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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Original 51 NoCaster advice wanted

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by Twisted Kerle, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. Twisted Kerle

    Twisted Kerle Tele-Meister

    Feb 2, 2016
    Hello, new to site.

    OK, so I pulled a golden ticket out of the Wonka bar. My grandpa died and left me his 51 Fender NoCaster. I am now just the third owner of this beauty. It has indeed been played hard and put away wet. It has been in storage for about a decade. I have brought it down to the Pacific Northwest in search of a good guitar doc.

    Although recommendations are still being taken, I have the doctors narrowed down to a small handful. One is certified by fender, the others are not. (boy do I have a horror story or two there!) and I have had offers from insulting to jaw dropping.

    I brought it down to get a COA, and estimates for insurance. (and to get it playable, if possable)

    Now for the question and advice section.

    Just go with Fender recommend and certified doc, or not.
    Others than the visable serial number, is there a way to check originality without taking it apart?
    How paranoid should I be about parts being taken?
    I know even popping the original solder off a pickup decreases value. Should I demand to be present? Or just let the expert do his job.
    When I looked up ways to tell if it was a original nocaster, (after taking it apart) there was a huge list, can someone give me a reader digest version? Or any key ones I need to ask doc about?
    Are there any initials of people who worked on it I should watch for?
    And any other advice you wish to toss my way.


    Attached Files:

  2. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 21, 2012
    Take the neck off it and check for signitures, check the neck pocket for a D stamp
    remove the pickguard and look for extra nail holes
    posts pictures on here people will tell you what you have

    Don't worry about taking it apart it wont harm it
    plus if you are worried about anything going missing take pictures of the pots etc

  3. bchaffin72

    bchaffin72 Friend of Leo's

    Aug 14, 2004
    Stratford, Ontario
    You can also open up the control cavity and check, or take pictures of the pot codes.

    Some disassembly is about the only way to tell on the old Fenders. Once you have some pictures of various(and currently out of sight) features, we'll know better what we're looking at. :)

  4. brogh

    brogh Super Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    well, that looks really nice.

    Personally, I wouldn't take it apart unless I'm really sure of what I'm doing, I know it's not a difficult thing to disassemble a guitar, it' s putting it back together right that isn't so easy.

    I don't know if you have some expert in your area that is used to handle these kind of gear, but I would take to a well renowed expert, like gruhn guitars, I believe there are more (I'm not in us or can so i don't know them well) that can get your guitar looked ad and back in playing condition and eventually release some kind of certification.

    It's a little treasure, treat her with respect :)

    hope it helps

    Twisted Kerle likes this.

  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI
    Whenever I see threads like this, the two shops below frequently come up. I have no experience with either but they deal in older vintage guitars. There are youtube videos you can check out the owners. They are a drive from you but I'm sure they can give an opinion about what to do next. The Nachos book might be helpful or interesting.

    Fender might be a good contact to go to them for COA and any work by their custom shop builders, perhaps.

    Post pictures here and keep the story going, we are all interested.

  6. Major Gruber

    Major Gruber Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 24, 2012
    Colombes France

    At least unscrew the pickguard and take a picture. Some nail holes should be found, one on the left of neck pickup cavity (photo example), another one in the horn. Check the dowels on the back of the guitar, they're bigger before 1953, here's a picture showing a comparison of size in mm. The bigger one was on a 51 body and the smaller, an early 60's one. If you unscrew the neck and find a D stamp, it's a clue for an early one too, but if there's no D, it's not a clue against it as they were on most guitars but not all. No nail holes would be more problematic.

    Attached Files:

    Twisted Kerle likes this.

  7. John Owen

    John Owen Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Jan 29, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    If you haven't checked out Joe Riggio at Service Guitar Repair, you should. He is in Tacoma. Emerald City Guitars has used him for restorations of instruments similar to yours. Emerald City is in the business of making sure that service work on vintage instruments increases the value (not the contrary). I have personally worked with Joe a couple of different times and know others who have as well. In addition to being an amazing craftsman, he is as honest and knowledgeable as they come. He will give reliable answers and advice on anything you are unsure about with respect to that beautiful old tele. Here's a link:
    Hughmart and Twisted Kerle like this.

  8. Slipperyfish

    Slipperyfish TDPRI Member

    Jan 12, 2016
    What a special guitar! with a great story. I understand your concern thats a tough one. Its always a day I actually don't look forward to when one of my vintage guitars must go in for a service. Almost like surgery. Doesn't happen often which is always good thing. Parts are so valuable so you really need to be able to rely/trust on someone who knows what they are doing and has that unique experience with such an instrument. The pictures and documentation is good but means nothing when the part goes mysteriously missing its one of those "well I don't know what happened to it. Not at every music shop of course but I'm sure it happens and you don't want to be that victim.

    Its a big league guitar and it will need to probably go to a big league company/luthier. Then again if you know somebody local who you are friends with and has that unique experience it may work out for you. There is one here in Vancouver (which is pacific northwest actually) that I go and take my vintage stuff. I don't let anybody touch them but him. It will be strange day when he retires because I'm not sure who I could take them to myself. Again its not often anymore so its probably ok. I don't own a Fender guitar quite that old but still in the glory years and they are so collectable now its really unbelievable.

