The 1960’s were a very special and unique time for the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. The “Summer of Love” was in swing, and Fender instruments were at the forefront of the accompanying soundtrack to this global cultural shift. From the Beatles, to the Yardbirds, to Jimi Hendrix the Fender Stratocaster was ubiquitous. A guitarist wielding a stratocaster was almost a necessity to be considered a successful music group.
Fast forward to 2022, we have the incredible fortune of taking in a collection of vintage instruments from a very special long-time customer and friend of ours. In doing so, an artifact for such a pivotal moment in music culture has come to Truetone, an all original 1966 Fender Stratocaster.
When I first saw the guitar I was baffled, I thought it was a new Custom Shop, or some new yet-to-debut relic series. For being 56 years old, this guitar is in great condition. Unplugged, this guitar is already “that sound” but when plugged into an amp, simply strumming the guitar takes you straight back to the ‘60’s.
The pickups are lower output per the norm for the era, but fret not. Through an amp with some slight break-up it’s those perfect not quite clean, not quite dirty John Frusciante tones. Crank the gain, turn up the volume, throw on a fuzz and it’s instant Hendrix.
A lot of vintage strats pass through our doors but few have the playability and are as visually appealing as this one. Fender was purchased by CBS in 1965 which would usher in a “transition era” for the company and its instruments. While there’s a bit of a “reputation” with pre, and post CBS Fender guitars, this guitar is a fine specimen exempt from the criticisms that purists tend to levy at the era.
This 1966 Strat only has a few of those transitional features, a larger headstock, different “logo” but retains the hallmarks of what made those original Stratocasters so legendary. A resonant alder body with an exquisite sunburst, and rosewood fretboard with a neck that practically plays itself. Now, the only thing that prevents this strat from being 100% original is a replacement backplate, and tremolo arm. (Two commonly replaced parts).
We’ve had a ton of Strats here over the years, but this one in particular is as much a player as it is a museum piece.
Video and photos by Rob Leonard