of the original ply bodies are the best feature. I like that super heavy body, and I am not a tall person so the small size suits me. I liked Les Pauls when I was young but they are really a little unwieldy. The Bullet had that weight and nice center of gravity, but is more my size.

    The necks, on both of mine anyway, are perfect as well.
     
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  10. cuscus

    cuscus Tele-Meister

    228
    Dec 25, 2012
    United Kingdom
    Wow, lots going on since I was here last ..... All very interesting stuff ( well to us Bullet nerds it is ).

    This neck & body discussion got me thinking today, so I checked the photos of my collection, I have found something that I never noticed before.
    Most of the first version tele shaped Bullets that I own, have a lauan mahogany ply wood body ( standard & Deluxe ), all of those bodies have an extra tooling mark in the neck pocket, almost dead centre & it goes all the way through the body. The solid body Bullets have a similar hole, but it is set slightly off centre in the neck pocket & does not go all the way through the body, just a minor detail, but worth noting.


    thumb_DSCN1112_1024.jpg thumb_DSCN2811_1024.jpg
     
  11. cuscus

    cuscus Tele-Meister

    228
    Dec 25, 2012
    United Kingdom
    Hi bluespenny & welcome to our club, I think that it is highly likely that the Bullet you are looking at has had a neck change at some point, any standard telecaster neck will fit the Bullet & they are all interchangeable. It all sounds good in my view as long as you are not expecting an all original guitar, so like Jay say's if it plays well & sounds good go for it.
     
  12. cuscus

    cuscus Tele-Meister

    228
    Dec 25, 2012
    United Kingdom
    Hi Santiago, good to hear from you & thanks for the input, all of these new posts have revitalised my interest & got me looking & thinking, I don't think there is anything really unusual about the Bullet you purchased last week, I have several like it in my collection. The solid bodies also appear on both the standard & deluxe Bullets & on 81/82 & 83 guitars, with rosewood & maple necks, no real rhyme or reason to anything.

    I noticed another thing going through my Bullet collection today & that is all of the 81 Bullets have "made in usa" in the decal but none of the 82 Bullets have that in the decal, I never noticed that before.
    Regarding the radius, most of the rosewoods are 12 inch, but I have a Deluxe with a rosewood neck that has factory original jumbo frets & a 14 inch radius, also a standard Bullet rosewood with a 14 inch radius with normal frets, all of the maple neck Bullets are 7.25 radius.

    None of the necks on my Bullets are twisted & most are great players, the profiles vary a lot from big baseball bat C types, soft V to thinner D shapes, also the headstock shape does vary slightly, all of this would lean your thinking towards hand finished necks, I know machine finishing was in place by that time, but maybe the final sanding process was completed by hand & machine - who knows ?

    I have one rosewood neck that is not very good, it is on a red Bullet Deluxe, the actual rose wood board is very light in colour, the frets are not finished very well, the dot inlays look really cheap & one is falling out, in fact the whole neck is very bad & won't set to a low action without buzzes or fret chokes, it is an 81 with March 81 pot dates, so quite an early model, I suspect that this is one of the guitars that John Page talked about, that were not up to standard & the reason that the Bullets were bought back to the USA from Korea.

    As you have said, everything Fender has a reputation for being a bit chaotic , the first Bullet I purchased was a red standard with a solid body, but it has an 83 maple neck with a walnut skunk, I was assured it was purchased like that from new, it had a matching serial sticker in the neck pocket, it certainly appeared original as it was also hard to remove the neck, like it had been there forever, it remains one of the better Bullets I own & plays great.
    Another little oddity, is that 4 of my Bullets also have those double line klusons with the D 169 - 400 patent number, these are from the 60's, obviously left over stock, this also kills the theory that cheap parts were used on the Bullet, there were obvious cost cutting measures in the Bullet design, but the parts were the same as every other Fender from that era. Those double line kluson's have sold for hundreds of dollars per set on ebay, they were used on strats & teles from 1964 to 1969.

    thumb_DSCN3339_1024.jpg thumb_DSCN3342_1024.jpg thumb_DSCN3324_1024.jpg thumb_DSCN3323_1024.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
    Santiago likes this.
  13. Santiago

    Santiago TDPRI Member

    Age:
    41
    19
    Mar 14, 2009
    London UK
    Wow, thanks! The tuners on the one I bought look like that but I have not checked whether they actually say "Kluson deluxe" too (I will when I get home).

    Additionally, in my first Bullet, the tele one with a twisted rosewood neck, one of the fret markers had also fallen off the fretboard (and I think LeadSeries mentioned also something lik ethis). So I think it's a persuassive theory that these were the early necks with general production issues that John Page mentioned earlier in the thread.

    It seems some action (most likely hand finishing in the US? perhaps even US production?) was taken by Fender afterwards, since the other rosewood Bullet necks I have played were great and there seem to be many examples in this thread of people who have had similar experiences.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
  14. cuscus

    cuscus Tele-Meister

    228
    Dec 25, 2012
    United Kingdom
    The necks & bodies that were made in Korea were made on the same machinery as Fullerton, Fender shipped it over to the factories in Korea, so theoretically the necks should be no different. Although the history is a bit shady, I think a lot of the work on the Bullets was completed in the USA at Fullerton, the parts were probably shipped back pretty quickly, I remember John Page saying he recalls seeing lots of Bullet bodies ready for assembly in the Fullerton factory.
     
