Recently, my friends from solidbodyguitar.com gave
me a call and said they had a
really cool vintage guitar they
were going to sell, but it was in
need of some restoration before
they put it up for sale. They
wouldn’t say what it was, opting instead to surprise me when
they dropped it off.
When the clients arrived at
my shop to show me the guitar,
we first began chatting about
their ’ 62 SG Les Paul. I was
in the process of restoring its
relic’d white finish, getting it
ready for market. It was as if
they were saving the best for
last, building up my anticipation and curiosity about the
instrument they were delivering. When they finally got
around to opening up the case,
I was surprised and delighted
to see a real and extremely rare
1965 Fender Stratocaster in
The guitar arrived to us with
the pickguard and electronics
already removed. Abruptly my
eyes were drawn towards the
finish outline of the pickguard.
Strikingly, there were two shades
of finish. The pickguard preserved the original color underneath, while the rest of the body
had developed this warm, gold
look from the open-air environment. To me, the aged Shoreline
Gold is a much more soothing
and pleasing color to the eyes—
less bronze and more gold. I’m
sure glad Fender was spraying
nitrocellulose finish back then,
as it allowed this transformation
A quick aside: Shoreline Gold
is a finish seen by few and the
most misunderstood and incorrectly used term for referencing
Fender gold colors. Shoreline
Gold was introduced in 1959
and was discontinued by the end
of 1965, and then replaced by
Firemist Gold, which was not
the same color at all.
1. This ’ 65 Strat’s original Shoreline Gold finish had been preserved by the pickguard, and removing it reveals the
brighter, bronze color. The surrounding warmer gold hue is a result of the body being exposed to air for 55 years.
Incidentally, when ordered with this custom color, not all Fender models came with a matching color peghead.
2. At some point, a Floyd Rose tremolo system had been installed on this vintage Strat. This mod required removing a section of the Brazilian rosewood fretboard and maple neck to accommodate the locking nut hardware.
3. Two counterbored holes had been drilled through the neck at the headstock. 4. Two smaller screw holes were
also drilled to hold the Floyd string-retainer bar. Notice how the rosewood fretboard is radiused on both its top
and bottom surfaces.
As I checked out this cool
Strat, it became immediately clear
why it was brought to us. Ouch!
Someone had decided to rock
out and install a Floyd Rose locking nut and tremolo. My educated guess is that the procedure
was done some time in the ’80s.
I really like Floyds and we often
do this modification, but for no
amount of money will we do this
modification to a vintage guitar.
In our world, it would be considered malpractice and a good way
to have a short-lived career in
the repair business. It’s true that
this 1965 Stratocaster is devalued
because of its alterations, but let
there be no mistake: This guitar
is still a highly valued treasure!
When we received the Strat,
its original vintage Fender
bridge and tremolo system had
been put back on the body.
But because of the Floyd Rose
installation, there were now
two screw holes going through
the maple neck and a slab of
Brazilian rosewood had been
removed from the fretboard
to mount the hardware. My
clients requested that I restore
the fretboard and neck portion
where the Floyd Rose nut had
been positioned. They were
pleased to hear that I had some
smaller pieces of vintage maple
and Brazilian rosewood in the
shop that would work perfectly
for this restoration. The issue
of legal and illegal wood has
been in the news recently, so
my clients were relieved when
I informed them that my
reclaimed and salvaged Brazilian
rosewood is properly vali-
dated and permitted by CITES
(Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Fauna and Flora).
JOHN BROWN is the
inventor of the Fretted/
Less bass. He owns and
operates Brown’s Guitar
Factory, a guitar manufac-
turing, repair, and restoration
facility staffed by a team of
talented luthiers. His guitar-tool and acces-
sory designs are used by builders all over the
world. Visit brownsguitarfactory.com or email
John at email@example.com.