1959 Telecaster

jsegovia

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Gorgeous guitar - congratulations!!! Reminds me of Page's Tele, minus the mirrors and the dragon (and I much prefer it without either of those).

Jesse
 

Coggins

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Solaris moon

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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.
 

Solaris moon

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First: That body is not the original colour - that is apparent under the pickguard. Those two holes in the neck route are for a paint stick to be attached. Fender never did this in the fifties - that's a product of the sixties. Also the body should have a hole by the neck route - not in it. Their should be a hole for the body to be laid on a table and sprayed then turned over and sprayed again in the horn, under the bridge plate, and in the bottom of the control cavity. These are so that once the top is sprayed with ample finish and dried the backside can be sprayed and once dry can be laid on a shelf with finishing nails supporting it. This is how all the guitars were painted regardless of the model.

Second: That neck route is just the tooling marks from the router that they used to shape the routes inside the body. Nothing altered there. It doesn't look as though anything has happened to it since the factory but there should be paint inside it as well as the rest of the body. They didn't mask them then paint them like some guitar companies do today. Also Fender now machines and sands the bodies that the make now with just a neck route then they spray the finish over and route it afterwards. Why is anyone's guess but I think it may be the cost of spraying a finish into holes uses more paint than the small flat areas where the pickups, controls, jack, and tremolo as well as the neck routes would normally have in them. You don't have all that paint being sprayed into those holes and being wasted.

Third: That neck has seen much better days. The headstock shows holes where someone has changed the machine heads and drilled right through it. Those ferules look as though someone has removed them but damaged the face doing it. That patch in it is evident that someone didn't know what they were doing! That finish is also a complete respray - not a refin. Some point in time someone repainted over the existing finish. Although not very well it should be playable if they at least removed the finish from the frets. The headstock logo is obliterated and that repair around each of these ferules shows a very incompetent attempt at replacing the original machine heads. It's obvious that the finish on it is original underneath but oversprayed and the body is just lacquer that has aged over some time.

Lastly: That body finish looks much more recent - not the dark amber colour that true lacquer is known for. However that looks more like it was done in the very late 1990s or even more recently as it would be much darker if it were done in the eighties. Lacquer has a tendency to darken especially the thinner it is as it doesn't resist sun fading as well. I would make a much more educated guess that even if this was clear with no tint at all it would resemble the neck colour more. I'm guessing that this was done within the last ten years.

Fender always used a vinyl sander sealer then sanded their guitar bodies back down to bare wood leaving the underlying grain untouched so that the finish would be level when sprayed. This was done so that it would thin for two reasons. One so that they could save money on lacquer. Then it would've been around $75.00 for a 55 gallon drum. Adjusted for today's inflation it would be $1,200.00! Another reason that they sprayed their guitars with a thin layer of paint is also the orange peel effect from being sprayed with a paint gun would be lessened in thinner layers. This way they could spray it and buff it to a high gloss finish. Wet sanding wasn't a thing yet and something that you wouldn't want to do around wood guitar parts any way as they would absorb the water and swell. And modern paint buffers had yet to be invented. And that red spot may be where someone used a paint stripper that had a reaction with the wood in that spot or a used brush with stain or paint on it - this guitar wouldn't have been sunburst in that time as it doesn't have binding around the edges. Those were considered to be custom options hence the name "Telecaster Custom" being a more sophisticated way of be made with these appointments.

And that little wood chip by the control route looks more like a copper strip but I could be wrong. Maybe someone stripped the screw or broke it off and needed to replace wood that was destroyed in the process of removal? Who knows but someone surely didn't know what they were doing! I would have to see this body with the bridge plate removed and the controls removed from it to see the dates and any markings on the pickup or the control dates and the jack should say Switchcraft on it. It should also have lines from being machined in the layers of the jack itself. I've owned three Telecasters in my life and I don't know how many Strats but I do know my stuff. I've been doing this for over thirty years! Granted that there are quite a few oddball guitars out there including some with custom nut widths and some features and appointments that doesn't necessarily mean it's fake or real. I'd have to see the back and look for pin router holes where the template had 1/8" inch holes drilled for it to attach to the ash blank. That colour should more closely match the neck if it was painted in the sixties or even the eighties. Look at Bruce Springsteen's guitar - the '58 Esquire with added neck pickup. The finish on it is almost brown!! A dark brown to be exact. I'm not saying what you have is a fake but without further examination or seeing it in person I can't be sure either way. But it SHOULD HAVE nail holes in the front of the body for being laid on a drying rack or shelf.
 

slack

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First: That body is not the original colour - that is apparent under the pickguard. Those two holes in the neck route are for a paint stick to be attached. Fender never did this in the fifties - that's a product of the sixties. Also the body should have a hole by the neck route - not in it. Their should be a hole for the body to be laid on a table and sprayed then turned over and sprayed again in the horn, under the bridge plate, and in the bottom of the control cavity. These are so that once the top is sprayed with ample finish and dried the backside can be sprayed and once dry can be laid on a shelf with finishing nails supporting it. This is how all the guitars were painted regardless of the model.

