WHAT CAN i say about Leo Fender’s 1954 creation that has not been said before? Well, stop me if you’ve heard this one, but… My first Strat was white, small peghead, slab rosewood ’board. That marked it out as 1959-1962. The body was alder, heavily contoured, and its celluloid pickguard was green, which signalled a similar era. But it had a 1967 serial number on an F-stamped neck plate. Curious. Curiouser, the pickups were a different vintage to both, so my Fender Stratocaster was made of potentially three different guitars.
What’s more, it had been used as a leftie, played upside down! The nut had been turned around, and it had a second strap button on the lower horn. Now, I could never prove anything, but I bought it the year after a certain upside-down-Strat-playing legend (and known ‘tinkerer’) died. And at that time, how many such Strat players were there, or could afford to buy three and make ‘bitsers’ out of the parts? As I say, I have no proof, but the evidence is compelling. Sadly, mine was a bit of a dog; the neck wouldn’t stay straight, as if the truss rod was loosening; I adjusted it to its limit and still it kept bowing. The pickups were weedy, too, and although it looked great (as you can see in the hands of that skinny Woodstock reject below), I got rid of it and bought a Les Paul.
Since then, I’ve owned Strats old and new. On stage, they just work for me; and although I don’t use it live much any more, I’ve had my blue ’63 for over 20 years; it’s appeared on the cover of GT and Guitarist and, unlike the ‘JH’ one, is a brilliant instrument. Got any great Strat stories to share? I’d love to hear them!
This month’s big Strat feature shows just how versatile the model has been over its 60-year lifespan. If you can manage all 60 licks, video yourself, post it on your Facebook page, send me a link and we’ll share it on social media and on musicradar.com.
Lastly, check out our great offer on page 8 – get a free Apple Newsstand version of GT and start enjoying all the interactive features – such as the audio synched with animated tab – on your iOS device. GT seems made for the tablet format, so please do try it out. And I’ll see you next month…