Vintage Strat size vs New Strat size?

Guitarmaan

Strat-Talker
Jan 9, 2016
146
England
Hi guys, I have played a few real vintage early 60's Strats and they definitely feel slightly smaller than modern Strats, even the Custom Shop ones.

I have talked with one or two people who feel the same.

The real old strats just feel very different, even to Custom Shop relics, it's like the body is very subtly slightly smaller and the neck also slightly smaller.

I have come across a few Mexican 60s Strats that also felt slightly smaller, very similar to a real vintage instrument.

However all of the current Custom Shop relics seem definitely although very subtly more bulky than a real vintage Strat.

Would be very interested to hear everyone's views on this, and if others have noticed the same thing?
 

echoes71

Senior Stratmaster
Jul 15, 2013
2,973
USA
Hi guys, I have played a few real vintage early 60's Strats and they definitely feel slightly smaller than modern Strats, even the Custom Shop ones.

I have talked with one or two people who feel the same.

The real old strats just feel very different, even to Custom Shop relics, it's like the body is very subtly slightly smaller and the neck also slightly smaller.

I have come across a few Mexican 60s Strats that also felt slightly smaller, very similar to a real vintage instrument.

However all of the current Custom Shop relics seem definitely although very subtly more bulky than a real vintage Strat.

Would be very interested to hear everyone's views on this, and if others have noticed the same thing?

The necks vary wildly, the bodies do too though not as much as the necks, overall they aren't smaller though. It literally depends on what years you are comparing. Ex: a 65 strat's neck is far bigger than a new one.
 

ems977

Strat-Talker
Aug 24, 2014
372
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
On a similar note, I have noticed that the Strats played by John Mayer always seem smaller than normal. He's tall (at 6'2" I think), but not a big or towering man, yet somehow a Strat just looks miniature in his hands. Anyone else notice this???? Does he use smaller sized guitar bodies?

I have always thought and noticed that as well about JM.
 

Guitarmaan

Strat-Talker
Jan 9, 2016
146
England
Yeah, the contouring varies by a considerable amount too. Apart from my Custom Shop 60 Relic which has a very deep contour, I also have a first run 2009 Road Worn which has a noticeably smaller body and very slim neck. I played a new Road Worn yesterday at a shop and the body is very blocky and poorly contoured by comparison and the neck just felt standard not ultra slim.
You would think that non hand built guitars would be a lot more similar than they are, but even ones of the same model vary by crazy amounts
 

echoes71

Senior Stratmaster
Jul 15, 2013
2,973
USA
Yeah, the contouring varies by a considerable amount too. Apart from my Custom Shop 60 Relic which has a very deep contour, I also have a first run 2009 Road Worn which has a noticeably smaller body and very slim neck. I played a new Road Worn yesterday at a shop and the body is very blocky and poorly contoured by comparison and the neck just felt standard not ultra slim.
You would think that non hand built guitars would be a lot more similar than they are, but even ones of the same model vary by crazy amounts


Thats because they still get hand sculpted, none of them are 100% machine made.
 

gvaldez216

Senior Stratmaster
Jan 18, 2014
1,140
DENVER
On a similar note, I have noticed that the Strats played by John Mayer always seem smaller than normal. He's tall (at 6'2" I think), but not a big or towering man, yet somehow a Strat just looks miniature in his hands. Anyone else notice this???? Does he use smaller sized guitar bodies?

I have always thought and noticed that as well about JM.

I think it's more the size of his hands. That dude has some paws on him!
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,571
Murfreesboro, TN
Hand sculpted???? Care to elaborate on this at all?

They definitely get hand sanded after coming off the CNC machine so is that what you mean?

Back in the day (pre-FMIC) all of the bodies were cut out with steel router templates and then the contours on the front and back of the guitar bodies were shaped freehand and sanded by hand. So they naturally varied widely. If some guitars were smaller, it's because somebody removed more wood during these phases. All of the guys on the production line had their own target shape they were aiming for. And if there was a flaw in the wood or a mistake in the shaping they might sand things down even farther than normal. Nowadays virtually all the shaping is done by machine, though of course they still sand things freehand.

@Guithartic I'm pretty sure they didn't replace all their templates in 1960 and then go back to the old ones in 1961. Steel templates are expensive; Leo Fender would not have done that. If Nile Rogers original Hitmaker was a smaller guitar, it's just part of the variation in shaping the contours--or his guitar body had a flaw in it that needed to be sanded out.
 

BuffaloHound

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 25, 2018
1,133
S
There are 2 fender sig models with smaller bodies. One is Cory Wong, and I forget the other. About 3% smaller body, and headstock is about 3% bigger. Both artists came to the decision to ask Fender for this independently. Tonal reasons, not comfort.
Wong talks about this in his podcast with Mayer.
 

Shoegoo

Strat-O-Master
Silver Member
Aug 16, 2010
676
Louisiana
On a similar note, I have noticed that the Strats played by John Mayer always seem smaller than normal. He's tall (at 6'2" I think), but not a big or towering man, yet somehow a Strat just looks miniature in his hands. Anyone else notice this???? Does he use smaller sized guitar bodies?
If it makes a difference I have a John Mayer Sig Strat and it feels bigger and heavier than the modern Strats.
 

Guitarchaeologist

Master Spuddler
Silver Member
Dec 17, 2016
7,699
Behind the 8 ball
When you guys say smaller are you referring to deeper contours or the actual strat body shape is physically smaller?
I can't speak for everyone, but my comment was about the physical size of the guitar. Maybe camera angles or ???.
Just had a look at a few pix and it may also be an optical illusion caused by having no paint on the lower part of the guitar.

1653970371840.png 1653970397290.png 1653970453139.png
 

Groundwire

Strat-O-Master
Apr 16, 2021
665
Oregon
The necks vary wildly, the bodies do too though not as much as the necks, overall they aren't smaller though. It literally depends on what years you are comparing. Ex: a 65 strat's neck is far bigger than a new one.
Yeah, they are so variable. Actually, my ‘65 Strat has a very typical mid 60’s profile that is really slender at the nut, and becomes chunky by the 12th fret. I’ve played others that are chunkier, but mine is slimmer than a modern Fender Standard neck shape, at least across the first 7 frets.
 


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