NOTE: These are not our guitars; just saving the images for history and showcasing what's out there.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

VINTAGE 1967 LEO FENDER OWNED PROTOTYPE ELECTRIC GUITAR


via this auction

"For your consideration is this extremely important Leo Fender owned prototype electric guitar. Just after the sale of Fender Musical Instruments to CBS in 1965 Leo Fender now worked under contract where his responsibilities were now largely research and development. CBS provided Leo with his own workshop in the factory to see what the results would be, this idea proved to be good one as many brilliant innovations were conceived and implemented during this period. Leo Fender had come up with more than a few good ideas but, I’ve heard many times that one of the instruments he was most proud of was the Mustang Bass, a concept and design that originated from this private research and development workshop he now occupied at Fender.

The guitar we have for sale is a guitar that would have been hanging on the wall in Leo’s room, it’s a guitar he decided to keep for whatever reason along with a similar looking B bender prototype. It had been in the past Fenders policy to cut up and dispose of prototypes hence they are extremely rare and seldom seen. This guitar and the other prototype ended up in Leo’s and George Fullerton's collection, they were first offered for sale along with many other historic Fenders almost twenty years ago by Fender representative Fred Coyner who solicited them for sale as a package deal for a million dollar’s. Included in the listed guitars was the first Telecaster and other historic pieces. There was a letter from Fred and a catalog of instruments with poorly written descriptions, among them were the two Leo Fender prototypes, no offers could be made until May 17th, 1995. The letter and the catalog from 1995 was given to me by Fender and did not come with the guitar and are not part of the sale; I mention them to illustrate the first time the two prototype guitars were revealed and offered to the public. All of the other documents and written materials mentioned and photographed are included with the guitar.

The most exciting part of this guitar is the 3 bolt neck plate system Leo was working on, it’s clear that the idea he put forth and first seen on this instrument did develop into the infamous 3 bolt neck system that eventually appears on hundreds of thousand of Fender guitars and many Fender basses. Leo takes this idea with him when he starts Music Man and G&L, it is still in use today. Historically significant from conception to production we have a Leo Fender hand made working prototype that allowed for changing of the neck angle without removing the neck. The existing prototype works exactly as the production version does and is also surprisingly close appearance wise. The other idea explored by Leo on this guitar is an alternative bridge or tremolo system, utilizing the familiar Jaguar and Jazzmaster base with an added top metal piece. Leo has modified the Musicmaster bridge and changed it into a Mustang style bridge which allowed room for the new tremolo system; he’s added two-countersunk metal sleeves that hold the feet of the new bridge. The prototype bridge and tailpiece are very interesting and are what eventually becomes the Mustang vibrato but only a portion of the idea was used in this case. One prototype guitar with two great ideas, both well-executed and ingenious as one might expect from Leo Fender.

You can see where Leo has scratched a line dead center through the guitar, it lines up with the centerline he’s scratched into the new bridge. Under the guard is some interesting shielding and wiring, it looks like Leo was making a two pickup model at first, the tape under the guard with a marker line showing where the cloth wire goes and the magic marker initials LM are not typical production features by any means. The often seen stamped in letters ES appear under the guard as they do on many Fender guitars. The neck date is 16 OCT 67 B, the pot dates are 1376613 13th week of 1966. The guitar is missing knobs and strap pins and had been for years according to early photos and written descriptions we've seen. The prototype Mustang bridge is missing two bridge pieces same explanation. The Candy Apple Red Mustang peg head looks as if it’s been split on one side, but the more I look at it, it also looks strangely deliberate and is definitely solid, I have no idea why it would have been cut.

This is an important guitar; it speaks volumes as to the development and manufacturing process and offers us a birds eye view of that process and the creative genius of Leo Fender at that time late in his life. This is a list of paperwork and documents that help substantiate the provenance and originality of this once in a lifetime investment. This guitar was on loan to the Fender Museum when owned by Geoff Fullerton, the exact dates are unknown to me but I was told it was insured for $100000 while there. Included with the guitar are; the original strings while at Fender, case tags the smaller of which says "George Fullerton", a large white envelope with hand written “George Fullerton Collection, Leo Fender Prototype 3 bolt neck and new bridge #UGC-30529”, as well as a certificate signed by Geoff Fullerton stating “Certificate of Authenticity From the George Fullerton Collection this is to certify that the following instrument is from the personal collection of Mr. George Fullerton, Brand; Leo Fender prototype, Model; 3 bolt and new bridge, SN; prototype no serial number, dated 8-30-09 Geoff Fullerton”, Guitar Legends book signed to "Dave from George Fullerton" and personalized hand written notes from both of Georges kids, Geoff and Diane Fullerton, Buffalo Brothers Flyers (2) and shipping receipts from Diane Fullerton to Buffalo Brothers where the guitar was consigned, insured shipping value of $20,000, and a Mandolin Brothers appraisal written by Larry Wexler dated March 8th 1994 for the amount of $20,000, and it all fits in an after market black hard shell case. All of the above mentioned paper is included..."



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