The Stratocaster, part 2

When my 1971 Stratocaster named “Honey” was stolen, Camper Van Beethoven was in the middle of a tour. Luckily for us, we had a management connection to somebody at Fender so we were able to get “artist-priced” (that means half of retail, I guess?) instruments shipped out to us relatively quickly. We did have a few gigs there on borrowed instruments, which was sort of fun. Sometimes.

Right before this tour had started, late September 2004, I had seen a 1963 Stratocaster for sale in Rockridge (Oakland) for $3000 on Craigslist… I didn’t have $3000 but I still asked about it… yet another bad black refinishing job. (I’m getting the idea that this is comparable to the “stolen motorcycle black”, though glossy instead of matte.) I wrote again when my guitar was stolen in late October, but it was way gone. So I decided to get a touring instrument from Fender, I ordered the American Vintage 1962 reissue guitar. In black. This guitar arrived while we were on tour, all shiny and new. I’ve basically been using it as a touring guitar ever since. It’s nothing special, cost me $750. I really did not like the stock pickups, so I put in Lindy Fralin‘s Vintage Hots, which I generally like. So much better than the stock pickups! The neck itself is a slabboard rosewood laminate over maple, but it’s thinner than any actual 1962 I’ve ever played. More like a 1960 Strat. They say the ’62 reissue has an oval C neck, but this feels more flat, like a flat D. I don’t really like its relatively small frets. The body is nice.

Fender Neck Profiles

This guitar now has a racing stripe on it, (to make it faster, obviously.) We toured throughout the end of 2004 and I left the guitar in Sweden at my wife’s parents’ house, anticipating coming back in the spring for Chaos Butterfly shows, which I used it for as well. I recently put a tortoise shell “aged” pickguard on it…

the '62 reissue, somewhere in Seattle. Photo by Ian Weintraub.

the ’62 reissue, somewhere in Seattle. Photo by Ian Weintraub.

I’m not convinced by Fender’s Vintage Reissue series… but the Custom Shop guitars (supposedly made by hand like the old guitars) are so much more expensive and from what I’ve played, not a whole lot better. I dunno. I’m picky about this stuff. So to speak.

I tried another replacement guitar when I got home, I found a 1979 transparent blonde Strat at Guitar Satan in San Jose for $1500. I thought, 1979 blonde, like my wife! This guitar was nice, though yellowing a bit from the transparent blonde color, it was stock with the black pickguard and plastic, and the dumb 70s one-piece tremolo bridge and pot metal saddles. I didn’t like the bend of the whammy bar arm, so I kept trying to bend it or get new ones to try. The frets were fairly small and flat. The pickups sounded great, though, especially the bridge pickup. I later opened it up and discovered that the pickups and pots were all dated 1981, which bummed me out a bit, (no longer like Sanna!) as Fender essentially made “1979” guitars until 1982, keeping the S9xxxxx serial numbers going. I sold this guitar in a period of being especially broke a few years later. Sadly. Sold several guitars and the last of my motorcycles. (If you can avoid it in your life, never sell your musical instruments. Or motorcycles. That is my sage advice.)

1979 Blonde Stratocaster, S982868. Sold.

1979 Blonde Stratocaster, S982868. Sold.

So my plan was to resurrect the old black guitar body I had. I have used Ebay since it began in the mid 90s, when I decided to sell my comic book collection. (An aside: I collected comic books throughout Camper’s tours in the 1980s, it was an excellent way to find old books, touring the states. Unfortunately the 60s ones I liked took off once the 1989 Batman movie came out and issues that had been $20-200 were now $200-2000, so I gave it up. Sold the entire collection in one fell swoop for $7000!) Additionally, I always check out the want ads, from the nickel traders to craigslist, just to see who’s selling what kinds of motorcycles or guitars or whatever, it’s a hobby.

(Aside #2: In Sweden, for whatever reason, nobody uses Craigslist except Americans. It sucks. Everybody used Blocket, which SUCKS. Sorry, Swedes, it does. and it costs money. I don’t get it.)

