Catch of the Day: 1954 Fender Stratocaster

1954 Fender Stratocaster

This Fender Stratocaster bears the serial number 0100 and a body date of April, 1954 making it the earliest known example of the model. Yep, this is perhaps the very first production Strat making it more than just the Catch of the Day. Whoever winds up with it will have the Catch of a Lifetime. This guitar is from a small batch that was made in the spring of 1954 and it was sold to a store in El Monte, California, who in turn sold it to a now unknown musician. Whoever that unknown guitarist was, he most likely wasn’t a full-time professional because he sure kept this guitar in great shape. It only has minor wear on the fretboard and some tiny nicks and scratches on the body. The original yellow to black sunburst is in fine condition and hasn’t faded at all, which suggests to me that it spent most of its life in its case. (And yes, it has its original poodle case and it’s in great shape, as well.) If this guitar could could speak it would probably say, “I spent most of my life under the bed. How boring is that?”

As with all of the very early Strats, the serial number is stamped in the back of the plastic vibrato cover and not the metal neck plate. (David Gilmour does have a Strat with the serial number 0001 stamped on the neck plate but it has a body date of 9/28/54, making it a few months younger.) The thing that is most amazing about this Stratocaster to me is how little the model has changed over the past sixty years. Apart from some subtle changes to the saddles and the swapping out of the three-way switch for a five-sway switch, this looks pretty much the same as a new off-the-rack Strat from Fender. Every other model of guitar that has been around for six decades has undergone quite a bit of evolution. With the Stratocaster, Fender pretty much got it right the first time. So what will this first example cost you? Just $250,000, which is a small price to pay for perfection. If you’d like to add this lovely to your collection just give the good people at Gruhn Guitars a call. I bet if you ask nicely, they’ll throw in a free set of strings.

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