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How did Fender apply these decals to the Road Worn, and are they vintage correct? (Better pics)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jaminjamesp, Oct 8, 2017.


  1. jaminjamesp

    jaminjamesp

    Feb 21, 2016
    543D1FE1-7A6D-4760-8004-C3B9D537259F.jpeg FD80D27A-EC5A-4CCC-ACAE-C56D485D6C5C.png D460D223-F07B-4EA2-9D1B-7832A2C50F8A.png E6ECDC3F-285A-498F-8F61-D2FC91C388A8.png I have a Road Worn Jazz Bass, and I was inspecting the headstock a few days ago and noticed the the decal looked and felt almost screen printed. There is no raise whatsoever on the decal, like it was painted on. I really like the way it looks.

    Two questions. Is this how the decals actually looked from that era, painted on? And if so, how can I go about achieving that? I’m having a custom P neck and body built by USACG. If all goes well, I’ll most likely have them build me a new neck for my Road Worn Jazz. The neck feels nice, but it has issues. The truss rod is nearly maxed out with super low tension strings (TI Jazz Rounds) and it has quite a bit of lift at the 12th fret.

    If I do have a custom neck built for it, I’d like to be able to apply the same decal with the same no raise, painted on look.

    So short of trying to paint it on myself, is there a way to achieve this?
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
  2. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    "vintage Fender experts" will enter with hard facts, but decals were decals then - they were 'water-slide' like some decals out there today. The difference was up to a certain year (to CBS era) no sealer was sprayed over the decal, and later a clear sealer was sprayed over the decal/headstock. That about covers it. Not sure what they did with the RW series - technology is such that it could be anything.
     
    DiabolusInMusic likes this.
  3. I'm guessing that it's still a decal on the RW's. The headstocks are likely sanded down after the decal is applied, and this smoothes down the edges of the decal. They are then buffed, hence the smooth, but not quite bare wood feel of the RW's. If they are printed, I'd be very surprised.
     
    DiabolusInMusic likes this.
  4. jaminjamesp

    jaminjamesp

    Feb 21, 2016
    I guess for some reason I assumed that the decal couldn't be so transparent that it would be 100% invisible like this, even after sanding down and buffing. Maybe I was wrong.
     
  5. 74hc

    74hc

    Nov 19, 2015
    Sunny California
    The apparent bleeding with the wood grain suggests to me that it may have been slikscreened. However, it could be the camera angle and/or lighting.
     
  6. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    Old Fenders had the decal over the clear. They switched in the 1970s, I think. Your decal is under the clear from the looks of it. Even if it is wrong, it is better to have it protected, in my opinion.
     
  7. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    I've never held a RW J or P in my hands but after looking at these close-up pics I'm really curious to study one in person. I'll throw my hat into the silkscreen/sublimation/? ring as it appears it has an ultra thin matte clear-coat which wouldn't be enough to level the edges of a standard waterslide decal. Even still, there is absolutley no visual indication of the island surrounding the graphics - and those are pretty sharp macro-focus shots of it.

    This is a standard waterslide and I shot matte nitro over it and wet-sanded/leveled until the surface was flush showing no seams. Even still you can see a faint ghosting of where it's cut out.
    fullsizeoutput_990.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
    b3e likes this.
  8. jaminjamesp

    jaminjamesp

    Feb 21, 2016
    I know it’s hard to capture every nuance in a photo, but the slight bleeding is there even when viewing with the naked eye. It’s ever so subtle, and only visible up close. From a normal viewing distance it’s not noticeable in the slightest.
     
  9. jaminjamesp

    jaminjamesp

    Feb 21, 2016
    Even though I’ve gotten quite a few responses indicating it’s a buried waterslide, after spending the last few days looking at images online, I tend to agree with you. It may be some kind of decal, but I don’t think it’s a standard waterslide.

    The finish is extremely thin. There isn’t any angle, under any lighting conditions where the waterslide edges can be seen. Unless they used an ultra thin and ultra transparent waterslide material, I’m thinking this might be some kind paint transfer, like a silkscreen.

    Also, I haven’t seen any waterslide decals that that that much glitter in the gold ink. It does appear to me more paint like, though I could be completely wrong on that point.
     
    JIO likes this.
  10. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    I noticed that also. It wouldn't surprise me to discover they have a precise printing process now that could pull this off, and if that is true - it will for sure replace water-slide decals, at least for factory Fenders.
     
  11. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    With clothing, the process of printing patterns or imagery is called sublimation. It is a heat-transfer process that imbeds the inks into the fibers so there is no build-up of material like silk-screening. The image is printed (reversed layers) on a sheet and once the heat passes the ink into the fabric, the sheet is removed. Not saying this is what's done here, but I can imaging some sort of process not too dissimilar.
     

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