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Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by JIO, Feb 19, 2020.
Quite the opposite - the more we extrapolate, the more we learn!
If I had to bet on it, I think Fender were still using Brazilian in ‘66. At one time logs were exported, but then the Brazilian government insisted that the wood had to be sawn there to provide some jobs. During the wood paneling boom of the early 70’s my father was able to get BR veneered paneling for the family room. He said it was pretty expensive, even with quite a bit of pale sapwood content.
Transitional at that time. Fender largely moved to Indian starting in about '66 but used both. The straight grain on mine is typical of Indian (though anything is possible as one can find odd examples of either) - JIO's one made by Dan Ransom (at the shop were I used to work) is made to '66 spec but more recently. Dan may have had some lighter colored Brazilian.
Dan said it was an old slab that was supposed to be for someone but it never happened. (split town or whatever) It was the first of many necks Dan has made for me, and when he showed it to me and asked if I wanted to use it I immediately said YES! It's a very nice fb.
Sounds nice! My dad did our basement "rec-room" in knotty pine, a very 60's "look" especially with brown and white checkerboard linoleum floor tiles and a white drop aspestos tile ceiling. (it's amazing I'm still alive!)
Very, very nice. Dan does great work. Generally, Fender transitioned to Indian in late '65. However there are some odd examples which showed up earlier - just as the odd Brazilian board can be spotted until the end of the 60's. Usually the more pronounced grain and reddish color indicated Indian which is what I believe mine is. I've had a bunch of early '60s Fenders, Gibsons, etc and the Brazilian boards on those are very dark chocolate colored (it's surely Brazilian on your t-bird). Of course, there are always exceptions. A friend has an incredible original '62 Fiesta Red P with a two-tone Brazilian sapwood fingerboard. Never seen another one like it from that era. A lot of very good info on the subject here though some of the CITES stuff is out of date: Rio Rosewood | N-364
Your Vista Sonic looks more like Brazilian to me - at least as far as pictures on a screen go - both in terms of the color and that it has the longer open pores which is often a characteristic.
After reading that rw information in the link you sent (thanks for that!) I believe my fb is Hondurus, not Brazilian. The '63 Vista Sonic is Brazilian and so is my '66 P-bass, both fitting the discription of dark/chocolatey brown very much like my T-bird as you pointed out. In fact, it was my error stating my J fb was Brazilian which isn't surprizing as it was years ago when Dan made it and I'm now sure he said "Hondurus". (never had a great memory...) Both are cool as the Brazilian gets toward ebony in darkness and Indian rw is more colourful/striking.
I really love both the Brazilian and East Indian. Really "six of one, half dozen of the other" to me. I know Brazilian has bragging rights but the Indian can be really beautiful in a different way. Besides, many examples it's really hard to tell. The Honduran on yours looks spectacular - and, at least IMO, looking more similar to Indian, is more typical for a '66.
Honduran makes for a wonderful fretboard as notes ring out at least as long as Brazilian, if not longer. I’m not sure if it’s currently available or not. It is very much brick red in colour. It works pretty well with the usual blunting of edges and is not nearly as gummy or oily as some of the other Dalbergia’s like cocobolo.
Cleaned up the bridge. The plate was painted flat black (~) and looks rough but it is what it is. Attempting to find a bridge plate like it isn't something I want to do as it is narrow spaced and very specific to the bass. A bridge cover (new Burns) is actually available which I'll probably end up getting. Will make a trip to the hardware store to see about finding 3 height adjustment bolts (like the originals), the long adjustment bolt and a threaded roller saddle screw. If I'm lucky, I can find a 5/8" inset screw to match the one needed. I also need 6 bolts to fit the pu adjusters. Then, the tricky part is finding the tiny threaded wheel. I know I can fab the bridge-piece of aluminum, but I'm thinking it would be better out of brass. Neither would match visually but eventually it could be plated. At this point it's just getting it operational.
Tuners look good - ready to return to service
After sanding the neck, all dings appeared. Filling with superglue, sand, fill, sand - smooth. It'll be painted red so good enough.
Last DIY'r oversanded above the plastic badge creating a recess (dark area above left side of where the badge was) so it'll have to be sanded flat. I took off the remnents of rosewood above the string-slot/nut and will need to create a replacement bor both. Original 'nut' was rw - I'll make it out of bone and the added fb piece I'll make of whatever I have. Once made I can stain it to match.
Slot head bolts/screws are really hard to find these days. Iirc you have a lathe?. If so, hex headed bolts could be turned down and given a hacksawn slot. The threaded wheel would also be a breeze with a lathe. If not, I hope you have a deep parts bin .
Here’s a good representation of the colour of Honduran RW.
I just thought of something that might be relevant. The Brits back then, ever being contrary, had their own goofy thread system that didn’t match US imperial standards. British standard fine and coarse I believe. Maybe you can try getting some of the bridge parts from the Burns group you mentioned?.
I’m not sure about British Standard but I remember Whitworth thread being a good time on old Truimphs and BSAs. Especially when someone didn’t have the right bolt and crammed an SAE thread bolt in the hole without benefit of a tap or HeliCoil.
Sounds vaguely familiar. They “knew better” than everyone else guvnah (motorcycle industry and all that). The fact that they also hadn’t moved over to the Philips head by then is borderline inexcusable.
Yes - I learned this at the hardware store. Not metric, not 'standard' - the British thread ala Triumph. The guy at the hw store even knew the 'name'/term but I forget now. If I knew someone well in the UK, I'd try and get the appropriate threaded bolts. However, I don't so a tap the next size bigger is what I am doing. So first I got a length of brass stock enough to make 4 saddles ($2.45) but after making one - I don't want to make a habit out of it. (about 4+ hrs of very fussy work) But... now I have the bridge 100% operational. I just need to get some bolts the right thread & length, regarless of being slot-head of philips. Like I said- a return to (playable) glory, not a perfect return to new 1963. Here's some progress pics -
So first off I cut a piece of mahaogany (that I had) and filed down an old bone nut which will stand in as a string guide. Like I said - once dyed it will match the rosewood fb.
Here's the finished bridge unit made of brass. Overly long bolts are just sitting in till another trip to the hw store tomorrow. I made the roller saddle out of a brass nut. (as seen with the cut-off brass bolt) Rounded it off, and used a small files to create the string 'slot'. (the kind found at the counter at your local hw store!) Drilled and tapped all holes needed. It's not 'perfect' but it works!
In place in it's asymetric position. A new Burns bridge cover will cover it eventually.
My jaw is bruised from dropping it on the floor. So awesome on so many levels.
Referencing my own background playing James Bond movie soundtrack songs with Bond Girl... Vic Flick, the Brit who came up with the ultra-iconic "Dr No" guitar-riff which is universally considered thee James Bond theme - was played on a Burns Paragon archtop guitar. Most (especially US rock & roll fans) might not be familiar with the name Cliff Richard or Hank Marvin (major Burns endorcers) but everyone has heard the James Bond theme!
You really need to get yourself a little lathe, it would make things much easier for you (mine’s a Taig, Sherline is even better). What’s the purpose of the route under the bridge?,
I doff my hat to you, sir.
We're all bozo's on this bus!
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