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Fender 1964 Stratocaster (early 64) Review

Discussion in 'Pre-CBS Strats (before 1966)' started by Precbs1964alex, Dec 11, 2017.

  1. Precbs1964alex

    Precbs1964alex Strat-Talk Member

    18
    Jan 27, 2017
    Germany
    Hi Guys,

    More than a year ago I made a post about a 64' Strat that I got. The wood was bright and dry, many things were not as they should be and I really did not know what a great Strat I got there.
    I want to share what I've learned (I really got me into the pre cbs Stuff) and what improved the whole guitar.
    First of all I want to recommend Duesenberg Fingerboard Lotion: I tried out many things (including lemon iol) but this was the only oil which really worked and put the wood into a colour/feeling as it should be!

    One thing which is really crazy about the rare ealry 64' Strats with Spagetti Logo, Clay Dots, Green Guard etc. is that the pickups are outstanding! I recently played a 55 and a 59 Strat and they both sound week compared to mine - this I think is because they learned how to put more wire onto the pickups in the mid 60s. What is important: You really have to keep the pickups 'far' away from the strings, otherwise you get a really strange tone and the intonation (-sound) is crap.
    Lets come to the bridge: The pre-owner made a reissue vintage Bridge on it and it really felt strange and wrong, so I changed it to the original and the difference is HUGE! I really recommend playing with the pre cbs bridges on you strats, it is woth the money!
    Also I put the original tuners onto it but they really are worse than modern Kluson Tuners, so I bought Kluson Single Line Replica Tuners which look vintage:

    https://www.ebay.de/itm/Kluson-Sing...717348?hash=item213320efe4:g:LWcAAOSwFe5Xyarq

    They are really good and it all looks and feels original!

    Last but not least: I tried original Tuner, Pots and electronics and I can tell you that in my opinion it is really NOT worth the money. When I got it, the original electronic parts (except for the pickups) where already replaced (but not very good). So I changed it to the original and I must say that it only sounded a little bit better. Not I got CTS Pots and Switch and a nicely done cabling and it sounds better than with original parts!

    If you have any question feel free to ask, I hope my review is interesting for you. Please dont hate my for my medium English :D.
     

    Attached Files:

    Malurkey, Game0ver77, felis and 5 others like this.

  2. usul1978

    usul1978 Guitar bricolo Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 9, 2015
    France
    OOuch, that neck ! Gorgeous.

    Thank you for your post, this kind of insight is not often shared.
     
    Precbs1964alex likes this.

  3. Mipstoo

    Mipstoo Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 18, 2013
    Rockingham Palace
    Gorgeous! Looks like a refinished body, right? And the back of the neck as well?

    I don't think you'll hear a noticeable difference between the old bridges and a good new one from a manufacturer like Callaham or Wudtone.

    Tuners, you're absolutely right, they only help with the value, but since they weren't even original with the guitar if I understand correctly, it doesn't matter anyway. Just use what stays in tune best. I'm luck my vintage single lines still do.

    Regarding electronics and pots, it all depends on the ears I guess. Taper on the vintage ones is better imo, and also less treble loss. And as long as the original electronics don't malfunction, which is the case for me, I don't see the point in changing. My 3-way switch can be set to the in between position, so even there not much difference.

    Pickups, well there are some good and some bad in any year. '64 black bottoms are still formvar and not so much different than the earlier ones, except a little bit younger and 54-55 were alnico 2 I think, maybe a slight difference in windings, so somewhat hotter, but a lot of variations. Either way, all very subjective... It's nice to have a good set. Mine are killer, but as you said, don't put them too high...

    I would find myself a (repro) "green" pickguard... It would look 100% "original"
     
    Adam Wolfaardt likes this.

  4. Precbs1964alex

    Precbs1964alex Strat-Talk Member

    18
    Jan 27, 2017
    Germany
    Hi, only the body is refinished - The rest is original :). I only tried original tuners froma friend, they did not come with the guitar.
    If you have a completly original guitar I guess it is a different thing. Everything is as it is supposed to be. But the most important part is the wood combination. Mine has a perfekt weight of 3,4 Kilogramms not too light, not too heavy and even unplugged it vibrates so hard...you really can't imagine.
    By the way: I really think that if Strats go near 3,1 -> 2,X Kilogramms, they sound kind of week.
    How heavy is yours?
     

  5. Mipstoo

    Mipstoo Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 18, 2013
    Rockingham Palace
    3234 gr (7.13 lbs)
     
    Precbs1964alex likes this.

