The lone letter "D" that appears on those early telecaster style Fender guitars.

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by tonyj, Jul 13, 2018.

  1. tonyj

    tonyj Tele-Afflicted

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    I feel sure that by now someone has had this puzzle solved. If so, I obviously must have missed it.

    Assuming that this is still an unsolved 'Fender' mystery, what then have been the best explantations for the capital letter "D" that we see on the necks of those very early guitars?

    Any theories out there? .......plausible or otherwise?

    Even in the 'bible' of these guitars "The Blackguard" written by Nacho Banos, does the author admit to not knowing what information this letter could possibly be conveying, and to who? A mystery indeed.

    Anyone out there with a notion of what is behind this 'secret' letter "D"?

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  2. NothingGoatboat

    NothingGoatboat Tele-Meister

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    Neck shape? D as in "Done", to indicate they were completed??
     
  3. tonyj

    tonyj Tele-Afflicted

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    Possible I guess, or even that the whole neck is done, but then why stamp the neck pocket as well ? Not feasible, sorry ..... and in this particular case, dated eight months apart.

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    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
  4. chomps

    chomps Tele-Meister

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    If Nacho couldn’t solve it, then no one can. My personal guess is that it must have been related to quality control. I used to work as an inspector in a manufacturing operation. My job was to measure dimensions of finished parts to make sure they were within tolerances. I would then mark the piece as ok or reject. If I remember correctly, those D stamps are under the finish. So the neck or bodies were probably inspected and stamped prior to finishing. This doesn’t explain why some guitars have them and some don’t, even during the same years. Or why a D was chosen. The mystery continues...
     
  5. RLee77

    RLee77 Friend of Leo's

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    Could be some notable person’s initial, the person who crafted the neck or an inspector. Some liked to use a personal touch, like the pickups wound by Abigail Ybarra that carried the letters “AY”.
     
  6. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

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    According to A.R. Duchossoir's Telecaster book (1991) it indicates the nut width on that particular neck. They were listed as either A (1 1/2"), B (1 5/8") C (1 3/4") or D (1 7/8").
     
  7. Mr Green Genes

    Mr Green Genes Tele-Afflicted

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    All of the early Fender guitars had D neck profiles, so there would be nothing to distinguish it from.

    The early Fenders used rubber ink stamps (or graphite pencils) for things like dates, serial numbers, model numbers, etc., both of which are easily removed.

    If I had to guess (and it's only a guess), it could be possible that the pressure stamp was done so that it couldn't be removed, and was used to designate a defect found during inspection.

    Those "slightly imperfect" instruments may have been sold as "B" stock, or perhaps it was sent back to assembly and "corrected"- e.g. many poorly finished sunburst guitars were sent back and painted over in a solid color.


    Again, this is only a stab in the dark.


    EDIT: On further reflection, this could also designate a "demonstrator"- an instrument not meant for sale, to be given to music shops to demonstrate the instrument, which was new technology at the time. This was commonly done with many things in the early/mid 20th century, from vacuum cleaners to kitchen appliances to fountain pens, etc, so it would certainly make sense when trying to enter the market with an instrument that was not traditional (at the time), and by a new company trying to gain acceptance.

    Once again, just spit-balling.


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    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
  8. Mr Green Genes

    Mr Green Genes Tele-Afflicted

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    That makes about as much sense as any of the other speculations, except that the pictures in the OP show the stamp in the body cavity, which doesn't have a nut width.
     
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  9. Mr Green Genes

    Mr Green Genes Tele-Afflicted

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    Apparently this coding system was only used between 1962 and 1969, was incorporated into the date and model coding, and stamped in red or dark blue ink, so:

    [​IMG]

    "2"= model number, "DEC64"= date of manufacture, "B"= nut width.

    The stamp in question is clearly not related to the (penciled on) date and model coding, and is also on the body of the guitar.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
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  10. DaphneBlue

    DaphneBlue Tele-Meister

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    Could this D stand for "date"?

    My other theory:

    "Dude! They're gonna be so expensive in 60 years! Damn!"
     
  11. TeleTucson

    TeleTucson Tele-Afflicted

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    The "D" stands for "Defective". Sorry for that bad news ... but to all you owners of vintage factory defects, rather than just throw them all out, please send them to me. :D
     
  12. fernieite

    fernieite Tele-Meister

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    What about an inspector's stamp?
     
