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Seeking Opinions On A Player Grade '56 Tele

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by Shawn Alexander, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. Shawn Alexander

    Shawn Alexander TDPRI Member

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    Hi all,

    This is my first post on the forum but I've been lurking for the last few years. I'm looking forward to taking part in the community here! There's such a wealth of info that's awesome!

    I've been on the hunt for an old player grade Tele for some time now and found this '56 in my searches. Here's what I know (or think I know) about it from speaking with the seller/looking at pics:
    • Body was stripped at some point (possibly refinished and stripped again);
    • Neck has been oversprayed;
    • Has an infamous "belly cut" (owner bought it this way in the late '60s);
    • Serial No. 12XXX;
    • Neck date 11-56;
    • Bridge pickup has been potted.
    A couple things I'm curious about/only have enough knowledge to be dangerous:
    • I have a ballpark idea of how much a refin and neck overspray affects value, however, I don't have much of a sense on how a potted bridge PU or the belly cut would. Is there any consensus on either of those modifications?
    • Not sure if there is a body date after the stripping/refin. If not, are there other signs to point to the body being an original '56 within a reasonable degree of certainty?
    • Appears to have brass saddles; should a '56 have steel or was this a transition period?
    • Seller doesn't purport that the belly cut is original but mentioned something about an article in a guitar magazine (can't recall which one) a couple years back about a confirmed original vintage tele with a belly cut from the factory. Does that sound accurate? I looked all over (here included) but can't find anything on it.
    This thing certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea but so long as it plays and sounds great, I'm not too concerned with looks (though I have to admit that I'm a sucker for a beat up tele). However, I don't want to get fleeced in my search for that classic tele tone. The inevitable question: how much do you think this thing is worth given its "modifications"?

    Thank you all in advance for the opinions--I truly appreciate it!

    *I read the forum rules and think I'm in the clear, but if I've run afoul, edit away, Mods!*
     

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  2. Shawn Alexander

    Shawn Alexander TDPRI Member

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    A couple more pictures.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Afflicted

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    7k? A lot of the late 56 have one piece bodies. This one too. Look for the body date in the bridge pu cavity, the router hump, dowels in the back, flush ferrules. Coul be a very nice guitar
     
  4. MrTwang

    MrTwang Friend of Leo's

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    Brass saddles would have been earlier - steel from late 1954 so those brass ones are probably a later addition.

    Never heard of a factory belly cut either. Since this one is stripped I'd say there's a pretty big chance it was done at the same time. If someone found a belly cut and what appeared to be an original finish, it might be worth talking about.

    By late 56, I'd expect the string tree to be closer to the nut but I'm sure stranger things have happened in the Fender factory.

    Apart from that, the neck looks about right to me from the pictures. Does it have a V profile?

    Could be a great player but would hope someone can jump in to give some more opinion on if the body and pickups are original before paying big money.

    You need to be sure it isn't an old neck on a newer body.
     
  5. Shawn Alexander

    Shawn Alexander TDPRI Member

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    I didn't know about the router hump--thanks for the tip, Antoon!

    Thanks for the reply!
     
  6. Shawn Alexander

    Shawn Alexander TDPRI Member

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    Yes the neck has a V profile (per my conversation with the seller, at least). I haven't played it yet but hope to this coming week. That's my exact fear--the body not being original...

    One other thing I just thought of: a 12,XXX serial number would be around mid-'56, right? Is it strange at all to have that serial number with a neck that dates to later in the year (i.e., November)?

    Thanks again!
     
  7. 63telemaster

    63telemaster Tele-Meister

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    It is common for neck dates and serial numbers to be far apart but as for body being original to the neck it's always hard to be sure. However, if someone was trying to optimise their sale value by mating a non original body with a neck, common sense would say that they would go for a body without a belly contour but who knows. BTW, your post says '56 and the pics are labelled '58??

    Filled dowel marks on back and flush ferrules should be present....not sure about router hump for this year, others can advise.

    Nothing beats getting the guitar in hand and a very close inspection, then if it feels/plays/sounds right it probably is right and then you just have to decide how much it's worth to you. Always difficult to price these so it will be interesting to see what others might think.
     
  8. Shawn Alexander

    Shawn Alexander TDPRI Member

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    That's a good point on the belly cut that I hadn't considered--thank you! Re: the pics, I mislabeled them when I saved them to my computer in a tired stupor last night. Sorry for the confusion. Thanks again!
     
  9. 4Teles

    4Teles Tele-Meister

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    Belly cut is not original. Leo did however build a contoured custom color Tele in the mid 50's for his friend Hank Penny, who would eventually give it to his friend, the famous jockey Willy Shoemaker.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Shawn Alexander

    Shawn Alexander TDPRI Member

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    Very cool! Thanks for the info!
     
  11. Major Gruber

    Major Gruber Tele-Afflicted

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    That's an interesting guitar.

