Classic gear: 1950s Fender Stratocasters

1954 Fender Stratocaster
(Image credit: Future)

Aside from their fretted maple necks, 1950s Fender Stratocasters can be identified by either a two-tone sunburst (comprising dark brown and yellow) or, from ’58, a three-tone sunburst. 

Unfortunately, the red aniline dye used in these later finishes tended to fade severely, much like the ’Bursts/Les Paul Standards of the time. Consequently, many late-50s Strats are misconstrued as having a two-tone finish. However, by 1960, Fender had addressed this issue (as had Gibson) and, from that point onwards, Strats were endowed with a more stable and bolder-looking sunburst.

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Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.