Stratocaster Guitars

1954 Fender Stratocaster

Color: Lake Placid Blue, Rating: 9.00, $24,500.00 (ID# 01912)
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Born in '54
Refreshed in '63


1954 Fender Stratocaster


This guitar was born in July 1954… one of the first year Stratocaster's. It was purchased from the original owner in 1956 and played extensively through the late fifties and early sixties. By 1963 the guitar was 'quite well worn' and the owner wanted to continue to play on a maple fretboard so he sent the guitar back to Fender and asked them to refinish and refret the neck, and also to refinish the body in his favorite color, Lake Placid Blue - but he specified that they should keep all of the original electronics as he really liked the sound of the original 1954 pickups. The guitar was returned to him later that year (in a then new 1963 case). For all these years he believed that Fender had re-finished the original body - but in fact we now know that they replaced the body to match the then current eleven-screw 'green' pick-guard.

This 12 3/4-inch-wide guitar weighs 7.50 lbs. and has a nut width of just under 1 5/8 inches and a scale length of 25 1/2 inches. Mid 1963 solid alder body (with shoulder in control cavity), contoured on back and lower bass bout. Original July 1954 one-piece fretted maple neck with a medium-to-fat profile (with the pencil mark of "TG[Tadeo Gomez]-7-54"],  21 medium frets, and black dot position markers. Small headstock with Spring 1962 - mid 1964 decal with Fender "spaghetti" logo in gold with black trim, "STRATOCASTER" in black beside it, "WITH SYNCHRONIZED TREMOLO" in black below it, and "PAT 2,573,254   2,741,146   2,960,900" below that, and "ORIGINAL Contour Body" at the ball end of the headstock. Original 1954 Individual single-line "no-name" Kluson Deluxe tuners with oval metal buttons (stamped inside: "2356766 PAT APPLD"). Original 1954 single circular string tree. Original 1954 four-bolt neck plate with the serial number "1099" between the top two screws (one of the screws from 1954, the other three from 1963). Original 1954 Stratocaster black-bottom single-coil pickups with staggered polepieces (the "D" magnet being the tallest) with 1963 white ABS plastic covers. The outputs of the pickups are 6.15k, 5.52k, and 6.12k. Three-layer mid-1963 three-layer 'green' guard with eleven screws. Three original 1954 controls (one volume, two tone) plus original 1954 three-way selector switch, all on treble side of the pickguard. 1963 white ABS plastic knobs with gold lettering. Original 1954 six-pivot bridge/vibrato unit with through-body stringing. 1963 white ABS plastic tremolo backplate with oval string holes and six (1963) screws. The original 1954 potentiometers are all stamped "304 429" (Stackpole September 1954) and the original 1954 "CRL 1452"  three-way switch has three patent numbers and also "Made in USA" on one line. The white ABS plastic switch tip is from 1963. Complete with the original 1954 tremolo arm and later 50's/early 60's bridge cover. Housed in a 1963 Fender 'brown' hardshell case with dark orange plush lining (8.50).

The following 'factory' markings are visible under the pickguard and on the base of the neck and the neck cavity: The underside of the neck is stamped "2683"; the neck cavity is stamped "2681"; The body is stamped under the pickguard to the left of the control cavity and above the neck and middle pickups "LP BLUE". There is a small piece of tape in the neck pickup cavity with "16" written in pencil. This incredible guitar is in 9.00 exceptionally fine condition with just a few small surface chips on the back, a few on the edges and just four very small marks on the top - one on the bass side near the edge above the middle pickup, one on the bass side of the tremolo assembly and two small marks near the jack input.

When the Stratocaster was introduced in 1954 there was of course no Lake Placid Blue - or any other blue for that matter. This is NOT a 'Frankenstein' guitar which some previous owner has put together - in strict reality this is a Fender factory guitar from 1963 with the original neck and electronics from July 1954 - all done by the Fender factory in 1963. The sound is typical of a '54 Stratocaster and the neck is a little thinner (than a normal '54) due to the factory refinish. We have an all original October 1954 Stratocaster in our inventory and the neck width goes from 1.63 inches at the nut to 2.16 inches at the 21st fret. The neck profile goes from 0.90 inches at the first fret to 1.03 inches at the 15th fret. On this guitar the neck width goes from 1.60 inches at the nut to 2.13 inches at the 21st fret. The neck profile goes from 0.84 inches at the first fret to 0.97 inches at the 15th fret.