[Aside #3: Possibly all due to genetics. Ancestors have been pegged as being junk dealers.]

I eventually found a nice old 1965 Stratocaster neck (stamped “2 AUG 65 B” which means Stratocaster model [the “2”], made August 1965, B = 1 5/8″ width at the nut) in Australia, which I think people were avoiding because it was in Australia, but it was cheap, relative to current US prices. About this time, 2005 or so, the “Vintage Guitar” market was on its way up. Way up! People were starting to talk about a million dollar Les Paul and things like that. So it was getting difficult to find parts for older guitars that were in any way reasonable priced. I had no intention of making an expensive frankencaster, so the neck was the only costly part, really. This neck was pretty nice, but needed a little work. The feel is good, it’s not super hefty, fairly slim all the way up. It was obviously re-lacquered at some point, and over the old sweat stains! It needed frets, but I didn’t get it refretted. It had its old double-line Kluson tuners, so I left those on it. I did buy a set of old plastic parts, from a 1966 Strat, but the pickguard was more like a 1970, ABS plastic with a foil back on the control area. I put in Lollar “Blackface” Stratocaster pickups, and got a steel bridge from Callaham Guitars. His parts are excellent, in my opinion. The pots are the typical late 60s Fender 137-66xx pots, i.e. from 1966, they bought a ton of them and used them for years. They spec out to about 230kOhms, rather than 250k, as they should, so they end up leaking a bit of high end off the pickups, which is fine for me. I tried 3 different old “red dime” capacitors, before settling on one 0.05uF that seems to work with this combo. This guitar stayed like this for a while. I played it at many Camper shows and my own band’s shows, when in the SF Bay Area.

Camper at the Independent in San Francisco. Wearing a suit.

However, a super stroke of luck number happened after the equipment robbery as well. Or rather many super strokes of luck in succession. Sometimes people are nice! First off was a that the equipment was stolen in Montreal, Canada, and so we talked about it in interviews at the next show in Toronto, and this garnered some national press. A violin maker in Halifax who was a Camper fan offered to replace my violin! (More on this when I write about violins and such.) It also caught the ear of the US Grammy-sponsored aid agency called MusiCares, who mostly deal with medical issues for musicians who cannot afford medical services (fucking USA.) They offered to replace some of the lost instruments, and we ended up with some nice stuff. I was met by one of their representatives in Los Angeles right before we were going to to an in-store at Amoeba Records with a 1972 Sunburst Stratocaster, to replace the stolen 1971 model.

The 1972 Stratocaster

The ’72 would be nearly identical to Honey (except it was way less used!) Neck date is August 1972, Serial Number 356506. Standard sunburst paint job. It has the 70s one-piece metal tremolo bridge and blocky saddles, which aren’t as awesome. The neck is a pretty chunky C-shape, like the ’71 was, and the pickups are very similar (I use the middle a lot, by the way.) Three way switch. One thing, again, that I did not like was the tiny frets. They really bugged me. I didn’t play the guitar much for a while, trying to figure out what to do – it was stock, should I “ruin its value” by refretting it or leave it an not like it? Ok, well, that conflict lasted until I brought it to Geoff Luttrell at SF Guitarworks (who had been working on my instruments lately. He had done a setup on Honey right before the fateful tour where we lost her. One stupid thing that I reflect on once in a while is that the “Pat. Pend” saddles on that guitar were swapped out in that set-up to try some graphite ones—which I did not like, too quacky—and were in a  plastic bag in the case when it was stolen.) I had him fret the instrument with 6105-sized frets (the Dunlop 6105 is a pretty standard bigger fret.) This guitar became extremely awesome. Used this one for a lot of the recording of the CD named “Honey” and many shows.

Victor, John Hanes and I in Myles Boisen’s studio recording “Honey”

Honey, the CD, and all of this guitar nostalgia and guitar playing infected me. I had a bunch of instruments already, but I really got what the collectors call “G.A.S.”—Guitar Acquisition Syndrome. I thought, I should really get the guitars I want need now instead of later. I made a decision here, to value guitars over motorcycles, so the motorcycles were being sold off. I had already sold my Triumphs a few years earlier, now I sold the KLR 650 and a little later my beloved Moto Guzzi V65. (I regret this as much as selling any guitar, ever.)

