Fender Stratocaster (USA 1979)
My first proper guitar. I didn`t know how it sounded, I hardly didn`t know anything about guitars except that there were two religions, either Fender or Gibson. But from the moment I had first seen it I just knew that I loved the way it looked and that I wanted it. I had to convince my dad who hates rock music. I showed him how dangerous my daily route to school was. He didn`t want me to take the bike in all that terrible traffic (Most car drivers in my country are ruthless assholes with small dicks and big cars.) So we made a deal. I had to avoid the most terrible traffic and take an other, longer but safer route. And I got this guitar in return!
Sometimes the old man was pretty generous!
The good old days
Those were the easy days when you had a choice of only 4 Stratocaster models. Either with a rosewood fretboard or with a one-piece maple neck and fretboard, with an ash or an alder body. Yes, there were no other options available!
The body wood depended from the finish. That was all Fender offered in 1980 or 81. I think there were no Squiers yet. Just Japanese copies from competing companys...
almost four kilos!
pretty well matched four-piece ash body
everything that purists hate about 70`s Fenders ...
ugly string trees
bullet truss rod nut
three point neck plate
micro neck adjustment screw (never used)
thick polyester finish
skinny, narrow vintage frets
7.25 fretboard radius
the middle pickup is not RW/RP
I still have the original bridge and the F-logo-Schaller-tuners.
but the whammy bar and the ashtray are gone and the thread for the whammy bar is f..... up.
One day, in the mid `90s, when I was in Los Angeles I decided to buy a black Floyd Rose Tremolo for it. There is this famous boulevard - Sunset or Hollywood (?) - were you have like 15 guitar shops in a row...fantastic!
I bought the Floyd and took it to my car and put it in the trunk and went on shopping and site seeing...
When I came back an hour later the trunk had been broken into and everything inside was gone.
This saved this Strat here from more modding.
One fine day I will take this Levinson preamp out and put it in a guitar that really needs it. This Strat here doesn`t.
It is versatile enough and sounds very good in all positions.
And I will try different saddles. Brass or steel? We`ll see / hear...
I suspect the original trem and saddles to be cheap cast bullshit and I like the sound of that heavy Levinson Fulcrum tremolo, but I think non-roller saddles could even improve the tone.
I changed the original wiring and have 7 sound options. The tone pot has a push-push switch to add the neck pickup no matter what the 5-way switch does.
I want a treble bleed cap on the volume pot and maybe will go back to two tone pots. One for the bridge pickup only, one for the rest. I may do a refret with taller frets, too.
Although this is a late `70s model it is not at all a bad guitar. A virtuoso player from German band "Kingdom Come" called Angie Schilliro, tried to buy it from me. An other great semi-pro blues player, Steff Müller from Groovepack, whom I knew, gigged it extensively in the `80s and then a fantastic swiss songwriter, Matthias Erb from Saltbee and Rondeau, played it for some years. The thing is that I sold this guitar after three or four years because I wanted to play bass... But more than 10 years later I succeeded in buying it back. I had missed it so much! Never, never never sell your first real guitar, dude! Even if you havn`t touched it for years, one day you may start playing again.
The Fender Neck Stamp Code Number
The serial number on the headstock starts with S9 followed by 5 digits.
According to Fender his means the guitar was built between 1978 and 1981.
Not very precise...
Entering the whole headstock serial number here is even worse:
Fender tells me: "Sorry, no resluts for S9xx xxx"
Finally here is the helpul site:
Between 1972 and 1980 Fender instruments have these neck stamps
consisting of 8 or 9 digits.
This here reads:
0902 c 2293
(or maybe the last one is a 5?)
from the left:
09 = Stratocaster
02 = maple neck and maple fretboard
c = unknown meaning
22 = 22nd week:
(Monday, May 28th - Sunday, June 3rd)
9 = last digit of the year, in this case 1979
3 = 3rd day of the week: Wednesday.
(This last digit is hard to read, could also be
the 5th day of the week: Friday)
The neck was stamped on Wednesday, May 30th 1979.
Fender Tele-Sonic (USA)
This is a very interesting guitar. It has a shorter scale of 24,7" (almost like Gibsons), a one-piece mahogany body and a wraparound bridge and four pots and a three way toggle. But, typically Fender, it has a bolt-on maple neck and six tuning keys on the left headstock side.
And then there are these De Armond 2000 (or 2K) pickups that seem to come from the Gretsch camp.
They look like the famous De Armond Dynasonic pickups but they are construced differently. They are more like smaller P-90s with a better shielding. They differ from the Dynasonics in that the pole slugs here are made of steel and the magnet bars lie underneath the coil. The Dynasonics have 6 rod magnets - one per string, that are individually hight adjustable.
The pickups are hot, around 10 Kilo Ohms, and I like them very much. Tele on steroids! There is twang, sparkle, sizzle, punch!
The neck pickup sounds very dark, the bridge very fresh and powerfull and the middle position delivers exactly what you`d expect.
A great, great guitar. My main guitar for years.
Unfortunately the neck is not fat enough to please me completely and the Gibson-style wiring is too complicated for me. Also I never liked how the pots are positioned. It is difficult to reach the lower pots.
