1959 Telecaster

Gino__Nave

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Hi everyone! I recently acquired a 1959 Tele that is all original except for one neck screw and one pot. I have the original pot. The big mystery for me is the body finish. The neck is stamped “— 59”. The month digit is too faint to read. That plus the serial puts it at an early 59. Still has a maple neck and is a top loader. I mostly know about vintage Gibsons, so this is new territory for me. In the few days I’ve been researching this, it looks like 59 Teles only came in blonde, sunburst Tele Customs, or custom colors. The finish is too natural to be a faded blond, I think. Also, if it’s a refin, it was done early in the life of the guitar, because it has a beautiful aged butterscotch thing going on.



I asked the seller about it’s history, and without revealing too much, I found out the OG owner worked with/for Fender and this is a custom DuPont color. Maybe he was old school and wanted an early 50’s looking natural finish? Anyway, when I opened it up, the neck pocket and tan lines under the pickguard seem to have light primer on them. The seller is reputable and wouldn’t lie, I’ve just never seen a '59 with this kind of finish from the factory.



All in all, I love this guitar! I’ve never been a huge Tele fan, but that’s because I never played a pre-CBS before. I’d appreciate if anyone can shed some light. The seller is trying to get more info from the OG owner's wife, but it’s been difficult.
 

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Fretting out

Doctor of Teleocity
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Definitely a refin appears to be an old one though

Wouldn’t be uncommon for them to be refinished early on (even just a few years) because the finish wears easily, quite possible it was refinished in the 60’s

Those pick guards can warp so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an original that had an extra screw
 

MickM

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Nice. What’s up with the extra pickguard screw hole in the body?
Why it's for an extra pickguard of course!:)
Probably sometime in its life a single ply PG was warped?
EDIT: Just enlarged the extra hole pic and it looks like somebody added a strip of wood where the control plate screw attaches.
Deifinitely looks like a top loader.
Nice looking guitar.
 

Milspec

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No offense, but I am always amazed to hear somebody spend that kind of money and then have questions about authenticity after the sale. I wouldn't spend it unless I was fully satisfied of on it's history.

That said, she looks gorgeous and is likely legit as you know and trust the seller, but there a couple of things that would concern me.

1. The body shows aging which is all correct with some crazing, wear through, chipping, etc., but no arm wear that I can see. After all these years, that seems impossible so that body must have been refinished along the way and probably within the last 20 years since I have a nitro Strat from the '80's with noticeable arm wear at this point.

2. The finish has aged well on the neck, but again, I don't see much wear between the frets. That also seems odd unless this guitar was rarely played in the 60 plus years of it's life. So, it too was likely re-finished along the way.

What I believe you have is a very beautiful old Telecaster with a face lift a couple of decades ago. Certainly nothing wrong with that as it looks great, but a purist might balk at it if you ever decide to sell it.
 

Gino__Nave

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No offense, but I am always amazed to hear somebody spend that kind of money and then have questions about authenticity after the sale. I wouldn't spend it unless I was fully satisfied of on it's history.

That said, she looks gorgeous and is likely legit as you know and trust the seller, but there a couple of things that would concern me.

1. The body shows aging which is all correct with some crazing, wear through, chipping, etc., but no arm wear that I can see. After all these years, that seems impossible so that body must have been refinished along the way and probably within the last 20 years since I have a nitro Strat from the '80's with noticeable arm wear at this point.

2. The finish has aged well on the neck, but again, I don't see much wear between the frets. That also seems odd unless this guitar was rarely played in the 60 plus years of it's life. So, it too was likely re-finished along the way.

What I believe you have is a very beautiful old Telecaster with a face lift a couple of decades ago. Certainly nothing wrong with that as it looks great, but a purist might balk at it if you ever decide to sell it.
I think you are right – my guess is (until shown documentation) it's been refinished anywhere from 1960 to 1980. I bought the guitar knowing this, so the price was about right for its age and condition. Also, I was shocked at how amazing it plays and sounds. I've owned a few Teles, but nothing like this. I think I'm a convert.
 

Gino__Nave

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Why it's for an extra pickguard of course!:)
Probably sometime in its life a single ply PG was warped?
EDIT: Just enlarged the extra hole pic and it looks like somebody added a strip of wood where the control plate screw attaches.
Deifinitely looks like a top loader.

There also seems to be some damage to the wood around the tuner ferrules. Like they were removed at some point and put back on again.
Good call. It looks like somebody forced different tuners through the bushings and chipped the wood outwards. The Low E tuner looks like it has a little chip glued in as filler.
 

Milspec

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I think you are right – my guess is (until shown documentation) it's been refinished anywhere from 1960 to 1980. I bought the guitar knowing this, so the price was about right for its age and condition. Also, I was shocked at how amazing it plays and sounds. I've owned a few Teles, but nothing like this. I think I'm a convert.
It is a gorgeous guitar....I am jealous.
 

