Help with early custom shop Robert Cray strat.

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Juaan95, May 30, 2021.

  1. Juaan95

    Juaan95 Strat-Talk Member

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    I have a very early Robert Cray Strat. I hope someone here can help me to know what this guitar is about. I have consulted Fender about this instrument, but they were unable to give me some information about it.

    I bought it used in 2018. It is an "Inca Silver" Cray strat. It has the original custom shop logo (oval logo).

    The main mystery I have with this guitar is about the body. This particular model was manufactured in three colors: 3 tone sunburst, violet and Inca silver. The strange thing is that this guitar does not have any of those three. There is no CS stamp inside the body neck pocket and there are two initials marked inside the pickup cavity which are "PL" (?)

    Could anyone please tell me what color it is? or if the body is original from the instrument? It's preety rare...

    In addition... the first Robert Cray signatures came painted in nitro. The neck of this instrument is painted in nitro because it is full of checking everywhere, now the body (for a 30-year-old guitar) does not have checking ... it is possible that the body has been painted in poly?

    Also, the guitar has some dings and chips on the body, and it's visible that there is some kind of a "blue" undercoat...

    Here I leave a couple of photos, I hope someone can help me and thank you very much!!

    Juan

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  2. 2aug82b

    2aug82b Strat-Talker

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    Looks Ice Blue Metallic in some of the photos. I think the earliest ones were special orders so probably were not limited by color so much. Nice strat.
     
  3. Lewbypls

    Lewbypls Strat-O-Master

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    That looks so good with the dings and all. It does look like ice blue metallic but if it's inca silver, that's a fine color
     
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  4. telepraise

    telepraise Strat-O-Master

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    Beautiful strat! I'd play it and enjoy it, 30 years is a lot of mojo.
     
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  5. Juaan95

    Juaan95 Strat-Talk Member

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    I think you're right with this, they were special orders so maybe the original owner asked for this special colour. Do you know what the "PL" initials inside the pickup cavity stand for?

    Thanks for all your replies!
     
  6. guitarchaeologist

    guitarchaeologist Dr. J Silver Member

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    @Juaan95 The pots and switch don't look correct for 1990. I can't see the codes on them. The p'ups also have beveled pole pieces, all of which suggest the neck may not be original to the guitar. Do you know for certain if anything's been swapped?
    It's also odd for Custom Shop guitar of that period to have the SC stamp on the neck, but not in the neck pocket.

    If I had to venture a guess, I'd say you have a 1988 (unclear heel stamp) or 1990 (CS stamp written date) Custom Shop neck, with a later poly-finished body.
    Pots dates may tell you more, if they are original to the body.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2021
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  7. Juaan95

    Juaan95 Strat-Talk Member

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    Hi my friend! Thanks for your response.

    I bought this guitar in 2018 during a trip that I was doing in the USA, from a well-known dealer. Before purchase, I exchanged a few emails with the staff of the store, to make sure the guitar was completely original.

    Here are some of their messages:

    "Hello Juan. It seems as though my last email did not go through. My apologies for that. This guitar is not refinished. It does not have any checking but it does have lots of signs of use. Dings and some scratches throughout the guitar. The color has faded and changed over the years and more than likely taken some sustain sunlight or sat under a fluorescent for some time. This is why it has gone a bit green. Tonally it is an amazing guitar with loads of resonance a drive. We can ship to a separate location but we would need to be paid for with a bank wire. The neck shape is a very comfortable 60s C which has a nice taper to it from a slightly slim C at the first to a moderately chunky C at the 12th. This guitar was owned by a guy who toured with it and used it every night more than likely with the intent of never selling so the collectable stuff like the COA probably got lost along the way. Please shoot over any other questions at all and thanks so much for writing. "

    "Juan,
    Thanks so much for the interest!
    Alas, it has been a while, so I don’t remember how the neck is on your guitar exactly.
    Sorry. This one does indeed have the Cray pickups. Here is a picture of the underside of the pickguard if that helps.
    The guitar plays wonderfully well!
    Well balanced with a sweet compression on the attack, nice push in the mids… Singing and classic sounding!
    Let me know any other questions you have, I am happy to help!
    All the best"

    Here I leave more photos. (I changed the volume pot a few months ago)

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    WhatsApp Image 2021-06-01 at 22.01.35 (7).jpeg
     
  8. guitarchaeologist

    guitarchaeologist Dr. J Silver Member

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    Hi @Juaan95,
    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the problem I suspected is confirmed in the pot dates.
    The white fiber pots and switches were not around in 1990. Nor were the beveled pole p'ups. These type electronics didn't come around until after 1998.
    The pots you have pictured date to the 2015- 16th week. The codes are even of that era (see pix below) All the solder joints look perfect and I suspect the electronics came like this, either with the guitar body (which is most likely), or as a loaded pickguard added the body.
    The other detail that stands out is that the seller wrote the the guitar had changed color due to UV light and use- the problem is, you should be seeing the original color in the neck pocket and under the pickguard. UV can't affect paint it can't touch. Make sense?
    It's a very cool guitar. I love hardtails (I have two) & I like this one, but I can say with confidence that the neck and body did not leave the factory together in 1990. Sorry buddy.