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  13. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Looking at the neck and body stamp images as close as I can zoom in on the browser, they appear to be put in after the finish was completed (need to see several and in person to really determine for sure). When you've got a newly finished instrument in the finishing materials they used then, the parts will be sticky for weeks. Even if not sticky, no pencil or ink stamp will mark nor remain on such a finish and the 'Sharpie' invention is years in the future, stickers are expensive. Only way to mark it at that point is with a stamp. Many parts get paint dots added but if the guitar were refinished then paint dots would be dissolved.

    Do all the necks and bodies bracketed during these years have this mark? Or only a few of them? Would there be any reason more of them with this mark survived than those without it -- such as 'demonstrator' given free to pro players to get design feedback or advertising? Or 'display' units for stores to use in selling while keeping new guitars boxed and untouched for buyers?

    Having worked in manufacturing for decades, parts get marked for a couple of reasons:
    -a prior process problem was corrected and all the product produced after the correction get marked until FIFO shows all inventory is cleared through. These are more hand-made, small shop, products and would not be to this level of tracking.

    -process or individual products that were found defective in some way are sent to a repair bench where a skilled worker goes through the piece and corrects whatever is wrong with the part then marks the piece as having been through the repair process. In a large factory this is useful in problem solving because you know to look at the main line or at the repair area. Stamped in because grease pencil would not stay on during handling.

    -these are defective 'seconds' and sold cheaper -- EVH tells a story how he went to Kramer and sorted through their 'seconds' bin (thinking they were next to be manufactured and not containing some defect) so that he built his famous Frankenstrat (and made an early purposeful relic) from scrap! So seconds were a common or normal process output in that early industry.

    My overall guess is the letter is only on a portion of the production output and thus represent a rework scenario. Some guy named 'D...' was the rework specialist to make things fit and look right and marked those he corrected.

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  14. tonyj

    tonyj Tele-Afflicted

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    From what I am reading in Nacho's "The Blackguard" book, the "D" stamp started to appear in early 1951 and gradually vanished in late 1954. From the many photos I have seen, it appears on both necks and the body of guitars, along with other markings usually done in pencil. There are no other similar letters used in this same style or otherwise, which tends to eliminate neck or pocket widths.

    I have wondered whether Leo had his crew working night and day shifts ........ just a thought. D = Dayshift, no mark = nightshift. Not too plausible I admit, but you wouldn't need more than one letter.
     
  15. chomps

    chomps Tele-Meister

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    Although I don’t have the statistics to back this up, it seems like the majority of Teles and Esquires from ‘51 to ‘53 have D stamps. No way they could all be defects or demonstrators.
     
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  16. chomps

    chomps Tele-Meister

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    Charlie Davis was an employee during these years, and he was sometimes initialing or signing bodies. Maybe he was also working as an inspector and the “D” stamp was his way of signaling that it passed inspection. The back of the neck butts of some pre-cbs necks are stamped (punched) with a small x, probably made by a Phillips head screw driver. I wonder if that was some other inspectors way of leaving his mark too.
     
  17. Mr Green Genes

    Mr Green Genes Tele-Afflicted

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    Again, just a guess, although I've personally never seen one with the "D" stamp. I'd be interested in knowing how many actually have the stamp.
     
  18. tonyj

    tonyj Tele-Afflicted

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    I am not sure how we could give you that figure. Let's just say that the D stamp is common. Perhaps appearing on most of those early guitars from the years 1951-54 which were quoted previously.

    It's possible that some of our forum members who are experts in dealing with those early years of the Telecaster's development and who own examples of them, or have handled those early guitars, could hazard a guess.

    From my own viewpoint it seems that 'most' of them that have survived intact from the 51-54 era seem to carry the stamp.

    I am pretty sure that someone out there can help answer this question.

    Remember many of us may not have been lucky enough to have ever seen one of these guitars, let alone examine it's innards. Only the fortunate few will ever get to do this.

    Meanwhile for me, it's back to my well used copy of "The Blackguard" by Nacho Banos. A great book btw.
     
  19. tonyj

    tonyj Tele-Afflicted

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    A quick scan of photographs in "The Blackguard" shows 14 of 16 guitars from 1951 through to late 1952 having clear D stamps either on the neck or in the pocket, or in both places. From that time and on through 1953 I looked at eight or so guitars and none had the D stamp.

    It would appear then that 1951 and 1952 were the key years for this mystery impressed D. This is a small sampling I know, but I know of no other source to continue the count.
     
  20. Mr Green Genes

    Mr Green Genes Tele-Afflicted

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    Hmmm- that being the case, I agree with Chomps- demo/display or defect are both unlikely.


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