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© Terry Cryer/CORBIS
As the 1960s rolled around, Fender's Stratocaster was six years old and for many Strat lovers - though they didn't know it at the time - the design had reached its evolutionary peak.
The rosewood fingerboard that first appeared in 1959 offered more playing comfort and warmer lower-mid frequencies than previous all-maple necks, while the three-ply pickguard and wider range of colours added lustre to Fender's otherwise utilitarian ethos.
A genuine early-sixties Strat - a good one, anyway - has an unmistakable feel and vibe. While modern remakes are often excellent, an A/B with the real deal confirms what all the fuss is really about.
Take the fingerboard edges, for example: they are rolled in a way that only a near half century of playing will achieve. They're also often very light, with a time-hardened, thinned and worn finish that's all but impossible to replicate.
The tonal effect of age is equally obvious - the best examples have an incredible depth and sweetness, but bite too, especially at the bridge pickup. Part of the 'magic' is in the blissful simplicity yet elegance of the design - still present on today's Strats - but the larger part is in the positive effects of age.
Leo Fender could never have predicted these Strats would ripen into the most desirable electric guitars of all time. You have to play one.
Price then: approx £329.50
Price now: £8000-20,000+