Fender introduced an Deluxe American Standard Strat in 1989 and discontinued them in 1990—so they had a short production life of about one year. Take a look at the guitar below and check out the appointments:
Again, it looks like a Strat Plus, but it's not!!! ;-) Check out the neck in the pictures below. They came with all the features of a Strat Plus, such as Gold Lace Sensors, same bridge and body type, but no locking tuners or roller nut. They will often have the E4, E8 or E9 serial numbers too. What these really are is an American Standard Strat with Gold Lace pickups installed.
According to the Blue Book of Guitars, there was an estimated 400 instruments produced. Personally, I think many more than 400 were made as I have owned several and I have questions coming to me every few weeks about these by email. I see them from time to time on eBay as well. They are "some-what" collectable and are sometimes sold, mistakenly, as a Strat Plus. Over time, these may very well be quite collectable. I have one nice one tucked away just for as a collectable.
I am putting both the DX and Standard colors on this page as many of these colors were used on both models. When we discuss Strat Plus colors, things tend to get complicated. It is important to note that is you try to use Fender’s current color code/sample picture color ID table, as found on their website, it will not always match for Strat Plus guitars. Some colors codes used today, were also use back in the 1980s for a different color.
THE COLORS MENTIONED HERE ARE RARE TO VERY RARE, MAKING THE GUITAR MORE COLLECTABLE: There were a lot of other finishes offered by Fender, especially early on (1987 to 1994) that are more rare to find. Color availability varied from year to year, even though they listed “certain” colors for sale in their sales brochures. I will mention the rarity of these after the color name and will supply the paint code for those I know for sure. This is based on my years of ownership and watching guitars for sale on various venues on a weekly basis over the years:
Bahama Green (rare), Dusty Rose (very rare), Shell Pink (very Rare), Torino Red (very rare), Ice Blue (very rare), Electric Blue (very rare), Graffiti Yellow (570, rare), Crimson Frost (rare), Razz Berry (very rare), Surf Green (rare & there are variations of this color), Root Beer Metallic (rare, not very popular), Burgundy Mist Metallic (very rare), Lake Placid Blue (rare), and Taos Turquoise (very rare). There are a lot of inconstancies in the materials one can read, so the proof is in the ownership, using the serial numbers and neck/body date stamps to confirm the date.
The colors that are FROSTS are different than the BURSTS. You will see there is a Crimson Frost and a Crimson Burst. A colored bursts use a color that complements the center area of the guitar, whereas a Frost will always have a very dark edge. Ebony Frost has dark, almost black edges while the center is a transparent brown color.
Mystic Black and Color Myths
The above picture is a close up of a hard to find color call Mystic Black. In normal lighting it looks, well, black. But under bright light or direct sunlight, one can see the clear coat has a blue-green pearl flake in it. Very subtle, thus the reason is it mystic I suppose. :-) This color was used between 1990 to around 1996 on some Plus Deluxe models and Ultra guitars.
There are also some myths that have been created about colors. I think part of it is the lack of knowing what to call the color of one's guitar—like on a eBay sale. Ok, I have been guilty myself of this color mischief. Back several years ago when I started this website I had a Taos Turquoise Strat Plus (see above-right). I had never seen one of these before and for a couple years tried find out what color it was called (they are pretty rare). So on my website I called it Aqua Blue! Ok, ok, I know I should not have just made up a name! But after a couple years went by I started to notice other people on the web called their Plus', which were this same color, Aqua Blue. Ummmm.... In my digging around I found that some of the early Plus' followed the vintage color tradition and that this color was actually called Taos Turquoise (and then corrected it on my website...glup!) So you can see how easy a myth can get started. After years of researching these guitars and getting help from Fender as well as the guys on the Fender Forum, I have tracked down (I think) almost every color that the Plus series came in and have them listed here (and even shown most below).
I do not know how many times I have seen someone call an off-white Plus Olympic White. There was no Olympic White in the Plus Series. What this is 99% of the time is Vintage White that has yellowed. You will see a sample below. So if you see a color not listed here, it most likely is mis-named, or the body was swapped, or maybe a custom order and then there is that weird fluke out that sometimes too.
Then there is the Sea Foam Green myth. The Strat Plus never came in Sea Foam Green! Yes there were some odd variables of the Surf Green from dark to a milky green due to mix variations and yellowing clear coats, but Sea Foam Green was never listed for any of the Strat Plus colors, at least that I have found anywhere.
Color me with Confusion! Ummm... With some of these colors there is a lot of variation due to paint mix and more overly, yellowing of the clear coat. This is especially true of the 87-91 colors. Take a look at the Vintage White above. This went from a nice creamy white to a very yellowish white. I have seen these yellow to the point where people mistakenly called then Graffiti Yellow! Look under the hood of this Bahama Green (above-center) and you can see the true color underneath. It is no wonder why there can be a lot of confusion when trying to identfy colors! Also Fender sometimes did odd-ball stuff, like adding metal flake in some clear coats on some guitars and not doing it on others of the same base color.
