A swinging ’60s couple: 1968 Fender Stratocaster and 1969 Kustom K 100 2 head and cab. By the mid 1960s, the Stratocaster— Fender’s top model of 1954—had taken a


A swinging ’60s couple: 1968 Fender Stratocaster and 1969 Kustom K 100 2 head and cab.

By the mid 1960s, the Stratocaster— Fender’s top model of 1954—had taken a backseat to the higher priced Jaguar and Jazzmaster in Fender’s catalog. By 1967, Stratocaster production was at its lowest. But thanks to the appearance of the charismatic Jimi Hendrix, who arrived on the scene that same year, the Stratocaster became and remains one of the world’s most popular electric guitars.

The 1968 Strat pictured this month shares features common to other Strats from that year, including the enlarged “bell bottom” headstock (December ’65 through September ’81), and the conspicuous black headstock logo (’68 though ’83). The rare, firemist gold finish on this guitar was almost overlooked when this instrument was on the Dave’s Guitar Shop sales floor in the late ’90s. At that time, this guitar was masquerading as a poorly refinished Strat in a dulllooking white color. An eagle-eyed customer spotted some gold where the white was chipped away and alerted Dave. The excruciating task of wet-sanding off the white finish was given to Davey Reinders. Thanks to his agonizingly careful work, this guitar can be seen today in its full golden splendor.

Holding up the Strat is an icon of late-’60s amplification, the Kustom K 100 2 head and matching 2x12 cab. Kustom, founded in the mid ’60s by Bud Ross in Chanute, Kansas, offered amps with state-of-the-art solid-state technology and eye-catching tuck-and-roll naugahyde upholstery that was available in seven attractive colors, including gold, silver, charcoal, white, blue, “cascade,” and red. (A large array of late-’60s Kustom gear in this vibrant red color can be seen on the television series Glee.) This head offered “resonant treble boost” circuitry, reverb, and tremolo, and the cab sported a pair of 12" Jensens.


Left: This firemist gold finish is a rare custom color. A previous owner had covered the original gold paint on this Strat with a dull white refin, which had to be painstakingly removed. Right: In 1968, Strats had an enlarged “bell bottom” headstock and black logo. Middle: This sparkle red K 100 2 was built in Chanute, Kansas.

This Strat and Kustom amp have appreciated at different rates over the last four decades. The 1968 Fender pricelist shows a Strat with tremolo and custom finish at $330, plus $57.50 for the case. The current estimated value is about $10,000. The 1970 Kustom pricelist has a K 100 2-12J-2 at $465. The current value is much the same—about $500 in excellent condition.

Nearly all you need to know about Fender Stratocasters is in The Fender Stratocaster by A.R. Duchossoir. You can research Kustom Amps at vintagekustom. com and broadwaymusicco.com.

Original price: 1968 custom color Strat with case, $387.50; Kustom K 100 2-12J-2, $465.
Current estimated market value: 1968 custom color Strat, $10,000; Kustom K 100 2, $500.

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In high cotton: Charlie Musselwhite is thoroughly content with his return to the Delta. “We love living here,” he says. “It just makes sense, and it feels like the blues is alive and well in the Delta and you can just feel it rising up from the earth, it’s so present.”

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