9/05/2015

1968 Fender Redondo 00-Size Flattop Guitar




Update 2016: Since posting, I've done a few things -- gone back to the original, gold pickguard (mounted better), installed a K&K pickup (Big Twin), made a new bone compensated saddle as well as redrilled the neck-bolt holes slightly to correct for Fender installing the bridge 1/8" too forward. This has been my main "gig" guitar since September and I'm still loving it!

I've been wanting a "show guitar" for kicking around and taking less-seriously, lately, and spied this one -- in its cracked-up glory -- and snagged it. I like 60s Fender necks so I knew at least it had that going for it... though from the online gossip you'd expect the boxes on these instruments to sound terrible. The truth is, after being properly adjusted, it sounds good. Just listen to the clip above: it's got a dry, punchy, almost late-50s Gibson voice to it but with a bit less power on the top-end.

I can see why these guitars get a lot of bad words bantered about them, though -- it'd be pretty easy to blow the setup side on this by not setting the neck angle properly (all you have to do is shim it like a Fender electric!), getting your truss dialed-in just right, and making sure the saddle is compensated correctly. In fact -- the stock saddle's radius was certainly cut incorrectly which meant that even with a decent factory setup, this guitar must've played a bit "off" right out of the shipping box.  


My work included regluing a couple braces, cleating and gluing/filling a bunch of longer hairline cracks on the top, compensating/adjusting the saddle, swapping in some funky, old bridge pins, adding a new nut, giving it a fret level/dress, much cleaning, and a decent setup.


Update: Note that this now has two "string trees" vs. the original single one. This keeps the down-pressure even and tidy...

The main feature of these guitars is their 60s Strat-style neck with the thin/veneer rosewood fretboard. The core is maple (in this case with a good amount of flame) and has a screwdriver-adjustable truss rod access at the soundhole. The nut is a narrow 1 5/8" but it has a chunky C-shape to the back of the neck which, combined with a fairly steep radius, gives me plenty of room to spread my fingers while also not feeling like I'm clutching air.

The big benefit of a bolted neck is that there's no heel -- and true to that, I can easily run right up the neck and play a barred E chord at the 12th fret with ease. I can't imagine doing that at all on a regular 14-fretter.


The frets were in pretty good health but someone had obviously played a lot of cowboy chords on this as they were worn in the 1-5 region.



Cheesily, the "rosette" is a decal rather than inlay. Fortunately it's not so obvious.

Did I mention woods? Solid spruce top, x-braced -- solid mahogany sides -- and possibly a solid hog back on this particular one. I'm not entirely sure on that as I only saw the seam for the sides. The "Redondo" model (this one) is a spruce-topped version of the more-often-seen "Newporter" model and clocks in at 00 (14 3/8" lower bout) size, though with a straight 3 7/8" side depth.


A four-bolted "moustache" bridge was pretty factory-standard for Fender acoustics at this time. I know these Fender-factory models were a flop (pretty much) in the market, but they're so much better than the Harmony-sourced Fenders that preceded them and the 70s Japanese-sourced ones that came after that it's a bit sad that they didn't catch on (save celeb endorsers who ran around with 'em all the time in the 60s).

Here you can see all the finish cracks as well as "real" cracks on the top, lower-bout.




Big old proud shield plate, huh?

The neck is stamped September, 1968... so who's to say the guitar wasn't made much later than that? The Redondo is listed as a 69-71 model so perhaps this is from that first run. A comment left noted that the "26" in the stamp of "September 26" is actually a model code rather than a date. Interesting!


Nice Fender "F" tuners.

Just like an old Danelectro neck, too, the thinner finish that Fender used on their necks always feels buttery-smooth and fast after decades of use. They always feel like "home base" unless they've been refinished. I've always regretted letting both a 60s Duo-Sonic and 60s Musicmaster slip from my hands in "Jake's gear quest" over time...






Here's that flame in the neck.


There's my pickup at the 3/4 position -- just where I like it.

2 comments:

guitarhunter said...

Hi Jake...nice job on this guitar. They can be real sleepers. I like the pickguard too! One note...the 26 on the neck is not a date but a code for the model...3 for Telecaster, 1 for Jaguar, 26 for Redondo!

Jake Wildwood said...

Thanks so much -- I'll correct that -- I don't handle too many older Fenders in here aside from light setup work or fret stuff, so haven't paid attention to that... :)