    Its sort of sad how they are becoming so rare and expensive you become different when they come out into the light. Special but weird feeling hard to explain.

  9. bchaffin72

    bchaffin72 Friend of Leo's

    Aug 14, 2004
    Stratford, Ontario
    I agree. I've always thought the nocasters were a great piece of early Fender history. Seen people over the years talk of how cheap Leo was to just clip off the "Broadcaster" after Gretsch's cease and desist letter, but really, what he was, was frugal. With as much as possible, and for good reason. Fender of the late 40s and early 50s was a small company. Leo's main concern was getting his products out the door, not respending money on what he'd already bought or getting caught up in a legal battle over a name. He did what made sense to him, just drop the name and keep building guitars until a new name was found, which wasn't long anyway.
    Tonetele likes this.

  10. red57strat

    red57strat Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Oct 4, 2003
    That's beautiful! How far is it from being playable?

    Regarding keeping repair people honest- take detailed photos of the guitar, including the electronics in the control cavity, and make them aware of that.

  11. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Holic

    Feb 10, 2010
    Low Lands
    If you are looking to sell it, it probably represents the most value in its current state. No need to do anything with it.
    El Tele Lobo likes this.

  12. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 9, 2008
    ^^^ Every step away from original = less money.*

    If it was me, I'd either sell it in it's current state in an expensive vintage case or I'd have Gruhn's do whatever you need done.

    I have my problems w/ them but you want a "name guy" to do whatever to it - and he is THE name guy.

    *I could possibly be convinced that a very tasteful relic refin on the body ONLY was the way to go but it would have be really good and documented (not like you're trying to fool anyone.)
    2blue2 likes this.

  13. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Friend of Leo's

    Jan 10, 2013
    I strongly feel that this would be a big mistake. I don't think you'll find anyone who would be interested in this sort of piece who would want a refin over original finish, or even an old refinish, no matter how beat up. This one doesn't look beat up unreasonably anyway.
    It looks like it just needs a little cleaning to me.
    I'd take it to a service man with experience in old Fenders like the one recommended above, and follow his advice. Before doing that, I'd do nothing if i had no experience with dissasembly and re-assembly.

  14. Twisted Kerle

    Twisted Kerle Tele-Meister

    Feb 2, 2016
    Thanks for the input. I knew I would get real info here. Honestly, I know what I have. First time it was in my lap I was 3. I am truly the third owner, and I'm sure it is all original. Gpa was a 'if it's not broke, don't fix it' guy.
    (nod to slippery fish) I feel like a kid at Xmas circling that bicycle shaped wad of wrapping paper. I know what it is darn it... But I can't open it.
    Yeah, sorry guys, I can't open it for pics. I couldn't find a flathead screwdriver. Grin. Actually my vision is really bad, and have have no experience doing so. So... That will be up to the doc.
    Major Gruber; thank you for that dowl info, that was great.
    John Owen; thanks for the service guitar link. Emerald city guitars was one of the finalists for my doc. I will definitely talk to the man they use.
    Fender will not touch it. They recommended all star guitar out of gig harbor, WA.
    I plan on keeping the guitar. 'He got beat to death by a tiny 90 year old Italian woman' wouldn't look good on my headstone. I want to get it playable. It was working when it got put up, so that shouldn't be to much of an issue. Mainly electronics and corrosion.
    Realistically, #@&$ happens and I would like to keep as much value in it as possible. An emergency fund type thing. (Better than a bank)
    Are there any signatures or initials I (doc) should look for. People, not placement.
    Thanks again to all. Will update further and await replies.
    El Tele Lobo likes this.

  15. Cheshiergrin

    Cheshiergrin Tele-Meister

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sorry to hear about your grandpa
    El Tele Lobo and Twisted Kerle like this.

  16. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    Given that it is a genuinely high end instrument, I don't think you'd be out of line to tell shops you want to be present for the work and to take pics or even video of the guitar apart. Presumably you are only having basic cleaning and setup done, and presumably you are able to pay them for their time. A shop should be happy to have your Nocaster grace their bench.
    If a shop tells you they will not allow you to watch, ask them to recommend a shop that will.
    If they are unfriendly about it be glad you found out sooner.

    Edit: Obviously you would have to make an appt and pay extra.
    El Tele Lobo and Twisted Kerle like this.

  17. bchaffin72

    bchaffin72 Friend of Leo's

    Aug 14, 2004
    Stratford, Ontario

    Tadeo Gomez comes to mind. His signature or initials are on a lot of the 50s instruments, on the butt end of the neck, usually along with a penciled in date.
    yardleyboy and Twisted Kerle like this.

  18. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    Yes, "TG" initials on the neck heel do add an extra level of prestige as Tadeo is considered to be Fender's finest neck maker.

    Not that you really need it with such a fine old guitar.

    El Tele Lobo and Twisted Kerle like this.

  19. Bulldoggio

    Bulldoggio TDPRI Member

    Nov 5, 2015
    Mid South
    Your guitar has already been refinished, but I would certainly leave it as is. Clean the electronics, level the frets, check the nut and go. Certainly be there when the luthier goes through it and take photos of everything. A true gem you have there.
    eallen and Twisted Kerle like this.

  20. Twisted Kerle

    Twisted Kerle Tele-Meister

    Feb 2, 2016
    Refinished?... Really?... Do tell...
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2016

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