A 1950s-era Precision Bass “spaghetti” headstock logo; note the thin script, silver lettering and thin black outline.
A 1962-1965-era Jazz Bass “transition” logo. Designed by Bob Perine; note the thicker script, gold lettering and black outline.
When shopping for a Fender instrument today—particularly one of the popular reissues of older Fender instruments, you’ll see different Fender headstock logos from different eras in use as part of period-correct guitar and bass designs.
And when you’re researching your purchase or just reading about Fender history, you’ll run across different terms describing the headstock logos that have appeared on various Fender instruments over the decades. Two of the most common such term are “spaghetti logo” and “transition logo.” What’s the difference? What logo is from what era?
Of the two, the spaghetti logo came first. Fender’s spaghetti logo was used throughout the 1950s and is so named for its thin, stylized script, which appears in silver lettering with a thin black outline. Esquire®, Broadcaster®, Telecaster®, Stratocaster®, Precision Bass® and Jazzmaster® guitars from the 1950s through the mid-1960s all used this logo style (and did several other Fender instruments of that period). It wasn’t called a spaghetti logo at the time; collectors and enthusiasts coined the name in later decades.
As the 1950s waned, enter adman and graphic designer Robert Perine, the man responsible for Fender’s famous “You won’t part with yours either” ad campaign. Perine designed a new logo for the 1958-’59 Fender catalog after noticing that Fender had previously used more than a dozen different types of trademark. He thought a single uniform design was in order.
With input from Leo Fender himself, Perine perfected a new Fender logo, bolder and thicker, and with gold lettering bounded by a thin black outline. It was trademarked in 1960, and its first appearance on an instrument headstock came that year with the debut of the Jazz Bass® guitar. Every new Fender model launched after that point would have the new logo, and by 1965 most Fender instruments and amplifiers used the new logo.
Perine’s thicker gold-and-black logo later became known among collectors and enthusiasts as the “transition” logo because it spanned the period between the thin spaghetti logos of the 1950s and the CBS-era Fender logo introduced in 1967, which had black letters with a gold outline (further, almost all model names appeared on headstocks in bold capital letters beginning in 1967).