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Guitar Village Exclusive: Teardown Inspection of an All-Original 1964 Fender Stratocaster

Adam Leaver: August 19, 2023
Full Transcript Below!

Dive deep into the heart of music history with an exclusive teardown inspection of a 1964 Fender Stratocaster that has remained untouched in the hands of its original owner. Join us as we carefully disassemble this vintage masterpiece, revealing its immaculate components and hidden craftsmanship that have shaped the sounds of generations. From the resonant tonewoods to the vintage electronics, every detail tells a story of an era gone by. Gain unprecedented access to a time capsule of musical innovation!

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Full Transcript

Hi Sam from Guitar Village and today we are checking out this one owner 1964 Fender strat in its original Olympic White finish

what we’re going to do today is we’re going to take this guitar apart and examine the parts inside in detail tell you how we ascertain what’s original and what’s not as well before we get into that though what I think we should do is do a visual appraisal on it as well just so we can tell roughly what we’re looking at first

so when we get someone in with a guitar they’re looking to part ways with we take it out the back we analyze it visually internally and externally to see what’s original and what’s not once we’ve done the deal the guitar will then be set up and cleaned where appropriate then it will be photographed and then it can be listed for sale on our website and installed too so let’s get this thing on the bench and analyze it right so before we start taking this guitar apart initially what we’re going to do is just have a look over the guitar find a few pointers that gives us an idea of what year it might roughly be first thing we’re going to look at is the serial number on most strats or at least vintage ones anyway you’ll find that on the back there you’ll have a serial number in this case it starts with an L now the L serial numbers went from 63 up to about 65. so this serial number is 32042 and we know that’s going to be 1964. because the first part 63 the serial numbers would have been l 1 all the way up to about 20 000 and then in 64 it’d be twenty thousand to fifty five thousand so we know we’re in that territory next thing we’re going to look at another big indicator is spaghetti logo so we can see on the headstock right here we’ve got our spaghetti logo with three patent numbers on there those came in you know kind of somewhere around 62 with three pattern numbers on there so we’re looking in the right ballpark and then we’ve got clay dots as well in the later part of 64 they went to these Pearl dots so we know it’s going to be earlier in 64. well with those bits out the way and we know we’re pointing roughly to 1964. let’s get the strings off and start looking at some of the parts inside because we want to remove the neck now we’re going to take the strings off also I’m going to take the trem arm out because we need to turn the guitar over and lay it on its front it’s always a lot easier with this out the way

we will talk about the trail arm in a minute too well while I’m taking the strings off be an interesting time to mention some of the the big periods really for Fender so for those of you who aren’t you know really into your Fender history the pre-cbs era strats are the ones that most people want some of the most desirable ones are the ones from the the mid 50s but however I think totally and for a lot of players they prefer the Rosewood boards the 60s ones all those old ones as well the pre-cbs ones come with a Brazilian rose with fretboard just like this one here and crucially we have a society certificate to go with it as well if you haven’t heard of societies it’s really important now for any Brazilian rosewood being sold in the UK and from the UK being exported as well you also need to have a society certificate so otherwise it’s it’s not legal to uh ship them anywhere okay right we’ve got the strings out the way you’ll notice I did use a peg whiner to do that with the tuners on this I checked them before doing it they all move nice and freely so I would say using a peg Winder is okay and this one says fender on it so it must work on it okay we’ve got the string slackened off just going to flip the guitar over onto its front so we can get to the bolts on the back

so we’ve got these four bolts holding the neck on the right screwdriver now you want to be careful taking these off sometimes with older guitars you’ll find that a lot of the Cross heads can be chewed up a bit we’ve got a couple here that just have a slight bit of chewing on there but nothing severe

second as well I want to show you these uh these big screws that hold the neck in so if you have a look right here you’ll see that the screw is threaded the whole way along this is something that they started doing kind of later on they didn’t always have the the fully threaded screws and they did the same on the trem spring claw screws too

what you’ll find as well with some of these guitars there the old Defenders the serial number is a really good indicator of what year it might be but it isn’t completely definitive

so ascertaining the exact year is best done with the codes that we’re going to find on the pots in a minute and a few other details too

now you can see with the uh the neck plate removed you can see a lot of the original finish in there so this is an Olympic White finish and you can see the difference in color between the area that’s not had any lights on it so with Fender colors which we’ll talk about a little bit more in a minute and they either have a clear coat on top which is Nitro cellulose on top of the paint now what that does is it gives that kind of yellow color so it makes it look a bit more blonde than white

let’s go ahead and take the neck out the pocket you’ve got to be really careful with some of these you don’t just want to yank this thing out just gently take it out firstly what we might see in a lot of these old strats is this it’s like a paper red shim and you see these exact ones in a lot of the old ones sometimes you might see some sandpaper in there also other good signs as well the paint just in there you can see a little bit of an imprint from there um I don’t know if you’ll catch that on the camera or not but believe me it’s there

Okay so we’ve got our neck out we’re going to start with the heel of the neck we’re going to check out a few markings on there on the back here you can see we have this neck stamp now let’s have a look we’ve got two we’ve got July 64 B let’s break this down so the two is actually the model not the date so two stands for Stratocaster I think three would be a Telecaster and then July I’m sure you figured that one out 64 which is the year and then B which is the nut width so if any do four different nut wits a b c and d b is by far the most common seen the odd sea I don’t think I’ve ever seen an A or a d neck in the flesh um so they’re quite rare they had to be specially ordered while looking at the back here if we have a look at the way the Rosewood is fitted to the maple as well this is called a round laminate so initially what Fenner did when they decided to go to Rosewood is they would put the board onto a flat piece of maple so the maple would be flat on top and then they would just put the board on top of there so I think it was somewhere around late 62 they decided to do this veneer board on there which helps us date it so we know it’s at least 1962 or older there’s a really subtle detail in here as well so this is where the the truss rod nut is um with a lot of guitars they’ll be at the other end of the neck but on all the old vintage fenders they put them at the butt here now if you have a really close look to tell this one from a Repro one you have to look at the very center so what would happen is in the very center of it on the old ones you can actually see the thread through the middle whereas the Repro ones are completely flat there so you can’t see anything through them now let’s flip this over and have a look at the back

right here we’ve got a nail hole so we’ve got obviously our full screw holes that hold the neck on but we’ve also got this nail hole and this is a good sign we’re also hopefully going to have a nail hole underneath the D string close on tuner there now while we’ve got the guitar flipped over on the neck at least let’s have a look at these tuners on here let’s get it out the way so you can see that on the camera now you could see these are heavily worn but what we could make out just on here in a single line are the words close and Deluxe the manufacturers of these tuners around 64 there’s a transition period where you see what they call double line close and Tuners so you have cluesome Deluxe written here and here not just straight down the middle there

now turning this over let’s have a look at the front what we would expect to see here is a butterfly string tree on the older stretch the kind of mid 50s ones what you would see is a round string tree and on top of that this one has a metal spacer underneath it now this metal spacer was phased out during 1964 for a nylon one so 64 you expect to see either on there with the early decounts they went through a few changes we’ve got three patent numbers on here which is typical of kind of 62 and onwards what they did before that they just had the two patent numbers and then no what Fender also did with their logos they went to a transition logo which is a slightly more blocky logo towards the later part of 64. so we know it’s not a late 64 model and the next stamp helps us with that too something else you can tell sometimes what we’ve seen with some Repro uh you know kind of Relic style strats they haven’t put the logo on top of the lacquer in this case they have and what you can see is there’s just a slight outline of the decal where it’s it’s a water decal so you put it in water you get it wet and then you slide it onto the lacquer whereas a lot of modern fenders what they do is they put the decal on first and then lacquer over the top that way you don’t get that outline from it so I’m going to move this body out the way then we’re going to go ahead and get the D string tune off to have a look underneath it