Super stroke of luck number three happened about here.  While perusing Craigslist one day, I saw somebody selling a July 1962 Stratocaster neck. But… it looked funky. And I don’t mean fake, but not quite straight. I wrote and asked if they could take a photo down the length of the neck. Sure enough, the headstock was tilting off the plane of the fretboard, the neck was twisting. This was a July ’62 B neck, the first month that they started to produce a thin curved laminate rosewood fretboard on the maple neck instead of a “slab board” (which is what they call the flat-bottomed laminate.) I wanted to see it, regardless, they wanted $800 in the ad. I agreed to meet the guy at a bank parking lot near a mall in Pinole or thereabouts, off I-80, about a 30 minute drive. When I got there, these were two fairly young dudes. I looked at the neck, and sure enough it was twisted. And the headstock had been painted candy-apple red. I had called Gary Brawer to ask if this sort of thing was repairable, he said basically: don’t do it. So I told them it would cost money to fix, they could call Brawer’s shop and ask him about it if they wanted to sell the neck as a usable item. They were a little bummed. I think they were interested in getting some pot or something. I asked if they had any other parts of the guitar. Yeah, in the back of the car.

Shit. The body was there (also candy-apple red) and the green pickguard with the pickups, most of the screws removed, and various other hardware. I said, I’ll give you $200 for the pickups. I was prepared to just tear out the wiring from the jack, but they just gave me all of it for $200. I thought, I should just get the neck also, so I gave them $300 for the whole shebang.

Total deal! But here’s where it gets interesting. Initially I thought, well, maybe I can get this neck fixed, but I’m gonna have to get that red paint off of there. (For whatever reason, I don’t like red Stratocasters. I can’t explain that, exactly, but I don’t. I especially don’t like Fiesta Red. Candy-apple is at least metallic. Still, though. If I had a choice, I would want a Lake Placid Blue 1960-or-so Stratocaster. Or black, of course. Or maybe white…) Anyway, the stash of parts needed to be gone over and I had to use not only all of my accrued knowledge about Fender history but also extensive research to figure out what was going on here. This guitar had been reworked several times in its life.

First off, there are tooling marks that can help with identifying actual Fender parts. Some things are nearly impossible to date, like pickups, but there can be clues. The neck had the correct date stamp, of course, …which could be faked, but by 2007 I don’t know if this was as common as it is now. It used to be obvious, when you saw fake stamps, say, on Ebay. The neck also had the jig marks to hold it in place, one on the back of the butt and one between the D and G tuners. The tuners were 70s replacements, extra holes had been drilled, sadly (though the original Kluson holes were present, of course.) There was an extra string tree, but the original one was there, with its steel spacer. Once problem with this is that the headstock itself is a bit thinner than a normal Fender headstock. Part of this could be from it being sanded during the Candy-Apple refin, and again getting it back to simply wood (I didn’t do it! I used chemical paint stripper.) However, I was recently looking at the guitars in the windows at Hellstone Music in Stockholm, and saw a couple Strats next to one another, and sure enough the 1962 Fiesta Red (a super common color in the UK/Europe for this era, due to Hank Marvin!) had a thinner headstock. Whattayaknow?

window display at Hellstone on Götgatan in Stockholm. Nice guitars there! The closer one is a Fiesta Red ’62 Strat, with a thinner headstock.

