What Is The Goodness Of 60’s Strat-Positive

kafka

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You really have to have a guitar in your hands to see if there's anything special about it. There probably isn't. Strats have always been hit-or-miss. The traditional way of buying them was to go into a store and play a whole wall of them, and then come back if one didn't speak to you.

Pre-CBS always had a reputation of being better, but I personally never really experienced it with any consistency. It got weird when the Internet showed up, and people started asking about which 'model' was better. It was like, how on earth could anyone know? It's a Strat. It was probably at the very least set up wrong.
 

bottlenecker

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Well again, seems plausible enough?
Maybe my perspective is different because I've worked in wood manufacturing basically since the 1970s when fine lumber was plentiful, and also worked in guitar repair, primarily focused on Fender so I've taken apart many old and new Fender guitars.

My claim is that everything you refer to about those players who put their listening into the Fender products, all that was retained and is still in use today, precisely because Leo designed a manufacturing process that was not dependent on worker luthier skills.
While we retroactively deify Ybarra and Gomez, Abby was not the one who made the guitars sound better, and Tadeo shaping necks also did not instill special tone. Despite urban legend and ad exec claims, there is simply no way to inject tone into lumber or coils.

Conversely, while the Fender workers of today are more rushed and use more automation, again, the CNC does not suck tone out of necks compared to them being hand shaped by a Tadeo or a Jesus. That's the Mexican pronounced Hay Zeus, not the Jewish one.

What has drastically changed is the best of the forests offerings then; were carefully air dried and long seasoned.
Remember that for example ebony used to be left to rot if it had streaky grain?
Similarly maple, ash, alder and Braz RW was selected by a process that burned or left to rot, any substandard lumber.
With the supply diminished, all stages are far less selective, and real crap wood goes into high priced guitars.
Then the seasoning?
New lumber production is so rushed with kiln drying and no long seasoning at all, it's cooked for a month and made into guitars.

Looking at the violin wood seasoning ethic, the old ways that were still in use among luthiers was to season violin wood for 400 years!
So plain old furniture grade hardwoods also got the old lumber trade ideals of seasoning long enough to stabilize and whatever else happens to wood sitting for a few years.
The twisted grain quickly kiln dried poorly selected wood available to FMIC today is IMO a clear change.
The workers at FMIC today, not having Leo tell them about Merle Travis or maybe touching Merle's guitar?
No, I'm sorry but workers cannot work magic due to hearing about Merle from a guy who met him.
A slower production process yes, that allows neck blanks to rest longer, results in more stable necks, but is not injecting special tones into the parts. Factory workers, making racks of parts, as directed. None made whole guitars.
Lumber was more different than factory workers were different.
We eagerly watch video clips of Leo era factory production, but the same sort of magic is worked on shop floors today, only missing is hand shaping replaced by CNC shaping, which has no tones in those cutters. Woodworkers are respectable and skilled now just as they were then.

As for Leo getting input from those Country players? That was all design input, and the designs are retained to this day with a surprising degree of accuracy. Leos musician friends were not teaching luthier methods to the Mexican labor Leo had in his factory.
And no amount of hand shaping or hand sanding is responsible for old solid body tones.

Does anyone really believe that if we select a good new Fender and record the same music with the new then with a good old Fender, on the recording we will hear that new Fenders cannot make the good sounds that old Fenders make?

Or, does anyone really believe that while today a rack of Strats all sound a little different, back in the Leo era, all the Strats on the rack sounded identical because the factory workers had special tone imparting powers?
Do we think back then the factory workers tone tapped parts, assembled a Strat and played it for a while, then swapped bodies and necks around until each guitar sounded magical?
No, they assembled from the top of each pile of parts, and each guitar was an act of chance.
But lowest common denominator being wood variations, then the worst wood was better than the worst wood of today.

Turn to archtops being carved and tap tuned, yeah the workers imparted tones.
Leo eliminated worker MOJO and replaced it with design MOJO.
Our love of Tadeo and his magic hands is revisionist history.
FMIC tries to capitalize on that by putting names to FCS guitars.
Are we really supposed to believe that none of those guys today are capable of the work done by low paid factory workers in the '50s?
I mean that's a real stretch and kind of an insult to all workers of today building guitars.


I think you're maybe unintentionally making a straw man out of what I'm trying to say.
Zoom way out.

Someone plays and tests the guitars at the factory, and makes sure they sound like what they understand a fender should sound like. They did then, and they do now.
They must do something when the sound is outside of the range of what they think it should sound like. Enter the effect of personal bias on the product.

Zoom out further.

How about all these "revoiced" and "redesigned" pickups on new models, many of which are still basically traditional, and even on vintage style models? They are clearly tweaking their execution of the design to meet their customers' expectations of what a fender sounds like. And possibly responding to changing material availability with each redesign. This is certainly another place personal bias has effected the product.

