Featuring a lightweight two-piece Ash body with the deep contours that are such a feature of the early Stratocaster. The Ash itself is pleasantly figured and the body has had no repairs or modifications. The thin nitro-cellulose Sunburst finish is in excellent condition with only light checking and the most minor of wear to the back of the guitar alluding to the guitars age. The Maple Neck is equally good with production markings and construction techniques exactly as expected for this period. The neck is signed XA for Xavier Armandez, a highly regarded Fender Employee well known for his signature being on Clapton’s Brownie neck. Itself a ’56 with a June pencil date. Like the body the finish is in great condition with only the fingerboard wear between the 1st and 5th fret hinting of the guitars being used. It is easy to see why ’56 XA necks are so highly praised with a profile that starts as a chunky soft V that tapers out to more of a medium+ C as the profile slims along the shoulders as it tapers towards the body. There is a slight raise along the skunk-stripe at the maple transition but it does not affect playability. The decal is the original, delicate Spaghetti Logo version with no patent numbers. Lifting the pickguard the electronics are nicely clean and original. It has its original black bottom pickups, 3 Stackpole pots with a 304605 Source Code, rectangular Phonebook capacitor and CRL 1452 3-way switch. The tuners are original Nickel Kluson ’Single-line' (PAT APPLD 2356766 stamped) and it features the earlier Nickel round string retainer (before Fender switched to the "butterfly" version later in ’56). It has it's original 8-hole, single-ply pickguard with small shielding plate, and the pickup covers switch tip and volume and tone knobs are the pre-57 Bakelite and have stood the test of time remarkably well. The Tremolo block and saddles are correct and still serviceable.
Weighing in at 7.6lbs, a very respectable weight for an Ash Stratocaster, the guitar plays well with its original frets and nut intact. 50’s Stratocasters really are quite special sounding, sonically brighter and a little less polite than its early sixties counterparts they are the perfect pairing with the Tweed amps of the time. The pickups measure 5.12K, 5.09K and 5.35K neck to bridge. Measuring 42.16mm the nut width is what would become known as the traditional Fender B width. The neck depth measures 24.03mm at the 1st fret gently tapering to 24.34mm at the 12th.
All 1956 Stratocasters are special instruments but early examples, like this, before the switch to alder can be thought of as the final refinement of Leo’s original vision for the Stratocaster. This guitar sits just before that change and is a stunning, rare piece of Fender history and a fine opportunity to own an excellent example from an important era of Fender history.