Anyway, so. The pickguard? It was green, or greenish, more on the front. Real? Gotta say it is. (Here’s the thing, for non-historians: in 1959 Fender changed from single ply white to a celluloid nitrate-based multi-ply pickguard, which turns green as it is exposed to UV light [or smoke?] and then in 1965 they changed to a white plastic multi-ply that didn’t age green. Sometime in the middle, about 1963, they switched the position of one screw hole—I happen to also have one of the later green ones, but it has a big hole cut out of part of it where somebody had installed some sort of switch.) So this one has got the pre-63 screw holes, the wider black band, the right chatter and cuts, the right bevel. Slightly shrunken from perfect (the bridge fits tightly.) Somebody said there was some chemical test for nitrate-based guards that made them smell like Vicks Vapor rub, but I haven’t tried that. Fine by me, it’s as real as any I’ve seen before or since, and I’ve carefully examined a bunch (there are some excellent shops/museums, you know, like the Chicago Music Exchange or the LA Guitar Center.) Still, you have to have doubts about things like this because people sell these fucking things on Ebay for like $2000!! Seriously. So I don’t care if it isn’t, and if it’s fake, it is amazingly well done, but you know, if you don’t know the provenance you can’t prove anything. It definitely matches the neck, era-wise. (more info here, for example.)

The bridge was an amalgam: 70s saddles, an unknown base plate and a (70s) aftermarket brass block (brass was a common ‘cool’ item for Strat parts in the 70s.) The pots also dated to 1973, but the switch was old style CRL-1452, 1953-62. Could go with the pickguard or the neck, and the pickups were still soldered to it, no breaks or re-solderings and they were black-bottoms. Fender used black cardboard bobbins top and bottom to hold the 6 magnets and then wrap the super thin copper wire to make the magnetic field, for Stratocasters starting in 1954 going until 1964, when they switched to a grey cardboard and stamped or wrote dates on them. So for this era, it’s tough to date them. The pickup covers and other plastic were yellowed, ABS plastic, could be from anytime really. Ok, I am such a geek about this that I know that A) the font on the knobs was pre-1970s, the 10, for example was a small round “0” and not an elongated one and that (get this!) B) the tab that separates the knobs from their injection molds is between the 3 and 4 on the side of the knob. The gold lettering on the knobs of any older Strat ages and oxidizes green.

The neck plate had a 1961 serial number, 61xxx, which was somewhat meaningless as Fender just had a bin of neck plates and they would take them out to use them when they needed one, so it could have matched the neck.

So the body. It was red. Ick. (for me anyway.) And had some ugly and seemingly purposeless routing around the pickup cavities, like somebody had chiseled out some wood but not enough to actually install a bigger pickup (many Strats got routed for a Hunbucker or P-90 Gibson pickup.) Who knows what kind of speed was available back then to make somebody want to do this. But then I notices that the pickguard screw holes weren’t right. In fact, this pickguard was retrofitted somehow, because the control cavity doesn’t have the lower shoulder for as many screws as the multi-ply pickguards have. This is more like a 1950s Stratocaster body. But… no.. couldn’t be, right? So I got some orange peel paint remover and scrubbed away the paint under the pickguard to looks for the nail holes that would have held the body when it was initially painted. I discovered two things here, one is that, yes, the nail holes were in the right places, and two is that the Candy-Apple red was done “correctly”, i.e. layered with white below the red, as a pro would do… or a factory refinish… but factory refinished have codes branded into them, usually…? So, what the hell. Step two should be to check for the doweling holes that hold the body when it is cut initially, but that’s under paint as is the what-would-normally-be step 1, which is simply to check the body date, usually written in pencil in either the back cavity or the pickup cavity. Well, the pickup cavities are a mess, so that’s unlikely. So I start to remove the paint from the back cavity. This reveals two things: one is that the wood had been stained the yellow of a sunburst (as they did to only spray the red and brown/black up until 1964) and second, that there was in fact some sort of date. But it was illegible. It looks like it says “x/5#” (like literally a crosshatch! 5#.) Well, shit, I think I have a 1950s Stratocaster body. So I decided, fuck it, I don’t like red anyway, so even if it’s a factory refinish, I’m going to remove it. (sorry, anybody bothered by that.) This revealed beautiful ash wood. And the doweling holes, of course. The ash is phenomenal.

uncovering the body date.