    Brass saddles on player's grade mid 50's tellies are somehow current. I think it's due to the fact many people prefer the tone with the brass saddles. I had this experience myself. I bought a tele 56 player's grade, it had brass saddles (modern ones). The guitar used to sound amazing. For restoration, I purchased some genuine steel saddles that costed a fortune, and was very excited to set them on my guitar, but I've been very disappointed. The guitar was much less resonant and the sound was more agressive. I eventually set reissues steel saddles (mark rutters compensated), and the guitar sounded great again. This make me guess that maybe steel saddles weren't always good and some people decided to go back to brass. The brass saddles on this guitar look old, there's a possibility they're older than the guitar (to be checked anyway).

    I thought that the string tree position was weird. And as some circles are visible on the headstock,it made me wonder if there could have been some changes of string tree placement (56 is the moment, when decal starts swaping from left to right side of the string tree, which changed of place at this occasion too), but this would have mean the decal would'nt have been original. It's hard to be sure from a photo. But I changed my mind, looking at the back of the headstock, where it's obvious that those small circles are part of the wood structure.

    Then, I think I've discoverd something I had never noticed concerning 56's string tree placement:
    I looked in my photo library to check the variations of string tree placements in 1956. And actually, 1956 is a transition period for string trees… from the early round one, to the new with "two arches". Look at the few pictures I collected together, I think we can observe that the round string tree placement was closer to G tuner (56 and before), and that they tended to set the new string trees slightly closer to the center between D and G tuner… see what I mean? This seems to validate that the string tree on this guitar is at a normal place, and that it can be the original one.:)

    56-55STR-TREE.gif 56NEWSTR-TREE.gif
     
  12. Shawn Alexander

    Shawn Alexander TDPRI Member

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    Thanks so much for the pics for comparison--it's super helpful! When I was scouring the web looking at every pic I could find of purported original '56s I noticed that the string tree placement does appear different between the two different types of string trees. Those pictures are a great illustration of the difference. Thank you again!
     
  13. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I'd fill that belly cut in and get an aged finish to match the neck.
     
  14. gitarjoe

    gitarjoe Tele-Afflicted

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    This just mu opinion on what I would do. Aq uote taken from a friend of of mine who has been buying and selling vintage guitars for the last 30 years. " Never buy a guitar with more stories then the Empire State Building". If a person is going to do so many mods to a guitar, you never know what else was done to it that he may feel is not worth mentioning. You can buy a few custom shop guitars for 7K, that will sound wonderful and retain their value as well. Its up to you man, I dont want to influence you. Just saying what I would do.
     
  15. Major Gruber

    Major Gruber Tele-Afflicted

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    I think it's crazy to put 7k on a CS. On my pov, any good sounding vintage player is much more desirable, and the more they've lived the greater they can be (which doesn't mean purchasing them at any price, of course). CS can be good modern guitar, but i think they're still overpriced, and I'm not even talking of the insane limited editions. Custom shop purpose was initially to offer an affordable alternative to vintage high prices, but they obviously aim now to sell at the highest price they can, getting as close as they can to vintage prices. Perfect illustration of this tale "the Frog that wished to be as big as the ox". Sorry, I'm not very objective about CS, since they ran this blackie limited edition of 120 copies for around $30,000 each that just drove me mad! I think this enlight their whole strategy, and it starts low in the range. "When you're ready"? When I'm ready, for that amount, I'll get me a cool real old gem! And not a CS for a psychological price. Mm, well, sorry, I'm getting upset alone on my keyboard, did somebody talk about BS? Uh, CS, I mean! ;)
     
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  16. slimdave

    slimdave TDPRI Member

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    In my opinion CS and vintage guitars sound different. And feel different. If you like the sound and feel of a modern CS guitar, then great, go for that one. But if you want the sound of a vintage guitar, you have to go vintage. This doesn't mean one is better than the other, they're just different. Just compare a CS and a vintage guitar (with a good setup) side by side and you'll hear the differences. Then it's up to you to decide which one you prefer.
     
  17. gitarjoe

    gitarjoe Tele-Afflicted

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    if you read my post carefully I said a few custom shop guitars for that price, as in more than 1.
     
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  18. Shawn Alexander

    Shawn Alexander TDPRI Member

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    I wanted to give a little update. I went and checked this '56 out and...it was too good not to come home with me! Regarding the body: 11/56 date under bridge (terribly lit picture so it's tough to see--sorry), router hump, flush string ferrules, dowels in back. The body was refinished red at some point and then stripped again; you can still see some remnants of the red in the control cavity (and elsewhere). The belly cut is more shallow than the picture in my first post suggests. Also, it looks pretty well done--certainly not a "hack-job." The neck has an incredibly comfortable soft V-profile. I was a little hesitant going in regarding this neck profile, but it is so comfortable! The neck also has some beautiful flame and bird's eye maple. All that aside, this thing plays and sounds amazing! It's just so great! Exactly how you'd want an old Tele to sound--the neck pickup is nice and warm just like it should be and the bridge has twang for days but isn't harsh in the least, also really warm (but in a totally different way). Anyway, here are some pictures. Thanks for everyone that chimed in--I really appreciate it!
     

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  19. Shawn Alexander

    Shawn Alexander TDPRI Member

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    Some additional pictures:
     

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  20. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire

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    That's a really great looking guitar, congrats! The figure on the neck is beautiful. I'd be thinking about some butterscotch or antique white for that body.
     
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