(Inside) Fender 1961 American Vintage II Stratocaster (Pros & Cons)

FrieAsABird

Senior Stratmaster
Mar 18, 2020
4,293
Germany
Call me Sherlock... I suppose you aged it to find the truth and that is appreciated!
I'm really on the fence about keeping my AVII now after being on my second one with neck QC issues (scar from fret saw slip and a neck/truss that won't give any more .007" relief - even with a set of 11-50's!)...
So I have been looking elsewhere towards either a 60's Fender Custom Shop or second hand built, there's a guy over here called Bravewood who makes masterbuilt equivalents but no longer makes to order, though I've spotted a couple of beauties in my budget range. The trade off is having a proper spec pre-CBS replica and not having the value of appreciation like an original Fender does. Though it has massively disappointed me that I've had to look elsewhere for what I consider the real deal or pay a whole chunk more to get close...
Gonna be honest here- if the second guitar you’ve received is defective too, it’s probably a problem with the whole model line. For that money, I’d be playing every AV I I can find and get one of those. Maybe that would be an option?
 

daveplays

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 18, 2022
62
UK
Gonna be honest here- if the second guitar you’ve received is defective too, it’s probably a problem with the whole model line. For that money, I’d be playing every AV I I can find and get one of those. Maybe that would be an option?
Not an option tbh, in the UK all but the left-hand '61 AVIIs have sold out. Most people probably don't care for some QC problems or simply haven't noticed but man, you want it to be right - this isn't a Chinese Squier!
 

FrieAsABird

Senior Stratmaster
Mar 18, 2020
4,293
Germany
Not an option tbh, in the UK all but the left-hand '61 AVIIs have sold out. Most people probably don't care for some QC problems or simply haven't noticed but man, you want it to be right - this isn't a Chinese Squier!
Oh, didn’t know that, sorry! But yeah, in my opinion this kind of defect is not acceptable on such an expensive instrument. Actually, even on any Squier I’d at least expect the truss rod to be fully functional!
 

kelia

Strat-Talker
Nov 27, 2020
181
Canada
BTW I did have an AV 59, nice guitar, but I just didn’t like the simulated faded 3TSB, just didn’t look right IMHO
They don't spray them like they used too ! I've been wanting to start a thread
about this since a few months now . What a huge difference between the 50's and 60's sunburst
with the popping 1 1/2 '' to 2 '' red caught between the dark brown or black for some year vs todays
faded sunburst with no pop and colours buried down deep. Ahrrrgghhh !! ...... Give me that spray gun !! lol

Pictures show a 59 Custom Shop and vintage 59
 

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daveplays

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 18, 2022
62
UK
They don't spray them like they used too ! I've been wanting to start a thread
about this since a few months now . What a huge difference between the 50's and 60's sunburst
with the popping 1 1/2 '' to 2 '' red caught between the dark brown or black for some year vs todays
faded sunburst with no pop , ahrrrgghhh !! ........... Give me that spray gun !! lol
TBH, the wide red was known as 'Clown' or 'Target' Burst, which I love!
Some the AVII's come pretty close and are nice to be fair, but while I was told that the polyester sealer was likely to be a light coat the reality is is that it isn't and it as seen, will crater and flake when it picks up knocks, I have a guitar that is from the 90's which is very similar - you end up with very sharp edges unlike nitro to bare wood which is generally smooth.
 

EC Strat

Senior Stratmaster
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 16, 2018
4,569
Louisville Kentucky
I don’t know whether to be impressed or in a state of disbelief at the depths of microscopic detail (minutia?) this thread has delved into
 

daveplays

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 18, 2022
62
UK
I don’t know whether to be impressed or in a state of disbelief at the depths of microscopic detail (minutia?) this thread has delved into
Why not both? My state of disbelief is in Fender's QC are therefor lack of, those layoffs right before this AVII line launched has quite certainly been the result of the plethora of issues people are seeing on these guitars. Yes, they are production line instruments, but my revelation is that right now there is a black cloud over Fender and this period of its history...
 

kelia

Strat-Talker
Nov 27, 2020
181
Canada
TBH, the wide red was known as 'Clown' or 'Target' Burst, which I love!
Some the AVII's come pretty close and are nice to be fair, but while I was told that the polyester sealer was likely to be a light coat the reality is is that it isn't and it as seen, will crater and flake when it picks up knocks, I have a guitar that is from the 90's which is very similar - you end up with very sharp edges unlike nitro to bare wood which is generally smooth.
Nice post , is it the poly that makes the blurry look over the colours ?
 