Two clarifications here...

There should not be two additional holes in the neck pocket for a paint stick on any original finish 1950s, or 1960s Tele. Or most of the 70s. That didn't happen until the very late 70s. During 1969 a fifth hole appeared in the neck pocket for the paint stick.

On an original 1959 body, paint nail holes would likely be inside the neck pocket near the channel to the neck pup rout, inside the bridge pup rout, and in side wall of the control rout. Evidence of when this transition happened isn't plentiful, and info is inconsistent. Generally cited as 1958-60, depending on the source. But I don't recall seeing nail holes in the top of a 59 body.
 
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Gino__Nave

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Thanks to everybody for your opinions and Tele expertise. It shed a bunch of light on this guitar. Setting everything aside, it's one of the best playing guitars I've ever laid hands on. If it didn't play and sound as good as it does - I might have returned it ;) But judging by how crazy the vintage Fender market is these days, I think I paid a fair price for a '59 in this condition. I'm not a "put it in the case for 20 years" person. I play 'em. Everyday if I can.
 

Solaris moon

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Two clarifications here...

There should not be two additional holes in the neck pocket for a paint stick on any original finish 1950s, or 1960s Tele. Or most of the 70s. That didn't happen until the very late 70s. During 1969 a fifth hole appeared in the neck pocket for the paint stick.

I would not expect any nail holes on the top of a 1959 body. I would expect to find them inside the neck pocket near the channel to the neck pup rout, inside the bridge pup rout, and in side wall of the control rout.
Well I know for a FACT that you sir are wrong! If you don't believe me (and you don't) read A.R. Duccasoir's book - The Fender Telecaster. He too said the very same thing that I just said. And so did many a Fender guitar owner that has actually seen these and had their hands on them. I own a '56 Strat, a '57 P-Bass, and I used to own a '51 NoCaster - NONE of them had any sort of holes in the neck route and I have yet to see a single one of the many that I have held in my hands or seen in person, video, or otherwise with paint holes in the neck on any fifties guitar from the factory unmolested! They ALL have nail holes in the from being mounted on a DRYING SHELF. Read "Fender The Sound Heard 'Round The World" or "American Guitars" by Tom Wheeler. ALL these books prove what you're saying is wrong. Unless you're the guy that sold this guitar I don't know why you'd even come into this thread and refute anything that I have said. :rolleyes:
 

slack

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Well I know for a FACT that you sir are wrong! If you don't believe me (and you don't) read A.R. Duccasoir's book - The Fender Telecaster. He too said the very same thing that I just said. And so did many a Fender guitar owner that has actually seen these and had their hands on them. I own a '56 Strat, a '57 P-Bass, and I used to own a '51 NoCaster - NONE of them had any sort of holes in the neck route and I have yet to see a single one of the many that I have held in my hands or seen in person, video, or otherwise with paint holes in the neck on any fifties guitar from the factory unmolested! They ALL have nail holes in the from being mounted on a DRYING SHELF. Read "Fender The Sound Heard 'Round The World" or "American Guitars" by Tom Wheeler. ALL these books prove what you're saying is wrong. Unless you're the guy that sold this guitar I don't know why you'd even come into this thread and refute anything that I have said. :rolleyes:

Note that I was editing my post when you quoted me. I did so to be more accurate and informative.

If you're going to cite Duchossoir, you might spell his name correctly. ;) Some 15+ years ago, I was discovering and pointing out errors in his book. You can find that info in this very forum. He acknowledged that there were errors in the book, as one might expect would be revealed subsequently, in the age of the internet.

I'm not sure what you're disputing. What does a 56 Strat, a 57 P-Bass, and a 51 Nocaster have to do with a change that I noted occurred after all those years? I have had lots of 50s bodies with the nail holes in the top, and early 60s with them in the routs.

So, I'm wrong about what? Nothing in your response to me applies to what I posted.
 

Solaris moon

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Note that I was editing my post when you quoted me. I did so to be more accurate and informative.

If you're going to cite Duchossoir, you might spell his name correctly. ;) Some 15+ years ago, I was discovering and pointing out errors in his book. You can find that info in this very forum. He acknowledged that there were errors in the book, as one might expect would be revealed subsequently, in the age of the internet.