Im not just talking about the personal bias of workers, I'm talking about the customers, the CEOs, the pickup designers, everyone involved. If they were really just making Leo's design, there wouldn't be such a big overall difference from one decade to the next.
They went what, 40 or 50 years, depending how you count, without trying to make Leo's original tele design?
 

tomasz

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Dec 18, 2007
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908
Location
Europe
Well again, seems plausible enough?
Maybe my perspective is different because I've worked in wood manufacturing basically since the 1970s when fine lumber was plentiful, and also worked in guitar repair, primarily focused on Fender so I've taken apart many old and new Fender guitars.

My claim is that everything you refer to about those players who put their listening into the Fender products, all that was retained and is still in use today, precisely because Leo designed a manufacturing process that was not dependent on worker luthier skills.
While we retroactively deify Ybarra and Gomez, Abby was not the one who made the guitars sound better, and Tadeo shaping necks also did not instill special tone. Despite urban legend and ad exec claims, there is simply no way to inject tone into lumber or coils.

Conversely, while the Fender workers of today are more rushed and use more automation, again, the CNC does not suck tone out of necks compared to them being hand shaped by a Tadeo or a Jesus. That's the Mexican pronounced Hay Zeus, not the Jewish one.

What has drastically changed is the best of the forests offerings then; were carefully air dried and long seasoned.
Remember that for example ebony used to be left to rot if it had streaky grain?
Similarly maple, ash, alder and Braz RW was selected by a process that burned or left to rot, any substandard lumber.
With the supply diminished, all stages are far less selective, and real crap wood goes into high priced guitars.
Then the seasoning?
New lumber production is so rushed with kiln drying and no long seasoning at all, it's cooked for a month and made into guitars.

Looking at the violin wood seasoning ethic, the old ways that were still in use among luthiers was to season violin wood for 400 years!
So plain old furniture grade hardwoods also got the old lumber trade ideals of seasoning long enough to stabilize and whatever else happens to wood sitting for a few years.
The twisted grain quickly kiln dried poorly selected wood available to FMIC today is IMO a clear change.
The workers at FMIC today, not having Leo tell them about Merle Travis or maybe touching Merle's guitar?
No, I'm sorry but workers cannot work magic due to hearing about Merle from a guy who met him.
A slower production process yes, that allows neck blanks to rest longer, results in more stable necks, but is not injecting special tones into the parts. Factory workers, making racks of parts, as directed. None made whole guitars.
Lumber was more different than factory workers were different.
We eagerly watch video clips of Leo era factory production, but the same sort of magic is worked on shop floors today, only missing is hand shaping replaced by CNC shaping, which has no tones in those cutters. Woodworkers are respectable and skilled now just as they were then.

As for Leo getting input from those Country players? That was all design input, and the designs are retained to this day with a surprising degree of accuracy. Leos musician friends were not teaching luthier methods to the Mexican labor Leo had in his factory.
And no amount of hand shaping or hand sanding is responsible for old solid body tones.

Does anyone really believe that if we select a good new Fender and record the same music with the new then with a good old Fender, on the recording we will hear that new Fenders cannot make the good sounds that old Fenders make?

Or, does anyone really believe that while today a rack of Strats all sound a little different, back in the Leo era, all the Strats on the rack sounded identical because the factory workers had special tone imparting powers?
Do we think back then the factory workers tone tapped parts, assembled a Strat and played it for a while, then swapped bodies and necks around until each guitar sounded magical?
No, they assembled from the top of each pile of parts, and each guitar was an act of chance.
But lowest common denominator being wood variations, then the worst wood was better than the worst wood of today.

Turn to archtops being carved and tap tuned, yeah the workers imparted tones.
Leo eliminated worker MOJO and replaced it with design MOJO.
Our love of Tadeo and his magic hands is revisionist history.
FMIC tries to capitalize on that by putting names to FCS guitars.
Are we really supposed to believe that none of those guys today are capable of the work done by low paid factory workers in the '50s?
I mean that's a real stretch and kind of an insult to all workers of today building guitars.

I'm not adding on, as it is meant to be a positive thread and you seem to exploit all the positive arguments already. But I liked your post :)
 

telemnemonics

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I think you're maybe unintentionally making a straw man out of what I'm trying to say.
Zoom way out.

Someone plays and tests the guitars at the factory, and makes sure they sound like what they understand a fender should sound like. They did then, and they do now.
They must do something when the sound is outside of the range of what they think it should sound like. Enter the effect of personal bias on the product.

Zoom out further.

How about all these "revoiced" and "redesigned" pickups on new models, many of which are still basically traditional, and even on vintage style models? They are clearly tweaking their execution of the design to meet their customers' expectations of what a fender sounds like. And possibly responding to changing material availability with each redesign. This is certainly another place personal bias has effected the product.

Im not just talking about the personal bias of workers, I'm talking about the customers, the CEOs, the pickup designers, everyone involved. If they were really just making Leo's design, there wouldn't be such a big overall difference from one decade to the next.
They went what, 40 or 50 years, depending how you count, without trying to make Leo's original tele design?

