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Fender Robin Trower Signature Modded Stratocaster Large CBS Headstock Guitar

This Robin Trower Signature Modded Strat is a labor of love, taking a full year to find the exact high grade electronic and mechanical parts that went into the best of the two Robin Trower Stratocasters, the Limited Edition Robin Trower Tribute Stratocaster (only 100 made and unavailable at any price) and the Robin Trower Signature Stratocaster that sells now at a street price of $2800.

Being a huge Trower fan for the past 30 years, I've always loved his dripping, gorgeous, thick tones. His tones have evolved from the darker Fuzz and Uni-Vibe types to his latest tones from the Living Out of Time CD which are much brighter and punchier, yet still retain that rich fat warmth of the '70s which he is best known for. After hundreds of hours of studying his guitars, effects chain and amplifiers, I found that to duplicate that amazing sound of his, you MUST have the same guitar type, certain pickups that are not available anywhere along with a certain chain of Fulltone effects and a good tube Marshall amp. The pedals and amp can be substituted, provided you are good at tweaking pedals and amps but the guitar part that he evokes those tones from and the pickups I found is the most critical part to build from. At the time I wanted to duplicate this tone, I did not have the $2800 to buy a Robin Trower Signature Strat so I thought I could perhaps build it slowly, one part at a time.

That put me on an endless quest for finding all the right parts and let me tell you, if I were to do it again, I would just have saved up to buy one because finding the right parts is next to impossible and not without great expense. Nonetheless, I finally pulled it off after a full year and even made a couple additional improvements such as shielding the body for noise and increasing sustain and note definition through adding a Callaham steel trem block which is being used by many pro guitarists today from the top on down.

About Robin's amazing tone: Having owned many Strats with almost every flavor of custom shop pickup imaginable, there is not a single guitar or pickup that Fender makes that will get the super fat, wailing lower mid tones, huge lows and beautiful highs Robin has been getting lately with his uniquely designed Strat and pickups. Nor can you get those amazing in between position 2 & 4 quack tones he gets without the exact combination of pickups he uses that are found on no other Strat Fender makes. What I found is that this same combination is also perfect for replicating Jimi Hendrix's sounds on songs like Machine Gun, etc where the neck pickup tone is super fat and dynamic, just as these pickups are designed to sound like specifically for Robin.

The Specs on the Fender site says:
[The Robin Trower Signature Stratocaster guitar pays homage with two custom ’50s single-coil Strat pickups in the neck and middle positions, and one Tex-Mex™ single-coil Strat pickup in the bridge (of sighs!) position. Trower’s namesake model also sports a large ’70s-style headstock and a custom C-shaped maple neck.]

However, countless interviews with Robin himself and Todd Krause, the master builder at Fender and 2 video tapes of the actual making of the guitar shows that the neck pickup is a Custom '50s (not to be confused with a custom '54 or Fat '50s), the Middle Pickup is a Custom '60s (not a custom '50s as specs say which is a mistake on the part of their marketing department) and the Bridge is a Tex-Mex pickup. I have also confirmed this with Robin personally after one of his shows and through emails to his agent Derek Sutton in the past who asked Robin for me in the interim. In addition, after I managed to locate a very costly set of the custom '60s and installed it in the middle, I could immediately tell it was the missing link between the fat neck tones, the wide open middle and in between quack tones of positions 2 & 4 that makes Robin' tone so unique. In fact, the minute you play this guitar through any overdrive pedal such as a Fulltone OCD and or Deja Vibe, you will instantly recognize it as Robin's exact tone in all 5 positions

Lets begin with this guitar's unique Features...

  • Neck & Body: Fender 60th Anniversary Classic '70s Stratocaster with large CBS headstock, bullet truss '70s style neck. Olympic white finish. What makes this one unique is it has the 3 bolt neck like the Limited Edition Tribute Strat. However, if you ever played a classic or real '70s style neck, you will note that they are very chunky and unless you have long fingers and big hands they are a bit difficult to wrap your hand around up on the upper registers. This particular neck was professionally shaved down to a comfortable U shape to the exact specs of the Fender Custom Shop '69 Strat by highly reputable Stevie B. who not only is an authorized Fender Repair Luthier but his band opened up for Jimi Hendrix back in the late '60s 3 times! It now has a silky smooth finish and is the same thinner profile as the Robin Trower Signature Strats as he preferred a thinner profile as well but he loved the large CBS headstock a'la Jimi. The body is a beautifully resonant Lite ash finished in Olympic white and has been fully shielded with copper foil lining and star grounded it to quiet the beast of all single coil Strats. This of course could be fully reversed if you wanted the noise back simply by removing the foil. However, Robin himself has complained about venues where Radio Frequencies (RF) or 60 cycle hum intrinsic in Stratocasters, plagued some of his shows, so the shielding really helps.