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
6,786
Edmonton, Alberta
Why not both? My state of disbelief is in Fender's QC are therefor lack of, those layoffs right before this AVII line launched has quite certainly been the result of the plethora of issues people are seeing on these guitars. Yes, they are production line instruments, but my revelation is that right now there is a black cloud over Fender and this period of its history...

Not sure about a dark cloud over fender. The QC issue are minor and if any of you guys look at the fit and finish if a real 50’s or 60’s fender you’d see these are 10 times better. I think the dark cloud you’re referring too is insanely picky home players that before even plugging the guitar in inbox it(cause you know they didn’t leave the house to buy it) with a microscope in head. Record all “flaws” and immediately upload pics to several forums.

Oh and I told you several times that polyurethane under there was thick. Many times actually. You needed solid proof, here it is. Also nitro colour coat will always be sprayed over a body with a sealer. It’s rarely sprayed onto bare wood. There’s just other lacquer based sealers besides polyurethane.
 

daveplays

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 18, 2022
62
UK
Not sure about a dark cloud over fender. The QC issue are minor and if any of you guys look at the fit and finish if a real 50’s or 60’s fender you’d see these are 10 times better. I think the dark cloud you’re referring too is insanely picky home players that before even plugging the guitar in inbox it(cause you know they didn’t leave the house to buy it) with a microscope in head. Record all “flaws” and immediately upload pics to several forums.

Oh and I told you several times that polyurethane under there was thick. Many times actually. You needed solid proof, here it is. Also nitro colour coat will always be sprayed over a body with a sealer. It’s rarely sprayed onto bare wood. There’s just other lacquer based sealers besides polyurethane.
The dark cloud I'm referring to is the firing of 300 employees on the spot... Including long term senior management. I'm sure you've heard all about it?
Plenty of discussion over on YouTube if not.

And come on man, is there a need take that obvious of a swipe at me?
As for the POLYESTER sealer, yes - I did believe you, but was told by an employee it was likely to be thin.
So I didn't mean to disrespect your assumed authority on the matter, as afterall we're strangers to one another right?
And by the way I do actually gig, I had this guitar out last week and tore it up for a good 3 hours.🙄
So say what you like mate, that reflects on you and your attitude, I don’t care if you’ve been stewing on this forum for 10+ years - respect is respect…
I've not made any assumptions about yourself, so shall we just leave it there?

I love Fender but my love isn’t blind, and I'm not going to defend a miscut or slip with a saw not being rectified, or my truss rod issue for that matter.
It’s bad QC and I’m calling it out, to get rid of that saw mark it’s gonna require the frets popping off and a level of the board as the cut slips to the edge of it and has a groove, the truss problem - I could heat press relief into the neck myself, but it might be a case of the truss rod channel not being cut deep enough. There was also loads of lacquer overspray and tooling marks on the fretboard too, but I've got rid of most of those with a bit of sandpaper, cause I was raised to suck it up and get on with it you see. 👍

We clearly have different standards and ideas about what is acceptable, and what is relative in terms of expectation in the current market.
But if it's alright in your mind, be my guest! Its a difference of opinion which we're entitled to,
and if entitlement is where you think this mentality is coming from then its not the case, it's expectation.
88751E99-9766-4B17-9DBC-06383AB27B14.jpeg
 

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
6,786
Edmonton, Alberta
The dark cloud I'm referring to is the firing of 300 employees on the spot... Including long term senior management. I'm sure you've heard all about it?
Plenty of discussion over on YouTube if not.

