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.
What can we say, this guitar just oozes mojo. From the way that the three tone sunburst has faded and worn around the contouring to where the wood is exposed on the back just and the cigarette burn on the headstock, each piece tells a story of many hours playing time. There are marks and bumps all over the body, mapping out venous trial and tribulation over the years.
What is noteworthy is that the red dye hasn't faded very much. Fender used particularly photo-reactive dye in 1959. When exposed to UV light the red dye would fade, something thats more evident under the pickguard. This guitar seems to have escaped that fate.
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, also probably one of the last to have a neck date in 1959 too.. It has been refretted, fingerboard lightly sanded (a long time ago) and has a new nut and a new decal, probably due to the old one wearing off.
The pickguard, as with the neck, was soon to be changed at the Fullerton production plant so this guitar is one of the last to have a single-ply plastic guard. This has suffered a little crack near the selector switch but is otherwise in good shape. This can also be said for the other plastic parts.
The hardware shows signs of corrosion and wear though everything works well. The term arm, probably lost a long time ago, has been replaced with a modern one.
Electrically, the volume pot has been replaced at some stage with an early 60s pot. Everything else is correct including the black bottom pickups with the original formvar windings.
The guitar comes with its correct Tweed hardshell case.
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 3.36Kg.
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....