    In the first picture, you'll see newer pots (like yours) with white fiber boards and codes 013446 (Fender) 250K A (audio taper) 0623 (2006 23rd week) CTS
    In the second picture you'll see older pots with brown/red fiber boards and codes 013446 (Fender) 250K A (audio taper) R137 (code for CTS) 8827 (1988 27th week).


    20170208_190254.jpg IMG_20200318_120451669.jpg
     
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  9. Juaan95

    Juaan95 Strat-Talk Member

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    Hi! @guitarchaeologist

    Would you say that the body is a Fender one? Inside the neck pocket the coulour is different from the rest of the body, it's more like Ice Blue Metallic, but the rest of the body is more green.

    I'm a big fan of Robert Cray, the pickups sound like his guitar too, but it was strange for me too, to see the beveled pole pieces.

    Maybe the previous owner changed the electronics of the guitar? that could be another possible situation?

    Again thanks!
     
  10. guitarchaeologist

    guitarchaeologist Dr. J Silver Member

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    I think it is a Fender body, mainly based on the extra jig holes in the neck pocket that is consistent w/pre-2013 re-issues, but the PL-010 in the pocket is a stamp I am not familiar with. Hopefully someone here can offer some insight.
    I feel confident that the electronics have not been messed with at all (at least to my eyes, maybe someone else can see something I have not), but I am not convinced, in fact, I do not think that the electronics belong to the body.
    The more eyes we put on this, the better the understanding will be.
    @Guitarmageddon - welcome back---- got any ideas here?
     
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  11. Juaan95

    Juaan95 Strat-Talk Member

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    @guitarchaeologist I forgot to ask you... From the dings and chips of the body, can you tell if it's a nitro finished body? Agin thanks!
     
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  12. guitarchaeologist

    guitarchaeologist Dr. J Silver Member

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    Visually, IMO, it looks to be poly. If it were mine, I would take a small amount of nail polish remover/acetone on a cotton swab and rub a small spot in the neck pocket. If it dissolves easily, it's nitro. If not, poly.
    I thought surely someone would have piped in to comment on the body by now that recognizes the stamp and knows its meaning. Fender didn't make many hardtails models since 1982, so the options are few.
    @John C ... any ideas?
     
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  13. Juaan95

    Juaan95 Strat-Talk Member

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  14. dbb541

    dbb541 Strat-Talker

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    I bought a set of pickups out of a Cray strat. The Bridge pickup poles are flat. The middle and neck are staggered. I'm not sure what year guitar these pickups came out and if the cray pups have changed over the years but thought I'd add the info. Maybe there are different mex and US versions? I don't know what mine are but they sound great.
    Your guitar looks like all the pickups have staggered poles.
     
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  15. Juaan95

    Juaan95 Strat-Talk Member

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    I also have a Cray loaded pickguard signed by Cray with those pickups (with the flat poles bridge pickup). I'm not sure but I think those pickups come only with the made in Mexico signature strat. I've also saw a few CS Cray strats that doesn't have the flat pole bridge pickup.
     
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  16. alejio

    alejio Strat-Talk Member

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    When I think back on the Cray strats, that's the color that comes to mind. Whatever has or hasn't been swapped, that thing looks dope.
     
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  17. Stratafied

    Stratafied Most Honored Senior Member

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    That’s a beauty, the color looks different in some of the pics. But I’d say ice blue metallic, my avatar is Inca silver for comparison sake.
     
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  18. Mr Dunlop

    Mr Dunlop Senior Stratmaster

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    The body is a fender custom shop.

    The black shielding and inventory number in black marker are from the 90`s era.


    You can see part of a custom shop stamp in the neck pocket.

    Also looks like the year is stamped in the neck pocket.

    995 it looks like to my eyes, suggesting the body is a 1995

    The custom shop Logo in the neck pocket would also suggest mid 90`s.




    fender RC.png
     
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  19. Juaan95

    Juaan95 Strat-Talk Member

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    Hi @Mr Dunlop I think you nailed it here. I think it's very odd that the guitar has a 1990/1991 neck with a 95 body. This could be a possible prototype? I dont know when the chevron custom shop logo appered, but the neck has the oval logo, so that's another strange part since there are not a los of 90s CS hardails. Even though that the pickups have beveled pole pieces, I swear the guitar sounds like Robert Cray through a Fender amp, that's kind of funny. And also, do you have any ideas for what the "PL" initials stand for?

    Thanks a lot for your help!
     
  20. Intune

    Intune Senior Stratmaster

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    Cool guitar but it is a odd one for sure. From what I’ve found in 1990 this was the first year this was offered in custom order only and for only 2 years. I think someone down the road swapped out the original pickups, pots and wiring. Looks like they just swapped it out all together from a loaded guard onto your original pickguard, assuming your pickguard is original.

    Here’s one that looks identical to yours and also has a swapped out electronics.

    https://reverb.com/item/40349358-fender-custom-shop-robert-cray-59-hardtail-1990-rare