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Author Topic:  Establishing a definitive Stringmaster timeline
basilh


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 1 Sep 2014 3:24 am     Reply with quote

Is there anywhere where such information is available, and failing that, can we do it here.

The First 1953 specs. sizes etc.

When they changed to push-buttons from slide switches and later to the blade type.

Also the pickups, covers and the wiring.

When did the the Lollipop tuners change to butter-bean

The angle of the legs, when did that change ?

Logo changes and case styles.

The original wiring was ingenuous, as well as the tone via the capacitor the tone control also controlled the pickup balance (later the blend pot did that)
Tone fully clockwise no cap in circuit and JUST the bridge pickup, once 12 o'clock is reached the neck pickup is now gradually included, until fully anti clockwise and the capacitor is in as well as the neck pickup.

It's one reason the Mk1 has such a distinctive sound, that along with the fact that the long scale gives more sustain, (helped somewhat by the fact that there's obviously more wood in the bigger bodies)
I've owned all models and personally believe that the Twin, Triple and Quad Mk1s have a tonality not capable of being reproduced with later models.

So the combined knowledge here SHOULD be able to put together an accurate time-line shouldn't we ?
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post Posted 1 Sep 2014 3:49 am     Reply with quote

I've got a Mk1 (as you put it---I like that) D-8




I don't know the date of the last 26" steels. This one is scribed thusly:



And although we know that the serial numbers are not useful, who knows:

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Jerry Jones


From:
Nashville, Tenn.
Post Posted 1 Sep 2014 5:44 am     Reply with quote

My 26" Stringmaster looks pretty much like Jon's. The serial number is 0147. I have a photocopy of the original receipt from Arcadia Music Mart dated 10/19/'53. When I purchased the guitar (I believe I'm the 2nd owner), I noticed the purchase date was only a week or two later than the manufacture dateā€¦. probably somebody's Christmas gift. The tweed covered handle is an unusual detail and there is no piping between the tweed and the leather end caps.

From the original sales receipt:

2 neck Stringmaster - $249.50
set legs - $52.25
case - $42.50
deluxe amp - $99.50



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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 1 Sep 2014 7:36 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
...SHOULD be able to put together an accurate time-line shouldn't we?


Maybe, but keep in mind that there were transitional years because Leo insisted on using up all of the parts on hand. So it's possible that Stringmasters made in the same year could have slightly different features.
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post Posted 1 Sep 2014 7:53 am     Reply with quote

Doug Beaumier wrote:
..... So it's possible that Stringmasters made in the same year could have slightly different features.


Hence my posting of the 10/54 date. I'd be interested in discovering the latest date we can find for a 26" SM.
For the record, my case handle is brown plastic (bakelite?) That tweed on Jerry's is awfully cool.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 1 Sep 2014 8:03 am     Reply with quote

And for a few years Fender sold both the Stringmaster and the older trapezoid pickup D-8 steels. That would be about 1953 through '56. I'm not sure if both versions were pictured in the Fender catalogs of the day though.
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post Posted 1 Sep 2014 8:30 am     Reply with quote

Doug Beaumier wrote:
And for a few years Fender sold both the Stringmaster and the older trapezoid pickup D-8 steels. That would be about 1953 through '56. I'm not sure if both versions were pictured in the Fender catalogs of the day though.


The '54 catalog features both styles heavily (all the steels are featured before the Strats and Teles etc).

The catalog introduces the Stringmaster (2, 3 and 4 necks), although we now know that there are some with a '53 date.

Also, Fender don't appear to be too worried about using up to date (or accurate) pictures in their catalogs - the Custom Triple and Dual Pro guitars shown feature roman numerals on the fretboard and trapezoid pickups (I always thought the roman numerals only appeared on the earliest ones with the box shaped pickups and definitely not as late as 1954) as well as smaller pictures showing the later design. The only picture which shows the front of a guitar (a T-8 Custom) does not appear to have a Fender logo.

