Thursday, April 14, 2011

1979 Fender Stratocaster Hardtail Guitar


Today we are looking at a 1979 Fender Stratocaster that is not pretty and does not play well or sound good, yet it is still collectible.

There was a time when players everywhere clamored for pre-CBS Fender gear (made before 1965, or so). They claimed these guitars sounded the best and had mythical properties, such as letting you live forever and being able to transform any material into gold.

Well, the prices of these early Fender guitars and basses shot through the roof and they became unobtainable. Them oddly enough, the late 1960s Fender guitars and basses suddenly gained the same magical allure, and also became very expensive.

Let’s fast forward to today, where it appears that the formerly horrible Fender guitars of the late 1970s are now collector’s items.

This 1979 Fender Stratocaster is all original, even including its case. What is left of its transparent finish is covering a 3-piece ash body. And note what a lovely job they did of matching up the grain on the wood! Mmm mmm bad. The finish has worn oddly around the upper horn and by the neck joint in the back. I am not sure exactly how you would wear all the finish off the horn like that.

The hardware is in good shape, and as you can see, this has a hardtail bridge. I think this added some weight to the guitar, as the guitar comes in at almost 10 pounds, which is damned heavy for a Stratocaster. The tuners are the F-logo closed-back tuners, and they hold well. I have always liked the looks of these tuners.

The finish on the neck is worn a bit on the edges, and is delaminating over the fretboard dots so that they look kind of poopy. This one has the bullet truss rod adjuster and the three-bolt neck joint, neither of which are my favorite Fender innovations. The original frets are still in good condition, but the guitar just does not play well. The action has to be set high to keep it from buzzing, which I find really frustrating for a hardtail guitar.

The electronics are adequate, but are nothing special. The pickups and pots have some extra buzz and hum, and it sounds no better than any Mexican Stratocaster you will find on the wall at Guitar Center. This is not unusual, either. I have played a few Fender guitars and basses from this era and walked away unimpressed.

All of this does not add up to a winning combination. I see prices of $1500 to $3000 for 1979 Stratocasters on eBay, which is ridiculous. This would be a good $600 or $700 guitar, but that is about it.



  1. rubbish,i,ve got a 1979 hardtail and it plays beautifully.its just as well built as any other fender and i,ve had no issues with the 3 bolt neck

  2. Hah! I know how to use the shift key and punctuate properly!

  3. Huh I have79 vg condition.want2000

  4. Are you feeling ok?Mine plays perfect!

  5. I wouldn’t sell my 79 Hardtail for $10K.

    It’s potential is limitless, and it reminds me of this every time I pick it up!

    1. I just got my ‘79, did a full set up and intonation on it. Yes, the damn thing is heavy, and it has all of the body flaws you’d expect to find on a ‘79, the odd body cuts and crappy finish. But when I plug that thing into my Fender mustang V amp head & showman cabinet, it sings sweeter than my 2013 American Special. It resonates like nobody’s business, and has more balls than any Strat I’ve ever played!