First year Stratocasters are always a pleasure to host at ATB Guitars whenever we get one. This one has grain that will blow your socks off and has all the important ingredients for a classic 54 Strat together with a stunning re-finish to help keep the price keen...
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First year Stratocaster anyone..?
This is 1954 Stratocaster serial number 0926. In 1954 or early 1955 a Mr Al Lancaster from the band The Cavaliers was treated to a very special present from his wife Irene. She worked out a deal with the local music shop ‘Walter D Moses’ in Richmond, VA to trade Al’s Telecaster for this new fangled ‘Stratocaster’ guitar they had just got in. Al seemed pretty chuffed with the deal (other wives/husbands please take note :-) and used it extensively, including on TV, right up to the mid 90’s when it was passed down to his son, Daniel who has signed a letter outlining its ownership.
Daniel held on to it until around 2015 then after 60 odd years in the same family, it was sold to someone he seemed to know according to the letter. Included are many images of Al with this guitar, together with some info, flyers etc on his band.
The grain alone is enough to stop traffic and if that doesn’t do it the sound from these pure, first generation pickups certainly will. The refinish was carried out a while ago and has been done extremely skilfully and sympathetically, with care taken not to obscure or lose any artefacts that prove its originality
There is evidence of some minor repairs underneath the pickguard though some of these could be only superficial. For instance we have no idea what the three black circular marks are under the pickguard? They are not plugged holes and they are a very strange shape. It has has some other pickguard and backguard on it at some stage as there are some filled screw holes visible when these are removed and like the pickup covers, we are not certain if the current one is a period replacement or a high quality repro. Other tuners have been on at some stage but thankfully these have not left any impressions on the front of the headstock.
The neck has been refinished and refretted with the front of the headstock being saved from any refinishing work and there is evidence of the original finish all over other parts of the neck. The wear on the fretboard seems to be original with finish having been applied carefully over it following the refret. The neck date reads September 1954 with the initials of Tadeo Gomez. The body date is October 1954 pencilled inside the trem cavity. There is a piece of tape still in the control cavity marked as ‘Mary 10/22/54’
The plastics we think are correct apart from the pickup covers. These are either period correct replacements or very good reproductions with the originals in the case. The guitar came with many photos of the original owner playing the guitar with a dance band. From these photos you can see that the covers had the tops being cut off, probably as they wore away and started to get in the way of the strings.
Electronics are correct - pickups on original windings sound superb, original pots, switch and cap though the solder joint have been reheated, probably when the guitar was refinished.
Hardware is is in good condition with inevitable corrosion on the saddles. The bridge cover has been engraved by the wife of the original owner as its says ‘From Irene to Al’. A nice touch.
The guitar comes with its correct lacquered, centre pocket tweed case which looks like a classic, old ‘54 Deluxe.
It is not one of the lightest we have had here at 4.29Kg but regardless of the weight, this guitar is a joy to play and has such a fantastic tone. Its always amazing to hear these early examples and realise that Fender got it right from the very beginning. These early black bottom pickups have a much bigger sound than you would expect from a Stratocaster. There is a richness to the tone,without any of the brittleness that we so often associate with these guitars.
This guitar comes with quite an interesting story and though refinished it still retains the magic of the original. If you’ve ever thought that Strats aren’t for you, think again…
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