I'm not sure what you're disputing. What does a 56 Strat, a 57 P-Bass, and a 51 Nocaster have to do with a change that I noted occurred after all those years? I have had lots of 50s bodies with the nail holes in the top, and early 60s with them in the routs.

So, I'm wrong about what? Nothing in your response to me applies to what I posted.
You're kidding - right? Did you even bother to READ this past the A.R. Duccosoir name? So I misspelled it - big whoop! Now you're just being petty. And I don't know what errors you're referring to and apparently you're right and I'm wrong no matter what I say. I have the guitars that these people made in the day that this was supposedly made and if that doesn't say anything then I don't know what to tell you. I guess you have to live with yourself and believe or disbelieve whatever you want. I'm not going to change your mind. These guitars and their known tooling marks are what most rely on to determine the authenticity of an instrument. I know that there were a few misquoted people in the Telecaster book which is why I bought the most recent one with all the mistakes corrected. I already know from factory representatives and employees that were alive when these guitars were made as well as the instruments they made. If these don't tell the story then I don't know what else to tell you or say. I'm done here. I'll let the facts speak for themselves and whoever doesn't know the better will be the only ones fooled.
 

Solaris moon

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1653347286000.png


Don't take my word for it - educate yourself! I got this from www.guitarhq.com
 

slack

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Um... That's a Strat. I was posting about Telecasters. If you're going to reference Clay's site (old and also not without errors), I'd point you to this:

[Also the position of the Telecaster body "nail holes" moved. Around 1958, the nails were moved to inside the body routes, like inside the neck pocket or truss rod adjustment route, inside the bridge pickup route, and inside the wall of the control cavity route. Why this was done I am not exactly sure (it wasn't done on the Strat). Also the fourth nail positioned on the cutaway was dropped. This was also seen on a May 1959 Tele Custom (which at first I didn't think had any nail holes!)]

Link:
 
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toploader

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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.
I had an original 59. It was a lightweight, and had a GREAT sounding Bridge pup, that read quite low- somewhere in the 5.2 K ohm region. Be that as it may, it was a very ballsy sounding pup. The neck was nothing special. Mine was a pretty opaque blonde, with a smallish, round neck. I would've kept it if the neck was a bit bigger, and the neckpup more like the one on my old 66.
 

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deytookerjaabs

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#1. Fender lacquer aging in terms of color is all over the place. Some necks from the late 50's still have almost all their clear in tact. This is true of many eras.

#2. The extra holes in the neck pocket don't appear to be full of multiple finish colors which means they were likely done concurrent with other shenanigans related to one of the refinishes. Good chance the neck pocket was taped up then holes drilled to hold a stick when they did the clear refin.

#3. You can clearly see some blonde/white beneath the other mess in the neck pocket & under the pickguard.

#4. If those notches around the neck route aren't era correct then someone did a hell of a con job.
 
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Antoon

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I have an early '57 that was factory refinished very early in the 60s and it has two sets of nail holes, exactly confirming Slack's info on the hole locations.
 

GuitarTalk

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just noticed my entire message didn’t post… congrats on the guitar!! If you’re enjoying how it sounds / plays, I’d speak with the seller. Hopefully they are willing to give you a better deal if they haven’t already given that he did not in fact sell you an original finish 59’ as you were told. Of course I can’t say how much $ you should ask for as a partial refund as I do not know what you paid for it in the first place (maybe you’re already there).

I think everyone here at one point or another bought something that turned out to be something else as research starts piling in post-purchase haha, often times sellers expect you to come back to them later on once you discover the undisclosed issues.
 

deytookerjaabs

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just noticed my entire message didn’t post… congrats on the guitar!! If you’re enjoying how it sounds / plays, I’d speak with the seller. Hopefully they are willing to give you a better deal if they haven’t already given that he did not in fact sell you an original finish 59’ as you were told. Of course I can’t say how much $ you should ask for as a partial refund as I do not know what you paid for it in the first place (maybe you’re already there).

I think everyone here at one point or another bought something that turned out to be something else as research starts piling in post-purchase haha, often times sellers expect you to come back to them later on once you discover the undisclosed issues.

He said he bought the guitar knowing it was a refin, I think he was just holding on to some sliver of hope or story that the seller made an error.
 

slack

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I have an early '57 that was factory refinished very early in the 60s and it has two sets of nail holes, exactly confirming Slack's info on the hole locations.

There's an early 1959, maple board Esquire on Reverb right now, serial number 37139, with undated neck, 58 pots, and 2/59 date on body... Pictures show the paint nail holes in the cavities, as I described.
 




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