okay so we just need to take off two screws either side of that tuner

in this case because we can see how uniformly corroded all these tuners are on the back we’re not going to be taking the whole lot off to check this we’re just going to do the D string

okay and you can see right here next to the tune we’ve got the two screw holes but right here we have an extra nail hole so that combined with the one at the heel I was talking about were two nail holes they would have used for drying and spraying the neck let’s have a look at this cluesome tuner again so I mentioned about how to date these tuners based on some you know certain specs so for example I said about the the double eye inclusion Deluxe which was phased out during 64. um the single line one started in about 58. on the back of the tuner we’ve got a D paint number in here some of the earlier occlusans didn’t have the paint number in there they just said paint and applied on them but these ones look absolutely original to me so let’s go ahead and put this back in before we finish with the neck and we’re going to check out the body there’s something I thought would be quite cool to talk about as well so when we’re looking at the neck here one thing we use is a radius gauge to see how round the fingerboard is it should be around seven and a quarter however when they made these guitars they weren’t exactly seven and a quarter they were just told to aim for that and then measure as they went on now I’ve just checked this one at the first fret it’s a really strong seven and a quarter but as you move further up the fingerboard it just starts to rock a bit more and I think once you get up to the last few Frets it’s probably more likely to be a six and a half somewhere around there all right let’s have a look at the body first up when looking at the body we want to check out the finish in 1962 Fender decided to change the way they were going to spray their guitars so if we have a look at this bare patch in here it’s actually from a piece of wire conduit that was kind of bent into shape and they used to just screw that thing in and then they would paint the guitar from there what that does mean is once we take the pick guard off we might expect to see some nail holes under here we might not by 64 they’d kind of phase most of that out now talking about the Finish when Fender were spraying their finishes the color codes they would use would be from DuPont but they would use a variety of different supplies so it could be a Nitro base coat or it could be acrylic paint on there next is the clear coat and this is really important especially with a fiesta red finish so the clear coat is as it sounds it’s a clear coat of nitrocellulose and they would always use nitrogen when they did put a clear coat on but in a lot of cases they didn’t put clear coats on and what that means is if it doesn’t have a clear coat the guitar will stay pretty much white whereas in this case we can see it’s got a kind of vintagey blonde cream color and what that is it means it has a clear coat on top and that has actually yellowed over the years

you can see on the back here you can see some slightly lighter areas as well that have just worn through that clear coat on the back there are two dowel holes that you see on a lot the pre-cbs straps or pretty much all of them there’s one here which I can see I don’t know if you’re going to catch that on camera but trust me it is there and there’s another one right next to this little chip here too by 64 we wouldn’t expect to see a body date sometimes you would see them under the trim Springs or in the middle pickup cavity okay so prior to Mid 1956 Fender pretty much just used Ash for their bodies but Midway through 56 for the solid color finishes and the Sunburst finishes they moved over to older this guitar here has an older body we can see from this bare piece of wood here there’s not much grain going on now the reason for this is that because they’re solid colors or Sunburst colors you can’t see the grain through them so they didn’t bother unless you’re talking about a Telly maybe with a see-through blonde finish or a strap with a see-through blonde finish you’re not really going to see Ash another good indicator for the year is how contoured the body is so with the really early stretch from 54 onwards there’s a hell of a lot more contouring than this they don’t get blocky but they just get slightly blockier than the original ones it’s not until you get into the 70s you see those really blocky almost like Square bodies okay so I think that’s the finish and the body kind of discussed let’s go ahead and take the pick guard off

so first up before we start removing the screws from here let’s have a look at the pick guard itself one thing that happened during 62 is they moved this screw just about half an inch over it used to be in the middle here they decided they wanted to move it just there so another good indicator also it’s a mint green guard the guards towards the end of 64 turn to White still three ply you know white black white green white sorry green black green now when removing these old pick guards they are cellulose so they do shrink over time that’s why you get things like this crack is very typical to see on a kind of mid sort of early to mid 60s Strat

another thing that’s quite important as well because of the way we play the guitar you know generally your hands going to be over this area you’re going to see that most of the screws towards this area actually get corroded a lot more so we want those to go back in so all the wearers uniform across the body

