NGD! One of the first American Standard Strats ever made!

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by joeybsyc, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. joeybsyc

    joeybsyc Senior Stratmaster

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    I haven't bought any guitars in awhile, in fact, I've been selling a few... but when I stumbled on this one being offered for sale I knew I had to have it! I love Fender history, and am particularly fond of the early American Standards, and how they more or less brought Fender USA back from the dead in the late 80's. I've read numerous stories about how the earliest guitars were built by a skeleton crew of a few skilled Fender employees who would later go on to become master builders in the soon to be developed "Custom Shop". Supposedly only a handful of guitars were put out per day during those early times, and were mostly hand assembled. I don't know how much of that is fact vs. folklore, but it's intriguing to me just the same!

    The guitar pictured below is the earliest E3 serial I have ever seen offered for sale. It has all it's original paperwork, right down to the original store receipt from early 1987! The hang tag inspection card says it was tested and shipped in January of '87, about the same time Fender debuted the American Standard Strats at the NAMM show that same month. I haven't taken it apart, but can almost guarantee it has 1986 dates inside, as it was built, shipped to a dealer, and in the customer's hands by March of that year. These guitars have many features that separate them from later Am Std strats, including a fully glossy neck and headstock, bridge screws that fasten directly into the body wood with no brass inserts, a chrome plated tremolo block, and Fullerton body contours.

    As an ironic twist, I was doing some research on these guitars and some of their unique features.... in reading an old thread on another gear site, I located the original owner, who owned it from 1987 until just a few years ago. I have spoken at length with him, and he told me of how he saw an ad in a Guitar Player magazine talking about the new American Standard line that was to debut at the beginning of the year. he went to his local music store and was there for the first shipment of them... a white one, a black one, and this one... a Torino Red lightweight, with a dark rosewood fretboard. They charged him extra for the case, and his grand total with tax in 1987 was $525.00 out the door.

    While he said he did use the guitar for some studio work and played it in a band a few times, it remains in flawless original condition to this day. I feel very fortunate to be able to add this one to my collection, as it will join another early E3 serial Strat that is just a few hundred numbers after this one.

    In any case, here are some pics! Hope you enjoy.

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  2. joeybsyc

    joeybsyc Senior Stratmaster

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    a few more...

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  3. sportrider24

    sportrider24 Strat-O-Master

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    Gorgeous Strat and interesting read too! Congrats on her!
     
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  4. DickyMoe

    DickyMoe Strat-O-Master

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    Super cool score and the color is wow! Congrats!
     
  5. joeybsyc

    joeybsyc Senior Stratmaster

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    Thanks! The color is definitely an eye catcher...It surprised me actually. I never thought I liked Torino Red but this one sure does pop... Especially when paired with the dark rosewood fretboard. I can totally understand why the original owner chose this one over white or black. Gotta say I'm curious as to what ever became of those other 2 though... Wonder if they're still out there somewhere?
     
  6. JMJD06

    JMJD06 Senior Stratmaster

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    wowww nice find,,,congrats!
     
  7. garyhoos1

    garyhoos1 Huffing n Puffing.

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    Congrats on a great find,looks real nice,will it be played,or will it become a case queen.:?:
     
  8. joeybsyc

    joeybsyc Senior Stratmaster

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    Everything I own gets played... maybe not on a 40 day road tour, but I don't just sit and look at any of 'em. They're coolest when they're making noise. ;)
     
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  9. BlueCajun

    BlueCajun Senior Stratmaster

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    Very cool score. And the paperwork showing the guitar's origins just make it that much cooler. Congrats, dude. Very jealous over here.
     
  10. garyhoos1

    garyhoos1 Huffing n Puffing.

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    Nice one,Joe,make it cry.:D
     
  11. oatsoda

    oatsoda Puck of Paradox

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    Beautiful guitar, and so cool to have spoken with the original owner. A great guitar, and a great piece of the Fender puzzle.
     
  12. albala

    albala Most Honored Senior Member

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    beautiful
     
  13. John C

    John C Most Honored Senior Member

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    Nice find; that is sure a nice time capsule of Fender history there joeyb.

    I'll be interested to see the neck and body dates - with a January 1987 inspection hang that has to be from a very early production run (right down to the Fullerton-era body contours that seemed to disappear once they ramped up production later in 1987).
     
