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1963 Fender Jazzmaster: Formulating Its True Identity

A ''63 Jazzmaster comes in for a refinish

A loyal customer that I had not seen for many years walked into my shop carrying a Fender guitar case. Opening the case, I could tell immediately that the body of this Fender Jazzmaster had been refinished, and it was done quite poorly. Fortunately, the shape of the ash body was not altered by a handyman sanding away with 50 grit sandpaper. We see this kind of damaged work more often than not. After inspecting it, I found the neck to be in very nice condition. The serial number on the neck plate started with an ‘L’ followed by “0,” making this guitar a 1963 Fender Jazzmaster.

Hide & Seek

The original finish intact

Jackpot in the form of auto paint

Like the original finish, blond was applied first

Spraying the Lake Placid Blue Metallic
I began to remove the neck, bridge, pickguard, etc. to find any clue that could tell me what original finish was. It looked like all the hardware had been removed, and body stripped for the refinish. But wait, could it be? Did they forget to remove the extensive brass shielding in the electronic cavity rout? This shielding can be easily removed without unsoldering anything. The complete pickguard, pickups and shielding came out together, and there it was—touched-up solder joints, and upon closer inspection, under the brass shielding, Lake Placid Blue Metallic! The brass shielding was never removed when it was refinished years back. Fortunately, the plate was taped and papered during the spraying process.

After removing it, I also found a small chip of blue stuck to the underside of the shielding. I could see that the body originally had first been sprayed blonde, and then followed up with Fender’s custom color Lake Placid Blue Metallic before leaving Fender’s facility.

Acrylic Lacquer
It’s been a while since I had a need to spray acrylic lacquer. I was running into dead ends everywhere. The sources I used to get my acrylic lacquers from were no longer dealing in it. They could set me up with acrylic urethane, but that would not have been true to the complete restoration of this instrument. I was able to find Lake Placid Blue Metallic in nitrocellulose lacquer, offered as a vintage restoration paint on the internet. It is nice to have it formulated as nitro, but from my research this would be incorrect as far as being true to the actual formulation of Fender’s Lake Placid Blue metallic. My client made it very clear that he wanted the formulation Fender used in 1963, and he knew I would follow through, and that I had the same approach—doing the best that we could to get things as right as they could be, keeping in mind that we are working with the tools available to us today.

I really got lucky. I was able to find a source that would formulate anything under the sun for me. I could now get Lake Placid Blue Metallic in nitro, polyurethane, acrylic urethane, and of course in acrylic lacquer. It was very interesting to find that the people at Kustom Shop listed Lake Placid Blue Metallic as a 1957 Cadillac auto color, since other research claims this to be a 1958 Cadillac color. I can tell you that they nailed the color on the money, and it is formulated as an acrylic lacquer. Thank you, Joseph, for the fantastic service!

I used the body cavity rout where the brass shielding plate had been inserted to direct me in the mix and degree of transparency in the blonde color that I sprayed before the Lake Placid Blue Metallic was applied, just like Fender did—only I’m protecting this cavity from any overspray. I wanted to preserve it because the finish there was still original and had never been removed since the guitar left the factory in 1963.

I used for my spraying, sanding and buffing supplies. Thanks to Thomas Calhoun, a multi-talented individual at my shop, for accommodating me on the research and restoration of this historic musical instrument.

John Brown
John Brown, of Brown's Guitar Factory, is the inventor of the Fretted/Less bass. He owns and operates a full guitar manufacturing and repair/restoration facility, which is staffed by a team of talented luthiers. He is also the designer of guitar making/repair tools and accessories that are used today by instrument builders throughout the world.