Okay so we’ve got the pickguard screws out we’re going to gently just take the pick guard off and flip it over and have a look underneath once again we’re seeing this gorgeous Olympic White finish there and if you have a look at these uh routes for the pickups what you’ll see is they’re very rounded on the end it was in something like early 70s maybe 71 they started to square off the corner so that’s a really good sign I mentioned about nail holes as well when we were talking about the body sometimes you might see a nail hole somewhere around here or here and what they would do is just put nails in them and then just use them while the guitar was drying in this case we can’t see anything and there’s also no markings or anything like that that suggest a a body day either it was something they kind of phased out by 64 anyway but sometimes you do see it and often you’ll see this little piece of tape in there as well

now you want to be careful just when flipping the pick guard over on these some of the wires and and the wiring can be a little bit soft and brittle okay let’s just slide that over a bit so you can see that on the camera okay now straight away the back of the pit guard we’ve got this uh aluminum shielding on there it’s really really good to see what should we start with let’s have a look at the pickups first so we’ve got black bobbin pickups during 64 they went to gray bobbins but seeing black bobbins as I mentioned about Leo Fenner being quite thrifty wouldn’t be unexpected and so they started doing is they started putting dates on these in this kind of yellow ink pen sometimes when they were on Gray bombings they did write them by hand so if we have a look here we’ve got August 31 it’s hard to make out those two numbers there but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it’s most likely something like 64. let’s gently take the neck pickup out I want to talk a little bit about the pickups because they’re quite important to a lot of people in these guitars we are going to be very careful because we can see this crack here so we’re just gently going to remove this while keeping the pressure on there

nice and careful

just while I’m doing this last bit you’ll notice that there’s hopefully you’ll notice there’s no beveling on the magnets here it’s something they started phasing out by 64. um earlier ones tend to have some beveling to them um this is just where the top isn’t flat this has a slight kind of Arc to it

okay nice and easy popping this out doesn’t feel like this has been removed before this pickup so I’m gonna be really careful with it

one thing to note here we’ve got Springs underneath this is something they started doing in 64 as well so it’s a really good sign and before then they would have used rubber surgical tubing

okay before I take the pickup cover off on here let’s just have another look at the back so I mentioned there black bulb in I mentioned they haven’t got beveled magnets in them one thing that’s worth looking at as well is the wax on them so Fender pickups are wax potted this stops microphonics and you can see lots of wax on here which makes me think they all look very uniform that none of them have been rewound at all now I’m going to be very careful when taking this pickup cover off you don’t want to damage any of the wiring inside

now during 64 Fender changed from a kind of Rich red color to more of a burgundy color still quite vibrant you can see all the wines in there and also let’s have a look at the back of this so in here during I think it was 63 what you start to see 6364 on the back of these is these four little marks on there these little circles I presume they’re from casting and if we turn this over you can see the amount of discoloration over the years between the parts

okay let’s go ahead and put the pickup back in before we do one last final test with it Okay so we’ve got the pickup back into its housing again one thing we’re going to check we have this polarity Checker during the 60s Fender made all the pickups uh South polarity so when we hold this over here we can see then if it’s got the black side showing it’s South let me check here and all three are sound it’s not like modern pickups where they’re reverse wound so you get that kind of out of phase sound in the in between positions now we’ve done the pickups I think we can move on to the pots next