The single neck Deluxe shown is one of the trapezoid pickup models but with the later, more common, fingerboard style
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 1 Sep 2014 9:05 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
... (in the catalog)... all the steels are featured before the Strats and Teles


Ah! The golden age of Steel Guitar. Don't ya just love it!?
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John Limbach


From:
Billings, Montana, USA
Post Posted 1 Sep 2014 9:34 am     Reply with quote

Here's my 1955 D8, 24.25" scale.








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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 2 Sep 2014 8:17 am     Reply with quote

Fender 1954 catalog:




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Jim Newberry


From:
Seattle, Upper Left America
Post Posted 2 Sep 2014 11:39 am     Reply with quote

Only to add a data point. It looks like mine is identical to Dr. Limbach's except for it being a short scale. Pushbuttons were still in as of 6-56, my tuner pan pencil date.
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basilh


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 2 Sep 2014 1:04 pm     ec Reply with quote

So as a start why not set the different models by a Mk and #
Like:-

Mk.1 ~1953-1955 Lollypop tuner buttons, Chrome Pickup covers slide neck selector switches fixed bridge cover and no blend pot.
Known serial Numbers =
(4 neck (ser # 0058) July 1953..26")
(2 neck (ser # 0147) Oct 1953..26")
(2 neck (ser # 0189) Oct 1953..26")
(2 neck (ser # 0282) ? ? ..24.5)
(3 neck (Ser # 0460) ? 1954..26")
(2 neck (ser # 0526) Oct 1953..26") Nov on one neck
(3 neck (Ser # 0612) June 1954..26")
(2 neck (ser # 0708) Oct 1954..26")
(3 neck (Ser # 0780) Nov 1954..26")
(3 neck (Ser # 0892) Feb 1955..26")
(3 neck (Ser # 0930) Mar 1955..26")


Mk.2 ~1955- ? Butterbean tuners, redesigned tuner pan, plastic pickup covers, pushbutton neck selector switches. Removable bridge cover and pickup blendpot.
Known serial Numbers =
(2 neck (ser # NONE) May 1955..24.5")
(3 neck (ser # 0619) Dec 1955..24.5")


Mk.3 November~1956- ?? Butterbean tuners, plastic pickup covers, switchcraft blade neck selector switch. Removable bridge cover and pickup blendpot.

Mk.4 ~1968- ?? Octagonal Schaller tuner Heads, plastic pickup covers, switchcraft blade neck selector switch.Removable bridge cover and pickup blendpot.


Fender used Telecaster knobs on the Stringmaster so the various different Telecaster years will correspond to the Stringmaster years (Approx)

Here's another question are the pickup covers actually plastic or nylon or what ?


Last edited by basilh on 3 Sep 2015 2:21 pm; edited 14 times in total
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post Posted 2 Sep 2014 1:15 pm     Reply with quote

Mk2 - triple neck s/n 0619 December '55
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Jerry Jones


From:
Nashville, Tenn.
Post Posted 2 Sep 2014 2:15 pm     Reply with quote

The old forum can be a wealth of information. John Tipka has some great info on several threads.....like here:

http://steelguitarforum.com/Forum2/HTML/000932.html

And vintage Fender case info here:

http://home.provide.net/~cfh/fender.html#cases

Seems the Stringmasters were the first Fender instruments to use the now signature leather edge cases.
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Matthew Dawson


From:
Portland Oregon, USA
Post Posted 4 Sep 2014 10:20 pm     Reply with quote

OT, but nice to see you back on the US SGF Basil!
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Rick Collins


From:
Claremont , CA USA
Post Posted 5 Sep 2014 2:48 pm     Reply with quote

Note:
The 1954 catalog Erv posted shows the Custom that's standing (vertical) has the old Roman numeral position marks. The Custom in the case has the newly designed fretboards as does the Stringmasters.
I doubt that Fender sold the Roman numeral type as late as 1954 __ must just be an old photo that was used for the printing.