Your comments about pickups being tweaked today brings up the fact that while we refer to those eras as if all the '50s Strats had one sound and all the '60s strats had the "other" sound, while adding the passing note that some were "dogs".

Today yeah, Fender and the whole world seems to be making special Fender pickups.
But from all evidence and despite similarly straw man ideals of "the '50s Strat sound" and "the '60s Strat sound", we pretty much know that since Fender didn't used counters on the pickup winders and had a row of staff winding pickups for all the models, Fender was very inconsistent with pickups, which also means Fender guitars had very inconsistent tones.

That's my point, there were some great things and some really haphazard things going on in the Leo era.
So much hype is promoted about say the blackguard sound, and repro pickups that aim to deliver that tone tend to be on the hotter to very hot side.
That era saw some A3 and some A5 magnets, two different magnet diameters, and a mix of 42awg and 43awg coil wire.
While most of those old pickups have had insulation breaks and shorts making them dead and now rewound, in the vintage repair field it's pretty well accepted that those bridge pickups were more often a fairly weak coil and a very thin bright tone.
Then the uncommon hot overwound pickups that went in to much fewer blackguards are heralded as THE blackguard sound.
And certainly most that got a rewind when the wire went bad, got a nice fat coil wind since the customer looked the shop owner in the eye when they got their vintage guitar back from the vintage guitar repair guy.

Seymour Duncan IIRC kind of made his name rewinding weak lame sounding stock pre CBS Fender pickups.
I've bought piles of them used, some dead and some working, but not a single one was even a little bit hot fat & warm.
Many of the more common Fender pickups got replaced BECAUSE they were weak and sounded lame.
Also common was neck pickups randomly wound hotter than the bridge, because NOBODY AT FENDER CARED OR BOTHERED TO CHECK!

WRT say Strats in this discussion related to what makes the '60s Strat tone, aftermarket winders know we tend to think of the alder body Braz RW neck '60s
Strats as warmer sounding than the ash bodied maple necked '50s Strats, so they wind a hotter warmer coil.
As far as '60s Strat pickups themselves being warmer than '50s pickups?
I gotta say, the first Strats with A3 mags in '54 and maybe part of '55 were warmer due to the magnets.
After that I really don't think Fender changed the inconsistent pickup production with zero methods to control their tone, in order to make the '60s pickups warmer.

But certainly an alder Strat with Braz RW board will have warmert tone than an ash Strat with maple board!
Can we agree on that?

I'm talking from buying and at times getting for free, hundreds of pre CBS pickups, and while they were all over the map, they ran from pleasantly weak to horribly weak.
But, if you had an old beat up Tweed amp with well worn speakers and a whole lot of dirt by the time you turned up past half way, those weak shrill thin toned pickups might balance with the not very bright not at all clear old worn Tweed amp.

Pretty much all the amp makers kept adding treble and headroom over the course of Leo era Fender and more so after CBS.
As amps got brighter and clearer, many of the weak Fender pickups got pulled in favor of ANYTHING ELSE!
Or sharp techs said I can fix that for ya!

Throw a fatter toned set in an old Strat in good shape and you have a tone monster!
But IME the same tone monster can be made with newer parts, if you match up the parts.
Fender didn't match up the parts or even bother to wind pickups to any actual spec, they just assembled piles of parts made from good lumber with finishes we like, and installed whatever mystery spec pickups were at the top of the bin on the bench.
 

bottlenecker

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we pretty much know that since Fender didn't used counters on the pickup winders and had a row of staff winding pickups for all the models, Fender was very inconsistent with pickups, which also means Fender guitars had very inconsistent tones.

Do we know that? I don't know how anything sounds from counting turns, or measuring anything. I know from hearing, and I haven't played a bunch of 50s fenders to know.
All I do know, is that some very specific attributes I like best from fenders, when I've heard them on records, have come from 50s instruments. It's usually been 50s instruments when I'm knocked out by a sound, regardless of when it was recorded.
I am not going to assume that they were all over the place tonally because some guys on the internet repaired a bunch of pickups. But, maybe they were.
 

Nick Fanis

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, just the positive statements of what makes them great.

Well CHANCE makes them great.
To be honest very few vintage Fenders I have played ,and I have played hundreds, were really great guitars.
Most were mediocre and many were complete dogs.
I think currently produced Fenders are definitely much better made and have a tremendous consistency you won't find in vintage ones.
The whole vintage thing may be "cool and vibey" but once you get past the mambo jumbo you won't find anything "better " than currently produced guitars.
 

IMMusicRulz

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60s Strats have always had good but very expensive rosewood fingerboards. Also, the Olympic White finish was introduced in 1959. But most importantly? 65 Strats were the "transition" model with the gold "spaghetti" logo, signaling what Fender was to become once Leo Fender sold his namesake guitars to CBS.

Found a pic of Nancy Wilson of Heart playing a 65 Strat (which was used during their incessant gigging throughout 1977 and 1978, and was later given in 2004 to Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen for permanent display at his Experience Music museum in Seattle)
1641963848589.png

1641963862885.png
 




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