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Fender Stratocaster Custom '69 Modded Large CBS Headstock Guitar

This is a Custom '69 Modded U.S. American Series Alder wood Strat with a Large Headstock CBS style neck that plays like buttah. It sports 3 Fender Custom Shop '69 pickups with gorgeous tone and has excellent position 2 & 4 quack. It also features the highly renowned Callaham steel bridge block and vintage saddles for extra sustain. The original small vintage style headstock maple neck was replaced by a super cool Hendrix-Trower style CBS headstock All Parts Fender Licensed maple neck with rosewood fret board, with Fender period correct "F" tuners. It was finished and setup by Stevie B., a top PA Luthier to mid-to-late 60's specs complete with an authentic, period correct Fender logo as seen on the Fender Custom Shop '69 Stratocaster and was then finished with a silky smooth clear lacquer. The truss adjustment was professionally notched into the pickguard and body for easy access as Jimi's were and as is the Fender Custom '69 Stratocaster.

The rosewood fret board has a beautiful "woody pop" to it (Think Castles Made of Sand - hear sound clips below) and the Jimi Mojo it possesses is downright scary! The finish is Olympic white, which is the same color as Jimi's Woodstock Strat. For any early Hendrix tones such as the "Are You Experienced?", "Axis Bold As Love" and "Electric Ladyland" eras where Jimi used rosewood fret board Strats almost exclusively, this is an absolute dream machine! It has the same "U shaped" neck radius as the Fender '69 Custom Shop Strat and while it feels a bit meatier than the thin C profile necks, it is nowhere near as fat as the '70s style necks which I found difficult to play. This one has just the right amount of wood to easily wrap your hand around for a fast action and it has a light and airy pop to the rosewood and especially gets that Jimi twang when pinch harmonic picked on positions 2 & 4. It has period correct vintage style frets, which incidentally, are just as easy to play as jumbo contrary to what some say. In fact, most tone fanatics know that vintage frets allows you to get that "woodier Jimi" tone than the jumbo frets which can sound harsh and metallic. Yes, this is a pure tone machine for early Hendrix, Trower, or Stevie Ray "Hey Joe", "Wind Cries Mary" cleans to roaring "Purple Haze" and "Bridge of Sighs" type sounds.

What really makes this guitar exceptionally sweet, is since the Alder wood body is from a 2003 U.S. Made American Series Strat (which I purchased new for $850), it has the more stable 2 pivot Tremolo bridge. However, to get the true Jimi tone you need the vintage steel type saddles! The problem is that the vintage style 6 screw bridge trem plates can easily send a Strat out of tune due to the uneven tension when the trem bar is depressed, plus they lacked some of the sustain that a newer 2 pivot Strat has. Here's the difference!  This particular trem has the best of both worlds and more, because the trem block itself was upgraded from the cheap non-magnetic, low mass, zinc alloy that Fender has been using since the early 70s to cut manufacturing costs; to the highest quality solid steel Callaham block (see link below).

In addition, the cheaper block cast alloy saddles that Fender used were replaced with Callaham's (expensive) new custom steel vintage saddles which allows a modern 2 pivot bridge to function and sound exactly like the 60's vintage saddle tremolo system with greater sustain and harmonic content. So this baby sings with sustain and tone just like Jimi's Strat's did because it utilizes the same cold rolled, non-leaded U.S. Steel trem blocks exactly as Jimi's Strats had in them instead of the cheaper zinc ones or low grade composition copper infused leaded steels, that Fender started using shortly after his death to cut manufacturing costs. Those newer trem systems all sound dull and lifeless in comparison as the sound clips from the page off the link below will prove. Some even say this may be the reason why vintage Strats sound so much better than newer ones. So not only does this guitar have the same mechanical qualities as Jimi's guitars, but it has better stability and sustain from the 2 pivot system. I am certain that Jimi would have loved this setup because he was constantly battling going out of tune and had to arm wrestle his trem with 5 springs! I originally worried that changing the block and saddles from original Fender parts might affect the original tone but let me tell you, once you hear the difference in real high grade steel parts that were originally used, you will never own another Strat without immediately replacing these parts with Callaham parts as tone gurus from the top on down well know this to be true. Another fact is that Fender knew that Callaham was starting to make sense to a lot of tone chasers who started complaining to them about it, which is why they only recently brought back some steel in their newer trem blocks and started pushing it heavily in their marketing, but those are just leaded steel and you know how soft and dull lead is!

Another superior feature to the U.S. made Alder wood body is that it has shielding paint under the internal paint, unlike the Made in Mexico bodies that are paint on bare wood and need to be shielded or they hum like mad. It also has a fully shielded pickguard instead of the control cavity only and is vintage parchment in color to match the creamy Olympic white paint instead of the standard white used on the MIM models. The Olympic white does seem to have turned just a tad creamier in appearance since it was born in 2003 and has some light scratches and minor checking and light wear as well as a small paint chip missing by the neck pocket which occurred when the neck was removed to swap the original maple for the present CBS style  large headstock neck. A relic master would of course charge for this as a feature and you can of course look at it this way since Fender is now coming out with their road worn series that many are flocking to.