so we’ve got three pots two for tone one for volume standard vintage Strat setup now these pots for 60s we would expect to see CTS pots during the 50s Fender use stack pole pots and they actually have a code on the side of these ones so the original stackpole pots were started with a 304 whereas when you go to CTS it starts with one three seven so I’m going to go ahead and find a good spot here we go I’m gonna have to get Tom to come in with the camera here so you can see this properly on the side of these pots they have this code so as we’re thinking it’s going to be a CTS pot and we are correct because it says one three seven on there the next two digits are 64. that indicates the year 1964. and then the last two digits are 22 and that is the 22nd week of 1964. now after checking the other two pots they all say 1964-22

while we’re looking at the pots it’s worth checking out this capacitor as well the early ones in the 50s they use these paper and oil capacitors a little bit bigger a bit more kind of rectangular shaped these are now these red Round Disc capacitors they also have those little kind of yellow shrink wrap on there as well to protect the wiring from touching any other part of the electrics moving on let’s take a look at this switch so the switch on here this is a crl 1452 switch they changed the shape to this kind of Half Moon Crescent this is the the wafer in here before then you would see it’s kind of more like a triangular shape also while we’ve got this guard off it’s worth noting the cloth wire as well this is saying that you know whenever I open up an old guitar I’m kind of always thankful to see cloth wide because it’s really nice to work with and it looks a lot nicer than the PVC wire they used at later periods as we’d expect we have black which is for the Earth so all the Earth connections will be in black and then white is for the hot connections right I think we’re done with the the underside of the pick guard let’s put it back on and move on [Music] [Applause] [Music]

okay so last thing I want to check with the front of the guitar here at least with the the Plastics is just the knobs so these are all exactly the same control knobs on here at least they’re from the same period you can tell by the font they have this kind of slightly more blurred font to them compared to the the kind of newer Repro ones on the back here we can see we’ve got three spokes in there when they hit the 70s they decide to go for four spokes instead okay let’s go ahead and put that back on and then we’re going to have a look at kind of the last section really the tremolo section

now first up let’s have a look at the trem arm with the early Strat trim arms they don’t have this really defined Point here in the bend it’s sort of yeah it literally is bent whereas you know the kind of newer ones a good way to tell them apart is just they have this really kind of severe break angle on them everything on this is very soft and worn in as well even the trim arm tip as well too has got lots of nice wearing on it when we have a look at the thread here for some reason on the early ones the thread stops there but there’s kind of this ghosting of the thread that goes further up let’s take a look at the rest of the tremolo first up the Saddles the original Saddles have Fender Pat pending written on them there are some Repro ones out there that say that now but for a long time what Fender used to do when they made Repro versions and these are they just put Fender and then fender on the other side too okay let’s go ahead and flip the guitar over and check out the back kind of the final bit really I want to have a look at on this guitar except the sticker which we’ll get to in a second

let’s have a look at the trend block itself so as you can see this is quite a squared up trim block very typical on the early strats made of steel and then it was painted and we can see that someone’s put Fender bullets in here which don’t actually work on the early blocks that well because the blocks have a very shallow recess on the original ones at least the bullets don’t actually fit all the way in and a lot of people would have just taken the back cover off to make it easy to work with so we can see here it’s definitely an original block on there they do a Repro version of this now but the String’s still going a bit further than these ones also we’ve got five slightly lower tension Springs in there as well exactly the same as all the on ones have Okay so being British and I think a bigger of a football fan as well the World Cup winning sticker now I’m not sure if we’re actually allowed to show this on YouTube or not but I think we’ll be all right so this is from 1966 when England won the World Cup and for me seeing this as a one only guitar who bought it in 1965. obviously a bit of a football fan himself putting this on the back I think this is a great piece of History [Music] thank you so we were told this guitar was an all original 1964 Olympic White Strat and it certainly didn’t disappoint there’s no non-original parts on here yes it is missing the back plate but makes it easy to restring at least that’s one thing eh when they ship these guitars over in the 50s and 60s they didn’t actually Supply them with cases so seeing a hisscock’s case with it is actually not that uncommon so all in all a very cool one owner 1964 Olympic light strap

thanks for watching


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