By the mid 1960s, the Stratocaster— Fender’s top model of 1954—had
taken a backseat to the higher priced Jaguar
and Jazzmaster in Fender’s catalog. By
1967, Stratocaster production was at its
lowest. But thanks to the appearance of the
charismatic Jimi Hendrix, who arrived on
the scene that same year, the Stratocaster
became and remains one of the world’s
most popular electric guitars.
The 1968 Strat pictured this month
shares features common to other Strats from
that year, including the enlarged “bell bottom” headstock (December ’ 65 through
September ’ 81), and the conspicuous black
headstock logo (’ 68 though ’ 83). The rare,
firemist gold finish on this guitar was almost
overlooked when this instrument was on
the Dave’s Guitar Shop sales floor in the late
’90s. At that time, this guitar was masquerading as a poorly refinished Strat in a dull-looking white color. An eagle-eyed customer
spotted some gold where the white was
chipped away and alerted Dave. The excruciating task of wet-sanding off the white finish
was given to Davey Reinders. Thanks to his
agonizingly careful work, this guitar can be
seen today in its full golden splendor.
Holding up the Strat is an icon of late-’60s
amplification, the Kustom K 100 2 head and
matching 2x12 cab. Kustom, founded in the
mid ’60s by Bud Ross in Chanute, Kansas,
offered amps with state-of-the-art solid-state
technology and eye-catching tuck-and-roll
naugahyde upholstery that was available in
seven attractive colors, including gold, silver,
charcoal, white, blue, “cascade,” and red. (A
large array of late-’60s Kustom gear in this
vibrant red color can be seen on the television series Glee.) This head offered “resonant
treble boost” circuitry, reverb, and tremolo,
and the cab sported a pair of 12" Jensens.
This Strat and Kustom amp have appreciated at different rates over the last four
decades. The 1968 Fender pricelist shows
a Strat with tremolo and custom finish at
$330, plus $57.50 for the case. The current estimated value is about $10,000. The
1970 Kustom pricelist has a K 100 2-12J- 2
at $465. The current value is much the
same—about $500 in excellent condition.
Nearly all you need to know about
Fender Stratocasters is in The Fender
Stratocaster by A.R. Duchossoir. You can
research Kustom Amps at vintagekustom.
com and broadwaymusicco.com.
ABOVE: This firemist
gold finish is a rare
custom color. A previ-
ous owner had covered
the original gold paint
on this Strat with a dull
white refin, which had
to be painstakingly
LEFT: In 1968, Strats
had an enlarged “bell
and black logo.
BELOW: This sparkle
red K 100 2 was built in
Original price: 1968 custom color Strat with
case, $387.50; Kustom K 100 2-12J- 2, $465.
Current estimated market value: 1968 custom
color Strat, $10,000; Kustom K 100 2, $500.
DAVE’S GUITAR SHOP
Dave Rogers’ collection is tended by Laun Braithwaite
and Tim Mullally and is on display at:
Dave’s Guitar Shop
1227 Third Street South
La Crosse, WI 54601
Photos by Mullally and text by Braithwaite.