And come on man, is there a need take that obvious of a swipe at me?
As for the POLYESTER sealer, yes - I did believe you, but was told by an employee it was likely to be thin.
So I didn't mean to disrespect your assumed authority on the matter, as afterall we're strangers to one another right?
And by the way I do actually gig, I had this guitar out last week and tore it up for a good 3 hours.🙄
So say what you like mate, that reflects on you and your attitude, I don’t care if you’ve been stewing on this forum for 10+ years - respect is respect…
I've not made any assumptions about yourself, so shall we just leave it there?

I love Fender but my love isn’t blind, and I'm not going to defend a miscut or slip with a saw not being rectified, or my truss rod issue for that matter.
It’s bad QC and I’m calling it out, to get rid of that saw mark it’s gonna require the frets popping off and a level of the board as the cut slips to the edge of it and has a groove, the truss problem - I could heat press relief into the neck myself, but it might be a case of the truss rod channel not being cut deep enough. There was also loads of lacquer overspray and tooling marks on the fretboard too, but I've got rid of most of those with a bit of sandpaper, cause I was raised to suck it up and get on with it you see. 👍

We clearly have different standards and ideas about what is acceptable, and what is relative in terms of expectation in the current market.
But if it's alright in your mind, be my guest! Its a difference of opinion which we're entitled to,
and if entitlement is where you think this mentality is coming from then its not the case, it's expectation.
View attachment 610518

Yes I’m sorry for calling you out. Just we had a little disagreement several times because a Fender employee told you what they probably told 100’s of people. “Don’t worry that polyurethane is thin, you’ll never notice it”Until it wears and looks like 70’s finish on a 50’s or 60’s reissue. You finally have the proof now.

That’s beside the point anyway. I get the issues you have and my bedroom player microscope users wasn’t directed right at you. There’s so many QC issues that are very minor but explode for no real reason. That’s the dark cloud I thought you were referring too. Also the layoff I’m pretty sure was the temps that got hired to fill orders due to extreme amount of new players. That sizzled out so they got canned. I could be wrong though. I don’t read up on who’s doing what at fender.

Anyway sorry for calling you out just seemed like so many were in disbelief because fender didn’t come right out and say there’s a polyurethane sealer.
 

John C

Most Honored Senior Member
Silver Member
Jul 17, 2012
8,530
Kansas City
The dark cloud I'm referring to is the firing of 300 employees on the spot... Including long term senior management. I'm sure you've heard all about it?
Plenty of discussion over on YouTube if not.

And come on man, is there a need take that obvious of a swipe at me?
As for the POLYESTER sealer, yes - I did believe you, but was told by an employee it was likely to be thin.
So I didn't mean to disrespect your assumed authority on the matter, as afterall we're strangers to one another right?
And by the way I do actually gig, I had this guitar out last week and tore it up for a good 3 hours.🙄
So say what you like mate, that reflects on you and your attitude, I don’t care if you’ve been stewing on this forum for 10+ years - respect is respect…
I've not made any assumptions about yourself, so shall we just leave it there?

I love Fender but my love isn’t blind, and I'm not going to defend a miscut or slip with a saw not being rectified, or my truss rod issue for that matter.
It’s bad QC and I’m calling it out, to get rid of that saw mark it’s gonna require the frets popping off and a level of the board as the cut slips to the edge of it and has a groove, the truss problem - I could heat press relief into the neck myself, but it might be a case of the truss rod channel not being cut deep enough. There was also loads of lacquer overspray and tooling marks on the fretboard too, but I've got rid of most of those with a bit of sandpaper, cause I was raised to suck it up and get on with it you see. 👍

We clearly have different standards and ideas about what is acceptable, and what is relative in terms of expectation in the current market.
But if it's alright in your mind, be my guest! Its a difference of opinion which we're entitled to,
and if entitlement is where you think this mentality is coming from then its not the case, it's expectation.
View attachment 610518

Yes I’m sorry for calling you out. Just we had a little disagreement several times because a Fender employee told you what they probably told 100’s of people. “Don’t worry that polyurethane is thin, you’ll never notice it”Until it wears and looks like 70’s finish on a 50’s or 60’s reissue. You finally have the proof now.

