Dating fender necks

Rosewood fretboards were standard on most other brands and were thought to give Fender’s space-age oddities a more traditional, classy look.

This Strat, with a neck date of 7/59, is one of the rare transition models with combined features of the maple-board and rosewood-board eras.

From Buddy Holly to Mark Knopfler, so many celebrated guitarists have used Strats over the years that the sleek, twin-horned outline of the Strat is as familiar as the back of your hand.

In fact, if you asked a child to draw an electric guitar there’s a high chance they’d draw something that resembled one, right down to the trio of pickups with one mounted at angle at the bridge.

So when Rod Brakes, proprietor of Vintage & Rare Guitars in Bath, showed us a very clean ’54 Strat in near-complete original condition, we took it as a cue to chart some of the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which this most familiar of all electric guitars has evolved since the earliest examples appeared.

ABOUT THIS SECTION The information in the table and text below the horizontal bar was compiled by Paul Bechtoldt, columnist for Vintage Guitar Magazine, and is included in his book G&L: Leo's Legacy.

So, we put a pristine original example under the microscope to uncover the intriguing spec details that set the earliest Strats apart from their latter-day descendants…Now here’s a curious thing.

About one year later, the numbers changed to a "CLF" prefix.

The prefix "CL" and "CLF" stand for "Clarence Leo" and "Clarence Leo Fender", respectively. The George Fullerton model, which when changed to 4-bolt neck attachment, continued with serial numbers using the prefix "GF", for "George Fullerton" until discontinued.

There was a lower priced Fender Contemporary Squier model produced as well.

The Fender Contemporary Stratocaster and Telecaster models were part of the Fender Japan E series model range.

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