So, my first thought is to put the pickups and pickguard into the black ’63/’65 Strat. (Reminds me of the ’64-’68 VW Bug we had in college….) So I do that. But the middle pickup is sort of thin sounding and weak, unfortunately. Then I notice something else odd. In Fender Stratocaster pickups before 1974, the magnets, the poles in the pickups, are different lengths, a staggered set of heights below the strings. The “B” string, for example, is lowest, and the “G” string next to it is the highest… except for the 1954 and ’55 pickups, where the “D” string is the highest. On these, the “D” string is the highest. Ok, so these must have come with the body, then! Out they come (Lollars go back in, into the green pickguard this time.) Let’s examine the pickups more. There is one more thing that can exist to date them, the bumps on the bobbin (the vulcanized fiberboard that holds the magnets) where the thin pickup winding wire meets the cloth covered connecting wire, they were like little mounds on the 1954 pickups, then more like a single cutout bobbin after that. These have tiny mounds, they aren’t cut straight across. But I think the middle pickup is broken, or needs help, so I call Jason Lollar (because I liked his pickups so much in the other one) and tell him about the set, and how thin that one sounds. He says that it’s probably only making sound at all by capacitance and the pickup is indeed dead, either a broken wind or dead magnets or something weird.

So I send the whole set, with the switch, all still soldered together, to him. He has to rewind the pickup, and he says one other odd thing is that it’s the opposite polarity from normal for the time, which is odd but not unheard of. (I can’t remember which way, they switched around, but I think the magnets were usually north on top at this point, they switched to south in 1959 or so. )

Meanwhile, I have decided to get the old body painted. Brawer’s shop suggests this guy at Rock n Roll Relics, he seems reliable. Mostly. I told him to paint it transparent white-blonde, like the Mary Kaye Stratocasters. And to do the front of the headstock on the twisty neck, now that I stripped the red from it. I managed to find a repro decal for this, with the correct mid-1962 patent number set, so he’ll put that on too (these are actually hard to find, Fender discourages the decal trade of course!) When I get the body back, it’s actually a little yellower than I wanted (he goes for aging, I guess,) but it looks pretty dang good. Except, he painted over (the remains of) the pencil date in the back cavity! Noooo! I supposed I could strip it… haven’t done it yet, though… I weighed the body at the post office on my way home, just to know: 3 lbs, 14 oz. The neck looks so good, that I’m going to put it on the black guitar regardless of twisting.

The July ’62 neck feels just great. It’s thicker than the ’65, more C shaped, and the lacquer feels thin and good. It has the old frets (super short tangs, barely into the rosewood laminate, certainly nowhere near getting into the maple) which means also the old 7.25″ radius, which I like. I seem to be the minority in this, these days, most people like a flatter fretboard, Fender has changed over to 9.5″ radius on everything, even the custom shop historical remakes. Stringing it up on the black guitar, and adjusting the truss rod a bit, it takes some of the twist out already. It’s not bad at all! Yay!

The black ’62 or so…

So now what? I could put the old ’65 neck on the ’54 body. Or I could try to find a 50s neck…

Which is of course what I try to do, while the body is being painted. You do see parts for sale a lot online, usually extremely expensive though. Sometimes an Ebay auction gets unnoticed, maybe due to the item being miscategorized or something, but this is rarer and rarer. Especially now that everyone and their dog is aware that people pay (paid, more like, pre-2008 crash) high prices for old gear. Eventually, though, I do find a deal, from a guitar shop in Nashville (naturally!) called Planet Violin that had a 1956 Stratocaster neck for sale. It’s dated XA-3-56 in pencil, a normal Fender marking. They claim it’s all original, though I can see it has a black (not bone) nut on it. I buy it, and when I get it, the truss rod is broken off at the end. What the hell? Also, it’s pretty obvious that it has been refretted (which is ok by me) and that some planing or refinishing had been done on the fretboard. So I call them and they say that the truss rod end snapped when they put the nut back on it before shipping, but it would be easy to fix (?) and they “didn’t know about the fretboard”. Jeez. I want to keep the neck, but I also want my money back. We negotiate some money back and I do keep the neck. When I put it on the body I notice one other oddity of the body: the neck pocket wood is thicker than 1″. Usually, which is to say, by the time the specs became normalized, where the neck and body meet, the wood of the body in the neck pocket is 1″ and the neck at this point is also 1″ thick.

