Dots on Mid 60's Stratocaster

Discussion in '"Vintage" Instruments' started by eeyore, Feb 2, 2020.

  1. woof*

    woof* Member

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    My 12/64 strat has clay dots both side and fingerboard.
     
  2. Franktone

    Franktone Member

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  3. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    No.
    You can see different textures because the material is pearloid, same celluloid used on the larger square inlays you see on Jazz-Basses, Jazzmasters, Jaguars, Coronado II's etc. Similar to the material used on Gibsons of the same era and prior (except the LP Customs which sported real pearl inlays). It is supposed to imitate pearl and shades between lighter and darker, it also yellows with exposure to UV and rosewood oils.

    Regarding the sizes, it cannot be "all over the place" as jigs were used to drill the fretboard dots, and obviously a .275" dot will not fit a .250" hole.
    Google images for Fender factory in the '60s and you'll see what I mean.
    Once production switches to new jigs, there is no going back until the old parts are used up: in the late '60s Fender was producing a high volume of instruments.

    All writers oversee a few details here and there, and even make mistakes, especially for niche interest topics like that: there is no army or interns and research assistants to send in the field, it's pretty much a one person effort.
    Also keep in mind that when most of the books on vintage Fenders were written, particularly the Duchossoir ones which are ancient, there was virtually no interest whatsoever for CBS era instruments, even for the transition period.

    @Franktone: really nice Strat, I bet it sounds terrific! You should measure the dots again: they look like the larger .275" ones without a doubt, exactly like my '68.
     
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  4. Franktone

    Franktone Member

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    Thank you. It is perhaps my best Stratocaster ever. It feels, plays and has tone like an early sixties strat or the best from the late sixties. But I suspect that all late sixties are really great strats by any measure. My eyes are not quite what they once were and you could be absolutely right about the dot size. I was sitting down on the floor with the guitar on my lap holding a tape measure and trying to slightly stretch the strings sideways and moving my head from side to side to decrease parallax error.
     
  5. hogy

    hogy Supporting Member

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    That didn't happen until way into the1970s. '65 and on transition logos were still gold (brass dust paint, so they often turned very dark), and on top of the finish just like before.
     
  6. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    No, from late '67 on when the bold black logo (and some transition logos) came on, the decal was buried under finish and not oversprayed on the surface as it was before. Like this:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. eeyore

    eeyore Member

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    Now that's beautiful.
    Are these also 1/4" dots, or more like .275?
     
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  8. eeyore

    eeyore Member

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    Gotcha. I thought they had sourced pearloids as dots like how I see it on stewmac these days, so the hole had to fit the dots.

    But you're saying it was the other way around: they kept the jig at .250 for a while as they transitioned to pearloids, which were carved out to a circle to fit the jig hole. And then later on when they switched the jig to a .275, they also made the pearloid dots bigger to fit it.
     
  9. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    Yes, for at least 3 years from late '64 to late '67 when the bold black logo replaced the transition logo.
    Nothing speaks better than a pic, here's one from "Fender: The Golden Age" (a book with excellent pics BTW), obviously from the '50s as those are all 1-piece Strat maple necks. You can see the fixture used for drilling tuner holes and fretboard dots (all 1/4" at the time, the tuner holes were then step drilled for the tuner ferrules) on the bottom right.
    Not sure if it's steel or phenolic, but I am assuming it was affixed to the bottom of the neck blank, the holes indexing on a 1/4" pin right in the axis of the bit in a drill press. That's how I would do it anyway. Not sure what the glue bottle is, it's always a dry brown compound when a dot needs replacing, contact cement if it existed then, maybe?
    Not sure how they did it 10 years later in a plant probably over double the size, but it can't be that different. There must have been a few neck stations for different models.
    Note the piles of necks (Strat and P-Bass) and bodies (Strats), I am assuming mid to late '50s, they weren't kidding already.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Franktone

    Franktone Member

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    I'd say that it's a quarter inch.
    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    If you look closely on the pic, more like .275", if you have callipers you can measure carefully.
    1/4" is .250" so it's close, when you look at the 19th and 21st fret you can clearly see the difference between the smaller and bigger dots.
     
  12. Franktone

    Franktone Member

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    I think you are right. I set the whole thing back up, looked at it again with a 4.5 in magnifying glass and took two more shots. I think it is near 8.5/32 = ~ 0.266 with the resolving ability of that steel ruler and that would make you correct at 0.275 in with a micrometer. Here are the two extra shots. Excellent work you did Laurent.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
  13. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    Yes, it'd be really surprising to see a '68 Strat with the smaller dots.
    It's possible that maybe a '66 neck was somewhat overlooked at the bottom the pile, but highly unlikely given the change in specs/fixtures and the high volume of instruments going out the door at the time.
     
  14. eeyore

    eeyore Member

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    This is like the best source ever. Great pics. Thanks!
     
  15. TeleBlues

    TeleBlues Member

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    Hello, A good source for Fender guitars is http://www.guitarhq.com/fender.html#intro

    This is what you will find, and more...

    Fingerboard Dots
    • Black dots: used on maple fingerboards and made of fiberboard-like material (in the 1950's) or black plastic later.
    • White dots: used on rosewood fingerboards (Jazzmaster in 1958, all other models in mid-1959). Till the end of 1964 Fender used "clay" dots as position markers. This material has an off-white opaque color. In very late 1964 all models changed to pearl dot position markers. Side markers remained "clay" until spring 1965 when these too changed to pearl.
    • White dot spacing: In 1963, the spacing of the two fingerboard dots at fret twelve changed (the spacing became closer together).


    Cheers
     
  16. jsegel

    jsegel Member

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    (Just a side note: at or around this same transition to pearloid, the 12th fret dots became closer together.)
     
  17. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    The 12th fret dots were 1/2" from the edge of the fretboard up until mid '63 or so when they got closer together, 5/8" from the edge of the fretboard. Still clay dots though.
    As was noted on this thread before, the transition between clay and pearloid dots lasted from the end of '64 to the beginning of '65, with the side dots not necessarily matching the fretboard dots material.
    You can easily find late '64 Strats with pearloid dots and early '65 ones with clay dots, green to white guards followed the same transition.
    One has to assume there were still boxes of clay dots on the shelves, for fretboard and side material, that got used up as the pearloid dots came in.
     
  18. rockitcity

    rockitcity Member

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    And just to complicate things more, my Nov 64 Strat had mint guard and clay dots with spaghetti logo.
     
  19. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    There you go!
    There are NOV 64 Strats with white guard, pearloid dots and transition logo…
     

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