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1987 Fender ExTrad '54 Stratocaster ST54-140 Sunburst Lacquer w/ USA Electronics, Japan MIJ


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Up for sale, a 1987 Fender "ExTrad" Stratocaster ‘54 vintage reissue model ST54-140 in 100% original condition and in perfect working order. Finished in two-tone Sunburst nitro lacquer and complete with all USA electronics, this ExTrad model represents the absolute top tier of Fender Japan at the Fujigen factory during the golden age of "Made in Japan" production. Excruciatingly rare, these instruments were designed to be sold in the Japanese domestic market and are uncommon in their country of origin or elsewhere.

A true Custom Shop offering, the ExTrad instruments were ostensibly made to order one-offs with features that paralleled Fender's USA Custom Shop output. Established by Makoto Sugimoto, who benefitted from a quarter century of experience in R&D, custom guitar building, and engineering at Fujigen, the ExTrad instruments were produced by a small team of expert craftspeople, representing Fender Japan's absolute best. This premium instrument line was first offered in 1986 and was retired in 1994.

This particular ExTrad '54 Stratocaster is stunning in every detail, with an ash body and one-piece maple neck with light flame figuring. The guitar has a notably full and broad natural acoustic tone with plenty of bass register warmth and a deep resonant quality. The trio of pickups are the original Fender USA black bobbin single coils (the same pickups seen in the American Vintage line and early USA Custom Shop Strats) with staggered alnico magnets and cloth-covered leads. Lively, sparkling, and very dynamic, the sound is distinct and vital in every position on the switch. The bridge pickup has bite and bounce, with a woody, percussive middle pickup, and round, bell-like chime at the neck. The “in-between” settings have a delightfully thinned-out snap and scooped spank. The guitar weighs 7lbs 7oz, benefitting from a professional setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar with 10-46 strings, slinky action and accurate intonation.

The maple neck has a medium depth soft V-shaped profile with rolled fretboard edges, filling out closer to a traditional C shape in the higher registers of the fretboard with more shoulder, measuring .845" deep at the 1st fret and .950" at the 12th. The maple fretboard has a vintage-spec 7 1/4" radius with original slender fretwire that has good meat and well-rounded crowns, showing very light wear beneath the plain strings on frets 1-11 that becomes progressively lighter as you approach the octave. This guitar plays cleanly up the 25 1/2" scale with a straight neck and responsive, optimally adjusted truss rod, and the original bone nut measures 1.650” (42mm) in width. The Gotoh-made Kluson-style tuning machines turn very smoothly and hold pitch well, and the '54 spec round string tree completes the appointments. The "Made in Japan" text and E-prefix serial are present above the four-bolt neck plate, and the neck heel is pencil dated 2-16-87. Both the neck heel and pocket have matching model stamps, and the four-bolt neck plate retains the small "140" sticker signifying both the model suffix and the price when sold new in Japan (¥140,000).

The electronics all function as intended, with the traditional Strat control array governing the original black bobbin pickups which have un-beveled staggered alnico pole pieces. The harness boasts all original USA-made CTS pots which have visible date codes from the 50th week of '86. The original hardware is intact and notably clean, including the Fender American Vintage bridge with steel tremolo block and the original arm. Plastics comprise a one-ply white pickguard, with requisite scuffing along the strum path, and the gently aged trios of knobs and pickup covers.

Cosmetic wear on the gloss nitro lacquer two-tone Sunburst finish includes a handful of minor dings on the body as a whole, buckle rash across the back, and faint finish wear in the clear coat on the body perimeter. The smooth ambered gloss on the neck profile highlights tight flame figuring in the maple, particularly prominent on the bass-side of the carve.

A faux leather padded gigbag is included.