Factory original 65 Firemist Gold strat, what do these stamps mean

64blackstrat

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2018
61
australia
Thats not taped off, the guitars were sprayed using a rod to hold the guitar, the rod was attached to the body using the two neck holes, so that area never got any paint, later the lazy susan spraying method was introduced.
yep of course, but that little side bit is obviously a taped area, to allow for the stamp i guess, i have other guitars with this side bit of taped area, actually another Firemist but its a tele, same side tape bit, but no stamps....
 

SoK66

Strat-Talk Member
Aug 3, 2010
31
Soutwest USA
The 72 stamp in the body is for a factory refin. I agree with the comment above that it was most likely a refin in production. Custom colors are virtually always sprayed over sunburst. If the factory did a refinishing they always stamped a number under the pickguard like that. If it was a customer ordered refin after sale they would refinish the entire guitar, neck and all and there will be a stamp on the underside of the neck heel. Sadly, Fender never documented any of this so all we have to go on are statements made by former employees.

In 1969 my '64 Strat was sent back to Fender by the original owner for a refinish. I bought it from him thirty years ago and at the time he said the finish on the back of the body had gotten badly scratched. Fender used the then current for 1969 polyurethane paint and put a CBS era Fender decal on the headstock. Now the mystery, it is Olympic white over Candy Apple red over sunburst. I never asked the guy what the original color was. I'm guessing it was Candy Apple Red and he went for a color change to the white. It has the telltale stamps on the body and on the neck and in the last photo below you can see the CBS era decal on the headstock. I bought it from the guy for less than a Custom Shop reissue, used it as a player for years. He took it to some of the local guitar shows to sell but there was no interest. The collectors shunned it because of the extent of the refinishing. I wanted a vintage Strat for a player so it worked out splendidly. All the other details are correct for a '64, pickups, pots, short trem arm, tuners, etc. It's a great Strat, to the point I sold all the other ones I'd collected over the years.
 

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sikoniko

Strat-O-Master
Jul 24, 2010
682
Inside A Parallel Universe
I’m not sure you are going to get a definitive answer. Fender didn’t keep ledgers with these answers, to my knowledge. There are a lot of could be’s. It appears to be a factory finish sprayed over top of the original sunburst. Whether it left fender that way or was returned to fender in 68 to be painted again will always be speculation. Do you have any documentation from the original owner?

I think the challenge you will have is putting a value on it, because it’s in a gray area. I think we all agree it is a factory finish.. but does it warrant a premium price or slightly reduced, because it lacks provenance to back it up.


could be who knows after my 40 years collecting i cant say 100%, i can say i question Gruhn about this i asked if its day 1 finish and they say it is, i was concerned about this, and gruhn went on to say after 50 years in the business and seeing over 4000 pre cbs guitars they have seen it all, and say its a day 1 spray, hard to go against gruhn, and i have this all in my various emails asking all my questions, then paying for there report, but yeah i hear your thoughts and i wont say im convinced either way, going back to the factory for a gold dust later is possible, but i am not convinced about these stamps being dates, have you read in any book that is fact every time ? i mean if those stamps are a date without question then mystery solved, but where is some solid proof documented that the stamps are dates ? i dont recall reading it anywhere but who knows, i have asked major dealers in vintage and they dont know what the stamps mean, i have read it may be a paint code, paint codes carried thru the years, mine say E818, i seen a catalog for 1994 showing paint code 818 for gold sparkle, yeah i know 94, and its firemist but bit of a coinindence gold colour, 818....and even if it got a respray later at some point say your option C it would be hard to get those solder joints looking so original untouched, i mean they really are perfect , not just ok, perfect original clean solder, anyway im still learning about this vintage stuff...
 

64blackstrat

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2018
61
australia
I’m not sure you are going to get a definitive answer. Fender didn’t keep ledgers with these answers, to my knowledge. There are a lot of could be’s. It appears to be a factory finish sprayed over top of the original sunburst. Whether it left fender that way or was returned to fender in 68 to be painted again will always be speculation. Do you have any documentation from the original owner?