    Santiago likes this.
  15. cuscus

    cuscus Tele-Meister

    228
    Dec 25, 2012
    United Kingdom
    Most of the mark one Bullets with rosewood necks have no line klusons, the maple neck versions all have "F" tuners, none of the rosewood necks I have seen have the "F" tuners, I can't think of an explanation for that.
    Apologies if you already know this - The word line refers to the way that the brand name was stamped ie; "kluson Deluxe" in two lines (double line) either side of the lube hole on the tuner casing, the single line klusons had "kluson" in one line (single line) stamped down the middle of the casing with the lube hole where the "o" in Kluson is.

    "F" Tuners on a Mk 1 Bullet maple neck - No line Klusons on a rosewood Mk 1 Bullet.
    thumb_DSCN1378_1024.jpg thumb_DSCN2797_1024.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
    Santiago likes this.
  16. jays0n

    jays0n Tele-Meister

    357
    Jan 11, 2009
    San Francisco, CA
    Hey something else I noticed after reinspectig my two 81-ish Standard bullets (after LeadSeries’ post): one headstock has a one piece waterslide sticker (non-E serial number) and the other (E serial) has all the bits of info etc separate. It looks like it may be under the lacquer too but it is hard to tell and I do not want to mess with it :) but that one, the multi piece one, is also not discolored at all even after all these years. It is very hard to see it is a sticker, I had I use a loupe too see it.

    Another difference between the two necks (both no skunk stripe Rosewood) is the placement of the Nut, and the work around there looks different (photos later) and also the frets are totally different. My for sure untouched one (E serial number) has very very narrow frets and the other one (I bought as a neck, so really unsure) has pretty much what you expect on a moden telecaster. The E serial number one also has a larger radius though I cannot measure it.

    I like both necks though. They are just different. They are both very well made however. Zero issues and they look fantastic.

    I’ll send photos of the Head stocks and nut later. Out of the house now.

    Gotta check my tuners on the untouched one too. The one I bought as just a neck was missing tuners so I had to buy current reproduction Klusons :(
     
    Santiago likes this.
  17. Santiago

    Santiago TDPRI Member

    Age:
    41
    19
    Mar 14, 2009
    London UK
    Thanks, I see, mine are "no line" klusons then, exactly like the ones in your picture.
     
  18. Santiago

    Santiago TDPRI Member

    Age:
    41
    19
    Mar 14, 2009
    London UK
    That is fascinating - the chaotic methods of Fender have left us quite a lot of mysteries...
     
  19. cuscus

    cuscus Tele-Meister

    228
    Dec 25, 2012
    United Kingdom
    Hey Jay, you have started something here, I remember someone stating that about the decals being different & about the info being in separate sections, it may well have been here on this club board.
    I can't say I have taken a lot of notice before & I have not checked to see if the info in the decals on any of my guitars is in parts or not, but what I have found is that all of the decals on the Mk 1 tele shaped Bullets, both rosewood & maple /walnut skunk necks, I own are all applied on top of the lacquer, which as you say leads to some fading or damage.

    All of the Mk 2 strat shaped models I have, the decals are under the lacquer, even on the maple/walnut skunk necks, the majority are maple with the maple skunk - what stands out is that those decals are all in pristine condition being under the lacquer.

    Another thing I noticed with the decals that do not have "made in usa" on them, is that you can see where some of the decals have been cut - the tops of the letters in "made in usa" can be clearly seen on some & on others there is a clean straight line to the bottom edge under the word "Bullet", rather than the rounded edge like the rest of the decal ( see pics ). In the bottom pic, you can also see where the decal edge extends to incorporate "made in usa" below the word "Bullet", the tops of the letters are barely visible, but you can see where it has been cut.

    I can see the logic concerning the decals not having "made in usa" , considering that the Bullet was initially meant to be made in Korea, what does not make sense ; is that I would expect the earlier 81 necks NOT to have the "made in usa" & the later 82 necks to have "made in usa" in the decal - but it is the other way round.
    I can only make a stab in the dark & say that a large amount of decals may have been cut prior to application because they were expected to be made in Korea & just used up when the guitars came back to the USA, but then there is the question as to why the decals would be ordered from the supplier with "made in usa" in the first instance - the plot thickens .... anyone any theories ?

    thumb_DSCN1345_1024.jpg thumb_DSCN1383_1024.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
    Santiago likes this.
  20. bluespenny

    bluespenny TDPRI Member

    5
    Apr 13, 2014
    Canada
    Thanks to all who helped out this proud new Bullet Stanluxe™ owner. It is indeed a non-serial matching neck from a Deluxe on a Standard body. I'd swear before a judge that neck had never been off before, but the numbers don't add up. Nonetheless, the neck is gorgeous and the guitar (which appears to be a solid body) plays beautifully. What a sound, especially the middle position. Can't wait to break it in with the band. And the case it came with is very nice too. Anyway, a little montage of my first Bullet. I'd love to know what the little marks and stamps mean, and why the red stain...




    bulletmont.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
    Santiago likes this.
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