I believe (a guess) that the wider-spread leg sockets for the Stringmasters were used with the long-scale guitars about the same time the design changed (later pickups, tuners, blend pots).
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post Posted 5 Sep 2014 3:28 pm     Reply with quote

Rick Collins wrote:
Note:
The 1954 catalog Erv posted shows the Custom that's standing (vertical) has the old Roman numeral position marks. The Custom in the case has the newly designed fretboards as does the Stringmasters.
I doubt that Fender sold the Roman numeral type as late as 1954 __ must just be an old photo that was used for the printing.


Yes, as i pointed out a couple of posts before Erv posted the picture - the catalog also shows a Dual Pro with Roman numerals (as well as a more recent one)on another page that wasn't posted. I only have the catalog in PDF format and have no idea how to post a page as a JPG.

Even more unusual than the Roman numerals, I thought, is the combination of them with the trapezoid pickups - all the ones I've seen have had the earlier box pickup.
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Bob Watson


From:
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.
Post Posted 6 Sep 2014 12:55 am     Reply with quote

I have a book about vintage guitars written by George Gruhn that has info on Stringmasters. I think it said they were made from 1954 to 1978. I leave it at the music store where I work so I can look up any vintage guitars that make they're way to the store. I'll look up the Stringmaster again and see how detailed it gets.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 6 Sep 2014 7:42 am     Reply with quote

My quad's serial number is #0002 but it is marked 1955 under one of the tuners.

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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 6 Sep 2014 7:45 am     Reply with quote

Here's another picture from the Fender 1954 catalog:

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Rick Collins


From:
Claremont , CA USA
Post Posted 6 Sep 2014 8:21 am     Reply with quote

Erv, when you reassembled the quad after refinishing did you replace the old leg sockets with the newer, wider-stance ones that came with the newer design?
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 6 Sep 2014 8:28 am     Reply with quote

No, I just used the ones that came on it.

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basilh


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 6 Sep 2014 12:01 pm     Reply with quote

That is strange I have never seen a triple or quad from that era with anything other than almost straight legs..certainly not the wide ones on your Erv.

It is indeed unusual not only because of the ambiguity of the serial # versus date, but also the leg angle ?
Did you own that from new ?
I must check with BJ as to the serial number and date of his, which BTW has the almost straight legs spacing..



Quote:
BJ Cole.(Brian)
The Stringmaster Quad which I have, and which you know is from July/ August 1953 and the serial No is 0058. The necks are signed in pencil under the tuning pans.Can't remember the names, but I think two of the necks are made by Freddy Tavares (31st July) and two by another person in the shop (1st August).
It's a 26" long scale guitar. The only thing missing are the bridge covers. I would dearly love to get replicas made of these.
As you told me it was played by Hoot Rains, I suspect it was made for him.


Last edited by basilh on 11 Sep 2014 3:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 6 Sep 2014 1:22 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
It is indeed unusual not only because of the ambiguity of the serial # versus date, but also the leg angle ?


I agree, and this points out that many Stringmasters have been restored in recent years. Parts from different years are often bought and sold on eBay, swapped out, mixed and matched... whatever the owner can find. A bridge plate with a very low number mounted on a body that is obviously from two or three years later raises a couple of questions. Is the guitar an after market reconstruction containing parts from various years? Or maybe Leo had his guys clean the shop one day and they found some bridge plates (with serial number) from a couple of years earlier and they used them on a current guitar? It's hard to say. Leo was famous for using up all the stock. Nothing was wasted.
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Tom Wolverton


From:
San Diego, CA
Post Posted 7 Sep 2014 2:01 am     Reply with quote

My big question is this: What year did the 26" scale SM stop being produced? Was it when the blender pots showed up? I.e. has anyone ever seen a long scale SM with blender pots?
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