1965 Fender Jazzmaster, Candy Apple Red Restoration

  • Posted by Krishna
  • at 7/27/2012 11:03:00 AM -

My buddy Rod brought this guitar to me a few years ago - he had purchased it because it was almost entirely original - with the exception of the factory Candy Apple Red finish, which was stripped off.

The original finish remained in the pickup and control cavities - and he wanted to know if I could match the remnants of the original finish - as well as spray the headstock to match and apply a repro headstock decal.

Careful examination of the remaining original finish revealed a gold undercoat.  Around 1965, Fender switched from a silver undercoat to a gold undercoat for its Candy Apple Red finish - resulting in a slightly darker, browner C.A.R. finish (at least to my eyes).

The yellow stain is revealed where the paint stick was placed during the factory painting process. The dull red plastic piece is a neck shim - this guitar had two of them !! So much for precision manufacturing !!

Since the body and neck were in good condition other than being stripped, I took the job on.  I also happened to own an original Candy Apple Red Fender Jaguar from the same era, so I had a good reference to use in achieving the correct tint on the transparent red part of the finish.

Sanded to clean up and level the body - some of the original yellow stain and undercoating remained.

 The body was then stained lemon yellow using Stew-Mac dye in a denatured alcohol base.

A sealer coat of Behlen's vinyl sealer was applied - though nitrocellulose sanding sealer would also work. Fender seemed to go back and forth between both sealers in the late 50s and early 60s. Notice how the sealer darkens the yellow tint. This would be the base for a 3-color sunburst also.

A white primer coat was applied and lightly sanded - and then the gold undercoat was sprayed on.  I used Jacquard "Brilliant Gold" bronze powder in a clear gloss nitrocellulose base for the undercoat.  I went sanded the first coat and then carefully sprayed on a final gold color coat - since the final metallic undercoat CANNOT be sanded !!  Sanding will leave marks in the finish due to the metallic particles being "scratched" and brightened unevenly.  This applies to all finishes with metallic powder as part of their pigmentation - including colors like Pelham Blue and Lake Placid Blue.

The headstock was also primed and then undercoated.  I'm not sure if Fender usually primed their custom color headstocks - does anyone out there know for sure ?  Or was this another area where Fender was inconsistent ?


The next step was the tinted color coat. I tinted clear gloss nitro with Stew-Mac's cherry pigment (same color used to do a Cherry finish on a Gibson SG or the red part of a Fender 3-color sunburst !!).

After a few coats the color was deep enough and even.

The depth of the color was built up over several coats - with special attention to keeping the color even by using a fairly wide spray pattern and light coats.   Keep the spray gun moving smoothly and fast because you CANNOT have any runs form !!  The will stick out like a sore thumb !!

Buffing Out and Assembly

Once the color was at the depth I wanted - I sprayed several clear gloss topcoats on.  I let the finish cure for a few weeks - I wet sanded and puffed out the body and headstock.  It is important to let the Candy Apple Red finish to cure, as its almost like having two finishes - one on top of each other - due to all the layers of the finish.

As you can see - the remnants of the original finish in the neck pocket and pickup, control and tremolo cavities matches the new finish applied to the body.  Note that the "gold" areas in the pictures are the large brass shielding plates, which were left in place during the refinish process - there is original C.A.R. finish under those areas as well.

The lighting in this picture better reveals the deep red tint - good match between the headstock and body too - though I'm sure this wasn't always the case at the Fender factory !

The original loaded pickguard - ready for re-installation !  Notice the masking tape used to hold wires in place - that's original from the factory !

Finally, the guitar is assembled !!

The original guard is surprisingly pristine !!

Per 1960's practice - the repro headstock decal was placed on top of the finish, with no overspray.

And finally - some pictures of the Jazzmaster posing with an original finish Fender Jaguar.  The Jag is slightly earlier than the Jazzmaster and has a SILVER undercoat as opposed to the GOLD undercoat of the Jazzmaster.  The slightly darker tint of the Jazzmaster is visible in this picture - especially on the headstock.

As far as I know, this Jazzmaster currently resides in France !!


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  1. Very nicely done. I like that you stayed true to the times with the headstock decal over the finish with no overspray. truevintageguitar.blogspot.com

  2. Thanks John - I wish the decal film had been a little thinner though. I did have an original 60s decal to apply, but it disintegrated into little bits as soon as I put it in water !! I'll check out your blog as well.

  3. Hey, great job! and believe me, I can value for that, I own this guitar now! I couldn't believe my eyes when I discovered this!! So, just one slight correction, this guitar currently resides in Argentina! However, I bought in the US in 2010, not France, it seems this guitar has some road miles on it xD

  4. Wow Leandro - that's too cool !! Well, now you know the history of the guitar's refinish at least - its a good one, wish I owned it !! Hows the finish holding up ??

  5. Yeah!! I already saved all the pictures!! I always tend to think about the origins of my vintage guitars, who might have onwed it, etc...so now I know a little bit more! The finish is perfect, like in the pictures, it does have some really mild round marks because someone stored it with bubble wrap and the finish reacted, I guess it could be solved by using car polish? Cheers!!