The picture, upper left, shows a lineup of the three "greens" that often get confused with each other. And then add to it yellowing of the clear coat and, as I mentioned earlier, Surf Green comes in several shades, so — Yes more confusion to the conclusion! ;-) These colors (1st pict) from left to right are: Bahama Green, Taos Turquoise, and Surf Green. The second picture shows a Bahama Green (left) next to a Surf Green (right) on my work bench. Again the upper picture (right) shows the same two colors side-by-side. Surf Green on a Plus can be a lighter milky color or a richer color as shown in the samples above.
The Surf Green Strat Plus looks to it like it should be sitting in the back seat of a 1957 Chevy Bel Air hardtop! WELL...The truth is, Fender used General Motors paint color "GM111" which, by the way, was called Surf Green, on their Stratocasters! FACT: Over the years Fender borrowed many colors from General Motors. Look at the 57 & 55 Bel Air hardtops above and note that, just like a Strat Plus, they can come in various shades of Surf Green. Then note the 56 Bel Air Wagon (right) is in Taos Turquoise. NOTE: SURF GREEN or BAHAMA GREEN often mistakenly called SEA FOAM GREEN. Don't fall for that one, even if Wikipedia says so! The Strat Plus and the Jeff Beck models NEVER came in Sea Foam Green.
Candy color complications: The Plus series came in several candy Colors. Candy Apple Red, Midnight Blue (aka:Candy Apple Blue or CAB), Electric Blue (a bright blue), Midnight Wine, and Lipstick Red. If one understands how Candy colors are applied, then one would know why this color varies so much and why some of these colors get mistaken for each others such as with CAR and Midnight Wine.
Here are how candy colors are made: Candy colors are a three step process. They start out with a fine metallic base coat, such as silver or gold. Sometimes they even use a solid color such as vintage white on the Lipstick Red Strats. In any case, the base color can affect the final outcome of the finish color. To give you an example, a gold base coat will cause the guitar to have a slightly darker finished look. The "candy" name and look comes from the fact that the next coat is a transparent color coat over the base coat. With CAR, the color coat is red of course. Here's the thing, if 4-coats are put on compared too 6-coats, the final color will be lighter. The color gets darker with each additional color coat applied. Then after the color coat comes several coats of clear. This too can cause variations in color because as it ages it can yellow by being exposed too light (UV). So a CAR Plus can have a gold base coat and an aged clear coat making the guitar look almost like Midnight Wine—thus the color debates begin! Truth is Midnight Wine is made the same way as CAR, but Fender used a darker red color coat, sometimes having almost a slight purple tint to it. 7-Up Green (aka Candy Apple Green, which was NOT a Plus color) is done the same way, FYI.
Another interesting Candy Color is Lipstick Red. This color is obtained the same way as CAR or Midnight Wine, but the Fender finisher put down Vintage White as the base coat instead of a metallic color. Then they used the transparent red color coat over that, followed by a the clear coats. The result is a very deep red that looks like it has water on top of it. Fender also had CAR Bursts Blue Bursts and Lipstick Red Burst—which the color coats showed the nice Ash grain through the tops and bottom of the guitar and became a solid color around the edges.
Now on to Midnight Blue (CAB). It was done with the same process as CAR and Midnight Wine but Fender used a dark transparent blue color coat. This finish is often pretty thick and you will find that they chip and get neck socket cracks quite easy. Look at the pictures below. Over the years I have refinished a few guitars and I had a CAB that had chips all over. I decided to strip the body and refinish it. To my surprise I found 17 coats (not counting the clear coats) of finish. I also found that the fine sliver base coats were extremely hard to remove! This guitar started out as CAB (3 times) then was CAR (3 times with a black sealer coat between the CAB and CAR) and ended up being CAB again! What in the world was going on at Fender's paint shop??? So now if you want to talk about thin skin verses thick skin....we will not even go there. But one thing about these pictures, they do show the process of how Candy Colors are made!
OK! NOW TO ACTUAL COLORS! I have pretty much every color ever made in a Strat plus, minus a couple maybe! Anyhow some of these guitars have been modded but are still shown to give you the actual color. So if you see odd pickups on these, they are a Plus guitar that has been modified. Also there was BLACK and Mystic black, which are not shown here, but I do talk about and show a close-up of Mystic Black if you scroll up a little!
