American Original ’50s Telecaster vs. vintage spec

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Richie Cunningham, Jul 4, 2020.

  1. Richie Cunningham

    Richie Cunningham Tele-Meister

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    I feel like this has been done before, but I wasn’t able to find it through searching.

    I just bought one, hot off the press. June 2020 American Original ‘50s Telecaster. I know it deviates from vintage spec in a few ways, but I was hoping to compile the differences in one place and see how much people care about each. I love the guitar and am just curious to learn more about Teles in general.

    I’d like to compare the American Original against actual 1950s Telecasters.

    What I think I know:

    1.) The fretboard radius is 9.5” as opposed to the vintage radius of 7.25”.

    2.) The frets are taller.

    3.) I’m assuming the frets weren’t slid in from the side.

    4.) The new guitar has modern 3-way neck/both/bridge switching.
     
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  2. gwjensen

    gwjensen Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    I think that’s about it... the nitro formula and undercoat might be different... great guitars IMO, based on mine
     
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  3. Richie Cunningham

    Richie Cunningham Tele-Meister

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    5.) Nitrocellulose lacquer formulation

    6.) Polyurethane undercoat
     
  4. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    So, it is gonna depend which interpretation of "vintage spec" we compare it to. AV52 or FCS No-Caster. Genuine 50s guitars?
     
  5. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    It sounds like you may have an awesome guitar BEGGING you to play it :)

    I have an AV '64. My favorite "sofa guitar" and the one I put 90% of my time in with is a 2017 American Professional, which has the 9.5 radius, the tall-narrow frets and a big neck. It's like putting on a pair of GREAT boots when I pick it up.

    I hope you get as much mileage from your 50's telecaster as I do from my AmPro, and play it in good health :)
     
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  6. Richie Cunningham

    Richie Cunningham Tele-Meister

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    Why does Fender do a poly undercoat on some lacquer guitars? Is it like spraying nitro overtop of a regular poly-finished instrument, or is it thinner than that?
     
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  7. Richie Cunningham

    Richie Cunningham Tele-Meister

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    I’d like to compare this guitar with what Fender was doing on production 1952 Telecasters. To be fair, I have to leave it open for Telecasters from the rest of the decade, as well.
     
  8. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Because ash is a very porous wood, in order to get a shiny finish you have to seal the pores. This was done with a fast drying watery fluid.
    Then they used a pore filler, like a sandy clay. Grain stands up, so after sealing you sand smooth.

    Then they'd shoot a sealing coat before buffing and shooting colour. Today there are one-shot sealers/fillers that after sanding and buffing

    You use sealer and filler because it's a cheap way to get a smooth surface. Topcoat especially nitro and prep time is expensive. So you minimise both.

    This one I sealed, filled and two shots. It's not as smooth as a Fender finish.
    IMG_20200627_165157.jpg

    Always been the same. It's part of the reason they moved to alder: its a seal coat and quick sand away from paint.
     
  9. hdvades

    hdvades Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Well if that's what you mean...50's Telecasters. An AO 50's isn't close. I'd say the similar things are neck profile, nitro finish, vintage tuners, color, stuff like that. Different radius and not really similar frets are the two biggies. Don't get me wrong, most people prefer the 9.5 radius and bigger frets and that is what Fender gave them.
    You got an awesome guitar.
     
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  10. Richie Cunningham

    Richie Cunningham Tele-Meister

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    1.) The fretboard radius is 9.5” as opposed to the vintage radius of 7.25”. This doesn’t bother me, but I have a feeling that might change.

    2.) The frets are taller. I like this change.

    3.) I’m assuming the frets weren’t slid in from the side. This doesn’t affect me, apart from being fairly confident that a refret will be possible in the future.

    4.) The new guitar has modern 3-way neck/both/bridge switching. I actually feel like I’m missing out on something here.

    5.) Nitrocellulose lacquer formulation I feel like any changes here could well be for the better.

    6.) Polyurethane undercoat I need more information.
     
  11. tamer_of_banthas

    tamer_of_banthas Tele-Holic

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    they did the same thing back in the day. quote from a book which sourced interviews from former Fender factory employees:

    "In 1961, Fender began to dip the bodies of its Sunburst guitars into a bath of "Fullerplast" filler, which accounts for the typical yellow stain found on the wood of most 1960's models. this procedure was dropped with the advent of polyester finishes."

     
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  12. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    The frets are also wider. They are the typical Henry J. era Gibson frets: 6105s. And of course they aren't slid in from the side.

    The AO finishes have a urethane sealer. Fender didn't use anything remotely like that until around 1963, when they started using Fullerplast on everything. But even that's not the same stuff as the urethane sealer that Fender uses now. Fullerplast was a very thick sealer that wasn't clear, and which would wear through fairly easily – not a thin, clear urethane like Fender uses now.

    The nitrocellulose lacquer used isn't the same. There are more additives today, to make the finish perform "better."

    If the AO '50s pick guards are the same as the AVs (which I believe they are), they are clear coated with matte lacquer. It was originally gloss.