That’s beside the point anyway. I get the issues you have and my bedroom player microscope users wasn’t directed right at you. There’s so many QC issues that are very minor but explode for no real reason. That’s the dark cloud I thought you were referring too. Also the layoff I’m pretty sure was the temps that got hired to fill orders due to extreme amount of new players. That sizzled out so they got canned. I could be wrong though. I don’t read up on who’s doing what at fender.

Anyway sorry for calling you out just seemed like so many were in disbelief because fender didn’t come right out and say there’s a polyurethane sealer.

Only quoting you both to post what I had read about the 300 people laid off at Fender back when it happened:

There was some senior staff but most were the 2nd production shift, which was added to work through the production backlog from the COVID shutdowns. It is my understanding they were actual hires/employees not temps/contractors. This layoff was spun by Fender as being a QC issue - that the 2nd shift was running at a 50% rework rate - meaning half the instruments couldn't pass QC and were sent back for rework, so the shift was let go along with some other employees in areas outside of production.

Based on these in-hand reports of AV IIs - I still have yet to play an AV II because the local dealers here have only received '57 Strats and '51 Teles and their neck shapes don't work for me at all - that there are QC issues with the shift still employed at Fender. That makes me think that those statements about the 2nd shift being laid off for QC were corporate "spin"; there certainly appear to be QC issues on the AV IIs.
 

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
6,786
Edmonton, Alberta
Only quoting you both to post what I had read about the 300 people laid off at Fender back when it happened:

There was some senior staff but most were the 2nd production shift, which was added to work through the production backlog from the COVID shutdowns. It is my understanding they were actual hires/employees not temps/contractors. This layoff was spun by Fender as being a QC issue - that the 2nd shift was running at a 50% rework rate - meaning half the instruments couldn't pass QC and were sent back for rework, so the shift was let go along with some other employees in areas outside of production.

Based on these in-hand reports of AV IIs - I still have yet to play an AV II because the local dealers here have only received '57 Strats and '51 Teles and their neck shapes don't work for me at all - that there are QC issues with the shift still employed at Fender. That makes me think that those statements about the 2nd shift being laid off for QC were corporate "spin"; there certainly appear to be QC issues on the AV IIs.

Yes and that’s why I wasn’t entirely sure. It sure seems like it was something to pass the blame on. Also Fender definitely has some QC issues with this new series. It’s also probably true that all other fenders if looked at as closely as they are now may have had these QC issues.

The pandemic brought out loads of new players. Also brought on a lot more guitars to be produced quickly and this is why the QC seems to have possibly suffered a bit. Or is it the extremely picky new players? We’ll never know. That’s why the “try before you buy” these days is way more important than pointing and clicking.
 

daveplays

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 18, 2022
62
UK
Yes I’m sorry for calling you out. Just we had a little disagreement several times because a Fender employee told you what they probably told 100’s of people. “Don’t worry that polyurethane is thin, you’ll never notice it”Until it wears and looks like 70’s finish on a 50’s or 60’s reissue. You finally have the proof now.

That’s beside the point anyway. I get the issues you have and my bedroom player microscope users wasn’t directed right at you. There’s so many QC issues that are very minor but explode for no real reason. That’s the dark cloud I thought you were referring too. Also the layoff I’m pretty sure was the temps that got hired to fill orders due to extreme amount of new players. That sizzled out so they got canned. I could be wrong though. I don’t read up on who’s doing what at fender.

Anyway sorry for calling you out just seemed like so many were in disbelief because fender didn’t come right out and say there’s a polyurethane sealer.
Well that's fine and I graciously accept your apology. :) Tone and interpretation are things all too misconstrued on the web, sometimes I shoot from the hip...
Nevertheless, I'm hoping that the shop can offer some kind of resolution, as I'm not so hopeful Fender will be able to other than "send it back".

I didn't have the opportunity to try beforehand as I'm in a bit of a backwoods and these things were selling out left right and centre,
I was just hopeful that the QC was good enough on a top of the line production model. Silly me.
Buying a guitar is no different to buying a car - you've gotta test drive it, sniff it, etc...

