For the vast majority of people, a “first year” Fender Stratocaster will be labelled just as a “guitar made in 1954” and for many, knowing the year of manufacture will be plenty.
But, when and if we go a little deeper into the subject, we will find out that the iconic “1954” year has seen a progressive, fast and fundamental development of the model in a short span of weeks, months, that refined the shape and features of the most iconic guitar ever built to date.
As a result, the variety of “1954” Strats is worth to be noted and explained in detail.
In older days the only distinction being made was related to those “pre-production” 1954 (made before the first official order from Fender Sales was placed) and the “production” ones, those built to please Fender Sales request.
This dichotomy is too simplistic, infact a number of features were changed in a short period of time, that lead to very different sounding guitars.
First of all, it is safe to say that there was no “prototype” Strats anymore in 1954. The prototype stage of the new Fender Model took place in 1953. By January 1954 infact, all the main features of the guitar have been designed and built already. The very first production batch of Fender Stratocaster, made between January and May 1954, had a number of unique features, that have been either updated or abandoned later in that same year.
Today we’re proud to have on our Vintage Vault Bench, one of these rare guitars, a may 1954 Fender Stratocaster “Trem Cover” number, serial #0129.