Here’s a vintage 1963 Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. This particular example, serial number 99698, is in good original condition and includes the original Brown tolex hard shell case, as well as, the original tremolo arm(whammy bar)! This worn pre-CBS Strat has that perfect patina; with decades of exposure to second-hand smoke from late-nite bar gigs, a large area of buckle rash from a Lynryd Skynryrd inspired clothing ensemble, endless hours of authentic neck and arm wear from committed and consistent use, and just the right amount of dings and dents from careless, if not drunken, neglect, this is an original ’63 Strat with more mojo than every entire Fender Relic combined. The genuine vibe is incredibly attractive, and is most certainly reminiscent of those used by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Rory Gallagher, John Frusciante, John Mayer, and Kenny Wayne Shephard, all of whom are famous for playing significantly distressed Sunburst Strats. This particular spaghetti logo, small headstock, clay dot, green guard, black bobbin pickups, cloth wire, 3-tone Sunburst, pre-CBS Stratocaster is of the same elk as those used by the aforementioned masters.
Serial Number: 99698
Neck Stamp: 2 FEB 63 B
Body Date: 4-63
Pot Codes: 19-7723 (Replaced in ’77)
Weight: 8 lbs.
Pickup Resistance: 6.76Ω (bridge), 6.35Ω (middle), 5.85Ω (neck)
The guitar sounds incredible and feels fantastic. The neck profile is from Fender’s golden era. The early slab board necks produced between ’59-’61 are too thin at the nut, and have an odd slim-taper profile, however, around ’62-’64 the rosewood cap board necks become much more ergodynamic in a sense, with a bolder profile at the nut and less of a deviation between the depth at the 1st and 12th frets. Effectively, this neck shape is not just extremely comfortable in every positiion, it is also mor conducive to enhanced playing. Similarly, the black-bobbin pickups from this era are beautiful with regard to tonality and rich overtones.
Even though this guitar was used by the same player for nearly 30 years, the only alterations performed were the replacement of the pots. Aside from the original pots being removed and replaced in ’77 by an SF luthier, the guitar is otherwise 100% original with no other modifications.
The original neck still retains original finish and all original hardware, including original frets, original finish, the original decal, etc. The back of the neck is heavily worn, revealing the maple wood underneath the nitro clear coat. But it is this that makes it feel so incredible. Like the comfort and familiarity of a seasoned baseball glove, a neck with this caliber of wear feels better than any instrument imaginable. Similarly, the original frets are quite worn, and at some point it appears the original nut was slightly sanded to accommodate the lower fret profile. While the guitar is playable, it would most definitely require a complete fret replacement for optimal playability and intonation, at which point the nut would need to be shimmed or replaced as well. Since it appears the frets were dressed at some point many years ago, the guitar is playable, and quite enjoyable with the Pyramid .009s currently installed, but it will need a pro setup to be considered a real player.
The body reveals wear all over: from significant dings on the side, the discoloration from arm wear on the face, and the notorious buckle rash on the back, the overall impression is very strong. With magnetic personality, the condition is what makes this guitar appealing. It has dings and wear in all the right places. It is not very sheen, and the finish has dulled from UV and smoke exposure.
The green guard has the typical neck pickup bass-side crack, but is otherwise intact and attractive. Not quite as mint-colored as it perhaps originally once was, the smoke has disguised the green color a bit, and it is now slightly more yellow. The corresponding plastic parts are also yellowed, but since the parts are not of the same celluloid nature, are still slightly more white in appearance.
The original brown case with orange interior is worn with the obligatory duct tape fix over the fatigued leather handle. Importantly, even though the guitar was clearly around smoke, there is no residual smoke odor, purely old guitar smell when you open the case.