Signed, Carved, and Numbered: A Full Examination of our Rare 1972 Fender LTD
Picture this: one day you’re scrolling online, doing a bit more research about a 1972 Fender LTD you’ve just received in stock. You’re just about ready to stop, believing you’ve found sufficient information…until you come across a 1999 Vintage Guitar Magazine article written by Philip Kubicki.
You casually skim the paragraphs, looking for insight written by the man that helped build the very guitar next to you. Finally, you read a line and pause. 5 minutes later, the LTD is on a workbench and you’re carefully positioning a mirror inside the F-Hole, trying to catch a glimpse of something special underneath that german-carved top.
Fender’s LTD was a limited production model, offered for only a couple of years. Each guitar was hand-crafted by Fender’s Research & Development Head, Roger Rossmeisl, assisted by Phil Kubicki. Reading the Vintage Guitar Magazine article about this model, it is clear through Kubicki’s words that the two put intense time into this beautiful, intricate model.
While the design of the LTD was similar to the Montego I and II, it was intended to be their highest-end model, rivaling the work of jazz guitar greats like John D’Angelico. Looking at the 1970 Catalog, you can see Rossmeisl and Kubicki left no stone unturned or appointment unembellished when creating the LTD’s design. This is evident in the tremendous attention to detail demonstrated on each guitar. We are pleased to have a 1972 LTD in Sunburst in our store, allowing for a thorough examination of this ornate model. Ours is serial number 33. Only 36 LTDs were made in total, completed in batches of 6 at a time. This guitar would have been built with the last batch. Though a Natural finish was offered in the catalog, none were ever created.
This top is made of custom hand-carved spruce, with curly maple used for the back and sides. The top and back carving was uniquely Rossmeisl’s and done in the German style. This is a technique that he learned from his father and fellow luthier, Wenzel Rossmeisl. The neck matches the body in maple, coupled with an ebony fingerboard. Kubicki stated that the two imported the highest quality European wood possible to build these guitars, all to allow for a better sound and lighter grain color.
Each appointment is just as meticulous as the next. This “tilt-back” headstock is inlaid with Australian mother-of-pearl. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the decorative headstock design is the “F” from Fender’s logo, self-mirrored to convey hearts. This ivory nut is hand-cut and filed, and six gold-plated Grover rotomatic tuners round out the headstock design. This 20 fret, 25 ½” scale neck features 9 rectangular, custom-made inlays that are also made of Australian Mother of Pearl.
A custom ebony bridge was hand-fitted to the body, feeding into a gold-plated tailpiece with two ebony inserts. One proudly wears Fender’s signature “F”. This highly flamed pickguard is made of celluloid imported from Italy, carefully cut and bound by Rossmeisl. In fact, there are multiple layers of binding around the body, neck, and headstock as well. All of the gold plating on this model is 24-karat.
The pair executed the electronics just as carefully. Rossmeisl and Kubicki tapped another Fender legend – Freddie Tavares – to design the pickups and circuitry for this model. This single pickup is a specialty humbucker that is completely shielded, grounded, and designed with a jazz sound in mind. The pickup is fitted with 6 individually adjustable pole pieces and of course, gold plating. Mounted just under the neck, this humbucker is accompanied by Master volume and Master tone controls in the form of two small, black knobs mounted to the pickguard. The ¼” jack sits just below the knobs underneath the pickguard.
As his finishing stamp of approval, Rossmeisl signed and dated a label applied to the inside of each guitar. The labels were positioned right at the back, so you could see them through the F hole. The glue on our label has lost its tackiness over time but was carefully saved inside the case. We are thankful for this, as it allows for an even closer look. Although, as we would soon come to learn, Rossmeisl wasn’t the only one granting his signature to the model.
Kubicki’s insightful 1999 article had already given us crucial information about our 1972 Fender LTD. Yet, upon coming to the end of his first-hand account, he gave us one last golden nugget of knowledge. Kubicki quickly states, “I signed a few inside the top, so the only way to see my name is with a mirror.” It’s easy to miss in the article, bookended by names of Jazz greats that visited the luthiers in their shop.
This is the sentence that lead us inside our Fender LTD, using a lighted dental mirror to see if ours was one of the lucky few to receive Kubicki’s signature. While it seemed rare enough that we had one of only 36 LTDs made, could you imagine if this was one of the few guitars signed under the carved top as well?! After some positioning, we saw something… although we couldn’t quite make out what it was. It looked like a bit of scribble, maybe with a pencil we figured. Once we got our mirror just right, this is what we discovered:
Amazingly, the inside of this guitar is signed not just by Phil Kubicki, but also a second time by Roger Rossmeisl. It is even dated: 1971. We compared Rossmeisl’s signature on our LTD label to the one we found inside the top for further verification and they match exactly. Finally, the anticipation that began building the second I read that sentence was over. Given its beauty, sound, and history, we loved this guitar from the moment we received it. But the excitement of this find took it to another level. This is a guitar with depth that reminds us why we love what we do.
Catalog Scans Courtesy of: