When CBS bought Fender in 1965, they didn't do too much to change the product line on day one, but over time, they started making changes – which many would say were not for the better. By 1966 the only significant change to the Stratocaster was a bigger headstock which, rumour has it, was done to make the Fender logo more readable on TV.
And yes, they went to the grey bottom pickups which some players prefer but overall, CBS really didn't change the Strat too much for a few more years. So even though the pre-CBS instruments are held in high regard, post 1965 instruments still hold a lot of that Leo Fender magic. Here is a case in point, a 1966 Fender Strat with the larger headstock, transitional logo, F stamped neck plate, rosewood fingerboard, Kluson tuners, and a lot more going for it.
And the best thing is that it appears to be in all original condition. We can see no changes to the nitro finish, electronics & solder joints, tuners or other hardware.
The original lacquer finish is stunning and has kept that deep nitro gloss that really accentuates the three shades of the sunburst. There are a few small dings & dents and some lovely natural ageing of the lacquer which all add to the character of an instrument well over 50 years old.
The neck too has retained its high gloss finish with only the slightest of fret wear around frets 2 to 5, but nothing that affects playability. The headstock shows no signs of wear and the bigger transition logo is nicely preserved.
The plastics are in great shape, including the nice flat pick guard with no splits. The electronics are all correct, the pickups grey bottom variety which are dated 20th July 1966. The pot dates are May 1966. Neck date is 1966 – the month stamp is imperfect, but we think July. All the solder joints appear undisturbed and everything matches up perfectly. Even the ashtray bridge cover is present and accounted for.
This is the first Strat we have listed from 1966, and they are almost as rare as those made in 1967. It seems the boffins at Fender then were more concerned with redesigning the venerable Strat into something that many Fender fans would soon not recognise, and would be based more on lowering production costs than aesthetics.
And we have read reliable reports that many Strats and Teles from late 65 and 66 were built from parts already in existence before the CBS takeover.
Whatever the story, what we have here is a well preserved vintage ‘66 Strat that delivers in every way – a piece of Fender history that, besides being very collectable, plays and sounds like a great Strat should.
Comes in its (we think) original black tolex Fender hard case in good condition.