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Fender '60s Reverse Headstock Special Strat Electric Guitar Review

For any Jimi Hendrix fanatic like myself, this reverse headstock Strat guitar is a dream come true. It combines all the good features like reverse headstock, '68 Reverse Wound style pickups as were in Jimi's Olympic White Woodstock Strat & his Band of Gypsys Black Beauty Strats since those were both reputedly made in 1968. What's nice is the body is a "righty" so you don't have to try to stretch your fingers up in the top registers like Jimi had to and the cool reverse headstock not only looks killer, but it definitely gives the guitar a whole different tone than the regular right handed headstock sounds. Since the 6th bass string now has to travel several inches further to the tuning peg, it gives it more of a baritone bass tone to that and to the 5th and 4th strings. When you play those Hendrix chords you can really hear that voodoo twang ring out! In addition, one of the best things I found is on a regular right handed Strat, I kept finding myself using heavier and heavier gauge strings because the 1st E & 2nd B strings sounded like they were getting lost in the mix when strumming a chord. Not so with the reverse headstock! Since the 1st high E now only has the short distance to the first tuning peg, it's seems to cut through a lot stronger and cleaner overall, strumming a chord sounds beautifully balanced now even with light gauge .9s-.42 while the bass strings sound so much fuller and funkier. To boot, the pickups are reverse wound as are the pole pieces to emulate Jimi's upside down Strat playing exactly! I've read that the reverse poles makes A string a little stronger and the 2nd B string a little smoother. I was actually in shock at how great they sound in all 5 positions and especially in those in between 2 & 4 positions that Jimi loved to play it. Positively nails it! I already had a set of Fender Custom Shop '69 pickups laying here to install figuring they would be Made in Mexico cheapies but in spite of the plastic bobbins, they really have Jimi's tone down pat.

I read that this was a special issue limited run of just 700 and Musiciansfriend was down to their last couple at last time I spoke with them so an of you Jimi fans should run out and grab one while you still can! There's no other Fender Strat made that has the reverse headstock and '68 lefty pickups in a righty body. Even the custom shop '69 Strat has a right handed headstock unless you buy a lefty model and want to struggle with playing the upper register notes like Jimi had to.

Having been following all the various Voodoo Strats, Hendrix Strats over the years, they only go up, up, up in value! Fender won't be making anymore anytime soon since they discontinued this model. Musiciansfriend wanted to unload them and did a Stupid Deal of the Day on them for $399 including shipping! That was really a no-brainer of which I discovered when they ran it. Now the few left at the time of this writing are selling at a clearance price of $699.95 and there's a few on eBay selling in the $5-600 range from those who saw the stupid deal and bought a few to make a few extra bucks on them. If you ever wanted a Hendrix style Strat, now is the time to grab one unless you want to spend $2-3k or more down the road. If I had the extra cash, I'd buy them all and hang on to them till they go up in value.

Construction: The maple neck on my black model is smooth as silk with perfectly dressed frets and feels like a 20 year old broken in Strat. The Alder body is perfect, smooth as silk glossy black finish and surprisingly light at only 7 pounds 10 ounces! My Custom '70s Strat is made of swamp ash and much heavier and a brighter tone that I'm not as akin to as the warmer toned Alder. Normally bodies this light cost more due to the lighter wood typically being more resonant and this one surely is. The neck fits nice and tight and only drawbacks were the typical zinc trem block which I promptly replaced with a Callaham Steel block and that really made it come to life. Only problem I had fitting it in was that it rubbed up against the inside trem cavity wall, so I had to do a little sanding to make the trem block return to position but otherwise, it really improved the dynamics, clarity, sustain and harmonic complexity tenfold. The tuning machines are Klusens with the string going down the center and hold tune great! No need for Sperzels or other locking tuners here!

Likes: Aside from everything already mentioned, it would be otherwise impossible to get a Hendrix lefty sound in a right handed Strat without this model's current availability, except for those older Voodoo Strats and other Hendrix issues that are out of circulation and selling in the thousands now.

Dislikes: I didn't care much for the white version which is more of an Arctic white with a single ply white pickguard that looked kind of cheap and with the yellowed pickup covers and knobs and the vintage tint neck, it just seemed kind of ugly, though you could easily replace the pickguard with a nice 3 ply white-black-white and new white pickup covers and knobs which would probably make a big difference. Still, the somewhat darkly tinted neck against the white just didn't seem to jibe. Also, I wish they would have the Fender decal look black like Jimi's '68 with the "Synchronized Tremolo" words, but instead they opted for the '66-'67 gold transitional Fender logo which looks a bit weak but still acceptable. If I wanted to go the full 9 yards, I'd strip the tint away and put a black '68 logo on, but my black model looks so nice and the finish is so beautiful that I'm not going to mess with it. In fact, I even kind of like the yellowed pickup covers with the black model since it looks almost as if Jimi stuck his Black Beauty Strat away in a closet and pulled it out 40 years later. I also wish the neck had a maple cap without being able to see that black truss rod adjustment up top since Jimi's white and black Strats adjusted at the neck heel, not at the headstock. The earlier Voodoo Strats had the maple cap but for some reason they opted not to do it with this model. If you ask any of the neck makers like Warmoth, Allparts, etc. they also won't make a CBS style maple capped neck due to Fender licensing which strictly prohibits it for some reason. Most likely to keep the Jimi mystique going. Even so this model is close enough to the real deal to earn it's place as one of the best Jimi clones (albeit modified) to date.

Specs borrowed from Musiciansfriend's site

Create your own screaming "Star Spangled Banner" with this unique Strat!

A modified version of a famous Strat seen at Woodstock, the flipped headstock reverses the length of the strings, and combined with the reverse-slant bridge pickup, delivers feel and tone uniquely different from traditional Stratocasters. 3 vintage-style single-coil pickups with staggered pole pieces, alnico magnets, and aged covers generate vintage styling and tone. Highly requested by players, a great addition to your Strat collection.

Fender '60s Reverse Headstock Strat Electric Guitar Features:

  • Alder Body
  • Maple neck with 7.5 Inch Radius
  • 21 Vintage Style Frets
  • 1-Ply White Pickguard
  • Aged Plastic parts
  • Chrome Hardware
  • Vintage Style Bridge and Tuning Machines
  • 3 vintage-style single-coil pickups with staggered pole pieces, alnico magnets, and aged covers with reverse slanted bridge pickup
  • 5-Position Blade
  • 9-46's

Click here to see full gallery of internal pics of the Fender '60s Reverse Headstock Strat Electric Guitar

Click here to see my new Fender '68 Left Strat with Maple Capped neck!

To see this guitar after it was shielded click here

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