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My 72 Custom with odd neck

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by Chris_R, May 11, 2015.

  1. Chris_R

    Chris_R TDPRI Member

    23
    May 11, 2015
    Toronto
    Hi all

    I'm new here and happy to have found the site, as I've had questions about my guitar for years. I bought it used in 1981 when I was a teenager in a punk rock band. It was advertised as a "1972 Fender Telecaster". I knew nothing about guitars at the time, except that Fender was a reputable company. It was my sole guitar throughout the 80s when I played in several bands and toured the country, putting my poor guitar through all sorts of abuse which I now regret, but it was a workhorse and survived it all, hardly ever even going out of tune the entire time. Eventually many players commented that what I had was a "Telecaster Custom". I started researching my guitar once I had internet access in the mid-90s, and realized something odd, which is that the headstock says "Fender Telecaster", but doesn't say "Custom" anywhere on it like every other one I've ever seen a photo of. The serial number on the plate is 374***, and it appears to be a Custom in every sense except for that detail. I don't know the guitar's history before 1981, so it's possible that the previous owner swapped the neck for some reason, but I'm wondering if there might be some other reason why it wouldn't say "Custom" on it? As in, did they all have the "Custom" decal, or were some sent out without it? I've attached a current photo. Hopefully it works. Thanks in advance.
     

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    Last edited: May 11, 2015

  2. slack

    slack Friend of Leo's

    Sep 26, 2003
    Hollywood, CA
    It appears to be a Custom body, but incorrect neck.

    Is the neck plate 3-bolt or 4-bolt? If 4-bolt, and the body and the body is an authentic 70s Custom, then the body was re-drilled for a regular Tele 4-bolt neck.

    To really know what you have, you need to remove the neck and take/post pics of the neck butt, neck base, and neck pocket in the body.
     

  3. MrTwang

    MrTwang Friend of Leo's

    Feb 9, 2009
    London, England
    Yes, that looks like a regular Tele neck on a Custom body.

    As well as the 3/4 bolt thing mentioned above, a Tele Custom neck would have the bullet truss rod at the headstock end instead of the almond shape in your picture.
     

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  4. Major Gruber

    Major Gruber Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 24, 2012
    Colombes France

    The body should be authentic if bought in 81. Custom was the first of the new 70's models to be launched in 72. Isn't it possible that a few of those among the first ones had been made with regular Telecaster necks? Neck pocket will say it all. Can't wait to see it! :eek:
     

  5. Chris_R

    Chris_R TDPRI Member

    23
    May 11, 2015
    Toronto
    Thanks for the reply. It's a rectangular 4-bolt neck plate with a big Fender "F" under the serial number. I'm a bit hesitant to remove the neck as I'm not exactly qualified and don't want to screw up the alignment. Is it a simple process of taking it apart and putting it back together with no harm done? I am curious though, and I intend to get the whole thing fixed up - pickups, tuning pegs, output jack - which would probably be the time to take photos of dates.
     

  6. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    It's simple process. Just loosen the strings, remove the neck screws and with the guitar lying on its back, lift the neck vertically (rather than pulling it horizontally) out of its pocket. Replacement is just the reverse making sure the screws engage in the threads in the neck.

    Tele Customs originally came with 3-screw necks and the Fender "micro tilt" system.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The bottom screw was actually a threaded bolt that engaged with the circular metal discs in the neck and pocket to allow tilting of the neck.

    Yours most probably had its neck replaced sometime before you bought it with a 4-screw neck and rectangular neck plate as was used on standard Telecasters. I suspect you'll see evidence of this under the neck plate and in the neck pocket.
     

  7. Chris_R

    Chris_R TDPRI Member

    23
    May 11, 2015
    Toronto
    Thanks, Kevin. OK then, this will be my project for the day. I'll post pics later.
     

  8. Chris_R

    Chris_R TDPRI Member

    23
    May 11, 2015
    Toronto
    Well, that was relatively painless. Here are the photos. No evidence that there was ever a hole for a 3-bolt neck plate.

    edit - forgot to mention - there are 3 small strips of silver foil, like very very thin sheet metal almost, which I forgot to take a photo of. You can see they indentation they left in the 3rd photo of the neck pocket.
     

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  9. Major Gruber

    Major Gruber Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 24, 2012
    Colombes France
    Obviously this is a 4 bolt body, no doubt. So, you bought this guitar used in 1981. I don't know very well the end of the 70's. Were they back to 4 bolt on models like custom then? I don't think so and in any case it would have a no notch body shape. 72 was the year of the first 3 bolt neck plates, wasn't it? and it was the year of the firsts Custom too (well, custom of that kind). I think it makes complete sense that some of the first ones were made with 4 bolt necks.
     

  10. Chris_R

    Chris_R TDPRI Member

    23
    May 11, 2015
    Toronto
    Yes, I bought it used in '81 at a reputable local Musical Instrument shop. It was labelled "1972 Fender Telecaster". No mention of the word "Custom" at all. So does this mean I have some sort of hybrid Custom protoype?
     

