Now in its seventh decade, the highly versatile, sleek and supremely good-looking Fender Stratocaster defies its age in the most convincing and elegant manner.
In this post we take a look back at some of the earliest models of this iconic instrument and show you what they currently sell for.
The Fender Stratocaster as we know it was conceived in 1954. From March to September of that year Leo Fender, George Fullerton and Freddie Tavares experimented with a number of hand-made designs until the final first production version was released in October.
Mint condition (typical features): $77,000
1955 saw some minor production improvements, most notably a reduction in weight making it better to play.
Mint condition (Sunburst): $40,000
In 1956 Fender changed the wood used in the body of sunburst models from ash to alder. Guitars were also dyed instead of sprayed to apply the yellow tint to the sunburst models. The shape of the body was also modified with the U-shaped neck replaced by a soft-V shaped neck.
Mint condition (Sunburst, alder): $34,000
More minor changes were introduced in 1957 models including the use of ABS plastic instead of polystyrene, which was much more durable.
Mint condition (Sunburst): $34,000
1958 saw the V-shaped completely disappear replaced by a thin U-shaped neck. The sunburst finish also changed from two tone to three tone.
Mint condition (Sunburst): $33,000
More changes were introduced in 1959, most notably the replacement of the maple fingerboard for a Brazilian rosewood one (a wood that is now illegal to import to the US).
Mint condition (Sunburst): $30,000
Few major changes were made to the Stratocaster in the early 60’s. Then in 1965, Leo Fender sold Fender to the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) for $13 million. Following the sale, changes to materials and manufacturing processes started to noticeably reduce the quality of Stratocaster’s as CBS sought to increase profit margins.
Mint condition (1960, Sunburst): $26,500
1960’s - present
Hundreds of other variations of the Stratocaster have been produced since the CBS takeover, and continue to roll off the factory line to this day.
Browse all Stratocaster variations and prices all in our guitar database. Which one is your favourite?