The iconic Stratocaster by Fender needs no introduction. However, there is one rare Stratocaster that holds a fascinating untold story – the Rosewood Stratocaster.
This Strat was the rosewood counterpart to the Telecaster, famously popularized by George Harrison.
However, fewer people know that Fender only made two Rosewood Strats, with the intention of giving one to Jimi Hendrix.
In the late 1960s, Fender was eager to tap into the psychedelic market that had emerged during the decade. To achieve this, they experimented with producing prototype instruments in unique finishes.
Another way to tap into popular culture movements was to make guitars for famous artists, and there were none more famous at the time than Jimi Hendrix and George Harrison.
Philip Kubicki, who had formerly worked with Fender in their Special Projects workshop, received the task of making a rosewood Stratocaster for Jimi Hendrix. However, the guitar remained incomplete as Hendrix passed away before Kubicki could finish it.
The guitar had a long history. According to David Davidson, the owner of the elusive Strat, it was difficult to construct. The rosewood used in its construction was unusually difficult to work with, as it emitted a significant amount of oil.
Philip Kubicki had to wipe it with alcohol and steam it to get the oil to flow, and this procedure took months to complete. The other Rosewood Stratocaster, which was intended to be just a prototype, was presented to George Harrison. The clearcoat formula used on the Rosewood Stratocaster was so special that it was written in the neck pocket.
Some magazine articles claimed that the Hendrix guitar had nothing written in the neck pocket. But, Philip Kubicki contradicted himself in a different article, stating that the Hendrix guitar had the clearcoat formula written in the neck pocket.
David Davidson thinks that the Rosewood Stratocaster he possesses was probably intended for Hendrix. Nevertheless, vintage guitars keep some secrets, and some questions might never receive full resolution.
Regardless, the story of the Fender Rosewood Stratocaster remains a fascinating piece of guitar history that will continue to intrigue guitar enthusiasts for years to come.