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FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / Fender headstock decals?

Contributing Member

Chico CA

If you rest, you rust.
Oct 11th, 2017 10:31 PM   Edit   Profile  

While reading of George's new bass and the mention of the headstock decal got me to wonderin''.

Can someone enlighten me, and others too I'd imagine, on the differences and/or history of headstock decals. There!s spaghetti, transition, tv, black label, thin border, thick border...yikes! Is there an article explaining this stuff out there?

I have a few Fenders and they all seem to be a bit different from each other. Thanks for any light you can shed!




Oct 12th, 2017 05:49 AM   Edit   Profile  

Kind of poorly organized, but a lot of the info you may be looking for is here.

Vintage Fender identification

Contributing Member

Chico CA

If you rest, you rust.
Oct 12th, 2017 09:58 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks Lukkydog! Lots of info there but as you say, pretty disorganized.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Oct 12th, 2017 12:17 PM   Edit   Profile  

I don't own this book (link) but I know it has a section on decals through the ages.

click me


Long Island City, NY

Oct 12th, 2017 06:11 PM   Edit   Profile  

The link lukkydog posted is for the site I've used for years, which drives me a bit mad finding things.

Contributing Member


Oct 12th, 2017 06:24 PM   Edit   Profile  

The book TE 52 linked has a section:"The Sum of it's Parts", with 10 or so pages of Decals, Bridges, Tuners, Neckplates, Date locations, etc.


Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Oct 13th, 2017 06:17 AM   Edit   Profile  

The book, THE BLACKGUARD, by Nacho Banos, which is the definitive work published to date on the early history of the Esquire, Broadcaster, Nocaster and Telecaster guitars, has rich coverage of everything associated with the history of the spaghetti logos used by Fender in the early 1950s.

For sure, this is a very useful book for Fender bass folks, in that many of the details associated with the construction and assembly of these earliest guitars crosses over nicely to include basses.

For example, basses and guitars used the same decals, excluding the model names of course. Also, both bass and guitar bodies were cut by the same machines. And so on.

It is important to note there is a belief among some collectors that the early Fender Precision bass decals may be slightly larger than the guitar decals.

Personally, I'm not sure, in that I haven't seen enough samples.


(This message was last edited by edmonstg at 08:17 AM, Oct 13th, 2017)

uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Oct 19th, 2017 07:49 AM   Edit   Profile  

Down the years,Fender have adopted many different formats when dealing with their decals.
Some changes that occurred were due to production needs.that is,methods and materials introduced demanding a rethink.
The issue that would affect any attempt at a "definitive guide" would mainly be made difficult
due to the chronology of model/variant instrument introduction,and the "sliding" nature of the appearance of,and the disappearance of models and features as a result of Leo Fenders' "use 'em up"
policy before starting on the new stock.This waste not want not approach could not be better demonstrated as would be revealed when studying the historical production/sales process of the Fender Bass V1.Necks were cut,as usually were,in anticipation,but sales were disappointingly slow off the mark,and continued as such.So you can find slab-board necks occurring well into the "curved board" era.
Likewise the application of decals can appear to a lesser extent in a similar vein.
The appearance overall of the decal is one thing........
However,if you then begin to get all anorak about it,and you have to if you are in the vintage buying mode,then the intensity of inks used,the font used,the overall clarity of the various aspects of script used,the appearance of the "clear backing cloud" along with its' dimension,single/double edge appearance,effects of shrinkage on the overlay technique used for the metallic features creating apparrent register issues which were not there on production but have appeared over time on SOME but not ALL decals...
The actual progression over time in the main appearance of the decals is easy enough to pin down,but detailed differences due production eras
makes it a different ball game.
Another tricky and hot topic subject relates to the patent and design numbers that are included ,their introduction times and meaning.
It must be born in mind that some delay between electing to patent,or apply for design,will naturally occur due to the processes required.
In the odd case,patents that Leo Fender applied for along with design rights, in the 1950's do not appear until the end of the fifties or early 1960's.
To understand the eccentricity of the patent numbers,simply go to the U.S. Patent Office site,where typing in the pat. number brings up the necessary drawings and descriptions,and the DATES.
So,it is a tricky little topic overall.
Best way I figure is to select an era,then a model of instrument,then research that one along with its' variations,then start on the next model and so on.Then move on to the next era.....

patents info here.

Contributing Member

Chico CA

If you rest, you rust.
Oct 19th, 2017 03:17 PM   Edit   Profile  

All of your responses to my question reminds me of what a vast field of expertise resides in this forum! Incredible wealth of knowledge, and perhaps more importantly, the willingness to share it.

I actually have the Illustrated Guide buried in an unpacked box from a move made three years ago. Time to go digging.


FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / Fender headstock decals?

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