Several new Nocaster questions ..... this is a confusing guitar ...

Discussion in 'Fender Custom Shop Tele Forum' started by Joe_Tone, Apr 8, 2014.

  1. Joe_Tone

    Joe_Tone Tele-Meister

    Mar 26, 2014
    Ohio, USA

    In the 90s, many of the pre Custom shop nocasters got highly flamed necks. I did an extensive search on ebay completed listings and most of the early 2000 custom shop nocasters also had highly flamed necks! Were these left over necks from the Cunetto years? :confused: Could they possibly be 9.25 radius as well?

    Another question in general. Are all the nocaster 'Fender' logos the same through the years? How about positioning? ... I seem to see them placed in different spots on the headstock from time to time.

    Finally, are certain nocasters more valuable than others? For instance, is a Relic more valuable than a Closet Classic, and is a Closet classic more valuable than a NOS?
  2. H. Mac

    H. Mac Friend of Leo's

    May 26, 2012
    Atlanta, Georgia
    The Fender Custom Shop got its start in 1987, so it doesn't seem that your references to "in the 90s" and "pre Custom shop" in the first sentence is correct.

    The "older" reissue Nocaster pickups were a bit hotter, like 9k-10k or so and around 2000, Fender made a change to about mid 7k +/-, but I doubt this affected value. Whether relics are worth more than Closet Classics or NOS depends on the buyer.

    I've seen only one Nocaster with a neck I'd call "highly flamed" so my experience differs from yours, but I haven't searched eBay as you did.
  3. Joe_Tone

    Joe_Tone Tele-Meister

    Mar 26, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    The Fender custom shop started in 1987? officially? I haven't heard that anywhere else, so that's interesting.

    What I do know is the early nocasters I'm speaking of were farmed out to Vince Cunetto who built these guitars for Fender in the 1990s. The Custom shop officially took over the nocaster in mid 1999.

    I did some digging around the next post will be what I found by the man himself, Vince Cunetto. :cool:
  4. Joe_Tone

    Joe_Tone Tele-Meister

    Mar 26, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    This is from the Fender Forum (FDP) posted 11/2000. There is a boatload of excellent nocaster info here.

    Posted by Vince Cunetto on November 05, 1999 at 15:40:39:

    Since there seem to be questions out there regarding the who, what when and were of the Relics, I
    thought I'd do my best to try to set the story straight in a nutshell. I'd be happy to respond to any
    posts that come up regarding anything in here!

    The concept of the Relics came out of conversations between my good friend Jay Black (Custom
    Shop Master Builder at the time) and myself in late 1994 after I'd sent him a couple of "aged"
    blackguards for a friend's old Tele. Jay and I had known each other for years, so he was familiar
    with my work making repro Tele bodies and pickguards, as well as the "aged" Fender replicas I'd
    built for myself.

    Jay and I reasoned that if people bought distressed leather jacket, jeans and reproduction antiques,
    why not guitars? I sent one of my personal "relics" to Jay, who showed it to John Page. Being the
    bright guy he is, John saw the potential of the project and gave us permission to go ahead with
    building some samples to see what we'd get. I started receiving parts and painting the prototypes in
    my garage!

    By the end of December 1994 or early January '95, I'd finished a couple of prototypes that Page
    liked. He took a risk on this "wacky" idea and, without telling anyone, gave Jay and I approval to
    show them at '95 NAMM. We finished the final show prototypes in January '95 in just in time for

    With a great deal of surprise to many Fender folks, The two Relic prototypes were specially
    presented "center stage" under custom-made glass displays. It was a blast for John, Jay and myself.
    We smiled more than several times when we'd hear dealers comment on "how cool it was that we
    included real old Fender's as a tribute" as their reps toured displays with them and wrote orders. It
    was even more fun when we'd see the dealer's jaws drop as the rep would reply "Cool old guitars,
    huh? How many would you like?"

    Now we had to figure out how to make them, and keep them "real" on a production basis.

    After a few failed attempts at Custom Shop and a serious business proposal, I convinced John that
    the best thing for the project would be for me to set up a company as an outside vendor to specialize
    in doing nothing but the Relics. This wasn't such a stretch for Custom Shop, as they were used to
    using vendors for special engraving, aluminum bodies, carvings and a lot of the intricate "artwork"
    that went into many of the Custom Shop pieces. We saw the artwork required for the Relics as
    being no different'

    On a handshake with John Page, in April of '95, I moved my family to my wife's hometown of
    Bolivar, Missouri, near Springfield, to set up shop under the banner of Cunetto Creative Resources,
    Inc., the consulting company I operated in Colorado. I found a building, set up booths and
    equipment and hired and trained employees. We began to receive raw bodies, necks and parts at
    the end of May 1995. The first shipment from the new facility, 20 Relic Nocasters, went on the truck
    on June 27, 1995.

    As a matter of course, we'd receive raw necks and bodies and all parts from Custom Shop. Our
    work involved complete prep, finishing and cosmetic distressing of necks and bodies. We also aged
    and distressed all hardware, pickguards and metal parts. We got it down to a 20 piece per week
    schedule, and every Friday we'd lay out the week's guitars on a large, 24-foot padded table.

    Every single part on the guitar was then matched for visual consistency and appearance. We'd match
    necks to bodies, wear on guards to wear patterns on necks, hardware to body wear and on and on.
    Each part of each guitar was then labeled so that they'd be sure to be assembled as a unit after being
    packed and sent to Corona for final assembly.

