Fender Stratocaster, '60
Fiesta Red, Serial # 49005.
When the Fender Stratocaster was introduced in 1954, one of the main special features was a built in vibrato unit called the “Synchronized Tremolo”. A non-tremolo version was also available at about $30 less. A non-tremolo Strat (nicknamed “hardtail”) had the same string through the body set up as a Telecaster, except it kept a six-way bridge for better intonation.
Custom Color Strats were available almost from the beginning, but a standardized color list didn’t appear until 1961. The Custom Colors resembled the colors offered on automobiles at the time.
The example from the collection shown in this article is a Fiesta Red Hardtail Strat dating from 1960 (George Fullerton mixed up the first batch of Fiesta Red at a paint store in 1957). According to an early ‘60s Fender pricelist, a non-trem Strat cost 259.50. There was a 5% up charge for a Custom Color, so this Strat would have been about $272.47 (still $17 less than a sunburst tremolo version).
This Strat has a beautiful early “slab” fingerboard of Brazilian rosewood. The Kluson tuners on the headstock were replaced at some point with “double line” mid-‘60s Klusons. The undercoat below the Fiesta Red (seen through the scrapes and dings) is the color Desert Sand, which was the color of Duo Sonics and Music Masters. This color was often used as an undercoat for Custom Color guitars in the ‘50s and early ‘60s.
Hardtail Strats are seen less often than the tremolo versions, and are favored by Bluesman Robert Cray, and Rocker Ron Wood.