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That Black Strat


I ordered another Strat.


For some reason I've always had an attraction to plain black Strats. Specifically, black body Strat with white guard and maple fingerboard on the neck.

However, it has to be the right black Strat.

I have owned a black Strat of this type before in the form of a Squier Classic Vibe '50s:

Good guitar? Yes. Great guitar, in fact. But the neck didn't agree with my fret hand, so it had to go...

...but that didn't take away me desire for That Black Strat.

Later on I acquired a Squier Affinity Stratocaster in Olympic White. I still have it, still love it. I also came to realize I really, really like the '70s era big headstock. Seeing that huge curved "STRATOCASTER" logo is just cool when done right. And the Squier does it right.

Now, of course, the be-all/end-all of big headstock black Strats in this style - aside from the originals of the late '60s and early '70s - is the Fender Custom Shop 1969 Stratocaster which is absolutely not cheap at all:


When you want the ultimate for a '69, that's as good as it gets. I consider it better than the originals because there's no way I'd want to deal with original tuners and electronics from the late '60s. As I write this in 2023, that literally means dealing with 54-year-old hardware. No thanks. Given the choice, I'd take the repro.

But why bother with that when there's this:


Yes, I bought one. It's backordered everywhere, so I have to wait for it.

Before getting more into that, I have seen That Black Strat more than a few times over the years.

In The Blues Brothers, you can see That Black Strat prominently displayed (seen above at top). It's not '69-correct as it is a '79 model with two string trees, but most of the look is there.

Ritchie Blackmore was known to play That Black Strat (either a '69 or '70) from time to time:

Ritchie Blackmore

Hendrix also played That Black Strat (again, either a '69 or a '70):

Jimi Hendrix

There are two supremely cool looks for the big Fender headstock with large logo treatment. The first is when that neck is attached to an Olympic White body, and the second when attached to a black body.

I already have the white version and decided now was the time to get the black.

Right now, the only way to get a truly affordable '69 Strat look is with the Squier Affinity Stratocaster in Olympic White or Black.

Does Fender have a regular production run guitar that commands this same look? There's only one, the Fender JV Modified '60s Stratocaster - but only in white because that's the only color offered. No black. And yes, JV means it's made in Japan, which is not a bad thing.

And no, the Fender American Vintage II '73 Strat doesn't count. On that one are two string trees, a 3-bolt plate holding the neck instead of 4, and no white or black color offerings - although I will admit the Lake Placid Blue does look great on that model. Still, that's based off a '73 and not a '69.

Also, no, the American Performer Strat doesn't cut it either because it has two string trees and no black on the SSS version.

The Squier Classic Vibe '70s Stratocaster doesn't get it right either, even though it's a great guitar on its own. There is a black SSS model, but it doesn't have the squared-off tuner buttons, pearloid (which I don't prefer) instead of white guard, and no maple fingerboard.

As for Fender Artist Series models, yes there are a few with the big headstock, but they either don't offer black or are configured in a way I don't like. There are four. The Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster (no black), Jim Root Stratocaster (black, but humbuckers only), Albert Hammond Jr Stratocaster (no black), and Ritchie Blackmore Stratocaster (no middle pickup by design!).

The FCS '69 and Squier Affinity are the only two that fit the bill.

I am happy Squier offers an Affinity Stratocaster in black. It's the inexpensive way to get the '69 look in the two colors that look best with the big headstock.

As mentioned above, Fender does have the JV in Olympic White that totally captures what a '69 is supposed to look like. I did in fact try that guitar out and yeah, it's nice...

...but it would be nicer if Fender had a Player Series Strat in black with the big headstock and single string tree, even if it were in FSR (Fender Special Run) form.

Until that happens - if it ever happens - I'll be happy with my Squier. Hopefully it will be a good one.

Published 2023 Mar 14

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