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October 21st, 2009:

Collectable Guitars pt 36 – Fender Electric XII

The Fender Electric XII was a purpose-built 12-string electric guitar, designed for folk rockers. Instead of using a Stratocaster-body style, it used one with a Jaguar/Jazzmaster body style.

It was also a departure from the typical “Stratocaster”-style headstock, instead featuring a long headstock nicknamed the “hockey-stick” headstock. The Electric XII used a unique split pickup design and had a 4 way pickup selector allowing for neck, neck & bridge in series, neck & bridge in parallel and bridge only options. It also used a string-through-body design similar to a Telecaster to help increase sustain.

Designed by Leo Fender, the Fender Electric XII was introduced in late 1965 with the bulk of the production taking place in 1966 before it was discontinued around 1970.

Unlike its competitors’ electric 12-string models which were simply existing 6-string guitars with six extra strings, the Fender Electric XII was a purpose-built 12-string designed to capture a part of the folk-rock market.

The headstock was a departure from Fender’s usual Stratocaster-style shape and is sometimes referred to as the “hockey stick” headstock.

Leo Fender’s bridge design for this model is elegantly simple, works extremely well, and is regarded by many as one of his best designs of the 1960s. The bridge has an individual saddle for each string making precise intonation possible. The design is also string-through-body which helps to increase sustain.

Perhaps the most famous user of the Fender Electric XII was Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page who used one to record “Stairway to Heaven.”

Other notable users of the Electric XII were Pete Townshend, who used it extensively on the album Tommy, and folk-rocker Tim Buckley. Johnny Winter also used one briefly (strung as a regular six-string) during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

1960’s models currently sell for around £2000-2500.

Westone Cutlass Rebuild pt 2 – The Body and the Scratchplate

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481As I said in part one of the Westone Cutlass rebuild, I have decided not paint this guitar, but to keep it natural looking.

The original body finish was a pale, yellowy clear lacquer which suited the look of the guitar, but now has some quite deep scratches and dents on the front, back and upper horn (see pic).

Westone Cutlass body

Unlike a painted finish, it isn’t possible just to sand back the top coat and use wood filler to fill any blemishes. As the wood will be on display under a few coats of wood oil, the base has to be as perfect as possible.

This lead to a hot sweaty Sunday afternoon with an array of different types of sandpaper and a sanding block to remove all traces of the old finish and the blemishes. I was lucky, none of the marking was so deep that it couldn’t be sanded out, and after an hour or two I had a pristine body, looking as good as the day it was cut! The grain is very attractive, with some darker marks behind the bridge area which look like scratches, but and just part of the natural colouring of the Alder body.

Westone Cutlass body

The scratchplate damage is the other main issue with this guitar, but it is fixable with no huge chunks missing; just a split below the bridge and a little piece gauged out. I have mentioned in the Westone Thunder rebuild series that my other hobby is building model cars. This comes in useful with guitar repairs too, as I am used to doing close intricate work, and I also have a large array of tools and items for manipulating plastic.

One such item is a product called microballoons, which is a filling material. It is basically a very fine white resin powder which is mixed with superglue to produce a sandable filler which sets almost instantly. I began by gluing the crack in the scratchplate with superglue, then when that had dried, I used the microballoons to build up the surface again to the previous level.

Westone Cutlass scratchplateOnce this had dried, I carefully sanded back the excess coloured the white microballoon area with a black felt tip pen. It’s not perfect, but it’s a solid repair and hardly noticeable now the guitar is back together.

Westone Cutlass scratchplate

Next instalment will be about oiling the body and putting it all back together.