The last to have a one piece maple neck and single-ply guard, the 1959 Fender Stratocaster...
The end of the decade brought about some more dramatic changes to the aesthetic of the Stratocaster as Leo continued to tinker with his second 6 string child. 1958 had brought about the three-tone sunburst finish but 1959 brought about far more changes. These included the now infamous Nitrate Cellulose pickguard, rosewood ‘slab-board’ and a few more minor behind the scenes things, enough changes in fact that this could be the true second incarnation of the Strat.
This guitar just oozes mojo. There is cool wear on the body though miraculously the finish hasn't faded very much, a rarity as the red dye used was particularly photo-reactive during this period. The back bears the scars of hours pressed up too close to a belt buckle but again the colours are still wonderfully vibrant. The body date reads February 1959.
The neck date reads April 1959 which makes this one of the last few Stratocasters to leave the factory with a one piece maple neck and one of the last in 1959 to have any date at all on the end of the neck as this was suspended mid '59 to early '60. It has been refretted and has a new nut. Thankfully no one decided to refinish the neck and the headstock has not been touched
The hardware shows signs of corrosion and wear though everything works well.
Electrically, everything looks correct with the only sign of solder disturbance being the middle pickup which required a single wind, peel back repair to get going again. The pot dates read January 1959.
The guitar comes with a period tweed hardshell case which may be a tad earlier than the guitar but equally may be the case the guitar was sold in. The outside covering is in pretty rough shape but it is structurally sound.
This guitar is a real pleasure to play. The neck is comfortable and not as thin as they got later in the same year. The black bottom pickups have such a clear and three dimensional tone without any of the harshness that later incarnation of these pickups produced. It is a nice lightweight one too at just 3.38Kg.
You’ve got to love this guitar for the looks alone, and when you get your hands on it you won’t want to put it down. Don’t hang around though….