Is this the earliest Corona Strat ever seen ?
A little bit of Fender history –
After a somewhat inglorious run as owner of the Fender brand from 1965 to early 1985, CBS agreed to sell the brand to a management buyout headed by Bill Shultz, to be named Fender Musical Instrument Company (FMIC).
During 1984 CBS built the “Standard” Strat (that 2-knob version with the output jack on the pickguard), the 3 or so Elite Strat versions (regular, gold, and walnut), the ’57 reissue, and a ’62 reissue through to the end of that year. CBS finally shut down the Fullerton Fender plant and sold the Fender brand to FMIC in February 1985. The sale did not include the old Fullerton factory so FMIC had to build a new facility in nearby Corona.
Production of American made Fender instruments ceased for much of 1985, as the newly independent company moved from Fullerton to the new facility at Corona, California. FMIC retained a number of the best and most experienced builders from Fullerton, and transferred them over to Corona to train the new staff. They took with them some of the very best components – mostly vintage reissue parts including bodies, necks, hardware & electronics – from Fullerton to Corona to use in their training of the new Corona crew.
Most people assume a 1985 Fender Strat is Made in Japan as there were so few American ones made that year. As one forum post says – “1985 Strats are probably rarer than ’54’s.” This is because around 4 people built about 10 guitars a day when the Corona plant first fired up in 1985.
Fender has stated that the first Corona Strats were created by this new team in October 1985. However, in our research we have only been able to find records of 1985 Strats dated to November that year.
BUT — this particular Surf Green ’57 Vintage Reissue Stratocaster # Vxxxx81 has a neck date of 17th October 1985.
We believe it may be the earliest documented USA built Fender Strat to come out of the Corona factory. It was made using Fullerton parts, by a new team of builders overseen by the steady hands of some old guard Fullerton Fender craftsmen.
But, is it a good guitar ? Why YES, it’s a beauty – the ultimate surf music machine! A ’57 Vintage Reissue Strat in the coolest Fender colour ever. How many Surf Green AVRI Strats were built in 1985 ? We think the answer is one – and this is it.
Seriously, it’s one of the best sounding Strats we’ve had here at PREMIER GUITARS – clear, focused tones, with a particularly rich sounding neck pickup, plenty of bite from the bridge p/u, and lots of pop from the in-between p/u settings. Everything you could want from a classic Strat.
It features a super comfy, slim C profile neck, medium size frets on a maple fingerboard, a single ply white pickguard, vintage style tuners, bridge and saddles, a three way switch, and three great sounding pickups. There is a little wear showing on the fretboard, but nothing bad. The frets show very little wear at all.
Weight is 8.3 lbs
Most importantly, it features the deep body contours which are a hugely appealing feature of the now very collectable and expensive late Fullerton era Strats.
The finish shows some lovely natural striations that can be seen in a certain light, which add to the wonderful vintage vibe of this one-off instrument.
This is a super rare piece of Fender history – possibly the first Stratocaster to come out of the company’s Corona factory. Certainly it is the earliest dated example that we can find in existence right now. And it’s in 100% original condition.
Beside all of the above, it is a fine guitar to play. It has been looked after, and treated with the respect deserved for a significant instrument in the chronicles of the classic American electric guitar.
Comes in its original Fender hard case in good condition.