In 1993, Fender purchased some aluminum bodies from Marty Schulte at Spruce Hill Guitars, and had some engraved for that year's NAMM show. In 1994, Fender made approximately 400 American Standard Stratocasters and 100 American Standard Telecasters anodized in three colors. There was a blue tie-dye, a purple tie-dye and an American flag pattern for Fender's 40th Anniversary. Unfortunately, Fender didn’t keep records of how many were made in each color.
At the same time the Fender Custom Shop in California was busy making versions of their own. The first was a chrome body with a black anodized aluminum pickguard with the Custom Shop logo etched on it.. This guitar, as well as other Custom Shop aluminum guitars, featured a black painted headstock.
There were several other versions which used Marty Schulte's beautiful hand-made bodies. The highly engraved chrome Aloha, the chrome Mustang Strat for Ford Motor Co., and many limited editions or one-of-a-kinds. The most famous is the 1993 Harley Davidson Anniversary Stratocaster. Most of this information can be found in the "Vintage Guitar" magazine, July 1997 and July 1998 issues.
My personal introduction to these amazing guitars was a few years later (I forget the year now!) when I saw Robert Cray live at the Melbourne Arts Centre. That performance was remarkable for the phenomenal amplifier troubles he suffered that night, but also for the amazing sight and sound of his Aluminium (he'd have called it Aluminum) Strat. I was in no position to afford the huge prices being asked for the Aluminium Strats on the market, but it wasn't long before I got in contact with Marty Schulte, and I ordered 4 bodies to eventually build my own dream guitars. Two Tele bodies, and two Strat bodies, a couple in single-cone resonator form, and one especially ordered to make a 30" scale aluminium-Tele-bodied Fender VI custom.
That order turned into a drawn-out wrangle as deadlines came and went several times. It went on to become an unpleasant and quite expensive experience (I have no idea what caused the obvious personal melt-down by the maker, but many others got burned at that time, and many weren't as lucky - or persistent - as me and lost their money and their patience in the end), but eventually my order was honoured, and the four bodies are still here in storage awaiting transformation into my dream instruments. Spruce Hill seems to have continued to have a spurious existence - a newspaper article here outlines one USA town's experience.
Maybe Fender's very small production numbers using these bodies reflects the same thing. However, as with most artists, Marty's craftsmanship was astounding. You really have to see these bodies in detail to fully appreciate the amazing metalworking skill involved. They are truly works of art in themselves. See the detailed photos in the 'more pictures' link below.
Imaging my amazement when I came across this guitar, which simply had to have had a similar background. The initial owner took a very interesting path, and came up with a stunning guitar in all respects, and one which is based, I think, on the Custom Shop model with black pickguard and headstock. The black bridge (with trem arm with is photographed with the original aluminium pickguard and backplate - see the 'more pictures' link below) really sets the visual impact off, while also being very nice to use!
In this case the guitar was built using an original 1994 body (according to the previous owner) in exceptionally good condition, coupled to a rare top of the range 2007 Deluxe Fender Special Run Chrome on Black neck. It is a very, very rare USA made neck, with mother of pearl inlay, an LSR roller nut, locking tuners, and chrome headstock logo.
The pickups dual-rail pickups. I believe they are 'Mighty Mite', but I can't be sure. They are not Seymour Duncan, but are comparible to SD's Cool Rails. I have been very slow to list this guitar, which I purchased quite some time back, as I absolutely love having it on a stand in my home, and more importantly love gigging it! I will stress now that this is not a 'Stratty' Strat. I use it for the most Texas tone ever in Blues and Jump Blues performances, where it is simply amazing. Really powerful, balanced, and tone you simply won't believe. And I have NEVER done a gig with this guitar where several people in the audience don't come up afterwards and ask me what it is!
Weight? Just 3.4 kg, or 7.5 pounds!
At the recent Vintage Guitar and Amp Expo in Canberra, this guitar, more than any of the other gems Grouse Guitars had on display, generated a LOT of interest. It must have been photographed hundreds of times in the two days of the Expo.
Also included is a genuine 1994 aluminium Fender pick guard (instead of the black plastic currently fitted). and the genuine aluminium back plate. Neither of these have ever been fitted to the guitar and are factory items, obviously in mint condition, and with a high intrinsic value in themselves (see the 'more pictures' link below). The guitar comes in a new Ashton-branded plush-lined hardshell case.
Sold to Mick