1966 Stratocaster - Deluxe Closet Classic - Sonic Blue - Maple Fingerboard - 7.25" Radius
When you're given the opportunity to spec out a Stratocaster and someone tells you, "choose any option, from any year, in any configuration" you may find yourself presented with a unique set of problems. Your imagination tends to go straight for every strange and wonderful incarnation of the world's most celebrated guitar design. And as any Strat fan knows, there are far too many incarnations to choose from. So after you've sweated out most of the ridiculous triple-super-distortion, birds eye maple top, compound radius with black chrome hardware and mother-of-toilet-seat inlays ideas, tempting as they may be, you finally see the light.
The immediate thought was to make a pre-psychedelic paint job "Rocky". Rocky, is one of two identical 1961 Fender Stratocasters responsible for the majority of tones on, and among other wondrous hits, the Beatles Rubber Soul album. Looking through pictures of George Harrison's "Rocky" and it's twin played by John Lennon snapped during recording sessions from 1965, Sonic Blue was an irresistible choice. Just unusual enough to stand out, but entirely classic Fender.
Now why choose a post-CBS 1966 model base if "Rocky" was made in 1961? Two words: big headstock. At some point in the mid 1960s, Fender's brass made the decision to shamelessly make the Fender logo more visible. The easiest way to do that, was to enlarge the headstock to house a larger decal. This is likely another feature that would have many Strat purists up in arms. Too bad for them. That big headstock not only boosts sustain slightly, it also has a complimentary shape to the body that seems to balance the Stratocaster's overall look. Other 1966 appointments include the fabulous "Oval C" neck profile, which isn't especially rare, but very comfy and agreeable.
Possibly the most radical move here was the decision to do away with the rosewood wood fingerboard that would have been standard issue in 1966. There were two reasons for this, the first being we had exclusively selected rosewood fingerboards on all our Custom Shop guitars up until this one (because it generally rules). The second reason being that maple on a Strat is just sooo right. The cork sniffing argument of whether or not you can hear difference between the two most common fretboard options on a Fender guitar rages on, but I do believe that it makes the Strat's funky, sparkly, jangly tendencies that much more pronounced.
This guitar is finished off with the "Deluxe Closet Classic" treatment. That means the pictures here appear to show a brilliant, glowing nitro-cellulose clear coat with an untouched coat of Sonic Blue underneath. In person, there is a visible but subtle network of checking across the neck and body that nails that vintage vibe and instantly sets it apart from it's modern production-line counterparts. There's no question that this is the finest Stratocaster in the Sherwood collection.