1) Dusty Rose 2) Shell Pink 3) Razz Berry 4) Lipstick Red
1) Rare Red Burst on Ash (Lipstick Red burst) 2) Candy Apple Red 3) Midnight Wine 4) Midnight Wine (variation)
1) Fiesta Red 2) Torino Red 3) Crimson Burst 4) Crimson Frost
1) Surf Green 2) Surf Green (another variation) 3) Bahama Green 4) Taos Turquoise
1) Caribbean Mist 2) Lake Placid Blue 3) Gun Metal Blue 4) Electric Blue
1) Blue Pearl Burst (Dust) 2) Blue Frost (on Ash) 3) Midnight Blue (AKA - CAB, Candy Apple Blue)
1) Sonic Blue 2) Ice Blue
1) Arctic White 2) Vintage White 3) Vintage White (aged, variation) 4) Graffiti Yellow
1) Root Beer 2) Natural Ash 3) Ebony Frost 4) Black Pearl Burst (Dust)
1) Inca Silver 2) Pewter 3) Transparent Vintage White (Butterscotch)
1) Antique Burst 3) Antique Burst (variation) 2) Brown Sunburst 4) Brown Sunburst (variation)
Some of the Sunbursts will have a more distinct red band, some will have a darker center tint (even reddish), some have gold metal flake in the clear coat, and some are produced with Alder (finer grain) and others have Ash caps on Alder which makes for some nice bolder grain top and back.
Another unique finish on some of the Plus, Plus Deluxe and Ultra Strats and Teles is the Firestorm finish. It is somewhat rare, but available. This color is also not listed on Fender’s sales charts for the Plus series. :-) Lets talk about this guitar for a bit. This is a 1991 Strat Plus Deluxe in the are Firestorm finish. More about the Deluxe’s on my Deluxe page.
Now there are all kinds of stories about these finishes. One is that a guy worked at Fender for about 1.5 years and he was the only one there who knew how to do these finishes. He quit so they stopped....so the legend goes. Mike Eldridge at Fender, at one time, stated Fender could still do these finishes but would charge a whopping amount of money to do so. So??? Ummm.... Also to clarify a few things I have read online, and other forums, about these finishes, they ARE NOT Foto-flame finishes like used by Fender Japan in the mid-1990s.
I have noticed that there are variations of this finish as well, since each one is unique and hand done. Some of the very first ones to come out had less black between the red and was not so pronounced. The later ones had a deeper look to the finish with wider black streaks. Because of these variances, there is a less than scrupulous fellow obsessed with the idea that these posted on my site are fakes (and they I even finished them myself!). Hardly. If you look carefully, it is obvious these are stock finishes. I will be posting more about these finishes soon, after I get more feedback from some well known people in the Fender community.
One person said this is done with aluminum foil, hinting to the idea that there is foil under the finish. I don't think so! However it is done, it is very cool looking!
Now that you have looked over the Firestorm Plus, here is a rarity you will find no where else. This is, from what I could gather, a 1989 Icestorm Strat Plus and was the prototype to the Firestorm. (Serial number E922222 !!!) I talked with Rob Schwarz at Fender and he related this too me about the Icestorm Plus': "I searched through all of my database files as well as some old memos, I have around and price-lists that I keep in a binder and did not find any evidence of that color. Firestorm Red is indeed in several price-lists especially 1991-1992 but no blue to go along with it. Personally, I remember the Firestorm Red...do not remember the same in blue. So...no records of that color...no pictures that I can find.
"What I CAN say is that according to my records as well as the records we keep on hand (which are pretty extensive---but not totally infallible), that color does not "officially" exist, nor did we ever officially sell it to the best of my knowledge... That blue is growing on me...sweet. It being a prototype sounds like a likely version to me. Just like Leo Fender did with Bill Carson, the "try this" tradition lives on..." So far i have not found any more information on these and it always seemed they were just a legend, that is till I found one. This is for sure the rarest of all the Strat Plus guitars. If anyone ever finds another one or gets a picture, please let me know! This one was found in a garage where there was an estate sale. We were told the owner was friends with people who worked at Fender in the early 1990s.
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Limited Edition Aluminum Body Stratocaster Plus
In 1995-96 Fender produced the Limited Edition Aluminum Body Stratocaster Plus' (U.S. Mfg. No. 010-7500/7502) which were a spin off of the Strat Plus, except they had a hollow aluminum body. They were available in Blue Metal Burst, Stars and Stripes, and Violet Metal Burst finishes, some with Rosewood fretboards and some with Maple. Fender says there was a total production of 120 instruments (40 in each color). Here is the statistics from Fender:
(751) Blue Metal Burst: Rosewood @ 20 made, Maple @ 20 made
(752) Violet Metal Burst: Rosewood @ 20 made, Maple @20 made
(753) Stars and Stripes: Rosewood @ 20 made, Maple @ 20 made
So this make about 120 total. Fender used these bodies on a couple other guitars as well, such as the Harley-Davidson Strat and a other few Custom Shop models. There have been a few bodies floating around too, so there are some home-brewed Strats out there as well. I am trying to limit my research to the Strat Plus series, but it is hard!
