2024 marks the 70th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster, and though the Big F kickstarted the celebrations early last year with some new Player and American Professional II electric guitars, the brand’s Custom Shop branch is now getting in on the action.
As such, the Fender Custom Shop has debuted its 70th Anniversary Stratocaster series, comprising five separate models that all aim to pay homage to the brand’s flagship double-cut design.
Ushering in the high-end range, Fender wrote, “In the spring of 1954, Fender introduced the Stratocaster – forever changing the music world. From its contoured, double-cutaway body to its three single-coil pickups and all-new synchronized tremolo, the Strat carved its way into the next seven decades of music as an unparalleled icon.
“To celebrate its 70th anniversary, the Fender Custom Shop is introducing a limited-edition collection, showcasing the rich heritage and legacy of this incredible instrument.”
As mentioned, there are five models in total making up the drop, each of which bring to the table different aesthetic, functional and tonal elements that stay in keeping with the original Strat template.
Prices for each aren't explicitly listed on the Fender website, but given their Custom Shop provenance (and historical significance), we imagine they'd each set you back a pretty penny.
To find out more about each, cast your gaze below…
Fender Limited Edition 70th Anniversary Stratocaster NOS
In no particular order, the no-nonsense 70th Anniversary Stratocaster NOS offers a distinct cosmetic twist to the standard two-tone sunburst template, instead delivering a contemporary Aged Bright Sapphire Metallic finish.
That is paired with a none-more-Strat core, which consists of a two-piece alder (not ash, notably) body, V-profile one-piece 4A flame maple neck, and a 21-fret 9.5”-radius fingerboard. Complementing that curation is a trio of Custom Shop hand-wound Fat ‘50s single-coils, which answer to a standard Strat control layout.
It’s also worth noting the flashy gold hardware – as found in the vintage synchronized tremolo and vintage-style tuners – which brings an element of elegance to the workhorse instrument, as well as the 11-hole single-ply pickguard, which is more of a ‘60s appointment.
All-in-all, it’s said to be an “elevated” take on the original ‘54 template.
Fender Limited Edition 70th Anniversary 1954 Stratocaster
A slightly more traditional take on the ‘54 design, though, can be found in the form of Fender’s standard Custom Shop Limited Edition 70th Anniversary model. It strips the flagship Strat model down to its core elements, offering a two-piece ash body (with offset seams on the treble side) and a one-piece quartersawn maple neck, fashioned to a soft V profile.
Elsewhere, a 21-fret maple ‘board with a vintage compound 7.25” to 9.5” radius is used, as is a bone nut, 25.5” scale length and vintage-style hardware. Three Custom Shop hand-wound ‘54 Strat single-coils, wired to a familiar control circuit, also make the cut.
A number of iterations of this model are available, with each delivering varying levels of wear and tear, ranging from none to Super Heavy Relic. All arrive with a Wide Two-Color Sunburst finish.
Fender Limited Edition Fat 1954 Stratocaster Relic with Closet Classic Hardware
The Limited Edition Fat 1954 design, by comparison, offers some standard relic treatment and a wider range of aesthetic options for those looking to channel the ‘54 flair without the sunburst colorway.
To that end, this model is available in Aged White Blonde, Aged Black, Faded Aged Surf Green and Aged Arctic White. Otherwise, it’s a standard ‘54-inspired Strat, though with Fat ‘50s Strat wiring, which lends the first Tone pot to both the neck and middle single-coils, as opposed to just the neck pickup alone.
A 9.5” radius ‘board, soft V quartersawn maple neck and a two-piece ash body can also be found, alongside the vintage-inspired, era-accurate hardware.
Fender Limited Edition 1954 Roasted Stratocaster Journeyman Relic
The penultimate model, the 1954 Roasted Stratocaster Journeyman Relic, ramps up the vintage aesthetic a notch, combining (in Fender’s own words) “1950s-inspired aesthetics with other premium features”. Such features include a gold anodized pickguard, ABS white pickup covers and a Custom Shop vintage synchronized tremolo bridge.
Build-wise, it’s the same as all the other models on this page, though it’s worth noting it stays true to a standard 9.5” fingerboard radius, as opposed to a compound alternative. Again, those ‘54 Strat pickups are called into action here.
As for finishes, Natural Blonde, Desert Tan, Aged Black, Cimarron Red and Desert Sand join the regular Two-Tone Sunburst.
Fender Limited Edition 1954 Hardtail Stratocaster DLX Closet Classic
And, for those who aren’t keen on synchronized tremolos, the Fender Custom Shop has also issued a hardtail variant in the form of the DLX Closet Classic Stratocaster.
Again, some more contemporary colorways are introduced here – including Dirty White Blonde, Faded Aged Shell Pink, India Ivory and Faded Aged Canary Yellow – with the usual tonewood suspects once again making the cut.
That means there’s a two-piece ash body with an accompanying V-profile quartersawn maple neck, as well as a 7.25”-9.5” compound radius fingerboard, bone nut, and those now-familiar hand-wound ‘54 single-coils.
In fact, the only difference here is the gold vintage-inspired hardware and that strings-through-body hardtail with bent steel saddles.
To browse the whole range, head over to Fender Custom Shop.