I think the challenge you will have is putting a value on it, because it’s in a gray area. I think we all agree it is a factory finish.. but does it warrant a premium price or slightly reduced, because it lacks provenance to back it up.
no provenance, i have owned for about 12 years, have a old ad where it was in a vintage store getting valued around 2009, and verified 100% factory, also we have a luthier here in australia, Piers crocker he is the guru on vintage, has been a luthier on vintage forever, builds guitars which are now been bought and played by various high end usa musicians/bands, he has taken it apart twice over the years and given it the 100% factory stock, he has worked on and seen more vintage guitars than most of us will ever see, and then there is Gruhn's, so lots of verification by known authorities, and of course thing is if anyone is collecting and buying guitars at this level, they would know ( or should ) know by seeing it that it is factory untouched, so a factory firemist in this condition is very very rare, but i get it, any question on a vintage guitar is always a a sticking point, anyway this is getting way off point, stamps is my question, i didn't think really anyone will have solid documented proof what stamps mean, but thought ask who knows....
 

Fender753

Strat-Talker
Jun 21, 2019
148
Southwest, USA
could be who knows after my 40 years collecting i cant say 100%, i can say i question Gruhn about this i asked if its day 1 finish and they say it is, i was concerned about this, and gruhn went on to say after 50 years in the business and seeing over 4000 pre cbs guitars they have seen it all, and say its a day 1 spray, hard to go against gruhn, and i have this all in my various emails asking all my questions, then paying for there report, but yeah i hear your thoughts and i wont say im convinced either way, going back to the factory for a gold dust later is possible, but i am not convinced about these stamps being dates, have you read in any book that is fact every time ? i mean if those stamps are a date without question then mystery solved, but where is some solid proof documented that the stamps are dates ? i dont recall reading it anywhere but who knows, i have asked major dealers in vintage and they dont know what the stamps mean, i have read it may be a paint code, paint codes carried thru the years, mine say E818, i seen a catalog for 1994 showing paint code 818 for gold sparkle, yeah i know 94, and its firemist but bit of a coinindence gold colour, 818....and even if it got a respray later at some point say your option C it would be hard to get those solder joints looking so original untouched, i mean they really are perfect , not just ok, perfect original clean solder, anyway im still learning about this vintage stuff...

I'm not trying to slander Gruhns by any means. He's obviously an expert whose seen tons of guitars and his intentions are good, but I have seen him make many mistakes with the originality of Fender finishes. I had a 1961 that was Fiesta Red over Sunburst that he swore was factory done. When upon examination of the neck pocket, it was obviously over sprayed (possibly Selmer) and didn't match the neck pocket of any other Fender anyone has seen. Anyways, I do think its obviously a factory finish done in the 60s. What year might be up for debate. A mystery that may never get solved. But gorgeous and awesome guitar regardless.
 

richardb64

Strat-Talker
Jul 21, 2022
104
U.K.
Those small stamped numbers in the neck pocket are from early 1968, I’m almost certain. A letter then 8 for 1968 and 18 for week 18. Seen them a lot on guitars of that period for late 67 and early 1968.

The pic posted above of the late 67 guitar has C744 which is week 44 of 1967. I’ve owned an early 1968 strat that had B806 in the neck pocket so they are pretty consistent but I don’t know what the letter stands for. Had one with B809 as well that had a Jan 68B neck date.
 

richardb64

Strat-Talker
Jul 21, 2022
104
U.K.
Also that paint stick shape that‘s got a kind of cross bar to it was pretty unique to late 67 and early 68. Seen quite a few from that time with that shape. I’d say it was painted in the factory in early 68 but not sure why it would have inherited the 68 neck pocket stamps at the time. Maybe it’s originally a 68 body that got the gold refin a bit later at the factory, who knows?
 

TomH8

Senior Stratmaster
May 1, 2014
1,406
USA
Was it an in person gruhn appraisal or just by photos ? I once went to buy a 57 Les Paul special with a gruhn appraisal done by photographs and they missed a headstock repair. Not saying it was their fault, because you can only see what you can see in photos, but I think a photo done appraisal is absolute hogwash
 

Bazz Jass

Chairman of the Fingerboard
Silver Member
Nov 19, 2014
6,235
Off the map
Another intriguing feature of this guitar is that the earth-wire goes from the trem claw to jack socket. I've never seen this in a 65 or later strat. They changed to earth claw to volume pot in 1964. The pots are 100% 1965.

