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The reason for the skunk stripe on Fender necks with rosewood boards

Fender Player Stratocaster

In a video I made about a Squier Telecaster some months back, I said that an oddity about the guitar is that even though it has a separate piece of wood for the fingerboard, there is still what's known as a "skunk stripe" on the back of the neck.

For those of you not aware of how necks are constructed for Stratocaster, Telecaster and other Fender electric guitar models, here's a quick rundown:

A single piece maple neck requires the truss rod to be installed from the back of the neck. A channel is routed out, the rod is installed, then the channel is traditionally filled with walnut. Since the walnut has a much darker look compared to the maple, this results in a very pronounced stripe on the back of the neck and is commonly nicknamed a skunk stripe.

A two-piece maple neck however is a different story. Instead of the truss rod being installed from the back, it's installed from the front. A channel is routed out, the rod is installed, then the fingerboard (made of rosewood or pau ferro or other wood) is installed on top of it. No skunk stripe should ever appear on the back of the neck since there was never a channel routed through the back for it...

...but yet this stripe still happens on some modern Fender electrics.

Shown by example

Example #1: Fender American Original '60s Stratocaster

Fender American Original '60s Stratocaster

Strats labeled as '60s models have two-piece necks because that is how Fender was building them then. No skunk stripe exists for this two-piece neck, which is how it's supposed to be.

Example #2: Fender Classic Player '60s Stratocaster

Fender Classic Player '60s Stratocaster

While being a Fender Mexico build, once again this is how the back of a two-piece Fender neck is supposed to look.

Example #3: Fender Made in Japan Traditional 60s Stratocaster Midnight

Fender Made in Japan Traditional 60s Stratocaster Midnight

This Fender Japan build also has the correct neck construction for a two-piece build. No stripe, just like it should be.

Example #4: Fender American Professional Stratocaster (with rosewood fingerboard)

Fender American Professional Stratocaster (with rosewood fingerboard)

Now we see a skunk stripe on a Fender guitar neck where there should be none.

All Fender American Professional Stratocaster guitars have this stripe as do the American Performer and Mexico made Deluxe models. It doesn't matter whether the neck is one-piece or two-piece with rosewood, ebony or pau ferro. That stripe will be there.

Does the skunk stripe existing on two-piece necks cheapen the guitar?

No. Fender has been making necks on the majority of their electric guitars this way since 1972.

So if you think to yourself, "I'm not buying a Fender that had cost cutting on the neck done to it!", consider the fact Fender has been doing that for almost half a century.

However, if you're a stickler for such things and really, really want the traditional construction for the two-piece neck that doesn't have the stripe, purposely seek out a "60s" model.

Alternatively, just look for Fender guitar models that have Original, Classic or Traditional somewhere in the name, and the back of the neck should be stripe-free.

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