For many players, the Strat reached its apex in the early 60s. The reputation of guitars from this era among players was such that when Fender’s fortunes were waning in the early 80s, after buyers had become disillusioned with CBS-era Strats, a slab-’board 1962 model was selected as the basis for a new series of historically accurate reissues that helped turn the company’s fortunes around.
By 1963, however, the Strat had moved on again. To address production problems Leo Fender had experienced with slab-fretboard necks, he introduced round-laminate ’boards part-way through 1962, which entailed gluing a thin, curved layer of rosewood onto the top surface of a maple neck that had already been cut to the correct radius. It was a trickier piece of workmanship to complete and marked a new phase in the guitar’s development.
This battered but beautiful ’63 Stratocaster in Fiesta Red is currently on show at the vintage Valhalla that is Guitars: The Museum, a permanent exhibition that opened in Umeå, Sweden, in February of this year. The museum is also home to the ’54 Strat featured in our cover story (see p72) and a whole lot more besides. It’s a long journey north, unless you currently reside at the Pole, but
if you want to feast your eyes on this gorgeous slice of Strat history you could do a lot worse than pay a visit.