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Post new topic Detailed Fender Steel from Memory
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Author Topic:  Detailed Fender Steel from Memory
Chance Wilson

California, USA
Post Posted 28 Feb 2018 7:38 pm     Reply with quote

Have I ever posted in nopedals?
This is from old memory but should be pretty darn accurate.
Boxcar Pickups ended in early 1949
They had brown roman numeral fret boards which changed to black for the last few in 1949
All pre 52 Fender Steels have only slotted screws
Roman numeral fretboards were last used in 49 the block fretboard was available for a good part of 49 too.
Trapezoids & Champions were available from 49 to at least 55.
I know the books say 56 but I have not found a 56 with traps. It doesn't make sense to me they would continue to use lollipops when they had the better and less labor intensive Klusons on the Stringmasters.
I've never seen a 56 Champion either.
I have seen these early guitars made out of Mahogany and I think the Brown finish over Ash was done to look like mahogany.
Flatter topped (Broadcaster) knobs were used into 1951.
There were 3 different milled jack cups on console steels into part of 1952
1952-1956 will have Dome knobs
1953 nickel plated Slotted Oval head Shoulder wood screws are replaced with Phillips head, same specs.
The Champion continues the slotted screws for mounting the pickup only (not plated)
Somewhere in '52 the milled jack cup was replaced with
a pressed one.
Trapezoid steels are "short scale" 22.5"
The early Deco logo was used until 1954
1955 and later will have the modern logo
Stringmasters made in the latter 1/2 of the year can be fairly accurately dated by the volume pot.
Ash Bodies 99% of the time-I did remove a pedal system from a 59 that was not ash (Alder or Mahogany-can't remember but can find out)
95% of "Mark Is" were 1953-54. Early '55 is rare.
All of them are 26" scale
53's tend to have a darker butterscotch finish.
95% of Mark IIs were made in 1955 AND 1956 and have pushbutton switches and 22.5" and 24.5"
"short" and "long" scale options
1957-definitely has Tele Switch and top hat switch tip
In general, the Tele switch is a good way to identify post 56 steels.
The V/T knobs are a new shape (top has distinct edge from the knurling
1958:Brass knobs are replaced with pot metal
1959: can have ceramic capacitor instead of paper in oil
Some 59s have a thicker finish
1960:Tweed case changes to brown tolex
1963: Can be Cream tolex case
Screws lose their shoulders and get threads to the head.
Has a Patent number in tuning pan instead of Patent Pend
Most all Mark IIs and IIIs from 1956-63 had tone pots dated 1956. The 1956 Blend Pots lasted for a few years as well.
1964: Black case and no more Spaghetti logo decal
Black finish became an option
My interest ends in 63 as the beautiful thinner opaque finishes went away.
I think 22.5" Short scale was not available with CBS

Considering the amount of early style 1000s I've found in custom colors (while meeting original owners around LA/OC), I'm surprised we don't see more factory custom finish steels-not even a burst or red?
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Steve Marinak

Ocean Ridge, Florida, USA
Post Posted 1 Mar 2018 10:01 am     Reply with quote

Cool thank you. I have a cream colored case for my single Deluxe 8. Cream colored case with black handle and black end caps. Guitar is the yellow/butterscotch color. I've never popped it open to look inside, but it sounds like a '63 from your description.
Steve Marinak
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Chance Wilson

California, USA
Post Posted 1 Mar 2018 12:24 pm     cream Reply with quote

That's correct. I'm sure there are overlap months, but that's what's generally accepted. Many of the specs I posted apply to Fender Spanish guitars as well. The butterscotch is probably from age-technically it's blonde which was pretty white when new. Congrats-you have the last of the good Fenders.
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Chris Templeton

The Green Mountain State
Post Posted 4 Mar 2018 12:36 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks Chance, great info!
Excel 3/4 Pedal With An 8 String Hawaiian Neck
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Stephen Cowell

Round Rock, Texas, USA
Post Posted 5 Mar 2018 9:18 am     Reply with quote

All Deluxes ever made were 22.5"... I have a '69. '64-up have black tolex cases... '65 up have poly instead of Duco lacquer. Early Stringmasters may have weak bridge screws, Fender got a bad lot of them (the four big ones behind the bridge)... mine broke. Fender bought a huge bunch of pots in '66... most guitars from then to early '70s have these pots, complicating pot dating.
New FB Page:
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Joerg Hennig

Bavaria, Germany
Post Posted 7 Mar 2018 12:55 pm     Reply with quote

Thank you for the great info, now I'm able to narrow it down a bit. (This is about my D-8 (trapezoid) steel, I used to have a short-scale pushbutton Stringmaster which was probably from '55). All pre 52 Fender steels have only slotted screws - so mine must be post '52. It has the dome knobs, that makes it '52-'56. It has the early logo, that means until '54. So it's probably a '53 - '54. There is one funny detail, it actually has the incredible serial number 1950. But then I know serial numbers are not very helpful for determining the year the guitar was built.
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Chance Wilson

California, USA
Post Posted 13 Mar 2018 11:47 pm     more Reply with quote

All non pedal Fenders except for the 24.5” and 26” Stringmasters are 22.5” scale. The earlier trap and boxcar PUs have more troublesome bobbin materials that warp and interfere with the strings. They all can benefit from a rehab at this point because the magnet on the end design is not the most efficient transducer. You can experiment with putting magnets on or under the covers if you are having output issues or want to modify your sound. If anyone needs more info, I made records down to the different leg clutches by year but I’d have to do some digging.
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Brad Davis

Texas, USA
Post Posted 14 Mar 2018 7:20 am     Reply with quote

Great info, everything jives with what I think I've learned and then some.

My 1954 26" quad's pickups are all original and all still going strong, can't really detect any output differences anywhere, but I know to take some care with them around other magnetic fields (amps and such).
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Chance Wilson

California, USA
Post Posted 14 Mar 2018 9:38 am     Reply with quote

Stringmaster PUs should be fine and they don’t need any special treatment. In 54 they used springs for height adjustment, switching to rubber in 55. I like rubber (surgical tubing or sim). It’s only the trapezoid and boxcar PUs that might need help. With total metal covers and mounting, a 54 Stringmaster’s PUs should last anothe 65 yrs w/o maintenance.
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Brad Davis

Texas, USA
Post Posted 14 Mar 2018 10:31 am     Reply with quote

Yup springs on mine all across. They're a little fiddly if you ever have to remove and reinstall but I think I got the trick down.
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