So in summary we have a beautiful Lake Placid Blue Stratocaster which sounds like a '54 Strat…
there were NO one-piece maple necks in 1963 so this is truly a very unusual instrument…

We have priced it realistically - the first serious player/collector that tries this one out will buy it!

"In 1954 the staggered height of the pole pieces - i.e. the length of the magnet slugs - ranked as follows: B-E (treble)G-E (bass) A and D strings from shortest to tallest. In other words, the D-magnet was taller than the G-magnet, but after 1956, they switched the heights and the G-magnet became the tallest." (A.R. Duchossoir The Fender Stratocaster p.56.).

"The Stratocaster was launched during 1954 [and was priced at $249.50, or $229.50 without vibrato]...The new Fender guitar was the first solidbody electric with three pickups [Gibson's electric-acoustic ES-5, introduced five years earlier, had been the overall first], meaning a range of fresh tones, and featured a new-design vibrato unit that provided pitch-bending and shimmering chordal effects. The new vibrato -- erroneously called a 'tremolo' by Fender and many others since -- was troublesome in development. But the result was the first self-contained vibrato unit: an adjustable bridge, a tailpiece, and a vibrato system, all in one. It wasn't a simple mechanism for the time, but a reasonably effective one...Fender's new vibrato had six bridge-pieces, one for each string, adjustable for height and length, which meant that the feel of the strings could be personalized and the guitar made more in tune with itself...The Strat came with a radically sleek, solid body, based on the outline of the 1951 Fender Precision Bass. Some musicians had complained to Fender that the sharp edge of the Telecaster's body was the Strat's body was contoured for the player's comfort. Also, it was finished in a yellow-to-black sunburst finish. Even the jack socket mounting was new, recessed in a stylish plate on the body face... the Fender Stratocaster looked like no other guitar around especially the flowing, sensual curves of that beautifully proportioned, timeless body. The Stratocaster's new-style pickguard complemented the lines perfectly, and the overall impression was of a guitar where all the components ideally suited one another. The Fender Stratocaster has since become the most popular, the most copied, the most desired, and very probably the most played solid electric guitar ever" (Tony Bacon, 50 Years of Fender, p. 18).

"Based on crosschecked information available today, production of the Stratocaster at a factory level probably began in March 1954. Asked about a date, GEORGE FULLERTON remembers that: 'It was no later than March 1954'…Shipments from the factory, however, did not take place until about two months later, as suggested by the circular then sent by FENDER SALES INC. to its dealers stipulating that 'SHIPMENTS ARE EXPECTED TO BEGIN MAY 15'…Although the Stratocaster was first advertised in April 1954, the FENDER sales force was probably keen to test its dealers' reaction (and take orders!) at the forthcoming NAMM show before committing itself to any production schedule. One the other hand, it certainly took some time as well for the factory to tool up and standardize manufacturing operations for the new guitar. Some Stratocasters were made in the first half of 1954, but they were basically intended for promotion, artist endorsement and also FENDER most daring dealers. According to FORREST WHITE, who was hired by Leo Fender in May 1954 as plant manager, full-scale production did not begin until October, when a batch of 100 guitars was first put on a single order by FENDER SALES INC. Yet, in July 1954, 200 unfinished bodies and 150 unfinished necks were already held in stock to meet initial orders. The earliest Stratocasters released in Spring of 1954 shared a few specific features which were later discontinued in the course of Summer. For instance, FENDER dropped the original control knobs after a few months and opted for slightly taller units with a different skirt. At the same time, the original pearl white bakelite material, initially used for the knobs and the pickup covers, was discarded because it often cracked. It was replaced by a 'mattish' and more durable white material, which remained in use until about 1956 before FENDER again changed in favour of white ABS plastic less prone to wearing off on the edges. The earliest pickup covers are characterized by their rounded edges and glossier appearance. The serial number was moved from the vibrato backplate onto the neck plate by the end of June, after the Company certainly realized that backplates were not always kept screwed-on by players wishing to do a quick restringing" (A.R. Duchossoir, The Fender Stratocaster, p. 14).

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