Regard the layoffs, this video is a good place to start, and as John C remarks, I think the excuse is inplausible, they've just got a rotten CEO -
 

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
6,786
Edmonton, Alberta
Well that's fine and I graciously accept your apology. :) Tone and interpretation are things all too misconstrued on the web, sometimes I shoot from the hip...
Nevertheless, I'm hoping that the shop can offer some kind of resolution, as I'm not so hopeful Fender will be able to other than "send it back".

I didn't have the opportunity to try beforehand as I'm in a bit of a backwoods and these things were selling out left right and centre,
I was just hopeful that the QC was good enough on a top of the line production model. Silly me.
Buying a guitar is no different to buying a car - you've gotta test drive it, sniff it, etc...

Regard the layoffs, this video is a good place to start, and as John C remarks, I think the excuse is inplausible, they've just got a rotten CEO -


Did you watch this video? @John C did you watch this?

Not sure if it’s correct or not but it basically says what you said of the 50% return rate for the QC department. The lays offs may have due to that.

This guy says it’s because of the massive amount of overseas inventory that’s not selling. Just piling up. Fender borrows the finances to build these. They are not selling so they owe a huge amount of money. The banks always want money so instead of Fender breaking ties overseas they went through the US plant and made the cuts. It’s sad but what do you do. Said something like 22 plants in Indonesia!!

He also says the $1500 and up guitars are flying off the shelves. They cannot build them fast enough. Anything under that price is piling up and not selling. So it’s lay off 300 US employees or put a hold or stop to the import guitars which probably will cause 10 times the job lose.

So yeah I wouldn’t want to be the group of people making that call. Wonder if there’s any truth to this? I probably got it wrong but that’s what I got from the YouTuber
 

John C

Most Honored Senior Member
Silver Member
Jul 17, 2012
8,530
Kansas City
Did you watch this video? @John C did you watch this?

Not sure if it’s correct or not but it basically says what you said of the 50% return rate for the QC department. The lays offs may have due to that.

This guy says it’s because of the massive amount of overseas inventory that’s not selling. Just piling up. Fender borrows the finances to build these. They are not selling so they owe a huge amount of money. The banks always want money so instead of Fender breaking ties overseas they went through the US plant and made the cuts. It’s sad but what do you do. Said something like 22 plants in Indonesia!!

He also says the $1500 and up guitars are flying off the shelves. They cannot build them fast enough. Anything under that price is piling up and not selling. So it’s lay off 300 US employees or put a hold or stop to the import guitars which probably will cause 10 times the job lose.

So yeah I wouldn’t want to be the group of people making that call. Wonder if there’s any truth to this? I probably got it wrong but that’s what I got from the YouTuber

Not yet; I bookmarked it to watch a bit later tonight.
 

John C

Most Honored Senior Member
Silver Member
Jul 17, 2012
8,530
Kansas City
Did you watch this video? @John C did you watch this?

Not sure if it’s correct or not but it basically says what you said of the 50% return rate for the QC department. The lays offs may have due to that.

This guy says it’s because of the massive amount of overseas inventory that’s not selling. Just piling up. Fender borrows the finances to build these. They are not selling so they owe a huge amount of money. The banks always want money so instead of Fender breaking ties overseas they went through the US plant and made the cuts. It’s sad but what do you do. Said something like 22 plants in Indonesia!!

He also says the $1500 and up guitars are flying off the shelves. They cannot build them fast enough. Anything under that price is piling up and not selling. So it’s lay off 300 US employees or put a hold or stop to the import guitars which probably will cause 10 times the job lose.

So yeah I wouldn’t want to be the group of people making that call. Wonder if there’s any truth to this? I probably got it wrong but that’s what I got from the YouTuber

Not yet; I bookmarked it to watch a bit later tonight.

Wish I had found that back when the layoffs happened; that's a decent explanation. Okay I do have a business degree but my specialty was marketing; my other degree is in psychology so I work in marketing research/consumer insights - I don't work in accounting/finance but I still remember enough of it to say that his explanations make sense.

