1963 Fender Stratocaster set to strike a chord

A rare 1963 pre-CBS Fender Stratocaster, considered by many to be the ‘Holy Grail’ of electric guitars, is to be sold in Tennants Auctioneers’ Scientific and Musical Instruments Sale on January 31 with an estimate of £10,000-£15,000.

The Fender Stratocaster was first designed in 1953 by Leo Fender six years after he had established Fender Guitars. His first guitar, the Broadcaster (later renamed the Telecaster), was criticised for being too square and uncomfortable to use. The Stratocaster was his response, with its sleek curves and contoured body to fit snugly against the musician, and a host of new features that set its place in musical history and influenced the design of electric guitars for generations to come.

A pre-CBS Fender Stratocaster electric guitar

Aided by the legendary Stratocaster, by 1965 Fender was one of the largest musical instrument manufacturers in the world, and Leo Fender sold his company to CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System).

The Stratocasters made by Fender before the sale to CBS are regarded as the finest Fenders ever made. Only produced during the narrow window from 1953-65, Pre-CBS Fender Stratocasters are rare and much sought-after by collectors of vintage guitars.

The present example is being sold by a former professional musician from the North East of England, who played in a band in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He purchased the guitar new from Kitchen’s in Leeds and took the instrument to New York and Mexico as well as on tour around the UK. The body of the guitar was re-finished in the early 1980s in the same Fender ‘Daphne Blue’ by Jim Cairns, guitar technician to Chris Rea.