Here is a nice sample of an Aluminum Body Violet Metal Burst Strat Plus that is New Old Stock. I picked this up from a dealer who bought it new and then tucked it away. When I got it it was unplayed and still had the plastic on the pickguard and trem plate cover. There were about 20 of these made in this color and with a maple neck.
The Aluminum Body Blue Metal Burst Strat Plus with a rosewood neck (above) belongs to a friend of mine named Eric Liquori, who also provided information from his research to the Blue Book of Guitars. Again, only 20 were made in this color with a rosewood fretboard.
This is a fine example of a 1995 Midnight Wine Strat Plus. You can clearly see the Gold Lace Sensor pickups and the American 2-point floating bridge. I have owned many Midnight Wine Plus' and have noticed the color can be a little lighter on some models. These are darker and more purple than the Candy Apple Red, but has the color applied like the Candy Apple Red, which is a silver or gold base coat, followed by several coats of transparent color and then the clear coat. Candy Apple Red, Midnight Wine, 7-Up Green (Candy Apple Green) and Midnight Blue were all candy color finishes. This is why they can have such a deep look in direct light.
Again, notice that the serial numbers started to appear on the back of the headstocks in 1995.
This is a excellent condition 1990 Gun Metal Blue metallic Stratocaster Plus. (I have one of these on my Deluxe page too). This guitar sat unplayed and was owned by one person most of its life. Gun Metal Blue was used on some of the very early Strat Plus guitars between 1987 to 1991, but was not listed on the colors available in the Plus Series. They, along with a few other colors are rarer to come across. This one has the E9xxxxx Serial number. The E9 serial number was a crazy time for Fender because E9, N9, and N0 serial numbers can all be 1990. E9 is also 1989, of course. The paperwork that came with this beautiful Strat says it was made in 1990.
This is a fine example of a beautiful 1993 Vintage White STRATOCASTER PLUS that has faded to a really cool cream color. Now Fender does not list Vintage White as available till 1997, even though it was used on their Strats since 1987! This is not the Arctic White which is lighter and whiter. So, go figure! As stated earlier, in the middle of 1993 Fender changed the nuts from a Wilkinson Roller nut to the LSR Roller nut.
This Strat Plus has been completely rewired using TFN Technologies custom wiring system, which provides 10 different pickup tones. With TFN Technologies custom wiring, using a 3-way rotary knob and a 5-way Super Switch you can get humbucker, Strat and Tele tones, plus some.
This 1997 Natural Plus in ASH. Most of the solid colored models were made from Alder and in the ealy 1990s some were made from Popular, when there was an Alder shortage. Most of the burst type transparent colors had Ash sandwiched-laminated on Alder thus the dark color around the edge to produce the "burst" effect. it was to hide the laminated edge. Sometimes, Fender used solid Ash for some of these burst finished Plus', perhaps if the body was slightly defected and not good enough to use for a clear finish like this one.
The Natural Ash Plus', both the Deluxe and Standard issues, came with either a white or tortious shell pickguard. As you can see this one has the tortious shell both front and back. This one has outstanding grain on it. I have customize quite a number of these over the years, with Chrome Domes and even Chrome and/or Nickel plated Humbuckers.
This is another Graffiti Yellow Strat Plus with a Maple neck from 1991. I have seen these both with Rosewood and Maples necks, BUT it does seem the Maple necks are more common. These along with Surf Green and some of the other vintage colors are becoming more and more in demand and prices have gone up like crazy the last few years. they ARE a good investment.
This 1988 Plus in a very rare Taos Turquoise in mint condition which had the pickguard changed to the pearoid type. This color is very hard to find on a plus and was not listed in the colors available. It was a vintage color used in the 60s Strats and was only used on the Plus series from 87-90, along with colors such as Shell Pink, Gun Metal Blue, Burgundy Mist Metallic, Sea Foam Green and a few other colors. (Do a Google picture search for Taos Turquoise, and you will find out more about this color.)
This is a 1997 Sonic Blue Strat Plus that is a Closet Classic—the guitar has rarely been played. 1997 was suppose to be the the first year for this beautiful color, which is very similar to the Daphne Blue of the vintage Stratocasters, but there were some that came out mid-1996. The three Gold Lace really do put out that 50's vintage sound!
One of my favorite playing Strat Plus' is this 1996 Anniversary model in slightly aged (yellowed) Sonic Blue with an aged Maple neck. This color was used on a lot of the Jeff Beck Signature Strats. The color is not represented well in these pictures. It is actually a little greener, but not much.
On this Strat you can see the 1996 Anniversary sticker on the back of the headstock and can tell the pickups have been change over to the Hot Gold Lace. These really screams with the vintage sound of a 1950-60s Strat but with more power and a hotter bridge pickup.