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  14. joeybsyc

    joeybsyc Senior Stratmaster

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    Yes, those are my thoughts as well. I have another E3 in Pewter that's a few serial numbers higher than this one, prior to finding this red one it was the earliest E3 I'd seen. I'm sure it's not the first one made, but I'm betting both pre-date the official NAMM release as far as build dates/neck stamps go, and are some of the earliest ones still around. Both are set up perfect and I hate popping the necks off just to look at them, but I do gotta admit curiousity is killing me. The Pewter one has the Fullerton contours as well. Do you know if that means the bodies were leftovers cut at Fullerton and finished/ assembled in the Corona plant, or did the Corona plant originally use the Fullerton equipment to make the first bodies? I'm also curious when they started using a satin finish on the necks... I previously believed only the E3 serials had the glossy finishes, but recently someone in another thread I have going stated they have an E4 serial with the gloss neck.
     
  15. John C

    John C Most Honored Senior Member

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    I seriously doubt that any American Standard bodies could have been left over from Fullerton; there was about a 2-year gap between when production really ended in Fullerton and they started in on the American Standards. From a post by a Fender employee who was there back then (he was a QC/Setup guy back then but is now the head of Customer Service) CBS really started winding down production in the summer of 1984 - by about June all the personnel who routed, sanded and painted bodies and necks were laid off, and they started laying off the assembly/QC/Setup people in July (since he had only been there for a few years he was gone in July) and the last of them in about September 1984. I take that to mean that almost every possible body, neck, pickup assembly, etc. was used up by the time the last assembler was laid off.

    Even if a few bodies and necks survived it would be likely that all FMIC wanted were the USA Reissues - and I don't think there was a huge stockpile of these parts; they were really hard to find back in 1982-84 plus I bet that any leftovers were used for the new FMIC crew to work on in the pre-production era at Corona.

    I suspect that the latter is correct - early on FMIC used the same equipment and probably personnel to do the bodies; the "Fullerton Curve" goes away as they bring on new personnel and equipment as they ramped up production (either Dan Smith or George Blanda is quoted in "The Straocaster Chronicles" that they started out in Corona at about 10 instruments per day in late 1985 but they were up to 150 per day by mid-1987).

    That Fender employee set the timeline as this (and he was also one of the temps there for the last days at Fullerton and the first days at Corona):

    Summer 1984 - CBS starts ramping down, laying off factory employees by seniority and position

    September/October 1984 - last new CBS Fender finished and warehoused, all production/factory employees laid off

    January 1985 - skeleton crew of assembly/QC brought back as temps, preparing instruments from the warehouse for the NAMM show, and they spend time adding that fine tuner string clamp to the left over Elite Strats. Temps let go

    February 1985 - sale to FMIC

    March 1985 - FMIC leases the Fullerton factory while they find new space, skeleton crew again brought back as temps who inspect and set up the MIJ models.

    May 1985 - temps also begin packing up equipment, tools, etc. for the move to FMIC's new space in Corona and Brea (Brea was the business office that eventually moved to Scottsdale)

    late June-July 1985 - temps unpack equipment, tools, etc. in Corona

    July 1985 - temps re-hired as permanent employees of FMIC; other production personnel rehired

    July-October 1985 - production training (while QC people continue of course to inspect/set up/ship the MIJs)

    October-December 1985 - actual small batch (10 per day) production of USA Reissues begins

    1986 - production of USA Reissues ramp up; American Standards designed. Earliest American Standard production say October-December 1986
     
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  16. joeybsyc

    joeybsyc Senior Stratmaster

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    That all sounds about right to me. The fact that even the earliest of American Standards (the ones like mine with the Fullerton curves) STILL have the famed "swimming pool" route of the body lends me to believe they were freshly cut bodies made specifically for the new line of American Standards too... It's doubtful they'd take old leftover bodies and put them in a machine to route the swimming pool out of them after the contours had already been cut. I do think your timeline for the American Standards may be slightly optimistic though, as I doubt you'll find any built or assembled as early as October of '86...unless they were VERY early prototypes/test mules that never actually were shipped/sold through dealers. I say this without looking at the neck dates on my own guitars, but I'm betting this red one is one of the first ones to actually be shipped out/sold as standard dealer stock vs. a pre-production sample. Interesting stuff for sure! I wish more people were into this era of Fender, as it seems that info is fairly limited.
     
  17. sevycat

    sevycat Custom Shop Cat

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    Congrats on your piece of Stratocaster history. Enjoy!
     
  18. Robins

    Robins Dr. von Loudster

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    Congrats and enjoy!
    One cool guitar and the best thing is having the complete story.
    Mint condition and a part of Fender´s history.

    All the best,
    Robin
     
  19. tonenut

    tonenut Senior Stratmaster

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    HNGD -That is a cool looking strat. Nice color too.
     
  20. Dewey

    Dewey Most Honored Senior Member

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    Really good stuff joey, thanks for the post and the story!
    Enjoy! :)