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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines


If you’ve ever wondered whether vintage tone is in the wood or the pickups, turn the page as we check out a pair of custom-colour pre-CBS Fender Stratocasters that may help settle the issue…

It’s always a treat to get our hands on a vintage Stratocaster, but here we’re really being spoiled. Both of these guitars are very special for entirely different reasons; one was owned and played by the golden-eared Eric Johnson and the other possesses a combination of features that may make it the only example of its kind produced by Fender during the pre-CBS era.


Gibson Les Paul Standards from the late 1950s are rare guitars. Flying Vs and Explorers are rarer still, and Modernes are so rare that some question whether ever existed at all. In contrast, Stratocasters from Fender’s golden era are seldom associated with rarity because they were made in such huge numbers – after all, ease of mass-production was kind of the point, and the genius of the instrument’s design.

Gibsons were made by hand, using painstaking traditional methods and the factory produced a very extensive range of models. Stratocasters are essentially flat pack guitars and Fender produced relatively few models, so what would make this 1963 example not only rare, but potentially the rarest of all vintage Stratocasters?

The most obvious answer is that it’s finished in Surf Green, which is a seldom-seen custom colour. But more thrillingly, the body appears to be korina – or African limba, if you prefer. It was only after its current custodian ATB Guitars acquired the guitar and removed the neck that the discovery was made.

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