Unfortunately I don't have any true "vintage" Strat's in my collection. Even with the current downturn of the US Economy, prices of 50's and 60's Stratocasters generally start well beyond the $10,000 for instruments with original finishes, and the sky is the limit for pre-CBS era "custom colors" in good to pristine condition. I've seen several listed for $35,000 or more recently. I don't know if any actually sell for that much, but I know I'm in no financial position to even discuss the topic. In any case, I've always desired a classic Stratocaster, but the cost has always been well beyond what I'd ever consider spending for a single piece of musical equipment. This is quite honestly how I initially became interested in vintage Fender "offset" guitars... Jaguars in particular, as excellent original examples can still be found for around 1/3 the cost of a comparable Strat of the same era. Maybe if Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton would have chosen Fender's "top of the line" Jaguar instead of the Strat back in the early 60's, this value discrepancy between the 2 wouldn't be so obvious, but who knows for sure? All I know is that I still love Stratocasters, and own a ton of cool ones...even if none are actual "vintage" examples. I've decided to add them here anyhow, and hope you enjoy! -JB
1961 Dakota Red "Danocaster" Strat
1961 Dakota Red 'Danocaster' Strat
As a life long fan of the Stratocaster, I was in total amazement one day when I stumbled across Dan Strain's "Danocasters". Dan is a session player in Nashville, Tennesee, but builds amazingly authentic 50's and 60's replicas as a hobby. I think I spent most of that afternoon drooling over every guitar on his website, http://danocaster.com/ I discovered that his guitars sell within minutes of being offered for sale. I knew my odds were slim of buying one of these, but set out to find one of my own. The beautiful "Dakota Red" example shown here was actually one of the very first Stratocasters Dan ever built, and actually pre-dates the launch of his website by several months. It was built for a friend of his in California, and I was able to secure a deal to buy it. I talked to Dan about the guitar and discovered that this particular example has an original USA Fender slab board neck on it, and the very first set of "Rocketfire Total 60's" single coil pickups ever installed in a Danocaster. These have become the exclusive pickup of choice for every 60's Danocaster strat build ever since. I've been fortunate enough to add several other Danocasters to my collection, but this one is a "first" in more ways than one.
Black 60's "Freakin' Danocaster"
This was the second Danocaster Strat I added to my collection. I bought this from the first owner who had it custom built for him. It features a lightweight swamp ash body, an ultra thin layer of black nitrocellulose lacquer, a chunky quartersawn maple neck with a slab rosewood fretboard and 60's vintage appointments. This one included the now famous "Freakin'" Danocaster logo on the headstock. It was a creative play on the original Fender logo, and quite a conversation starter! Unfortunately this one is no longer in my collection, as I sold it to by the Burgundy Mist Danocaster featured below. I'm not sure where this one is today, but I hope whoever owns it is enjoying it as much as I did.
1965 Burgundy Mist "Danocaster" Strat
1965 Burgundy Mist 'Danocaster' Strat
This is another marvelous example of Dan Strain's work. I was admitedly never really a fan of "Burgundy Mist", but when I first saw photos of this one I knew I had to own it! This one was the first Strat Dan ever created with aged white neck binding, which really gives it an "upscale" look. Fender was rumored to have produced a handful of Strats with bound necks in 1965, as this was the year binding was added to the Jazzmaster and Jaguar with the takeover of CBS. The current Eric Johnson signature series Stratocaster also has this feature. I don't think I've ever seen a "real" bound-neck '65, but I believe I have the next best thing! This one has true vintage specifications, including a 7.25" radius fretboard, pearloid fret markers, Rocketfire "Total 60's" staggered pole vintage sized frets, 6 screw bridge, and Kluson tuners. As with all Danocasters, the aging is ultra-convincing, and everything from the tarnished saddles to the faded mint green pickguard and plastic bits look like they have 45 years of play wear on them. This one is sublime to play, and has such a nice "broken-in" feel about it. Take a look!
1964 Sonic Blue "Danocaster" Strat
1964 Sonic Blue 'Danocaster' Strat
This one is currently my favorite Strat. I am the original owner of this one and as with many of the guitars in my collection, it was a simple matter of being in the right place at the right time. I had been considering a Danocaster Tele, but was still a Strat guy at heart. I was conversing with Dan via e mail one Saturday afternoon, and asked if he had any 60's Telecasters in the works. He told me he had a few in the works, but was just putting the finishing touches on this Sonic Blue strat. He offered to give me "first dibs" on it, and after reading the spec sheet on it and viewing the pics, I knew the Tele would have to wait. This one has a 9.5" radius, which is a bit flatter than vintage, and larger 6105 frets. The body is a perfect weight, and is a rare 1 piece slab of alder. I asked him to set it up with .010 gauge strings and medium action, and when I recieved it I couldn't put it down for days! I have alot of guitars, but still play this one regularly. By the way, the strap is a vintage 1960's "Ace" brand woven piece, and a perfect compliment to the guitar. These were the strap of choice for countless guitar legends such as Hendrix, Clapton, Page, and others. I have since started a modest collection of these as well...but that's a story for another day.
Early 1950's Blackguard Esquire "Danocaster"
1952 Butterscotch Blonde 'Danocaster' Esquire
This is definitely the "oddball" in my already diverse collection of Fender-based guitars. Whenever you open up a book about the history of Fender Musical Instruments, odds are good one of the first pictures you'll encounter will be of a guitar that looks very similar to this one. Long before Leo Fender developed the Jazzmaster, Jaguar, Stratocaster, or even the Telecaster, THIS was the guitar that put him on the map. Just a flat slab of butterscotch finished ash, a bakelite pickguard, a couple of control knobs and a single pickup incorporated into a simple bridge plate with 3 brass saddles. The Esquire first went into full production in 1951, and turned the electric guitar world on its ear. This is a very faithful rendition, and is outfitted with a hand-wound Peter Florance "Voodoo" pickup in the bridge that sounds like nothing else I've ever heard. This guitar can do everything from Country twang to SRV, and is one of those guitars that you can't seem to put down once you plug it in. At under 7lbs, It's an lightweight screamer, and the "baseball bat" neck measures a full inch thick from top to bottom. It plays every bit as good as it looks... maybe better!