Vintage Fender Woods

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by fenderbender4, Feb 27, 2015.

  1. fenderbender4

    fenderbender4 Gold Supporting Member

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    I know the most common woods associated with Fender guitars are Swamp ash, Alder, and Maple (necks). I have read of the occasional weird ones like the all-rosewood telecaster and stratocaster, as well as the Korina strats.

    I was wondering though, if any other woods were used for a significant run on the guitars?

    Also, were the necks all eastern hard rock maple? Or was western used (like Big Leaf etc.)? This may be a huge re-hashing of old news, and if it is apologies, but in regards to the fender woods, it seems most of it is just kind of accepted, whereas it seems Gibson's stuff has been gone over with a fine-tooth comb. Interested in the maple for necks because I've mostly seen Eastern Hard Rock, but given the location of Fender over the years, it might seem more convenient for them to have found a supplier of maple from the west coast.

    Specifically wondering about the Pre-CBS fenders and probably up to '74.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  2. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    I think western maple is used a lot, but not sure.
    Basswood has been used some... not sure how much...
     
  3. Wildwind

    Wildwind Silver Supporting Member

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    I believe - and could be wrong - that the ash used back in the day was not swamp ash. Some call is hard ash, though I'm sure there is a more accurate terms. Swamp ash as a term is getting thrown around to encompass all ash - not the case. Swamp ash is usually lighter by a fair amount with a distinctive different sound.

    My swamp ash Tele was built from that wood on purpose - I wanted a warmer Tele that still had nice bite. I got it. Plus it's maybe a pound lighter.

    As for neck woods, I think hard rock maple is all they've ever used in production guitars.

    But the Fender formula was very simple and built as economically as possible back then. So your comparisons to Gibson are accurate. Gibson was always considered the more luxury brand and built with more sophistication and craftsmanship. IMO the truest vintage Fender tones are compromised (albeit in very nice ways sometimes) when "upgraded" woods and metal parts are used.
     
  4. Pedro58

    Pedro58 Supporting Member

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    I have a buddy who had a mid-60's Strat that was mahogany. Sounded kinda like a Firebird to my ears. I've never seen another one.
     
  5. mellecaster

    mellecaster Member

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    I won't get into the whole Ash thing, but one of the posters above is mistaken on that....Fender has also used Poplar quite a bit (James Burton Std) Basswood (JB Artist series)
     
  6. Yamaha 1421

    Yamaha 1421 Supporting Member

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    Played a real vintage 60s Strat a friend in town owned and the neck was Hickory..........I guess Fender made a few with that wood but not many.
     
  7. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Supporting Member

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    My friend had a korina bodied '60's Strat. Very rare.
     
  8. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    I agree Swamp Ash is much different than regular ash. Regular ash isn't a lot different than oak as far as working with it. Oak is likely not a good tone wood... or more would use it. I think Stew Mac may sell/sold some oak or regular ash bodies. I thought the old fenders were Swamp Ash though..? Some years Fender mostly used Swamp Ash for Sunburst finishes.... from what I read.
     
  9. fenderbender4

    fenderbender4 Gold Supporting Member

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    Your friend isn't Steven Seagal by chance?
     
  10. IPLAYLOUD

    IPLAYLOUD Member

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    You'll see an occasional Pine bodied Duosonic or Musicmaster (if it happened to be stripped).

    There was a very short time where they used Hickory for some necks...end of '65 or so.
     
  11. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    Interesting:
    " [FONT=verdana, tahoma, arial, helvetica]The word "swamp" does not refer to a species of wood but actually to a "zone" where ash grows. There are different ways to describe what is actually the same tree, which by growing in different areas of the USA (north or center or south) develops almost totally different characteristics. So we have "red ash" also known as "pumpkin ash" (fraxinux prufunda) which is what we guitar makers call "swamp ash", a [/FONT] [FONT=verdana, tahoma, arial, helvetica]tree growing in the swamp areas of Mississippi and Alabama, and other heavier species such as green ash (Fraxinus Pennsylvanica, "white ash", Black Ash (Fraxinus Nigra), which are more common in the centre and in the north of the country.

    [/FONT] [FONT=verdana, tahoma, arial, helvetica]
    [/FONT] [FONT=verdana, tahoma, arial, helvetica]All the above are actually names which are given to the same tree to distinguish the very different characteristics (weight, colour, density) the tree develops by growing in different areas and environmental conditions.

    So is it the place where it grows that makes "swamp" ash so light? Possibly, but not only. Also, how and where the woodworker cutsthe blank from the tree has an importance.

    CUTS: Everything else being the same, a cut in the upper part of the tree will result in a heavier blank of wood. Conversely, a piece of wood obtained from the lower part of the tree will be lighter. The rule here is that: the further north the ash tree grows, and the higher and the more internal the cut into the tree, the heavier the wood will be, and vice versa."
    [/FONT]
     
  12. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Supporting Member

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    Nope.
     
  13. XKnight

    XKnight Member

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    Original Esquires were made of Pine, mainly because it was readily available and cheap. Pretty much a theme that runs through early Fender production and probably holds true today in many ways. I truly believe that the genius of Leo Fender was due to simplicity and serendipity.
     
  14. fenderbender4

    fenderbender4 Gold Supporting Member

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    I just remember reading a little bit on the Korina Strat in Vintage Guitar magazine.

    Didn't know about hickory necks. I knew about pine and have read sporadically that Eric Johnson's strat "Virginia" was spruce bodied.

    Curious about the eastern vs. western maple necks as the necks on fender type guitars seem to be a really large contributor to the tone. Plus the hardness of maple can vary quite a bit it seems.
     

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