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Do 1975 and 1976 Strats exist?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by mikej89, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. mikej89

    mikej89 Senior Stratmaster

    May 12, 2016
    River Falls, WI
    Seems like you hardly ever hear about them or see them for sale... Was CBS production at an all time low then or something?
  2. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 27, 2018
    North Central NC
    I was just playing my '76 hardtail, and I've come across another couple owners on the boards. I've seen '76s and others around that year on eBay, sold for much more than I expected, too.
  3. Rastus

    Rastus Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 1, 2014

    R1. They're getting some age behind them now, & I'd suggest that folks that have them, are keeping them. You may not hear too much about them simply because of the stigma associated with the 1970's era guitars being inconsistent in quality, particularly with their weights & neck-socket sizes being over-large. Apparently, as the decade went on, the QC issues got worse. There's good & bad from all era's before say the 2000's in a general sense IMO. Don't buy a bad one would be my tip LOL !

    R2. Production was growing all the time, & that was what is considered to be the cause of the quality issues. There was less & less time allocated to ensure quality instruments were being made. In the past ( Leo's era ), everyone in the assembly-line inspected the work of the person before them, making them a QC inspector at each stage of completion. This did not happen during the CBS era, as they had to punch as many out as they could each day / week to meet their quotas & growing demand ).

    You'll find it much harder to find a 1985 "made in USA" Stratocaster LOL !

    I hope this helps, & cheers,

    Electgumbo likes this.
  4. balston11

    balston11 Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 8, 2013
    Preston UK
    2 or 3 sold on Ebay UK this year fetched less than you might expect £1300-£1400 but not great examples.
    ukoldgit likes this.
  5. John C

    John C Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 17, 2012
    Kansas City
    Just to add 1975-76 was when Fender was altering the serial number formats as well.

    In 1975 and for roughly the first half of 1976 they were still using the serial numbers stamped in the neck plate. And those numbers were notoriously random during that era - you really have to take them apart and check the dates on everything to figure out the actual year of production. All those things that say "serial numbers xxxxxx to xxxxxx were used in 1973", etc. are just rules of thumb. The neck plates were basically tossed in a bin, assemblers grabbed stacks out of the bins and kept them on their workbenches (so they didn't have to take extra time to go get more of them) so they got out of order.

    In the middle of 1976 they moved the serial number to a decal on the headstock, but they used the numbers that started with a "76" (so they read "76xxxxx"). Those didn't last very long, and they settled in to letter+number for the year followed by 5 digits format, so the "S6" decals weren't used all that long either as they did move to "S7" in 1977. Of course they couldn't keep "on track" very long - they used "S8" decals on Telecasters all the way through 1982, and while they did move to "S9" decals on Strats they kept using them through 1981.

    So long-winded point - there are plenty of 1975-76 Strats out there, but only the last 6-7 months of 1976 are easily identifiable as "1976" models, and the 1975 models can easily be confused with 1974 models based on serial number alone.
    Rastus and Thrup'ny Bit like this.
  6. Percy

    Percy Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    To add.....I believe 1975 was the year Fender Strats went to flat pole pick ups.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
  7. ukoldgit

    ukoldgit Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 20, 2018
    Wiltshire UK
    One of those was probably mineo_O
    jaybones and Thrup'ny Bit like this.
  8. archetype

    archetype Strat-O-Master

    Nov 26, 2016
    Williamsville NY
    There are plenty of them out there, although I *speculate* that sales may have slumped in the 70's due to weight and quality issues. Many folks have 70's Strats that they like. Good ones are out there, but IMO those are accidents and not the norm.

    My '76 Stratocaster hardtail was not just the worst guitar I've ever owned, but the worst example of a Fender guitar you can imagine. Big ripples in the wood in the cutaways: not filled, painted over instead of the bodies being rejected. That early polyurethane finish (before they knew what they were doing) that was thick and *looked* like it was dipped in plastic. At least 10 pounds. Micro-Tilt neck joint was unstable, and I do know how to set those up. Twist the neck one was and the neck stayed that way. Twist it the other way and it stayed that way. Very underwound pickups that had defined low end, and that snap at the absolute top end, but had a huge hole where the midrange should be.

    These are getting enough age on them that people are trying to market them as vintage. I see individuals and dealers pricing these at $2000-3000. I don't know what they're selling for, but I know that money, or less, would buy a new or used AV or CS Strat that would be superior to a 70's one.
  9. mutato

    mutato Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 10, 2007
    Hiding in my basement:)


    marshallfender and Rastus like this.
  10. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 27, 2018
    North Central NC
    This week £1,300 is about $1,740, which is right around where I see them selling here, and more than I would have expected them to sell for. It's tempting to sell my '76 and get a couple really nice guitars for the money, but it's been with me since it was only a year or two old, so we've gotten to be pretty good friends.

    I found it used in the classifieds of the Washington Post around 1977-ish, and paid $300 for it. According to the online inflation calculators, that's about $1,200 in today's dollars.
  11. RaySachs

    RaySachs Strat-O-Master

    Jun 25, 2017
    Philly area
    I bought a used strat in 1979 or 1980 that the shop told me was a '76. It was an ugly brown mocha finish but it played and sounded great. Had it for the better part of 30 years and it was my only electric for all but a couple of those years. I never did any research to be certain what year it was, but it was a pretty reputable shop so I'm guessing '76 was about right... And I know that color was only made for 2-3 years in the mid-70s...

  12. jaybones

    jaybones Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    There's one, '76 hardtail natural.
  13. bluesman1956

    bluesman1956 Strat-O-Master

    Dec 3, 2012
    Upstate NY

    1975 Mocha Starcaster, seldom played but a freaky guitar to say the least.
    Yaralag and RaySachs like this.
  14. rze99

    rze99 Strat-Talker

    Aug 20, 2015
    London, England
    Here's mine. A 1975 Strat. Ash body. I've posted this here before, but not these pics.

    I bought from a friend. He had it in the '80s.I bought it 1990 I think it was when my main Strat was stolen and I gigged this through the 90s.

    It was originally black. The refin what looks like Torino or Dakota red, late '70s. The finish has sunk into the ash.
    Frets look like a reftret too, to me. Bigger and flatter than vintage spec.
    Headstock is modified with a flatter lower curve. Had a Locking trem at one stage as the scars show. Changed saddles. Original plate and block.

    I still have the original grey bottom pick ups and guard. The pick ups were a little too weak for me but they sound nice. There are currently CS Texas Specials and a repro guard in there. Never thought about selling it.







  15. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    Do 1975 and 1976 Strats exist?

    Of course - there are loads of them. The only year (since the 50s) when US made Fenders are genuinely very rare is 1985.
  16. YeOldeRocker

    YeOldeRocker Strat-Talker

    Apr 25, 2017
    White River Junction, VT
    So... the answer is... yes?

    '75 and '76 were the same years I graduated HS and went to college. As I recall, they made Strats during those years. But then, I was high a lot. Glad to see Strats from those years, and that it wasn't all a fever-dream.