The 3-way toggle was lousy quality and broke quite soon after I had bought this new guitar.
The rest is fantastic and very reliable.
My wiring idea was that a master volume pot and a master treble cut pot are good enough for most of the time. So I replaced the other volume pot by a two-way mini switch with four poles. This switch puts the two pickups in series and brings a 6-way rotary bass cut pot into the circuitry. This is the one with the chicken head knob.
So when I flip over the mini switch to the front position where it says "s" the master volume and master tone are still working, but the 3-way-toggle is out of order. Instead the bass cut selector works on this serial pickup combination and gives you the choice of additional hum-free sound options.
Interestingly the serial mode is not a lot louder than the parallel pickup combination and is very useful! Full, warm and variable due to this useful 6-way bass cut switch (by German electronics guru Helmuth Lemme)
Fender Korea Lite Ash Telecaster, approx. 2009
My favourite guitar for band rehearsal. It is light, cheap, ugly, undestrucable, very versatile and great sounding.
It came stock with a pair of Seymour Duncan Alnico 2 Vintage style singlecoils and they deliver almost anything you want from an electric guitar.
I really love this ugly and primitive guitar!
It is constructed and looks like some agricultural device from the 19th century. It is all about utility - nothing else.
I dislike the fake abalone dots.
I dislike the pickguard shape with that rear "cut off"-edge.
I find it ridiculous that Fender still does this ashtray-style Tele-bridge with these protruding edges that are good for absolutely NOTHING but to be a hindrance.
And they still offer these brass saddles that can`t be intonated properly.
I hate Fender for that silly Tele plug, that doesn`t work, because it keeps getting loose all the time. (Like that f...... Jazzmaster bride, which is something else these snobs at Fender hq never bothered to get right in 50 years! Check out the Mastery replacement bridge to solve the Jazzmaster problem! And now they even have a Mastery Tele bridge as well!)
I hate Fender for not noticing that the volume pot and the pickup selector switch tip on a Tele are too damn close so that you can`t operate that stuff if you have bigger hands than Frodo or other Tom Thumbs....
Check out Rockinger to solve that problem...
But the nice thing about the Tele is that you can upgrade and replace anything you don`t like and that the essence of this guitar is FANTASTIC!
if I were a poor fellow, if I were to lose all i have now except one cheap guitar, then this would be it.
I upgraded it with locking tuners, a better plug and these Wilkinson compensated saddles.
I think about modding the wiring like on my Tele-sonic (above), too.
But it isn`t really necessary. These three Tele sounds and a good overdrive pedal that you can control from the guitar`s volume knob is all I need for most of the songs.
Three great overdrive pedals that I use are...
Fender `62 Reissue USA Jazzmaster
I had an oportunity to buy this beauty second hand in a very good state.
The colour "ocean turquoise" alone was a good reason to do this.
I`m so glad there is no mother-of-toilet-seat pickguard on this vintage speced guitar.
There still are and have always been three criticisms about Jazzmasters.
1. No one needs that upper circuitry.
I don`t understand why the treble cut acts on the neck pickup only. Is this sonic mud intended to sound like "Jazz"?
I`d rather use the treble cut on the bridge pickup only...
Or what about a serial pickup combination with a bass cut pot? We`ll see. I`m working on that one.
2. The original Fender Jazzmaster bridge sucks and Fender never bothered to fix this issue.
What a shame, ongoing since 1958!
Enter a small US company building the "Mastery Bridge"...
This is the very best material, steel and brass, combined with perfect design and craftsmanship.
It works perfectly, improves the way the whammy works and tuning stability too, improves sustain remarkably, makes your sound a bit fuller and warmer. Strings never pop out, there is no buzzing from strings, no rattling from loose screws and there is no need to re-adjust it over and over again - unlike the original Jazzmaster-pain-in-the-ass-bridge.
3. The Whammy bar keeps falling off!
Another catastrophy, another desaster which the fabulous Fender Company never bothered to solve.
What is wrong with these people?
Don`t they have an R & D departement?
SOME whammy bars can be pushed in very strongly until it goes "click" and then will remain where they belong....say some nerds in the www...
Not mine, unfortunately!
So the mastery-bridge upgraded vibrato unit is great - only as long as you NEVER, NEVER, NEVER let go that whammy bar...
The only mod I had to do was installing a treble bleed cap on the volume pot. I just don`t understand how anybody out there can gig without
...is worth every cent and finally turns the Jazzmaster into the great, great, GREAT Fender guitar it was meant to be.....
Although I would prefer some kind of "vintage hot rod" workover, like a flatter fretboard radius or higher frets and a different circuitry on the shoulder ... This is a fantastic guitar.
Like a Tele it can be rude and rough, can sound sizzling and sparkling and has a beautiful middle position sound. (That`s the thing I miss most on Strats) The other two pickup options are fantastic as well and very versatile.
The pots and toggle switch are exactly where they should be, the whammy works beautifully - as long as they are retrofitted with a Mastery Bridge, that is!
The Jazzmasters rules and I love it.