Fender is stuck in a position where they are leveraged - hell they have been since Bill Schultz lead the management team to buy the company from CBS back in 1985. Their venture capital/funding companies have changed over the years - it is my understanding that some of that was mergers within the finance/venture cap world, some by sales and swaps of assets. So it certainly does sound like the accounting side is running the show again like in the 1970s - they are financing all those imports and if they aren't selling enough to cover the payments the money hasto come from somewhere.

I wasn't aware that many senior staff lost their positions; the press releases and news articles made it sound like it was a few people besides the 2nd shift. But that is some significant (for them) salaries cut, and that money that winds up going to their debt load.

What remains to be seen is if this is just an "adjustment" (and I hate to use that word because this was devastating for most if not all of those laid off, but I'm using it from the standpoint of the viability of the corporation) that they rebound from relatively quickly or if it will signal a continued slide as it did during the 1970s. But let's also remember that it was CBS that started the turn-around at Fender - they hired John McLaren Sr. away from Yamaha USA to oversee their overall Musical Instrument division, and McLaren hired Bill Schultz to run Fender. They just gave the team too many constraints to actually turn things completely around so the real turn-around didn't happen until after the sale. But of course Bill and his team are long gone now and the current management just isn't getting the job done.
 

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
6,786
Edmonton, Alberta
Wish I had found that back when the layoffs happened; that's a decent explanation. Okay I do have a business degree but my specialty was marketing; my other degree is in psychology so I work in marketing research/consumer insights - I don't work in accounting/finance but I still remember enough of it to say that his explanations make sense.

Fender is stuck in a position where they are leveraged - hell they have been since Bill Schultz lead the management team to buy the company from CBS back in 1985. Their venture capital/funding companies have changed over the years - it is my understanding that some of that was mergers within the finance/venture cap world, some by sales and swaps of assets. So it certainly does sound like the accounting side is running the show again like in the 1970s - they are financing all those imports and if they aren't selling enough to cover the payments the money hasto come from somewhere.

I wasn't aware that many senior staff lost their positions; the press releases and news articles made it sound like it was a few people besides the 2nd shift. But that is some significant (for them) salaries cut, and that money that winds up going to their debt load.

What remains to be seen is if this is just an "adjustment" (and I hate to use that word because this was devastating for most if not all of those laid off, but I'm using it from the standpoint of the viability of the corporation) that they rebound from relatively quickly or if it will signal a continued slide as it did during the 1970s. But let's also remember that it was CBS that started the turn-around at Fender - they hired John McLaren Sr. away from Yamaha USA to oversee their overall Musical Instrument division, and McLaren hired Bill Schultz to run Fender. They just gave the team too many constraints to actually turn things completely around so the real turn-around didn't happen until after the sale. But of course Bill and his team are long gone now and the current management just isn't getting the job done.

If this video is from a actual credible source, I had no idea that was the truth.

Lots of comments of layoffs being Fenders corporate greed. It’s more whoever Fender borrowed the money from to make “affordable” guitars that aren’t selling is asking for payment. Fender had no real choice but to do some major cutbacks.

So weird too that all you hear is fender is so expensive. Well those are the guitars that are selling. Economic downturn but no one is buying the affordable fenders, that’s(if true) is what caused the layoffs.

I’m sure the 50% of QC returns played a part in who got let go but yeah I had no idea. It’s sad to hear but really has nothing to do with Fender wanted to fill there pockets. More like pay their bills is keep the brand a float.
 

BoredAtWork82

Strat-Talk Member
Sep 25, 2017
30
Australia
Why not both? My state of disbelief is in Fender's QC are therefor lack of, those layoffs right before this AVII line launched has quite certainly been the result of the plethora of issues people are seeing on these guitars. Yes, they are production line instruments, but my revelation is that right now there is a black cloud over Fender and this period of its history...

I'd like to see how many they have sold vs how many have popped up here with horror stories.

It's entirely possible that only people who have a complaint share their stories.

It's also possible that the more people that jump on the bandwagon the less likely people with new ones are to share their good ones.

I have an AVII and it's beautiful. Sold my AmPro to get it and haven't regretted the decision once (after the initial sadness of letting a good guitar go).
 


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