1965 Fender Stratocaster

$3,000 price drop
+ $60 Shipping
As low as $420/month with
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Shipped From
Telluride Music Co.
Telluride, CO, United States
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Do You Own It?

List your Fender Stratocaster 1965
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Do You Own It?

List your Fender Stratocaster 1965
List Yours
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Since 1954, the Fender Stratocaster has set the bar for the electric guitar. Versatile and expressive—but originally conceived as an affordable, workingman's instrument—the Stratocaster has become ubiquitous across all genres of music as a Swiss-army-knife guitar.

By the mid-'60s, the Stratocaster very clearly resembled the 1954 original, except each one had an Alder body (instead of some that were Ash) and a fine Rosewood veneer fingerboard instead of plain Maple. There were also some minor cosmetic changes such as a three-ply plastic pickguard and a 3-tone sunburst that showed red in between the yellow and black. But in many ways, the Stratocaster design needed little tweaking to deliver the tones and inspiration musicians needed.

While the Stratocaster remained much the same, 1965 saw huge changes for the Fender company as a whole. On January 4, 1965, Leo Fender sold ownership of the company to CBS. As the new ownership sought to increase production and maximize profits, there is a perceived decline in quality over second half of the 1960s. Because of that, instruments made while Leo still owned the company are particularly revered, and the "transition era" guitars from 1965 also have strong appeal and collectibility.

This 1965 Fender Stratocaster is a fitting transition-era example. Instead of the flared CBS-era headstock, it has the traditional Strat headstock shape with the transition gold Fender logo. It also has the '65 white plastic three-ply pickguard that replaced the slightly green-tinted pickguard of the early '60s. Its neck is dated to January of 1965, and based on other details for the specs and pot codes, this guitar was likely completed some time in the spring of '65.

The body of this 1965 Stratocaster has been refinished, and the neck has been over-sprayed but still shows original finish underneath. While the body looks like a clean two-tone sunburst, there is some red hidden underneath the pickguard and neck plate. It appears it was refinished as a three-tone, but without the yellow undercoat that Fender used to achieve this finish, the red middle tone has faded. The effect makes this guitar look like someone tried to replicate the mid-'50s two-tone look.

The bridge and middle pickup on this '65 Strat are both original, but interestingly, the neck pickup was replaced with what appears to be an early-'80s Fullerton reissue pickup. While both tone pots are original, the volume pot has been changed to a modern CTS, and this guitar has a five-way switch.

The neck has been refretted, and it looks like at some point someone installed modern USA-style string trees on the headstock. The nut may have been replaced altogether or least reworked and reglued. The 2nd string saddle appears to be a period-correct replacement. It has the original clay dot position markers of the pre-CBS era, but the 19th fret marker has been replaced with white plastic. Apart from that, all of the remaining parts and components appear to be original and period correct.

This 1965 Fender Stratocaster is an excellent player, and it is priced to reflect its condition and repair history. The bridge pickup on this one is particularly powerful and well-voiced, and the original middle and replacement neck pickup both balance nicely around it. This Strat has a lot of vibe and would be more than suitable for studio or stage work, but it also has some sincere collectibility in its own right (especially since museum-level examples now exceed $25k). It includes a fairly worn out '60s alligator case, and we'd love to help the new owner track down a case that will be more suitable for such a fine instrument.

Please message us with any questions. Additional photos available on request. 

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