Early CBS Fender Decal Alternates
12/15/2007 Copyright © 2008 James William Shine, Jr.
Just when everyone thinks they have a solid grasp on all things Fender, another nugget of information comes along to add some good old fashioned excitement to things. My research into this began almost 20 years ago when I noticed that on some 1965 and 1966 Fender guitars, the gold screening on the decals turned greenish gold on some, but stayed bright gold on others. I also began noticing differences in the clear carrier film varied between the two as well. This is an item that can be found through almost the entire line, so just about anyone can have some fun.
We all know that CBS took over January 3rd 1965. Even before they took over Leo had dealt with expanding production. When CBS came in, they threw a lot of money into the factory to increase production. They also set out to work with their vendors to keep the proper amount of stock flowing in. Two factors came into play, the ability to keep up with demand, and cost effectiveness. This is why Fender switched to Stackpole pots for the longest time. Someone, either CBS or their decal vendor looked to supplement decal production with another shop.
This alternate decal manufacturer briefly used has a signature "look". The gold is bright. This is due to a different screening method. Previous manufacturers sandwiched the black ink between layers of clear carrier film. This alternate supplier applied the top layer of clear on top of the gold ink, like had been done all along on silver inked logos (Musicmaster, Telecaster, P-Bass, etc). Often a screen gets slightly out of whack and a white layer is visible under the gold screening. The clear carrier film is much larger than the usual decals. These decals will have different patent number configurations than the original company used before and after.
These logos are NOT fakes and/or refins I encountered a few times and made up a page with the few examples I have seen. These are legit guitars and I have seen each in quantity. Since they all fall into the exact same timeframe, it is only rational to conclude another source was brought in to supplement the supplies. In most all cases, the logos that followed the alternate styles below were different than the style that existed before in terms of patent number configurations, but had the original screen style and carrier film style.
The Stratocasters decals made by this alternate manufacturer are the 5 patent number style. Note the obvious excess amount of clear above the word "Stratocaster". The contour body logo is almost perfectly round.
3 Patent numbers
It appears that the 3 patent number logos came from at least two different plants simultaneously. Meyercord was likely making them at this time and they had many outlets. There appears to be a slight screen difference between the shops. The entire section below "Fender Stratocaster" is positioned just slightly different between the two. Style 1 tends to still look decent today. The last "o" in Tremolo aligns under the the "o" in Stratocaster. Style 2 has the last "o" in tremolo almost under the second "T" in Stratocaster. This style usually has some sort of ink adhesion problem. The gold can be flaking away, or gone, Sometime the black ink wears off and leaves the tarnished gold, in some rare cases, all that remains is the clear carrier film. There are indeed decent surviving examples of style 2. By mid 1966 style 2 becomes the default style.
Type 1 Type 2 T2-Flaked T2-Nice
The Jazzmaster is seen the most often with this make of decal. The patent numbers are really whacked out. Open each of these and place them side by side. The CAR guitar is the alternate decal. You will note the clear carrier film is very sloppy compared to the NOS version on the right. The NOS logo made by the usual company is trim and the patent numbers are more legible. Again, the patent number vary on the alternate.
More of the same. Big, blobby clear backing and different patent number configuration on the alternate brand. Pictures Run, Original, Alternate on guitar, alternate NOS. Sales of the Duo-Sonic dropped off during this era, so this style decal runs for the rest of the transition style run. This type is still somewhat easily found in NOS state as Fender gave these away for replacement as recent as 15 years ago
Similar to the DSII, but after switching back to the original manufacturer, the 3 patent number style is used. The later 3 patent number style has the trimmed boarder and the gold quite often flakes away. Sharp eyed buffs will notice that on these later logos, the patent numbers go well beyond the "Musicmaster II" lettering (extending out under the quotation marks) whereas the alternate was tucked in neatly below.
The Mustang is perhaps the most obvious alternate decal. The line of patent numbers jets away from the "Fender Mustang" lettering toward the center, arcing out. Whereas the usual maker had the numbers run along the words "Fender Mustang" in tight formation. There are additional patent numbers, and their font is quite small. This style was used on Mustangs well into 1966. Here are two examples of the alternate brand.
The Jaguars logo really didn't suffer from the blatant difference like the above models. The patent numbers just varied a bit and the gold was more colorful. The Jaguar decals had lots of variations over a 4 or so month span from the end of 1965 into early 1966. More than any of the other models. One can find the small evolution oddities found occasionally in other models more prevalent in Jaguars.
The Jazz bass logos difference was noticeable in the patent number sizing. The alternate supplier made these with condensed font. NOS examples I have seen of these decals have a paper that is blue on the face and white on the rear.