1669922791054.png

1669922828441.png
 

richardb64

Strat-Talker
Jul 21, 2022
104
U.K.
……and the solder on the trem claw looks re-done to me. Should be flux around the solder blob, not that flat brown corrosion. Hard to explain that bit of solder to the lower right corner that still appears bright. Couple that with the fact that the trem claw ground goes to the jack as mentioned above and you’d have to question it. It’s obviously an original complete guard but looks to me like it’s been re-soldered at the claw and the pic of the jack isn’t clear enough to be sure so could have been re-attached there too.
62456BCF-C462-4EB9-97FD-08F79145E472.jpeg
 
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64blackstrat

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2018
61
australia
The 72 stamp in the body is for a factory refin. I agree with the comment above that it was most likely a refin in production. Custom colors are virtually always sprayed over sunburst. If the factory did a refinishing they always stamped a number under the pickguard like that. If it was a customer ordered refin after sale they would refinish the entire guitar, neck and all and there will be a stamp on the underside of the neck heel. Sadly, Fender never documented any of this so all we have to go on are statements made by former employees.

In 1969 my '64 Strat was sent back to Fender by the original owner for a refinish. I bought it from him thirty years ago and at the time he said the finish on the back of the body had gotten badly scratched. Fender used the then current for 1969 polyurethane paint and put a CBS era Fender decal on the headstock. Now the mystery, it is Olympic white over Candy Apple red over sunburst. I never asked the guy what the original color was. I'm guessing it was Candy Apple Red and he went for a color change to the white. It has the telltale stamps on the body and on the neck and in the last photo below you can see the CBS era decal on the headstock. I bought it from the guy for less than a Custom Shop reissue, used it as a player for years. He took it to some of the local guitar shows to sell but there was no interest. The collectors shunned it because of the extent of the refinishing. I wanted a vintage Strat for a player so it worked out splendidly. All the other details are correct for a '64, pickups, pots, short trem arm, tuners, etc. It's a great Strat, to the point I sold all the other ones I'd collected over the years.
i have seen and owned many pre cbs strats, my knowledge and research and talking to serious collectors is most of the Early strats were NOT custom colours over sunburst, only when covering up a dodgy sunburst job but in general early strats are not over sunburst, but later years especially around 64/65 it is more common to see colour over sunburst, i think u will find colours pre say 63 are mostly not over sunburst, but 64 onwards yes more common but not always
 

64blackstrat

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2018
61
australia
I'm not trying to slander Gruhns by any means. He's obviously an expert whose seen tons of guitars and his intentions are good, but I have seen him make many mistakes with the originality of Fender finishes. I had a 1961 that was Fiesta Red over Sunburst that he swore was factory done. When upon examination of the neck pocket, it was obviously over sprayed (possibly Selmer) and didn't match the neck pocket of any other Fender anyone has seen. Anyways, I do think its obviously a factory finish done in the 60s. What year might be up for debate. A mystery that may never get solved. But gorgeous and awesome guitar regardless.
yes i totally agree with everything u said spot on....we all know something but i do not believe there isnt anyone that can really say without question they know it all, no matter who u are, we can always learn something or get something wrong for sure....i just take it all in and hope to get it right
 

64blackstrat

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2018
61
australia
Those small stamped numbers in the neck pocket are from early 1968, I’m almost certain. A letter then 8 for 1968 and 18 for week 18. Seen them a lot on guitars of that period for late 67 and early 1968.

The pic posted above of the late 67 guitar has C744 which is week 44 of 1967. I’ve owned an early 1968 strat that had B806 in the neck pocket so they are pretty consistent but I don’t know what the letter stands for. Had one with B809 as well that had a Jan 68B neck date.
yes a few have guessed and said they think, well guess and think isnt solid, i cannot find anything anywhere confirming the stamps are dates, as said before i see in a 1994 catalog the colour code for gold sparkle is 818, 818 is a colour code not a date code but thats 94 i know way off...codes for everything who knows, i have a 68 firemist gold tele dead stock but no stamps, but thats fender isnt it very inconsistent, i agree its a good guess, but we really don't know for sure, and its obviously a 65 body so possibly a refin in 68 but thats only going by guessing what the stamps mean
 

64blackstrat

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2018
61
australia
Also that paint stick shape that‘s got a kind of cross bar to it was pretty unique to late 67 and early 68. Seen quite a few from that time with that shape. I’d say it was painted in the factory in early 68 but not sure why it would have inherited the 68 neck pocket stamps at the time. Maybe it’s originally a 68 body that got the gold refin a bit later at the factory, who knows?
well its clear without any question a 65 body, the contours are very obvious to 65 , maybe pics dont give you a close enough look but there is no question its defiantly not a 68 body
 