So I take it all over to Gary Brawer’s shop to ask some questions. I know that Stewart-Macdonald makes a tool to deepen the truss rod hole and rethread the end, if the end breaks off, and they would have it. Also I ask about the wood thickness there in the neck pocket also, the guy who runs the guitar store part (Real Guitars) confirms that it changed through 1955 before settling into the classic 1″. (Also, I have seen other 1954 bodies with the pocket wood being 1 1/8″ since then.) However, it doesn’t fit this neck so well, so I ask them to shave it down a bit so that it’s 1″ thick. Again, I know, purists will cringe, but the body was already routed badly in the front, it wasn’t going to lose any more value!

the ’54 body, stripped.

Brawer tried to rethread the truss rod and put on a new nut, at which point we find that the truss rod itself is either broken or the end has come detached under the walnut plug at the nut end. Fuck. We consider ways to fix it, the most interesting of which is his idea of taking out the black dot on the third fret and severing it there, installing a new shorter rod… well, I’ll think about it. Meanwhile, I will play the guitar as is, as the neck is straight and fits well in the 1″ neck pocket.

I ended up selling the ’61-ish neck plate and buying a ~1956 plate, #10804 (or 10604? hard to read, it’s scruffy and rusty) to match the neck. Of course i would prefer a 4-digit number to match the body, but whatever.

The guitar gets fitted out with modern parts, there are numerous people making reissue old Fender parts. I did manage to find an old 50s single ply (ABS plastic, “vinyl”) pickguard, but it was cheap due to having extra holes in it, not pretty. I end up with a new anodized “gold” ’57 reissue pickguard. I replace the crappy 1973 radio shack potentiometers with modern MojoTone 250k pots and an Orange Drop  capacitor. I found a DeTemple bridge (titanium!) on Ebay, whew, but then did a bridge tone test on the black guitar and ended up with the DeTemple in the black guitar and the Callaham in this one.

One problem with the plastic parts is that from 1954 through 1956, Fender used polystyrene plastic, which is brittle, and people refer to these pick guards, pickup covers and knobs as “Bakelite”, though of course they aren’t. But because of this, they are very rare, normally either worn down or cracker or broken, and extremely expensive. I mean ridiculously expensive: a set of 3 knobs would be thousands of dollars. For polystyrene! Fortunately, people make replacements, in two types: early 1954 and late ’54-56 style. Unfortunately none of them are accurate. They never get it right. The font, for example, is wrong, (the “0” is long, the words are the wrong size.) But whatever. Polystyrene is super white and doesn’t age in the same way as the ABS parts also.

I ended up buying the CrazyParts repros from Germany, which are ok, but not great. One thing people *always* do on the repros is curve the edges of the pickup covers, as if they came that way rather than having been worn down like that, and curve the top of the volume knob similarly. I have found another set of pickup covers that are worn in a curved top sort of way, but they are discolored (by what, I don’t know) so they probably aren’t actual. Regardless, the current repros on the guitar look fine.

The ’54/56, altogether.

I played the guitar like this for a while, even did some shows with it before deciding that I did want to fix the truss rod, and if that was going to be done, there was only one man for the job: Dan Erlewine.

Dan Erlewine is perhaps the most famous luthier for vintage guitars, due to his involvement for the past 40 or 50 years as well as the fact that he designs tools for the job, and writes about what he does in a column in Vintage Guitar Magazine. He’s a master. I made a little website with the guitar info to send him to ask about it.

Dan of course does an amazing job, he fully replaces the truss rod and refrets the guitar, replaces the walnut skunk stripe! He wrote about it for his column, a 4-part journey over several months in Vintage Guitar Magazine. This guitar is fully functional now, beautiful old 1950s Fender, amazing to play, unlike anything else. Here’s a copy of his article in PDF.

