Fender Stratocaster Non Tremolo Solid Body Electric Guitar (1956)

Fender  Stratocaster Non Tremolo Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1956)
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Item # 9764
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Fender Stratocaster Non Tremolo Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1956), made in Fullerton, California, serial # 10339, two tone sunburst lacquer finish, ash body, maple neck, original tweed hard shell case.

This is a superbly original if worn-in early "Hardtail" Fender Stratocaster, built without the tremolo system that is one of the model's usual hallmarks. This Stratocaster dates to the beginning of 1956, less than two years after the model's introduction when it was the most futuristic fretted instrument on the market and a real showpiece for Fender. The ash body sports the rich two-tone brown sunburst livery that was the model's original stock finish, with the natural maple neck and white plastic trim.

While the less expensive "non-trem" option was advertised for the Stratocaster from the beginning, relatively few were actually ordered or produced as the tremolo model proved far more popular. The sound is actually rather different in detail as the slight natural "reverb" provided by the tremolo spring assembly is absent. The tone is a bit more Telecaster-like as it shares that model's through-body stringing, but the unique Stratocaster electronic response remains intact. "Hardtail" Stratocasters have remained a minority flavor through the decades but there are players who prefer them to the common tremolo models, and sometimes to any other guitar.

This guitar is a fairly early example of a non-trem Strat, the body dated 10-55 in the control cavity and neck 2-56 on the heel. This latter still has a round-backed profile, but with more dressed-away shoulders than the earlier models presaging the shift in 1956-7 to a harder "V" shape. As non-tremolo Stratocasters were not ordered all that often, it is not surprising this body sat in stock for a few months before being assembled into a complete guitar.

All hardware and fittings remain original including the Kluson deluxe tuners, early round string tree, single layer white pickguard and the chromed bridgeplate screwed directly to the body with stamped steel "Fender Pat.Pend" saddles. The somewhat fragile plastic pickup covers and knobs are also original, the volume knob worn a bit around the crown from decades of use. "Under the hood" it is also ALL original. The two visible pot codes are a matched 304-605, indicating fabrication in the 5th week of 1956. The "Chicklet" tone capacitor specific to this period and the switch, masking-taped wiring and solder joints all remain untouched. All three pickups are fully original and sound great, and the three-way switch has a very solid feel, selecting the "in-between" tones easily.

While this guitar has definitely seen some use it has managed to avoid the indignities many old Fenders went through like amateur refinishes, humbucker routs, jumbo refrets, and locking tremolos. This guitar plays very well and sounds spectacular, at just over 7 LBs it is fairly light for this period and has a rounder sound than some. While Stratocasters have been re-issued and "relic-ed" endlessly over the last decades, non-trem models are rarely reproduced. These "Hardtails" remain a breed apart, with their own intangible magic for the player looking for a subtly different sound. While not a cosmetically perfect example, this is a wonderful instrument remaining as Leo and his crew intended. This is a working tool and tone machine par excellence, a wonderful-feeling guitar with the weight of some history behind it.
 
Overall length is 38 1/4 in. (97.2 cm.), 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm.) deep. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.).

This is about as "genuine relic" as an old Fender gets; played, worn, and loved for years but never altered or abused over a long and probably eventful 65+ year life. There is a decent amount of wear externally, but the instrument remains beautifully original with no alterations or repairs. The thin lacquer finish is untouched original and shows wear overall including chips, scrapes, dings, and checking over much of its surface. The circular mark on the upper horn of the face from an apparent sticker removal is the most obvious spot, along with some heavy buckle wear to the back.

The neck finish has not ambered heavily as some have. There are wear spots down into the fingerboard wood mostly in the lower positions but no added finish. The back is partially worn down to the bare maple in the lower positions with small dings and dents overall. The frets appear original; the very small wire has been crowned down somewhat but they still play well. The headstock is comparatively clean but does bear a very small cigarette burn between the low E and A tuners. The Fender logo decal is very well preserved with no loss.

While the outside of this guitar is fairly well-worn, internally it is very clean. All electronic components including the pickups, pots, and wiring are intact with untouched solder joints and fully functional. The pickguard is surprisingly well-preserved and has never cracked or darkened appreciably. The early pickup covers show wear to the edges and some darkening on the faces, with a couple of tiny cracks visible on the bass unit. The bridge is fully original as well, the steel saddles showing some typical fairly minor corrosion.

This Stratocaster still resides in the original early-side-pocket tweed HSC, which is heavily worn but still intact and functional. The two end latches will close properly but the internal springs no longer flip them open. While we all love a clean '50s Fender, the ones with stories often seem to have the most soul; this is simply a wonderful guitar wearing its history on its sleeve that really comes alive when plugged in to that old tweed amp! Very Good + Condition.