Fender Stratocaster Solid Body Electric Guitar (1962)

Fender  Stratocaster Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1962)
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Item # 11721
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Fender Stratocaster Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1962), made in Fullerton, California, serial # 88856, Fiesta Red finish, alder body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

Fender Stratocasters don't get too much more iconic than this one, especially if one is a Hank Marvin/Shadows fan. It is a truly beautiful worn in but superb original Pre-CBS Stratocaster in Fiesta Red, one of Fender's most desired Custom Colors. It has been well played over the last six decades but nicely cared for with a beautiful patina and vibe to spare.

This Stratocaster dates to late 1962, just as the surf/instrumental rock era was about to crest. Custom color Stratocasters were always sold in far smaller numbers than sunburst, but the proportion was rather higher by the mid-60s. When this guitar was built the official Fender Custom Color chart was a fairly new item, first issued in summer 1961. Previous to this the option of non-standard "Custom Duco" finishes was noted in small print on the price lists at a 5% upcharge. This guitar would have been ordered through a dealer in the shade now codified as "Fiesta Red"; earlier than that Fender insider Bill Carson called this color "Cimarron Red".

Beyond the body finish this Strat shows typical later 1962 features. The neck is date stamped OCT 62 on the heel with the thinner rosewood fingerboard recently adopted, supplanting the thick "slab' board used from mid-1959. It is inlaid with "clay" dots that would be phased out in favor of pearloid at the end of 1964. The pickguard is the three-layer "green" Nitrocellulose that replaced single-layer ABS plastic in 1959. The neck carries the original smaller Pre-CBS style headstock with the older gold "Spaghetti" logo decal that was also replaced in mid-1964.

The finish on the body has been worn a bit over the last six decades but retains a strong red hue. The pots carry date codes of the 40th week of 1962. The pickups, wiring and solder joints are original and undisturbed including the masking tape used to secure the leads. All three single coil pickups have a strong well-defined tone, but a quirk of this Strat is it obstinately refuses to select the "in between" settings on the switch. True pre-CBS Stratocasters have long been a player's favorite, especially the custom color examples.

The Fiesta Red Stratocaster has a deeper cultural resonance in England, where it epitomized the rock & roll electric guitar to an entire generation due to the influence of Hank Marvin and the Shadows. Marvin's first Strat was a red maple neck model, but the band soon brandished a set of Fiesta red rosewood-board Strats (and a matching Precision Bass) that became their signature look and sound. To thousands of aspiring English guitarists the red Fender was the epitome of cool, and both the genuine article and numerous cheaper copies defined UK pop culture in the early '60s.

At the same time in the US the Stratocaster was still a popular model but had been supplanted by the Jazzmaster and then the Jaguar as Fender's top of the line. Many Surf'n'Twang, country and Chitlin' circuit players would come to favor these models, but the Stratocaster remained distinctive with its 3-pickup layout and unique trem system. Surf Master/Originator Dick Dale exclusively favored the Stratocaster, proclaiming he could not see why others would use anything else!

Today well into the 21st Century this remains a super vibey and great-sounding Strat, an example of what Fender's reputation was built on well before "things started a-changin" with the January 1965 sell-out to CBS. All early custom color Stratocasters are rare; this may not be the hardest to find hue but it is arguably the most classic of all.
Overall length is 38 15/16 in. (98.9 cm.), 12 3/4 in. (32.4 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.).

This Stratocaster has been well cared for but well played over 60+ years, reportedly mostly by a professional band leader in the far east. It remains a nicely original guitar, showing wear from use but still in fine playing condition. The somewhat fragile early Custom Color body finish retains very strong color with only minor fade. The lacquer shows an assortment of dings, dents, scrapes and chips but nothing really heavy. The instrument still presents better than many from this period, without large swaths of finish wear.

The neck finish is worn down to the wood over part of its length; it has that perfect "Played in Fender" feel that modern relicers attempt to artificially re-create. The fingerboard has some wear and the original small wire frets have been crowned down a decent amount. The headstock finish has some checking and chipping but it and the original decal remain largely intact; a couple of spots have flaked a bit.. The beautiful "green guard" has not shrunken up as much as many have; it has the typical crack by the neck pickup and some notching by the neck from truss rod adjustment, but all the tips are intact.

Internally the guitar is unaltered with untouched solder joints and all original components. The bridge saddles and screws have some typical corrosion but everything is fully functional; all the height adjustment screws are correct style but most of them were probably replaced along the way as they are less corroded. The trem arm is still in good shape; the trem is set up with the original five springs. The original plastic trem plate on the back is well preserved with a couple of small cracks at the corners; the chrome bridge cover is in the case.

While obviously used this Stratocaster is a cleaner survivor than many, and a considerable Fender rarity in this early solid color finish. It resides in a slightly later 1965-6 Fender black Tolex hardshell case. Very Good + Condition.