64blackstrat

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2018
61
australia
Was it an in person gruhn appraisal or just by photos ? I once went to buy a 57 Les Paul special with a gruhn appraisal done by photographs and they missed a headstock repair. Not saying it was their fault, because you can only see what you can see in photos, but I think a photo done appraisal is absolute hogwash
just by photos, its just another piece of evidence i realize in hand is the go, but i did give plenty of pics, blacklighted as well, i really dont need gruhn to tell me what it is, i just thought it helps with the overall opinion when selling, i had Piers Crocker do in hand, he worked in his luthier shop next door to Jacksons vintage guitars for many many years, he has seen and worked on them all, he said its 100% factory that's all i needed but Gruhn's just ads some more info
 

Groundwire

Strat-O-Master
Apr 16, 2021
762
Oregon
yes a few have guessed and said they think, well guess and think isnt solid, i cannot find anything anywhere confirming the stamps are dates, as said before i see in a 1994 catalog the colour code for gold sparkle is 818, 818 is a colour code not a date code but thats 94 i know way off...codes for everything who knows, i have a 68 firemist gold tele dead stock but no stamps, but thats fender isnt it very inconsistent, i agree its a good guess, but we really don't know for sure, and its obviously a 65 body so possibly a refin in 68 but thats only going by guessing what the stamps mean
This is true, however, that guess would be in keeping with the neck pocket stamp on my ‘67 Strat. The stamp of E741 indicating 41st week of ‘67 would match up with the Sep67 neck date. Far from conclusive, but an example consistent with the theory.
 

64blackstrat

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2018
61
australia
……and the solder on the trem claw looks re-done to me. Should be flux around the solder blob, not that flat brown corrosion. Hard to explain that bit of solder to the lower right corner that still appears bright. Couple that with the fact that the trem claw ground goes to the jack as mentioned above and you’d have to question it. It’s obviously an original complete guard but looks to me like it’s been re-soldered at the claw and the pic of the jack isn’t clear enough to be sure so could have been re-attached there too.
View attachment 609592
well not sure about flux still being visible, the guitar is 57 years old so corrosion around solder does not seem unusual , and that solder is perfect as are all the other joints , u might see flux around joints on pots as its a different metal and does not rust like the metal on the claw can, so some flux may be visible more often on pots, the whole claw is showing that white powder looking corrosion so some rust corrosion area around solder is nothing unusual , way too many people serious collectors, dealers, luthiers here have seen the guitar in person , solder joints or finish is factory there has never been any question about that, but i am open to suggestions the refin may have been factory done in 68, but even this is still just opinions and guessing on stamps, no one has ever had any solid evidence on what the stamps mean
 

64blackstrat

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2018
61
australia
This is true, however, that guess would be in keeping with the neck pocket stamp on my ‘67 Strat. The stamp of E741 indicating 41st week of ‘67 would match up with the Sep67 neck date. Far from conclusive, but an example consistent with the theory.
yep yours does give some backup for the theory, it would be good to see a whole bunch of these stamps matching up with neck dates and all the rest on various guitars, as its just not stratocasters these stamps are on all fenders, u would think by now someone would have researched and seen enough examples to really say what stamps are, a date or colour or ?.. so my strat is E818, so if going by these thoughts its 18th week around May roughly, but neck is september, so its not working as good as your dates, unless we start saying ONLY body got refinished, but then other people say when factory refined they always did neck too, im not sure why that would always be the case, so im not convinced on anything, need to see lots of body stamps i will be taking more notice in future.....all guesses....
This is true, however, that guess would be in keeping with the neck pocket stamp on my ‘67 Strat. The stamp of E741 indicating 41st week of ‘67 would match up with the Sep67 neck date. Far from conclusive, but an example consistent with the theory.
 

richardb64

Strat-Talker
Jul 21, 2022
104
U.K.
Thing is, there are guesses and there are guesses. There are a LOT of original late 67 and early 68 strats and teles out there with neck dates and in some cases, pot and pickup dates that support the theory that, for example B 744 would be week 44 of 1967. These codes appeared from time to time on guitars through to 1969 and some strats even had the code stamped on the face of the body under the guard. The code is always consistent with a year and week number which is where the idea has come from, obviously as it’s the most likely explanation.

818 being the 1994 paint code for gold is pretty out there as a guess for a guitar that was done in the 60s!
 
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