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2014 Marks Stratocaster 60th Birthday


click image for close-up
January 1, 2014 - Updated February 25, 2014
It seems appropriate that our first 2014 post be a reminder that this year is the 60th birthday of the Fender Strat, introduced in 1954.

Note: Just to avoid any confusion, Fender's 60th Anniversary Strat models from 2006 commemorated the company's 1946 launch.


Besides Fender's '54 Strat Reissue models, we now have a 60th birthday model.

Claimed Prototype Strat owned by Eldon Shamblin
 In '08 I stumbled across the above pic at MySpace (remember MySpace?) posted by an Oklahoma based collector who claimed he acquired this Strat from the late great Eldon Shamblin, who told him it was a prototype given to him by Leo Fender pre-1954. Unfortunately, I have no cross references or links to fact check this, so take it with a grain of salt. Anyone reading this who has verification is welcome to post their data on our Facebook page (link below).

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_xWjoeLNcmQo/Rxjc-mOaEEI/AAAAAAAAA7I/0rLGMgM56Ck/s400/Strat_54_Gilmore.jpg
Ser# 0001 Strat owned by David Gilmour
The #0001 Strat is verified as the very first '54 production Stratocaster. It belongs to David Gilmour, and so there's valid info. available (Story & Links).

So, the most iconic & copied solid body electric guitar shape to this day, turns 60 years old this year. More iconic than the Les Paul? Simply search "electric guitar" in Google Images, and see/count the results. We also owe Hendrix over 10 years later, because the Strat was slated for discontinuation just before Jimi burst onto the scene. The short story is that Leo intended for the Strat to attract Jazz/archtop players, which it didn't. County players who had gravitated to Tele's, mostly stuck with them with very few exceptions. Interestingly, Eldon Shamblin, who loved the Strat, played Western Swing-- a genre combining Jazz & Country. Surf players dug the look of the Strat, but by the late 60's, Surf had declined on the Pop music charts. And Strat sales had also slumped dramatically.

 BUT THEN...

MARCH 18, 1967 - One day after the release of Purple Haze.

Since then, the Strat hasn't always dominated the market, but it has been greatly boosted along the way by SRV, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen and even John Mayer, besides earlier legends Clapton, Jeff Beck, Trower and Rory Gallagher. I think it's safe to say the Strat will be around for quite awhile longer!





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