Other Unique Features Include: Fender Custom Shop '69 Pickups initialed by Abigail Ybarra who still working in her mid seventies at Fender has been winding pickups since the '50s and wound Jimi Hendrix's pickups in the '60s. However, what's unique about this set is that typically the middle pickup is not reverse wound, so you would normally hear the 60 cycle hum in position 2 & 4. On modern Fender pickups where the middle pickup is reverse wound, there is humbucking quiet in positions 2 & 4 with no 60 cycle hum. So to get the vintage '69 tone, you lose that. Therefore, the middle pickup has been reversed in pole polarity using the Stew-Mac magnet polarity reversal system and now it has the modern convenience of dead quiet in positions 2 & 4 while still retaining the full custom shop '69 tone that Jimi had. Anyone that tells you it sounds better with the added noise in those positions just plain does not understand tone because 60 cycle hum sucks and masks tone and sustain. This is why many go to great lengths to shield Strat body cavities to get rid of as much noise and hum as possible. Still, even with a slight hum that all Strats have, nothing sounds as good as a well intonated Strat!

Additionally, on the standard Fender Custom Shop '69 Strat you don't get 5 position choices at all because they only come with a 3 position switch! So you have to try to catch it in between to get those Stevie Ray or Jimi sounds "if" you can catch it in between on the fly and it still hums because the middle pickup does not have reverse polarity! This Strat has a 5 way switch and is dead quite in positions 2 & 4. So overall, it is better made to play by today's standards. It also has a high grade orange drop capacitor .047uF which is similar to what Jimi had in his black and white favorite '68 Strats and is a bit brighter sounding. Prior to and after 1968, .1uf capacitors were used which are darker sounding and may be partially why Jimi preferred those two famous 1968 Black and White Strat's tones best. Fender of course named the model the Custom '69 so as not to run into problems with the Hendrix estate as they had earlier when they came out briefly with a left handed Hendrix Strat which was near impossible to reach notes in the upper registers since the lefty body had no cut away up top.

Speaking of intonation, the nut is Corian which is actually harder than bone and gives a perfect balance of smoothness and bite. It is identical to bone tonally, but Corian is a much harder and stronger material that will last much longer than bone. It was professionally cut for perfect string height using lighter gauge strings. Also, the Callaham steel saddles were custom designed to work with 2 pivot trem systems so that there is no string overhang on the 1st string as sometimes occurs. It as the standard string tree and the neck truss rod has been seasonally adjusted so the intonation is spot on to Fender setup specs with no fret buzzing.

You could spend $2400+ on a Fender Custom Shop '69 Stratocaster with hum on all 3 (not 5 position) pickup positions, a dull leaded steel trem block or get this American Series Strat custom modded to as good or better specs with the same late 60's vintage look and exceptional tone for a lot less!

Note: Strap not included but will include padded gig bag and guitar will be packed in hard Fender corrugated style shipping box and packed extra good!

Here's a few badly recorded sound clips that really don't do this guitar justice because of the inferior recording gear used but it should give you some idea of how it sounds. It was recorded using a Marshall JCM 800 50 watt combo amp set on 1 so there is no natural tube distortion that would allow this guitar to shine at it's full potential and the digital recorder was set a tad too hot so there's some digital distortion. Sorry but was in a bit of a rush and they aren't played perfectly either so please no emails to tell me how something wasn't played correctly. :-)

 
Belly Button Window - Neck Pickup Area 51 Wah clean (1.07 min. 1.02M)
Castles Made of Sand Intro - All 5 positions beginning with neck pickup to bridge (1:42 sec. 1.4M)
Hey Joe Intro - Neck then Neck-Middle Position 4 (1:21 sec. 1.24M)
Wind Cries Mary - Neck Position (1 minute 955k)
Voodoo Chile Intro - Neck Clean + Area 51 Wah (24 sec 351k)
Machine Gun - Neck using the new Way Huge Fat Sandwich Distortion pedal + Fulltone Deja 2 (Uni-Vibe clone) Master volume set on 1 so good fat distortion unable to attain at such low volume.
(2:43 - 2.5M)

 

3 Fender Custom Shop '69 pickups with .047 Orange Drop Capacitor

Callaham Steel Vintage Saddles no rough screw edges!

Callaham SCold Rollee Non-leaded Steel block baby!

Made in Corona CA USA!

Notice truss adjustment bevel access

No 26, 2003 build

light wear from arm on rest lightened paint slighty at bend

hairline crack

 

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The Straps are Hendrix Vintage Stained Glass and 67 Stars both Jimi wore with this type of Strat throughout the Are You Experienced?, Axis Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland periods. Some pics of Jimi below...

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