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Vintage guitar of the week #7 - 1966 Fender Stratocaster

There's just something about a red Strat that makes you really want it.

A '66 Strat is not cheap. In fact, it's the price of a new compact car. I'm not kidding...

...but that doesn't take away the desire to own it.

I don't have to tell you what a Strat from the mid-1960s sounds like, because you already know. Strats were used a whole lot to create some of rock's greatest hits of that era, so you know the sound of this guitar. And if you can afford it, then hey, go buy the thing.

Now if you can't afford that Strat (which wouldn't surprise me) but do really like the look, there are fortunately some cheaper new options.

Now before listing off those cheaper options, Candy Apple Red, commonly abbreviated as just CAR, is a great Strat color when the neck has a rosewood fretboard. I've seen CAR Strats with the maple board, and it just doesn't work. CAR is a metallic finish, and when put against a maple board, the look isn't really that good. But with the rosewood board, oh yes, totally works.

Oh, and here's a funny one: Fender currently (at the time I write this) does not offer an American Standard Strat in the CAR + rosewood style. In fact, they currently do not offer any red finish for a USA Strat at all. Weird, huh?

Anyway, here are the choices for a CAR Strat with rosewood board, from least-to-most expensive:

(Note: For each link below, all colors are shown, but you'll see the red in the listings.)

Squier Standard Stratocaster
Squier Standard Stratocaster

This is the only Strat from Squier in this color combo that has a mostly-traditional layout. It has a modern two-point bridge and 22-fret neck (like the American Standard,) but with the big headstock on it and modern sealed tuners.

Squier Vintage Modified Surf Stratocaster
Squier Vintage Modified Surf Stratocaster

(Note: The photo makes this CAR look a little purple-like, but trust me, it's not. It's CAR. I've seen this guitar in person and can absolutely confirm that.)

This is a non-traditional layout. The pick guard is pearloid and the pickups are lipstick style. However, that's nothing a loaded Strat pick guard can't fix quick, and then you've got the old-style layout back.

Fender Standard Stratocaster
Fender Standard Stratocaster

If I were in the market for a CAR + rosewood Strat, this is the one I would buy personally. It has the old-style 21-fret neck and 6-screw vintage-style bridge. The only thing I don't like are the sealed tuners (I prefer the slotted vintage style,) but that's nothing that can't be fixed up quick with a replacement set.

150821205205
Fender Classic Series '60s Stratocaster

With the exception that the headstock is slightly smaller, this guitar is almost identical to the real-deal '66 Strat. Everything is there from stem to stern, including the 7.25-inch fingerboard radius, tall/skinny frets and truss rod adjustment at the heel, just like the '66.

Fender Classic Player '60 Stratocaster
Fender Classic Player '60s Stratocaster

I know what you're thinking. "That's the same guitar as the Classic Series." No, it's not. The major differences between the Classic Series and the Classic Player is that the Player has a 12-inch fingerboard radius and a 2-point bridge instead of the vintage 6-screw. While it's really easy to think they're both the same (especially considering the names are so similar,) believe me, the Player is a totally different animal

Which would I get if I wanted one?

The Mexico Standard, as said above. I would have to swap out the sealed tuners for the vintage slotted style, and maybe a swap out of the tuners from bent steel to block, but that's pretty much it. That's the CAR + rosewood Strat I'd be most happy with, because the Standard is a very predictable, very easy player where once it's set up right, it provides many years of playing enjoyment - if the guitar is properly taken care of, of course. 🙂

Would I get an American Standard if Fender offered a CAR + rosewood version? No, I wouldn't, and for basically only one reason. The bridge. USA Standard Strats have the 2-point bridge and I prefer the older 6-screw style, which the Mexico Standard has.

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