    • Pickups: Now here is what REALLY makes this guitar special! Robin personally designed his Signature Strat with Fender Custom shop master builder Todd Krause. Since Robin had a huge collection of Strats, may of which were stolen from him, he recalled that his favorite sounding ones were the neck pickup of a '50s Strat, the middle pickup from of a '60s Strat and the bridge he chose a Tex Mex after trying out every singe pickup Fender had available because he liked how it balanced out with the middle and neck. So the neck pickup, is called the "Custom '50s" (not the same as a custom '54 or Fat '50s) with their own unique sound. Think Trower or Jimi's Machine Gun big fat dripping tone. This pickup is only available in the Robin Trower Signature Strat and the '56 Relic Strat which also sells for $2800. After 7 months of searching high and low I was able to get one at great expense from a '56 Relic Strat. The middle custom '60s pickup, was taken from a Fender® Custom Shop '60 Stratocaster Relic that cost the owner $3075 at The Zoo in NYC and the Tex Mex in bridge was bought as a full set. So I have several hundred plus almost a year of daily research to find them as they are not sold individually. I have pics of the actual guitars they came from if desired by the buyer.

    • Tuning Machines: Sperzel Locking Tuners exactly as used in The Robin Trower Signature Strat.

    • Tremolo System: The tremolo is the vintage 6 screw type, exactly the way Robin likes it for increased tone and has been upgraded with an authentic Callaham Steel Block turns any ordinary non-magnetic zinc block into a vintage tone machine since steel blocks is what was used on the early Strats. Many vintage Strat collectors believe the older ones sounded superior in that they used cold rolled unleaded steel block which increases sustain and note definition compared to the cheaper zinc blocks which sound dull and lifeless.

    • Purple Pearloid or White Pickguard: The pickguard that's on now is a Fender Purple pearloid type which I can switch back to a white one if you like.

    • Includes Fender Herdshell Case and 2 ender Custom Shop videos on DVD showing the making of both Trower Stratocasters at Fender's custom shop.

    Here's a few badly recorded sound clips that really don't do this guitar justice because of the inferior recording gear used but it should give you some idea of how it sounds.

Sound Clip Samples

Clean: CS '50s Neck
Clean: CS '60 Middle Pickup + CS '60s Middle with Hendrix JH1B Wah! 
Clean: Tex Mex Bridge Pickup
Overdriven: Clip 1 Just using Fulltone OCD into Marshall JCM 900 Amp
Overdriven: Clip 2 Using Fulltone OCD + Sweet Sound Ultra Vibe (Uni-Vibe Clone)
Overdriven: Clip 3 using Fulltone Fat Boost into Soul Bender into Dr Z Route 66 Amp

Notice pole piece differences between Custom 50s neck, Custom '60s middle and Tex Mex Bridge
Standard on Robin Trower Signature Model - Pickguard can be change to white at your option.

Fully lined copper shielding cuts outside interference to a bare minimum and allows tone
to shine through without being masked by the nasty 60 cycle hum that plagues Strats.

Large CBS Style Headstock

Original Fat '70s Neck Professionally shaped by well-known PA Luthier and authorized Fender repairman,
Stevie B. to comfortable and exact Fender Custom Shop '69 'U' Profile
Finish is slightly lighter on back of neck out of view due to satin feel and did not want to change
original glossy surface on the front of the neck and headstock. Smooth as silk feel and play and not noticeable while playing.

Sperzel Locking Tuners standard on Robin Trower Signature Stratocaster

60th Anniversary Diamond Model

3 Bolt Neck standard on Limited Edition Robin Trower Tribute Stratocaster.
Note the 3 bolt systems have been greatly improved since the original '70s units with rock solid stability.

Callaham cold-rolled unleaded Steel Trem Block Upgrade for increased sustain and note definition.
Really makes the pickup tone come alive!

Barely noticeable hairline paint crack by back of neck pocket which I did not notice until just taking the pics.

Steel Vintage Saddles just the way Trower likes it! Says the tone is superior to the newer 2 pivot types
which Fender acknowledged and began using this type again on their latest models.

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