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Pine bodies - why did they not continue them?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Geoff738, Jun 15, 2007.

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  1. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

    May 11, 2007
    Some of the earliest tele-styled guitars had pine bodies. then Fender went to ash and later alder.

    My question is, why?

    Sonics? Ease of finishing? Supply and/ or cost? (I would've thought that pine was at least as plentiful, and as cheap, as any alternative - but I could be very wrong) Other?

    I'm quite curious. I would've thought pinne to be a lightweight, resonant, plentiful, low cost wood. In other words, ideal for making guitars. But early Fender tele models (well pre-tele I think) such as the 2 pickup esquires are the only production models at least that I know of that are made of pine. I may be showing my ignorance of such matters here, but, who else has made guitar bodies made of pine. Why aren't they more prevalent?

    And, those who've made pinecasters, tell us why you went that way and the advantages.

  2. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

    If you drop one, it leaves quite a mark.
  3. Bill  Hullett

    Bill Hullett Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    Nashville Tn.

    The story goes as I've heard it that......Sales force in the feild in Fenders infancy gripped to Leo that the guitar was being thought of in a "less than serious" light because it lacked two components....1. a hardwood body 2. a truss rod in the neck....Viola' here comes the Broadcaster.....57 years later we can freely talk about the attritubes of both pine bodies and a trussrodless neck....both of which are killer IMHO but when Fender was barely more than a garage operation I bet they felt a strong need to cater to the music stores opinions....

    Bill Hullett
  4. Telemarkman

    Telemarkman Doctor of Teleocity Platinum Supporter

    Dec 6, 2005
    Like the guys said, Leo found pine to be too soft and easily dented for a professional guitar - a "workingman's tool".

    He also preferred a "blonde" finish to the black one, and thought the grain of the ash looked better with a transparent finish.

    So the change was merely for practical and aestetic reasons, not sonic.
  5. Lostheart

    Lostheart Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 26, 2005
    I have also read something about the sap/pitch in pine on the reranch board.
    If you don't seal the wood properly the pitch in the wood will cause the paint to bubble...never thought of that but it does make sense...
  6. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Bakersfield Ca.
    The story I heard many years ago was Leo gave a few of these 1st Teles to country musicians in the LA area and a couple of them got dropped and big slivers of wood came out. The pine just wasnt a hard enough wood to withstand abuse. So Leo made the rest out of ASH.
  7. scooteraz

    scooteraz Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 17, 2007
    Peoria, AZ
    Certianly, ash won't dent as easily as pine.

    Looking at the pine bodies, I had wondered about this. That is, would pine really be a gig-worthy instrument. On the other hand, looks like it will "relic" faster.:lol:
    UpcyclingTheTurds likes this.
  8. daddyopapa

    daddyopapa Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 27, 2005
    BC Canada
    When you examine the atrributes of pine, alder, and ash, it is easy to see why ash and alder were selected but pine was not. Pine is a great wood for custom guitars but I wouldn't want to be the accountant tracking warranty costs if there were 200,000 pine Teles out there.
    Telegraphonic likes this.
  9. gtech

    gtech Friend of Leo's

    Jan 4, 2007
    Quebec, Canada
    We should ask Arlo if he's got ptoblems with his pinecasters...

    He's the only one that I know who has more than one and gigs with them ;)

  10. Buckocaster51

    Buckocaster51 Super Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

    Jan 6, 2005
    Iowa USA
    Admin Post
    From personal experience I know that poplar is soft and easily dented...and poplar is a hardwood.

    I can't imagine what it would be like to keep a pine-bodied guitar looking snazzy.
  11. DavidE

    DavidE Tele-Meister

    Nov 15, 2005
    I doubt Leo or anyone else ever really considered pine as a final material for the guitar they were designing. To look at this from a slightly different angle...pine was just the material they had on hand at the time for making amp cabinets. That's probably why at least some (if not all) of the Pine Esquires were made from four pieces of 3/4" pine glued up...exactly the material they had in stock. This also explains why they were only 1-1/2" thick too. Why commit to thousands of board feet of lumber for a design that no one knew would even "fly" in the marketplace? Just make up some samples using what you have on hand.

  12. kubton

    kubton TDPRI Member

    Glad this came up I have always wondered. I never though about the softness for some reason. My guitar get beat up but a big chunk break off or crack. I guessed it might have been the how sap or knotty pine is. Pine to me has seems to be more knotty than some other woods and I figured people would like that. The amp cab explanation makes a lot of sense.
  13. Arlo

    Arlo Friend of Leo's

    Jul 22, 2006
    Upta Camp
    Pine is soft. It dents VERY easily.

    However it can be protected very well with Poly which in itself is very protective. But it still will dent quite easily.

    I love my Pines and I have a lot of em Strats and Tele's. They are very light and really comfortable for an ol geezer like me. I played a Fender 25th anniversary Stratocaster since 1979 and let me tell you that sucker was like a cinder block!

    Pine is still used by lots of guitarists and builders like Glendale.

    I have had a pitch/sap problem with only one Pinecaster. Not bad since I have so many.

    The biggest negative is the softness. But not all pine is soft. Southern Yellow at least the 100+ year old Tele body I have is nice and firm. All I used on it was a Danish Oil.


    I have another Piner that is Eastern and it is soft as heck and only has a Howard's feed n wax finish. It has a nice buckle rash going and it is about 1 year old. It doesn't take a lot to dent this one.


    Another one I built using very old 100 year old Eastern Pine and painted with a light coating of re-ranch Fender blonde is insanely soft. I was playing a gig with it and a drunken buddy of mine decided he wanted to sing and knocked a mic over and it left a very ugly mic screen dent.


    So everything you have read above is true and yet people still like to build with it. Including Fender!

    Last edited: Jun 15, 2007
  14. ibobunot

    ibobunot Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2005
    If pine guitars were common would anybody want one?

    Or would it be like a Squier Bullet that nobody wants?

    Keefsdad likes this.
  15. gtech

    gtech Friend of Leo's

    Jan 4, 2007
    Quebec, Canada
    I have a pine Tele, and a couple of soft white walnut (not wet completed) that are quite soft, and I begin to like the weight.

    For me, it's not worst than playing an acoustic guitar because the wood of acoustic is also soft.

    Last edited: Jun 15, 2007
  16. messhead

    messhead Tele-Meister

    Apr 13, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Love my Pine Esquire. Light, looks good, plays and sounds great. BUT, just like everyone here has said, it takes next to nothing to ding it up.
  17. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Yup. . . the stories of early marketing are quite interesting....

    Ron Kirn
  18. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    The density of Poplar is virtually identical to Alder.

    The label “hardwood” does not mean the wood is hard… it is a classification of type of lumber, for instance, Balsa, is a Hardwood.

    The Pine used 50 years ago was a different animal than the lumber we have today, back then it was a naturally grown tree, today they are genetically modified and other agricultural technology is incorporated to speed growth. A faster growing tree is naturally softer than one growing naturally.

    Oh…. Yep… I kinda like pine……

    Ron Kirn

    psychobilly451 likes this.
  19. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

    What are the killer attributes of a trussrodless neck?

    And when did Fender make a viola? :)
  20. Vegasrock

    Vegasrock Tele-Meister

    Jul 28, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    I put a coat of wood hardener on my pine bodies during prep and it really does wonders.
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