1977 Fender Stratocaster

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: All‑original, condition, light weight, aesthetics, affordable vintage values

Thumbs down: All those 1970s features that people say they don’t like, non‑OHSC

Decree: Not a popular choice for the purists but a worthy example of its type

Model Description:

It is probably fair to say that Fender, under the leadership of CBS, was facing a number of tough challenges during the 1970s. There was a relentless focus on mass manufacturing, which affected quality, allied to a shortage of decent lightweight tone woods and very strong competition from overseas, including a lot of low‑cost reasonably well built Japanese copies. Fender’s most respected models, the Stratocaster and Telecaster were tainted by dealer and customer perceptions, especially when compared with increasingly sought after pre‑CBS originals. Some of the most obvious visual traits that consumers said that they weren’t happy with included the large headstock (introduced in late 1965), the ‘bullet’ truss rod adjuster, and the 3‑bolt ‘microtilt’ ‘F’ neck plate (both introduced in 1971) and polyester finish (introduced in 1968). Early 1970s Stratocasters seem to be more resilient to the negativity, although there is little tangible evidence to indicate that either end of the decade was better or worse. Many commentators seem to jump on the bandwagon expressing an unwarranted anathema to 1970s Fenders. It wasn’t until the early 1980s, when Fender hired marketing director Dan Smith to turn things around, that many of the vintage‑style features that customers wanted started to reappear and not until 1987, three years after CBS sold Fender, before the new company really got things back on track with the American Standard Stratocaster and Telecaster. Vintage values of CBS‑era Fender Stratocasters from the second half of the 1970s have been stuck firmly in the doldrums for years, so they can still be a picked up at bargain prices, if you can find a good one. Good luck and remember that not all Fender guitars from this period are bad guitars, it just takes careful selection but, let’s be honest, isn’t that true for many vintage guitars?

Guitar Description:

Here we have a 1977 Fender Stratocaster hardtail in very 1970s natural finish. I bought this guitar second hand in about 1978 and have owned it ever since. There are plenty of detractors who vilify CBS‑era instruments out of hand, citing the general state of affairs at Fender at the time. The fact that this Stratocaster has been a personal favourite of mine for over 40 years means that it can’t be all that bad. It certainly isn’t overly heavy at 6½ pounds, which is one of the well‑trailed criticisms. The neck joint is secure, with no sign of the supposedly notorious looseness. I think that the original grey‑bottom pickups have a lovely twang to them and balancing the 3‑way pickup selector switch between poles gives it that unmistakable ‘in between’ sound that became standard with the 5‑way switch after 1977. The aesthetics are typically evocative of the era in which it left the Fender factory. Very much ‘of its time’, this Stratocaster is in classic 1970s natural polyester finish with the big headstock, ‘bullet’ truss rod, 3-bolt ‘microtilt’ neck joint, through body stringing, 3‑ply black scratchplate, original black plastic and rosewood fingerboard. This Stratocaster is in very good original condition for its age. It arrived with a couple of minor dinks and changed tuners. I refitted the original ‘F’ tuners and have looked after her ever since. Personally, I favour a hardtail Stratocaster and they have plenty of advantages, including better sustain and tuning stability. I grew up with the large headstock and natural finish, so I have a soft spot for the overall retro appearance. I also have a personal preference for rosewood fingerboards rather than maple. If you want a standard colour Strat with vibrato and maple fingerboard, then look elsewhere. However, if you want a solid original and playable Strat of its period, then this is a very cool example. Do I care about the gratuitous flack that people liberally throw at this guitar? No. However, I am sad that people aren’t prepared to give it the respect it deserves. OK, maybe it is undesirable by the purist collectors but I have a great affection for it.


  • Made in Fullerton, California, U.S.A. in 1977
  • Contoured double cutaway ash body with natural polyester finish
  • Large 1970s headstock with bullet truss rod adjuster
  • Original Fender ‘F’ tuners
  • Maple bolt‑on neck with mahogany ‘skunk stripe’
  • 3‑bolt ‘microtilt’ ‘F’ neck plate
  • Unbound rosewood fingerboard with 21 frets and pearl dot markers
  • Scale length 25½” (647mm)
  • Chrome hardware
  • Original 3‑ply (b/w/b) plastic scratchplate with black pickup covers, knobs and switch tip
  • Original triple Fender single coil pickups
  • Original 3‑way pickup selector switch
  • Original factory ‘hardtail’ bridge and through‑body stringing
  • Weight: 6½ lb (2.95 kg)
  • Vintage, non‑original custom‑built hard shell case by Stings & Things

Detail Gallery:

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