This is not just the story of a nice guitar, purchased brand new in 1966 and kept for over 5 decades by the same owner, but also a great “detective” story, where the quest for Restoration and Researching upon the instrument’s origin allowed us to write about it today.
Let’s start from the guitar, which is part of a production batch of Dakota Red Stratocasters made in late 1965, and completed in early 1966, ordered by Italian Fender Distributor Casale Bauer, with the typical late 1965 appointments, large headstock, factory large frets, early ’66 grey bottoms pickups, (still built in the same way as 1965 ones), stackpole pots, “porcelain” white celluloid pickguard, and slightly yellowed white plastics. The guitar has a distinctive wear mark on the body finish just under the bridge, that looks like a “scar”, thus earning its nickname.
The guitar was sold in 2019 by its first owner, as a completely original specimen. Only later, however, (and too long after the purchase) the buyer realized the existence of a repair (not revealed at the time of sale) made on the side wall of the neck pocket, where there was a small routing on the wood to facilitate access to the truss rod.
Nothing too bad, of course, but whoever performed the spray color touch up on the small wood repair did not wait for the paint to dry entirely, so the neck got a characteristic “red mark”, visible just right above the date, which is, for the record, March 1966.
Why is this important? Because its new owner, worried about having discovered this repair, and also a little unhappy that it had not been revealed to him by the seller, began to doubt the integrity of the entire guitar, especially if the neck had ever really belonged to this instrument from the first day as it left the factory.
All too many Vintage Guitar Enthusiast understand the feeling, of finding out undisclosed issues on a guitar, a part of you still loves it, while another part would just give it away.
Since the body showed a lot of wear, while the neck was almost perfect, in very remarkable condition, he thought that was further evidence that it could not have been factory matched to the body.
But because he loved the sound of the guitar, he decided to customize the instrument with another 1964 neck that was mounted on his “favourite player” strat, a player grade instrument bought on Ebay many years ago, with a Vintage Stratocaster neck paired to a Fender Custom Shop body.
The Dakota red guitar, now reconfigured with his favourite ’64 neck (as often happens with Fender) sounded amazing and it remained like this, since it was, to him, the ultimate Strat.
Pleased with the results, he installed the original neck of the 1966 Dakota Red Stratocaster on his January 1967 Stratocaster Sunburst, whose body was in impeccable original condition, while the same could not be said of the neck.
The instrument, in fact, was purchased from an important store in the United States with a neck in very poor condition, produced two years later than the body, at the end of 1968, repainted, refretted with the fingerboard thinned, with additional holes from other tuners, additional string tree and a strange headstock reshaping. In this case, clearly not belonging to the beautiful body and pristine harness from day one.
So, in a sense, he felt like he restored two guitars at the same time, since the clean 1966 neck perfectly paired with the equally clean 1967 body, and the two sounded amazing together.