    The AO black dots are not made out of the same phenolic material used for the guards, as on the originals.

    Teles made with all slotted screws also had milled press-in jack cups.

    Original necks were dyed yellow before lacquering. AO and AV necks are just clear coated.

    12th fret dot spacing is wide spaced.

    They should have gone with all Phillips head screws. Then it could be a pretty accurate '53 style, board and frets aside.
     
  13. tamer_of_banthas

    tamer_of_banthas Tele-Holic

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    good points. the nitro lacquer formula has been adjusted more for EPA regulations than anything else. the process we use to get chromed parts in the present day is different too, due to carcinogens and associated exposure.

     
  14. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's

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    Did they really switch to Phillips head screws as early as 1953?? Then the AO’50s really is even more of a mystery to me! If you’re going to make a couple of changes for playability (radius and frets) then why not change to a screw type that isn’t an insult to every engineer (or indeed anyone who’s ever turned a screwdriver) and doesn’t even violate the “1950s” time window?? (I really don’t like slothead screws!)
     
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  15. AndrewG

    AndrewG Friend of Leo's

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    Whatever mine is, however 'accurate' or otherwise the component parts are, it's a fantastic guitar. Lacquer is still a bit sticky though.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
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  16. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Remember in 54 they went limed white finish and white nitrate pickguard.

    The AO50s is meant to be taste of the original 52 Telecaster rather than an accurate representation. They did use some chromed parts rather than all nickelled too.

    The problem is if you looked at ten guitars from any year - in some cases adjacent serials - you might find difference between them. Some would use slot heads but some would be Phillips like minor screws.

    Of course the AO has a different radius and bigger frets.

    Fenders issue is, and they used to have this with the original Vintage Telecaster and Stratocaster, it's been dissected many times is that some people want something identical or think they do. But that gives you a tonally limited instrument with a neck some people can't bond with and a fragile finish.

    Originals had a buttermilk yellow body and pale neck. After ten or twenty years the nitro darkened to butterscotch body and brown to orange neck.

    Fenders built darker ones, lighter ones and the current Goldilocks version. All of them have adherents and detractors.

    End of the day if you want hyper accurate hand made there's custom Shop or boutique builders. The AO guitars are a restomod guitar that give the look and most of the feel and sound for reasonable dollars coupled with most-requested changes.
     
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  17. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Philips head screws phased in through ‘52. Even though they had decided to switch to Phillips early on, Fender didn’t waste screws they had already purchased. Most (if not all) ‘52s have some Phillips screws on them, and some slotted. The later in the year, the closer they got to all Phillips. Most (if not all) ‘53s have all Phillips screws. All slotted is really more of a ‘51 thing, even though most associate it with ‘52 because of the ‘52 reissues using them.

    Take an AV, gloss coat the pickguard, switch to all Phillips screws, and you have a very accurate ‘53 copy. I’m not considering the wiring when making that statement, as wiring is not visible and easily modded. Also not considering the hard case (should be a thermometer case or a leather gig bag).
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
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  18. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's

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    The thing that bugs me is — other than trying to make a perfect replica of a 1951/52 guitar then why why why would anyone want to use a slothead screw? I’d have thought the Fender assembly guys curse them every day!
    Ah well...

    BTW I own an AO’60s Jazzmaster which is a great guitar and if / when I have disposable cash available to turn into a new guitar then an AO’60s Tele is the one I’d most likely buy. That is not at all because it’s a sort-of ‘60s model — it’s just a really well-made guitar that looks great, is comfortable to play, and sounds great too. I don’t personally want an AO’50s or a Broadcaster because I don’t like the colour, I don’t like the U-profile neck and — I don’t like the slothead screws! For some people of course all those things are just what they are looking for: as we say around here, YMMV.
     
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  19. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Holic

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    This is a common misconception that seems to stem from an incorrect interpretation of a single photograph from the fender factory. The photograph depicts workers dipping alder bodies in a vat, and in a book written by one of the well known fender historians (it may have been Duchessoir, but I could be wrong), the author incorrectly stated in a caption that the contents of the vat in the picture were fullerplast. The contents were actually the yellow dye, the fullerplast, which is a conversion varnish, not a polyester, was sprayed on.
    EDIT: correction, it was Wheeler who incorrectly captioned the photo.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
  20. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    People of a certain age are divided into two distinct groups:

    Those who had access to screw drivers that were painstakingly matched to the screw head they were driving;

    And those who tried to use whatever sketchy screwdriver they had laying around.

    Slots are IMO a joy, but you've got to have the right driver, for each slot. Otherwise you ruined enough stuff, scarred enough stuff, you could have bought dozens of screw drivers. There's nothing IMO like being able to tighten something just so, just past the point where the Phillips driver will (by design) cam out.

    +

    Torx come in a wide variety of sizes, why shouldn't slot heads? And you can easily modify a slightly over-sized slot driver, with the simplest of hand tools.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
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