I finally bit the bullet more recently and had the ’62 neck refretted, by Geoff Luttrell at SF GuitarWorks. He had to plane it a little to get the fretboard less twisty, and the slightly flatter radius at the nut end bugged me for a while, but overall the neck is much better (excellent work on Geoff’s part: he even clipped the fret tangs so they wouldn’t go deeper than the originals!) and while it may be the opposite of the normal compound radius neck (that get flatter as they go up the neck,) I love, love, love it more than ever now.

These two guitars were used all over “All Attractions” and “Apricot Jam“. Mostly the 50s Strat gets used for rhythm work, the pickups are just full in a way that is ineffable. However, there are certain lead things that only it can do as well. On this song, “Singularity“, the guitar solo is 4 parts, each over 10 bars, dm-F-em-G-D. The 1st and 3rd parts were done on the Les Paul, and initially parts 2 and 4 were done on the black ’62 Strat, but I just could not get that part 2 open string hammer ons at the 5th-6th-7th frets so sound right. It’s very Richard Thompson. Then, frustrated, I switched to the 50s Strat, and voila. One take. Weird.

—->Many pics of the insides and outsides of these guitars are posted here on my Flickr guitar set. <—–

Check out the jam session in the video at the end of the first Stratocaster post, it’s all the ’62.

So two last bits to the Stratocaster story so far:

The ’65 neck and all the mid-60s plastic I had sitting around eventually became attached to a modern Fender Custom Shop 1965 reissue body, with some Abigail Ybarra-wound “1969” Custom Shop pickups. I sanded the back of the neck lacquer some, so it was nice and comfortable. Once it was all together, I gave it to Victor Krummenacher for his birthday! He recently got it refretted (finally!) and I played it at a party at his house before I moved away, it’s currently awesome.

I wanted to check out the newer Strats and found a cheap 1999 one on Craigslist. It’s currently used as a Camper Van Beethoven back-up instrument. It’s pretty sterile, even though it’s Inca Silver colored! Plus it now has Mojotone 1959 pickups in a modern black pickguard, to make it more useful.  I think that the newer models (post 2010) may be better, better bridge and pickups at least. Who knows. Greg Lisher has been using one and it seems great! I know many people laugh at the idea of people spending tons of money on old instruments and say that the guitars are made the same way (some are, some aren’t) and the machining is better now, etc. Luckily for me, I guess, my instruments are not worth much due to being so far from stock and made of parts of various guitars. But I have never played a newer instrument that matches the feel nor tone of these guitars. Recently CVB and Cracker did a show at the Chicago Music Exchange and I got to play some amazing gear, here is a Cracker song where I’m sitting in on a 1961 Stratocaster that was my pick of the batch. Only $22k!

One last postscript:

This is a rare-beyond-rare Stratocaster. It's made entirely out of rosewood, it weighs like 11lbs. It was made by Fender in 1969 for Jimi Hendrix, when they made George Harrison his rosewood Telecaster. Apparently it never reached Jimi before he died. It lives currently at the Chicago Music Exchange, in the vault.

This is a rare-beyond-rare Stratocaster. It’s made entirely out of rosewood, it weighs like 11lbs. It was made by Fender in 1969 for Jimi Hendrix, when they made George Harrison his rosewood Telecaster. Apparently it never reached Jimi before he died. It lives currently at the Chicago Music Exchange, in the vault.

Ok, enough about Strats. I’m not stopping there, though!

musician. real person. that's my real name, go ahead, look me up.

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Posted in Guitar, Music
3 comments on “The Stratocaster, part 2
  1. dave says:

    This version of One Fine Day is my favorite! And I always loved the strat tones on it.

  2. […] one from someone but never got around to figuring out who had one around, so I ended up playing my tour-strat, the ’62 reissue. Not my favorite guitar, but it sounds pretty good with the Fralin pickups. […]

  3. In Fender Stratocaster pickups before 1974, the magnets, the poles in the pickups, are different lengths, a staggered set of heights below the …

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