Fender 60th Anniversary American Vintage 1954 Strat

Back to the beginnings of the renewed electric

60 DAYS OF STRAT: Here's where it all started! Although looking like any other Two-Colour Sunburst, maple-necked Strat, the Fender's 60th Anniversary American Vintage 1954 Strat differs in certain respects. The headstock edges are rounder, as are the pickup edges; the polystyrene knobs and selector-switch tip are slightly stockier than on later versions, too.

"Early Strats in general had deeper body contours; Fender is spot-on with the '54, and it instantly feels 'right'"

Early Strats in general had deeper body contours; Fender is spot-on with the '54, and it instantly feels 'right'. It looks great in flash-coated nitro lacquer, too.

The body is two-piece, side-jointed ash, but so expertly have the pieces been joined that it took us minutes to locate the faintest line running under the jack socket.

Pickups are newly designed 1954s, and Fender says they sing with the tone of the originals. These would have been mated to a master volume, two tones and a three-way switch; however, the more usable five-way is fitted and the former is supplied, should your vintage sensibilities win out.

Although possessing a fairly fat neck, it's also incredibly comfortable, filling the palm and seeming effortless to play. In hindsight, Fender got it right with the 7.25-inch radius, as playing barre chords doesn't tire the hands, and pushing string bends 'up the hill' makes real sense.

Limited to a run of 1,954 units, the American Vintage 1954 looks set to become a collector's item. And that's a shame, because it cries out to be used and abused, gain dings and dents and become a patina-laden musical instrument - not a pristine museum piece!

Sounds

To test the guitar, we went through our house AC15 with no outboard trickery, so any differences belong to the instrument itself.

"If you know what a great Strat sounds like, then picture it in your mind, and this is it"

We tested this American Vintage alongside it's 60th Anniversary sister models - the Mexican-made Classic Player 50s Strat and the American Standard Commemorative Strat - and this sat sonically in the middle of our trio: darker and more rounded than the Commemorative and brighter than the Classic Player. If you know what a great Strat sounds like, then picture it in your mind, and this is it. Better still, check it out on the video demo.

What better accolade to Leo and Freddie's design - that the present company can remake it as closely as this, and still it sets pulses racing and fingers flying? It marked the art of the maverick genius back in 1954, and it marks the art of musical instrument production engineering today - albeit laced with real heart and soul.

MusicRadar Rating

4.5 / 5 stars
Pros

Excellent build quality and finish. Wonderfully balanced tones. It just feels right.

Cons

It's a future collector's edition - and priced to fit.

Verdict

This is where it all began - there wasn't much wrong with it then, plus it's even better-built now.

Country of Origin

USA

Available Finish

2-Colour Sunburst (as reviewed)

Fingerboard Material

Maple

Guitar Body Material

Ash

Hardware

'Nickel chrome' vintage vibrato with bent-steel 'Patent Pending' saddles, vintage-style tuners

Neck Material

Maple

No. of Frets

21

Nut

Bone

Scale Length (Inches)

25.5

Scale Length (mm)

648

Weight (kg)

3.63

Weight (lb)

8

Circuitry Type

Volume and two tones (tone works on bridge pickup), 5-way switch

Pickup Type

3x Fender special design 1954 single coils

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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