Since its 1954 release, the Stratocaster has been able to deviate from the ash and alder standard and try other woods like poplar, basswood, mahogany, koa, and maple. But thanks to the decommissioning of an 81-year-old bridge made by the Civilian Conservation Corps (a post-depression New Deal group) near Bakersfield, California, Fender got their hands on a stock of old-growth California redwood, and produced one of the most unique guitars out there.
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Since they're endangered, you obviously can't cut down any living trees, so the run is decidedly limited-edition. Fender says the old wood sounds a bit like cedar, warm and rich, which is of course fascinating, since cars used to drive over it. We wonder how fresh-sawn lumber might sound. And smell.
Besides the redwood, Fender has produced some Strats out of ancient eastern pine, reclaimed from a barn built in 1868 in Michigan. Since it's pine, this is likely one of the lighter Strats ever made, and Fender claims it sounds similar to ash. Occasionally knotty and very grained, this deep-colored piece of barn is pretty damn gorgeous.
It'll be interesting to see if other brands take after Fender's lead. Perhaps somewhere out there, Steinway is hoping a bunch of mint-condition elephant skeletons turn up somewhere so they can make some classic keys.