  6. Silvercaster

    Silvercaster Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    52
    73
    Aug 29, 2016
    Sweden
    3,4 Kg. I had problem with treble loss on my -64 when turned the volume down. Had to put a treble bleed on. Now its perfect.
     

  7. TheDudeMan

    TheDudeMan Strat-Talker

    Age:
    40
    320
    Sep 19, 2016
    The Crossroads
    early 64's are all I've owned, I've played allot of vintage gear and plenty of vintage fenders... but the 64's are the ones I like most.... they have great necks, the right pickups, and all the best pre cbs appointments.... they are great instruments.
     

  8. Adam Wolfaardt

    Adam Wolfaardt Strat-Talker

    Age:
    46
    274
    Jan 2, 2017
    France
    Very nice. I've seen pickups wound very hot in the '50s. The highest was a '57 that was just under 7k. They were pretty much all over the place. Over wound isn't necessarily better. I find the old stackpole pots the have a better taper and less treble loss than current CTS. The old ones will probably last longer too
     
    Mipstoo likes this.

  9. Game0ver77

    Game0ver77 Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    40
    20
    Sep 16, 2017
    Canada
    Yawzaaaaaaaaaaa, salavating badly.
     

  10. inra311

    inra311 Strat-Talker

    281
    Oct 12, 2008
    Europe
    I have one pickup in a '64 that is only 5.4k. It also sounds great, very bell like. It is a black bobbin, I am sure with original winding, and I think not defective as the coil itself rather seems on the slimmer side, less wire than on some others.

    This pickup does not have the yellow stamp that the bridge pickup has (middle PU is not the original one anyway)? Do your pickups all feature a yellow stamp? Theoretically it can be older than '64. Where are yours, >6k?

    I would not predict any tonal change with original or non-original pots or switch. This is technically rather impossible (apart from the 20% tolerance of pots at that time, many seems to be more about 270k than 250k. The treble loss when volume turned down is normal and will be the same with all pots. Chris Rea sets his Strat to volume 8 just because he wants that treble loss (it actually kills the sometimes harsh peak that each Strat pickup has so in fact the less treble sound is more 'neutral' than with volume at 10 but this also depends on the gear the Strat goes into next)

    BTW, those '64 pots can be cleaned easily. When you open the case, you can pull out the whole shaft with the taper and clean everything. This is I think not possible with the previous pots, as in '64 the shaft was hold by the case, see the little hole in the center of the case. At least mine are all totally silent and smooth now. Unfortunately, for the volume pot you need to unsolder the ground connection to open it, a problem with still original soldering on vintage Strats. The tone pots can be cleaned without unsoldering anything.

    I would not insist on the neck not being refinished on your guitar, it really does not look original finish to me.

    I can imagine that the steel tremolo sounds different, due to maybe other steel. I can confirm that a Callaham block seems to be top notch and likely sound identical. I have some steel block in other guitars where I am not sure if they sound like the Callaham or pre-CBS stuff. Maybe steel is not the same as steel in any case.
     

  11. Silvercaster

    Silvercaster Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    52
    73
    Aug 29, 2016
    Sweden
    My -64 PUs does´nt have any date stamps. Readings between 5.7-6.0 kohm.
     

  12. Precbs1964alex

    Precbs1964alex Strat-Talk Member

    18
    Jan 27, 2017
    Germany
    My Pickups are all Black Bottoms and the Bridge plus Middle have a yellow Stamp. The Neck Pickup has none. What does it mean? :)
     

  13. Precbs1964alex

    Precbs1964alex Strat-Talk Member

    18
    Jan 27, 2017
    Germany
    I found a picture
     

    Attached Files:


  14. T Guitar Floyd

    T Guitar Floyd Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 27, 2014
    Arizona
    The cloth wires look old, so it could be original or a vintage replacement. Can you read the writing in grease pencil on the bottom? looks like the metal has been cut away at the neck pickup hole . . . possibly a different p.u. was used in there at some point? Then, a replacement pickguard to fit the p.u.? Can't say for sure . . . just wondering.
     

  15. Precbs1964alex

    Precbs1964alex Strat-Talk Member

    18
    Jan 27, 2017
    Germany
    I'm pretty sure they are all original and the Pickguard is original too. Next time I open it up I'll look for the grey pencil. By the way: You can't see it on the picture but the Bridge Pickup also has a yellow stamp.
     

  16. inra311

    inra311 Strat-Talker

    281
    Oct 12, 2008
    Europe
    My feel is that not automatically all pickups must have the yellow ink stamp. It seems they started this in 1964 but - like so often - brand new parts and others being a few months older were mixed at assembly.
     
    Bazz Jass likes this.