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FDP Forum / All Other Fender Guitars and Instruments / Lead 1 paint is?



Mar 6th, 2011 01:42 PM   Edit   Profile  

My very first electric guitar is still one of my favorites... a Lead 1 that I bought in the early 80's. Like many Lead's, the paint is cracked and crazed and the guitar seems more a very dark shade of blue instead of its original black color. I don't mind the look... it's certainly different!

But I'm just curious. What kind of paint was this? And why were the finishes on these guitars so prone to cracking?

Contributing Member

That chicken

is WRONG, baby.
Mar 6th, 2011 02:40 PM   Edit   Profile  




Mar 7th, 2011 05:21 PM   Edit   Profile  

I own both a Fender Lead II and a Lead III in black and had another Fender Lead III (black w/foggy finish) from '87-91 so I know the issues well.

There were two predominant reasons for the problems with Fender Lead Series guitars painted black. The first was high humidity in California when a majority of the black bodies were painted.

Second, costly, overbearing, nanny state regulations were enacted by the California legislature for "environmental protection" which resulted in manufacturers seeking new "legal" formulas for their finishes which hadn't been perfected thus they were negatively affected by the high humidity (which never caused problems before).

Sadly Fender Lead Series owners and those that purchased the 25th Anniversary silver Stratocaster suffered from cracking paint and foggy finishes something that could have been avoided if the rose colored glasses, tie-dyed shirt wearing "Flower Power" do-gooders kept their noses out of manufacturers proven superior construction practices

(This message was last edited by JerseyJettFan at 05:22 PM, Mar 7th, 2011)

John C.

Louisville, KY

Apr 5th, 2011 08:51 PM   Edit   Profile  

I have a '79 Lead II in wine red; I got it new and it has the same finish issues as the black ones typically have. It started getting hazy and cracking after about 18 months.

I've never heard anyone blame the humidity in Southern California - the humidity there is nothing like the humidity in the Ohio Valley where this guitar has lived all it's life. I have heard it was a combination of processing the bodies too quickly - not completely drying the ash before cutting the bodies - resulting in excess moisture in the wood reacting with the new cheaper water-based polyurethane paint they were trying out that caused this problem with the 1979-1980 black and red Leads. Also, it was the original pearl white 25th Anniversary Strats that had this problem; Fender switched to silver finish after the first couple of hundred were produced and never had another issue.

I don't think there was any agenda at work; otherwise all the Fenders of that era would have that problem instead of it being mostly 2 student models and plus the first batch of a limited edition that was supposed to have a special color - which was fixed with thechange to the silver finish for the remainder of the run of 25ths.

Fender had been using poly finishes since roughly 1968; they weren't reacting to any new EPA guidelines in 1979; they just wanted to use a cheaper finish. Remember, this was about the bottoming out point of the CBS era and cost cutting was rampent. It wouldn't turn around until Dan Smith really started tweaking the Strat in late 1981 (the "Smith Strats" where they brought back the 4-bolt necks, deeper body contours, etc.).

(This message was last edited by John C. at 09:10 PM, Apr 5th, 2011)



Apr 9th, 2011 11:36 PM   Edit   Profile  

The Fender Stratocasters manufactured during the same time as the Fender Lead Series guitars suffered cracking and foggy/hazy just like the Lead II. It was at a Fender related site where I believe John Page (Fender Lead II creator) or another Fender employee admitted the humidity affected the finish especially black.

John C.

Louisville, KY

Apr 10th, 2011 05:10 PM   Edit   Profile  

Interesting - as I posted I have always heard that it was simply that the bodies were too green/not dried out enough combined with that lacquer they were trying out. I've seen a few black and wine red Strats from '79 and '80 (as in I knew the owners back during high school and college circa 1979-1984) that definitely weren't as cracked up or cloudy as my Lead II was even as early as 1981. I'll have to see if I can turn up the info from John Page.


United States

Apr 11th, 2011 10:31 PM   Edit   Profile  

I vaguely remember these days. I understood that Fender switched to some type of envionmentally-friendly clearcoat that went bad. Other guitars of 1979 went bad too. the anniversary strats, for example. From what I was told, people returned many of their guitars under warranty. That the leads were new for 1979 is probably why they have the reputation for cracking. By 1980, Fender was back to their proven method. None of the Lead III's have finish problems, as they came out in late 81.


United States

Apr 11th, 2011 10:33 PM   Edit   Profile  

I actually think that these crazed and cracked fenders may actually become collectible, as it represents a very brief period in the company's history. I have a black lead II with the cracking. None of the paint is flaking off, and the edges look like a purple spiderweb. It's pretty cool, and it comes and goes with the seasons. In the winter, the guitar is completely black. In the summer, the purplish cracks appear.



Apr 12th, 2011 07:50 PM   Edit   Profile  

"envionmentally-friendly clearcoat" = substandard formula rushed into production due to pressure from "regulators" thus a historic FAILURE which negatively affects the value for original owners of black Fender Lead II's and Stratocasters painted during that period.

One must remember some advocates/champions of new "environmentally friendly finishes" were members of a certain persuasion that claimed tofu is a fantastic substitute for meat, yeah right (sic).

(This message was last edited by JerseyJettFan at 07:56 PM, Apr 12th, 2011)



Oct 26th, 2011 04:59 AM   Edit   Profile  

I had a Lead I from 1981-2001 or so and it never cracked. Wish I still had it...a lot of tones for a one-pickup guitar.



Oct 26th, 2011 09:19 PM   Edit   Profile  

Peppy, the Fender Lead Series guitars, the Lead I, II, and Lead III's appear for sale often on Ebay, but in smaller numbers then Strat or Teles of that era, typically one of each are for sale, there are a few listed as I type this.

Surprisingly the Fender Seth Lover Designed humbuckers which were stock on the Lead I and Lead III are easier to find today then the Fender X-1 high output single coils found in the Lead II. The Fender X-1 single coil pickup was also found in the bridge position of the Fender Dan Smith Stratocaster and the "Strat" model (both manufactured at the time the Lead series was made).

Sadly the Lead Series production numbers never reached the volume of Strats or Teles. The Lead I and Lead II were manufactured for three years '79-'82 though some were still sitting on the racks available as "new" five years later. The Lead III was made only one year, 1982.

The early production Lead Series guitars had a narrow, 1 9/16" or a bit narrower nut, the later models were 1 9/16" - 1 5/8". I have a Fender Lead II with the narrow nut and a Lead III with the wider one, both have "vintage" (thin) frets and thin/slim necks that are to die for. Prices with one of the three types of original cases (two styles of plastic, one Tolex covered) can run as high as $600.00 or so but sometimes deals are to be had just keep checking Ebay and Craigslist.

All Fender Lead Series guitars were "hardtails" coming from the factory with fixed bridges (a few came from the custom shop "special order" with either a Standard or Floyd Rose style trem system) they weren't very popular guitars since they didn't come stock with trem systems which were all the rage at the time.

(This message was last edited by JerseyJettFan at 12:08 PM, Nov 2nd, 2011)

FDP Forum / All Other Fender Guitars and Instruments / Lead 1 paint is?

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