Wow – what a find … a pre-rosewood neck 59 Fender Strat finished in Blond, and in fabulous vintage condition.
From Fender –
“Design changes implemented in 1959 were significant enough for models introduced later that year to be considered the “second incarnation” of the Stratocaster.
Most notably, the one-piece maple neck/fingerboard was replaced by a two-piece construction consisting of a rosewood “slab” fingerboard (so nicknamed later on for its thickness and flat bottom) glued atop the maple neck. Since the now front-installed truss rod could now by set into a channel routed into the top of the neck and then covered by the glued-on fingerboard, this design rendered the “skunk stripe” on the back of the neck and the “teardrop” plug on the headstock unnecessary.
These new rosewood-fingerboard models also replaced the black marker dots on the neck with new off-white “clay” dots.
In mid 1959, Stratocasters were given multi-ply celluloid pickguards with more screw holes (11) and a notable greenish tint (although some were given faux-tortoiseshell nitrocellulose pickguards). Other more minor changes took place (thinner aluminium shielding, thinner neck shape, a metal spacer added below the string tree, etc.); suffice to say that the Stratocaster was poised for a new decade with a new look.”
But this one has none of those changes. Fender introduced the rosewood slab fingerboard around May 1959, but the body date on this one is April 59, and the pots date to May 59. So we believe this is one of the very last 59 Strats built to the original spec of that year. It sports the one piece maple neck, single ply pickguard, skunk stripe and black marker dots of early 1959.
And it is finished in the custom colour of Blond, which makes this guitar most rare and appealing. Another quite unique feature is the red ink used on the control knobs. We have only ever seen this once before – on a late 50s Strat we sold some years ago.
We emailed dozens of photos to the acknowledged leader in the field of vintage guitar appraisals, Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, for an accurate objective assessment of this guitar in February 2022. This is what they sent us –
Appraisal by Gruhn Guitars - February 15th 2022
“I have examined the attached photos of the instrument described below, but have not seen the instrument itself. My appraisal is only accurate insofar as the photos are representative of the actual condition of the instrument.
We certify the instrument described below is, in our opinion, a Fender Stratocaster model electric guitar, made early in the year 1959.
Description: We have been provided the following information: “This guitar was bought in the 1990’s by a member of a high-profile Aussie band from Albert Molinaro, then at Guitars R Us in Los Angeles.” Serial number: 41477 – die-stamped on metal neck attachment plate.
The neck attachment plate serial number of this instrument could indicate a date of manufacture in the year 1959 or 1960, but is insufficient to indicate a definitive date because these plates were pre-stamped in large quantities and then used in random order so the numbers do not strictly correspond to the final assembly dates. They also can be easily changed and do not serve as an indicator of originality for an entire instrument.
However, the body date (“4/59” handwritten inside tremolo body cavity) and potentiometer manufacturing date codes (304 920 – indicates Stackpole potentiometers produced during the 20th week of the year 1959 – only the tone potentiometers are original in this guitar) are also consistent with this guitar being originally assembled in the year 1959.
Upon examination, we note the following modifications and condition issues: the tremolo arm and removable metal bridge cover are missing, and the volume potentiometer has been replaced with a part from a later period (e.g., based on the appearance of the potentiometer and the wiring harness leads with re-heated solder joints which connect to it).
Otherwise, this guitar appears structurally to be in excellent condition. The body appears to exhibit a factory-original custom-color Blond finish. The entire finish appears to be original and exhibits typical deterioration with lacquer checking, small impact marks, surface scratches, compression marks, edge-chipping and areas of complete loss on the neck rear, due to friction rubbing.
In other respects, this instrument conforms to the typical specifications of the model for the period in which it was made with double-cutaway ash body with custom-color blond finish (e.g., ash body is correct for use with blond finish - other body finish options were available) -
8-screw single-ply white plastic pickguard (use ends during July 1959),
Integral tremolo bridge/tailpiece assembly (non-tremolo version was also available – but is much less common),
Three single-coil pickups,
Three white “skirt-style” control knobs (e.g., with red color lettering – knobs with blue or green lettering have also been seen during the 1959-1960 period),
Three-position blade-type pickup selector switch,
Maple neck with adjustable truss-rod (adjustment at heel end of neck),
4-bolt metal neck attachment plate with die-stamped serial number,
Fender “spaghetti” logo peghead decal,
One rectangular “butterfly” string tree on 1st and 2nd strings,
“single line” Kluson Deluxe tuners with metal buttons,
21-fret integral maple fingerboard with black dot inlays (use ends mid-year 1959),
Nickel-plated metal hardware,
And other typical Stratocaster model appointments.
The instrument is currently housed in the original rectangular hard-shell case with tweed cloth exterior covering.”
About George Gruhn -
Gruhn moved to Nashville in 1969 after getting his bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and doing graduate work at Duke University and the University of Tennessee. In 1970, he established Gruhn Guitars, which is today one of the largest dealers of vintage and used instruments in the world. He is the co-author of Gruhn's Guide to Vintage Guitars, which is the comprehensive field guide to vintage fretted instruments, and the companion volumes Acoustic Guitars and Other Fretted Instruments and Electric Guitars and Basses. His articles have been published in numerous magazines.
So, there you have it. One of the most rare and desirable guitars we have ever listed here at PREMIER GUITARS in Sydney.
BTW - the trem arm and ashtray bridge cover are included – we just didn’t send Gruhn’s pics of them.
And does it play well ?? Why YES – it exhibits every ounce of sweet Fendery goodness you could wish for in a 50s Strat. It is a beautiful instrument to play, with tone and nuance to burn at every pickup setting.
This irreplaceable 1959 Stratocaster would be a pinnacle addition to any serious collector’s assemblage.
Comes in its original tweed Fender case in worn but good structural condition.