It is so easy to be dismissive towards 70’s Strat – After all they don’t have the finest reputation – But to be fair, amongst a load of poor to mediocrity examples, there are some good 70’s Strats out there – For some reason my eyes focussed on this Fender 1974 Strat when I first noticed it for sale and I’m glad that I decided to explorer further – I picked it up and instantly noticed two key assets – One is the weight, or lack of weight – Very credible for any era, let alone a 70’s Strat with an ash body and a hard tail at that – Only 7lbs and 12oz – Then the neck – It somehow instantly felt comfortable and familiar – I’ll touch on far more details further below – But this Strat initially looked very promising – The early negative was a set of original but very worn vintage size frets – I don’t have an issue with the traditional Fender 7.25″ radius – But I’m not a fan of lacquer over the frets, or indeed a set of small frets – So time for a modern upgrade – I agree that any changes with regards to pick-ups, refin, headstock breaks etc should be reflected in the asking price and indeed many ‘players grade’ old guitars can often be great players – But I do feel that a re-fret should not have any impact on the guitars value – Having a set of original frets can be fine, but if they are worn, to the point that they have now have a serious impact on the playability and set-up, then time to change – I had the guitar professional re-fretted with a larger set of frets – Stewmac #149 (.103″ by .46″) which equate to Dunlop 6150 as used by PRS on many models and my favourite fret size – Further more whilst the nature of a re-fret on a maple fingerboard requires the old lacquer to be removed and then the fingerboard re-lacquered – A) it was refinished with thin nitro and B) the lacquer was then ‘scrapped’ of the new frets for a better and more natural feel – Bottom line is that it has seriously enhanced the whole feel and playing performance – Additional note as a new nut was also professionally installed as the old one had broken
Notes on web site pics :- I actually took these pics shortly after I acquired the guitar, so before I had the professional re-fret carried out and the new top nut fitted – Furthermore, I noticed after I took the pics, that I’d not screwed the scratchplate screws back on, after my evaluation under the scratchplate and taking the appropriate pics – Of course the screws have now been fitted as required
Evaluation report + details for 1974 Hard tail Fender Strat – In no particular order :-
Includes a correct Fender hard case from the early 70’s, with a vibrant red interior and the appropriate Fender amp logo with tail
Also includes a pair of inspection tags – No serial number on the tags but various numbers on the tag includes 521 – 21 indicates a natural finish so is it safe for us to assume that they are likely to be the correct factory tags for this Strat
Original wiring loom – includes the original 3 way switch and a set of CTS pots with 73 + 74 dates within the code
Original pick-ups with staggered pole pieces and grey bobbins – measure 5.35K neck and 5.45K middle/bridge – note 74 date on the pick-ups
Originality – Other than the info I mentioned earlier regarding a new nut, re-fret and fingerboard re-lacquer, then this 74 Strat is all original – inc body + neck + headstock facia finish, hardware, electrics inc pick-ups, pots, switch and wiring loom – The serial number, pot dates + pick up dates all help to indicate this Strat as a 1974 model
Neck profile – Medium depth C profile – Measures .835″ around the top nut end and .882″ around the 12th fret
Ash body – plenty of lacquer checking and fade with little in the way of actual nicks or dings – Good body/neck pocket with barely a gap down the side
Whole guitar weighs 7lbs and 12oz
Re-strung with 10-46 gauge strings and set-up with a slinky action that responds to a light touch
Overview :- As indicated earlier – This is a fine example of a Strat that know has some of that old school mojo as it is now working towards its 50th birthday – Condition wise and it is more than acceptable – Don’t expect mint condition or anything silly like that – Ignore any fade and lacquer checking and the actual wear and tear would struggle to be that of what Fender Custom Shop call a light Relic – Look at the web site pics of the rear of the neck and you’ll see a scar – Note that this was a ding – It has subsequently been filled and the finish then cut back, so it is all nice and smooth – The guitars greatest asset now is the playability thanks to the comfortable feel of the neck and the professional refret with a chunkier set of frets, so as to allow for effortless string bending – The pick-ups are as per the late 60’s vintage models from the ‘Hendrix’ era – Less output, with less mids – John Mayer refers to them as scooped mids – More lush and Little Wing and less SRV hot Texas Blues – Very responsive , plus percussive for funky rhythm chops
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Guitars4You is not another corporate high street guitar store - My selection of premium grade guitars is about quality not quantity. Every guitar has been selected, inspected and approved by me, with particular attention to the set-up and playing performance. Every sale, phone call, email and mail order transaction is handled by me. A journey that is now over 40 years old, has fuelled my knowledge, experience, love, devotion and passion for exceptionally fine guitars.