EsquireOK

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That is a refinish in a natural/clear, that has since aged.

That finish is unheard of on a Fender guitar of that vintage, and if it had been a factory '59 finish, the neck pocket would be sprayed. Not to mention other easy to read clues.

Hope you payed no more than half the value of one with an original finish.

There is no value to be gained by a refinish being a "vintage refinish," unless that refinish was done at the Fender factory. It's all about quality, composition, process, and color – not when it was done.

It's a good candidate for a proper restoration by Gordon Miller. Do that now, and down the road, it will increase its beauty and its value for it to have had a documented refin by one of the most respected names in the business...as opposed to having been stripped and coated in a non original color, who knows how, who knows when, and who knows by whom (but certainly not by a universally respected restorer).
 
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Milspec

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That is a refinish in a natural/clear, that has since aged.

That finish is unheard of on a Fender guitar of that vintage, and if it had been a factory '59 finish, the neck pocket would be sprayed. Not to mention other easy to read clues.

Hope you payed no more than half the value of one with an original finish.

There is no value to be gained by a refinish being a "vintage refinish," unless that refinish was done at the Fender factory. It's all about quality, composition, process, and color – not when it was done.

It's a good candidate for a proper restoration by Gordon Miller. Do that now, and down the road, it will increase its beauty and its value for it to have had a documented refin by one of the most respected names in the business...as opposed to having been stripped and coated in a non original color, who knows how, who knows when, and who knows by whom (but certainly not by a universally respected restorer).
I certainly understand that perspective from a collector's point of view, but it might be a little harsh. Who knows who did the refinish, it might have been done by a very prominent restorer or even by a well-known owner. I think people get a little wrapped around the axle when it comes to issues surrounding factory or not. I have a '63 Bandmaster that was modified to quad 6V6 and a few other changes, so it is no longer factory. I purchased it cheap at a residential auction because the collectors wanted nothing to do with it since it was not original.

The story took a twist though when it was realized that the house was only 3 blocks away from the home formerly owned by a man named Seth Lover who supposedly did the modification out of his garage. My 35 year Fender tech inspected it and said that everything in it were parts used in '63 and looked dead stock except that it was re-designed. I couldn't prove it fully though as there is no paperwork, just some photographs of Seth with the seller and the story to go along with it. Seth had passed away about 5 years prior to my purchase.

My point being that although people turn up their noses at my Bandmaster because it is not original, it shouldn't mean that it lacks value...might even be worth a great deal more and has the some quality as anything that Fender produced at the time.

The refinish of this telecaster shouldn't automatically destroy the value. That natural finish would have been normal for the '51 so maybe the owner simply wanted to roll it back to the original no-caster look at some point in its life? It looks to have been done well enough and nicely aged at this point so should it really kill the value?

I think people just take this originality stuff to an extreme. It looks great, plays great, sounds great....should be a fantastic guitar to own. Shouldn't that really be the basis of a guitar's value instead of how closely it matches the sales brochure of the day? They were never meant to be museum pieces, they were meant to be used as a tool.
 

pbenn

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"... I have a '63 Bandmaster that was modified to quad 6V6 and a few other changes, so it is no longer factory. I purchased it cheap at a residential auction because the collectors wanted nothing to do with it since it was not original...
Wow, Milspec. I have a '63 (Oct) BM with a 4 x 5881 mod and Vibrasonic 8-ohm OT. Don't know when or where it was done. Third power tube is rectifier hole and fourth is weirdly outboard.
Of course it had overheating so I got it biased colder, which works.
 

jvin248

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... I was shocked at how amazing it plays and sounds. I've owned a few Teles, but nothing like this. I think I'm a convert.

Go through the guitar with other similar guitars you own and figure out exactly what makes it play so much better. There will be subtle clues you'll identify, like a little more wood on the rear shoulders of the neck carve (that won't show up on regular width x depth spec sheet listings) or any small details.

Measure the actual kohms of the pots, the uF of the cap(s), and everything you can measure about the pickups (heights and bass/treble tip too).

Then you can replicate those features on any guitar you have or will get.

I got this used Epiphone Junior humbucker model a decade back and did a few mods to it (fret level, swapped the pickup) and it eventually became my most often played guitar. All of $30 in it. I went back through it and the one mod I did on it that made all the difference was rotating the bridge pickup 180 deg to put the raised screw poles on the 'north' bobbin for a P90 tone. I've since replicated that on several other guitars in the fleet and that was all that held them back from more play time.

So use this guitar as your benchmark to improve your other guitars to its same level.

.
 

Antoon

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Good call. It looks like somebody forced different tuners through the bushings and chipped the wood outwards. The Low E tuner looks like it has a little chip glued in as filler.
That kind of damage typically happens if the ferrules are removed.
 
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