  11. Major Gruber

    Major Gruber Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 24, 2012
    Colombes France
    No I don't think it's a prototype, simply one of the first runs. They had another model called Custom before, a regular Telecaster with binding on the body edges and the last ones were made in 1972 too. Maybe they waited to discontinue the production (actually the last customs of the first kind didn't have the name custom on the headstock anymore). Or maybe the three bolt system was on its way but not generalised and they picked in the regular neck stock to run some of those… It's a transition period so exceptions are not incredible.
     

  12. Chris_R

    Chris_R TDPRI Member

    23
    May 11, 2015
    Toronto
    Thanks for the help Major Gruber and everyone else. I was just thinking that maybe they just had a few boxes of the old rectangular plates they wanted to use up, and they didn't have any regular Telecaster bodies on hand, so they grabbed a bunch of the new Custom bodies, slapped them together, and called it a Telecaster instead of a Custom even though it has elements of both. What this tells me - and really ultimately what I was hoping to find out - is that this is a factory-made 1972 Telecaster as advertised, and not a neck and body from different guitars that someone put together later. For some reason, that's good to know, though it doesn't really matter as it's a great guitar regardless.

    Also, I researched the name on the neck, "X. Armenta", and found on the Fender forums from a poster named backwardbass, "The name on your neck is X. Armenta. I believe the X stood for Xavier. X Armenta worked at the Fender factory for many years. I have 2 basses from the mid 70's with necks made by him, they are great! He was an excellent craftsman." This stuff is fascinating.
     

  13. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    I think you have a very interesting guitar there, and I certainly think it's all original.

    The Tele Custom was introduced in mid 1972 with a 3-screw neck and bullet truss rod, yet yours, with its 4 screw neck, has an October neck date! If this was a prototype or very first run, I'd expect the neck date to be at least 5 or 6 months earlier. The body is certainly original and has a fairly deep notch in the neck pocket which is what you'd expect from a '72. I think it's also interesting that the body has the channel to allow adjusting the trussrod from the heel of the neck, although I guess you'd have to remove the pickguard to use it.

    The serial number doesn't help a lot as in the early 70's neck plates were pretty much pulled at random from a large box of them.

    I guess we'll never really know - could it possibly been a Fender employee "special"? - but Fender has always been somewhat inconsistent so I guess we shouldn't be that surprised.
     

  14. Major Gruber

    Major Gruber Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 24, 2012
    Colombes France
    Yes, I had a 72 Telecaster with the same name on the neck bottom and then I realised my beloved 56 has XA pencilled next to the date and it turns out to be the same guy 16 years later already working for Fender :mad:
     
    zmix likes this.

  15. Chris_R

    Chris_R TDPRI Member

    23
    May 11, 2015
    Toronto
    Shop accident? Uh oh, I accidentally drilled 4 holes in this Custom body, what should I do? Boss man - "Good one, genius. Well, grab a regular neck, slap it together, and call it a Tele. Also, you're fired."

    I'm really curious to know how many of these there are. I've scoured the internet over the years looking for similar guitars, but I've never seen one, which is why I suspected that mine was a home job made from parts of two different guitars. But it looks like that's not the case, and it's an authentic Fender factory guitar with an interesting (or not so interesting) back story.
     

  16. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    I've certainly never seen one before and my '73 is a 3-screw.

    Slack has seen dozens, if not hundreds, of Tele Customs. Let's see what he has to say.
     

  17. MrTwang

    MrTwang Friend of Leo's

    Feb 9, 2009
    London, England
    Does the humbucker have the Fender logo on it?

    Now the neck's off, it would be interesting to see the routing under the pickguard too.
     

  18. Chris_R

    Chris_R TDPRI Member

    23
    May 11, 2015
    Toronto
    Yes, it's the original humbucker the guitar came with. It's all back together and re-tuned now, and I didn't think to remove the pickguard.
     

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  19. slack

    slack Friend of Leo's

    Sep 26, 2003
    Hollywood, CA
    It appears to be a 72 Tele neck, and possibly electronics and hardware, put on a non-Fender body. I've never seen, nor heard of a single 70s Custom produced without a 3-bolt micro-tilt neck. C'mon folks, the earliest ones, made in 71 and shown at shows and in literature, all had it. Also, none of the bodies had a rout between the neck pocket and neck pickup route. Further, all Tele bodies (any model) had paint stick holes starting in 1969.

    I used to collect the earliest Thinline v2s and Custom v2s. Meaning, all 71 date codes, pat pend saddles, shallow body routs... All the earliest elements as they sussed out production. This is just wrong.

    Feel free to post pics of the body routing and wiring under the pickguard. My money's on this not being a Fender body.
     

  20. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    You may well be right, but were replacement bodies that common in the early 70's?

    Certainly a photo of the body routes and wiring and controls would help a lot. The pots and caps were fairly specific to that model.

    And Chris, you can remove the loaded pick guard without removing the neck. Let us know what the codes on the volume and tone controls are.
     

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