    Relic order numbers continued to grow, as did the number of custom and one-off orders. In May of
    '96, we moved the company to a larger, better-equipped facility and continued production. As
    efficiency and employee training improved, so did our shipping numbers. We also upped the number
    of customs and one-offs produced.

    Production continued in the new facility. Over the course of '97, as orders for the regular Relics
    began to stabilize and taper, we began work on a new idea for the Relics, which we dubbed "The
    Relic Classic". The concept was simple: a nicely "aged" guitar in good shape. We'd had requests for
    pieces like this in custom orders and had done a few prototypes for Custom Shop, which were well
    received. In late '97, the "Relic Classic" became the "Closet Classic", but Fender decided that it
    was a little late to get it ready for January '98 NAMM. Plans had already been made to re-tool and
    change the specs of the "Time Machine" Custom Shop guitars over the course of '98, and the new
    Relic model would be put off until later.

    By the latter part of '98, Custom Shop had seen a lot of changes. John Page had left to run the
    Fender Museum. Because of new Custom Shop management and corporate policies, it was decided
    that the Closet Classics would be done in-house at Custom Shop. We continued to do the majority
    of the "standard" Relics during '98, although there were a few done "in-house" as Custom Shop
    honed their "relicing" chops.

    By early '99, things at Custom Shop had changed quite a bit, and I had a pretty strong feeling that
    they'd changed enough that using an outside vendor didn't make sense for Custom Shop. In March
    of this year, I got a call from Mike Eldred, the new Custom Shop manager, informing me that they
    intended to do all Relics in-house after we finished the then-current back order. That was it, and we
    shipped the last "Cunetto Relics" in May of 1999.

    From June of '95 to May of '99, 860 "line" (not including custom) Nocasters were shipped to
    Fender, with a total of 44 Nocasters shipped from us from January to May of this year.

    RELIC NOCASTER SPECS: Original Series:
    - 9.5 neck radius
    - Wider gear spacing
    - Slightly inaccurate body shape
    - Serial Number stamped on neckplate
    - Hot bridge pickup (Broadcaster) around 9.5 to 10 k
    - Phillips screws
    - Pressed jackcup

    - 7.25 radius
    - Correct peghead shape and gear spacing with stepped-off tuner holes
    - Accurate body shape with "hump" in cutaway
    - Serial number beginning with "R" stamped on BRIDGEPLATE. The new bridgeplate system
    started over at "R0001" and YES, these numbers were duplicated with neck plate numbers that had
    already been used.
    - Slotted screws and milled jackcup (to the best of my knowledge)


    RUMOR: Relic production began in January of 1995: FALSE. The first production batch of Relics
    shipped from my facility on June 27, 1995. They probably shipped to dealers from Custom Shop by
    mid July.

    RUMOR: Until this year, the Relic "aging process" was not done at Custom Shop, but farmed out to
    an out of state vendor: TRUE

    RUMOR: Those Relics were painted with a true old-fashioned 100% top-to-bottom nitrocellulose
    lacquer finish: TRUE and FALSE� The color coats of the metallics and and some plain custom
    colors were DuPont LUCITE acrylic lacquer (just like the later, post "DUCO" originals!) over a
    nitro basecoat and finished with a nitro clear coat. All blonde and sunburst finishes, as well as Fiesta
    Red, Oly White and Daphne Blue are 100% Nitro.

    RUMOR: Relic body wood was specially baked to improve dryness and resonance: FALSE

    RUMOR: Relics were dragged behind trucks to age them: FALSE

    RUMOR: The ultra-thin relic finish has a great deal to do with the tone of the instruments: TRUE

    RUMOR: Many famous rock and country stars use Relics regularly: TRUE� but we can't tell you
    who they are!

    There you have (some) of it folks! Post any other rumors and I'll clarify as many as I can.

    Take care!
  5. H. Mac

    H. Mac Friend of Leo's

    May 26, 2012
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Here's what the Fender Custom Shop says:

    "Since 1987, the Fender Custom Shop has been a "dream factory," producing guitars that are to playing what Ferraris are to driving. The skilled craftsmen in Fender's Corona, Calif., Custom Shop are known worldwide for their artistry in making guitars that range from the fine to the fantastic. Whether it's building a new custom instrument from the ground up or modifying an existing one, their best is the best."
  6. Joe_Tone

    Joe_Tone Tele-Meister

    Mar 26, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Thanks! That's good info.

    Maybe because the relic thing was in it's infancy it took the custom shop a while to determine the demand for a relic'd guitar and then get up to speed once it was proven to be a hit. Vince's work seemed to prove out there was a demand. Hard to go wrong with Fender backing your efforts.

    It's funny, my brother was relicing his old Strats in the late 80s. There are probably a lot of people who saw the vintage instrument prices skyrocket, but really love the used and abused look and took action on their own.
  7. H. Mac

    H. Mac Friend of Leo's

    May 26, 2012
    Atlanta, Georgia
    I think you're right about the Custom Shop wanting to check the demand for relic'd guitars. Here's a site that you might like. It includes the same Cunetto quote as in your post, and has a bit more info.

    Good luck with your search!
  8. Joe_Tone

    Joe_Tone Tele-Meister

    Mar 26, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Excellent! Thanks a lot.
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