1959 Telecaster


Dec 12, 2003
N Ca.
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.
The 80's were 40 years ago?


TDPRI Member
Jun 4, 2022
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.

How does the tone differ from a more modern Tele?

Robert H.

Friend of Leo's
Gold Supporter
Jul 28, 2005
N. Cal.
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.