Fender Stratocaster Bowling Ball Blue - 1983

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Here we have a guitar that has escaped me for years, my first "bowling ball" Strat!

The hydro-dipped guitars were made in very limited numbers in the early 80's, just before Fender changed hands and US production temporarily ceased.

During the late 1970's, Les Paul guitars ruled rock and roll. Everyone was playing some manner of a Les Paul.  That is until Eddie Van Halen came on the scene. No one since Jimi Hendrix influenced Rock guitar player like Van Halen. There had been players that tapped their guitars going back to the 1930's, but they didn't sound anything like Eddie. He was playing his chopped up Kramer Stratocaster-style guitar he referred to as Frankenstein.

He built it using parts from other guitars and played it like a maniac. Rock guitar players started copying his style and the demand for Stratocasters and Strat-style guitars skyrocketed

CBS still owned Fender and the management was under pressure to regain the company market share. Japanese manufacturing began to address these issues. 

To further their attempt to regain sales, Fender decided to take on a new approach. With it's wild look Van Halen's Kramer Strat was different than other guitars with a solid finish. Fender wanted an eye catching guitar that looked different.  

A sample of a new guitar finish made it's way to Fender headquarters. This finish resembled tie dye clothing and the wild designs on bowling balls. It stood out like sculptured marble. Fender was very impressed and decided to do a limited run of 225 Stratocasters and 75 Telecasters.

The artist responsible for this finish was Darren Johansen.  He originally developed this finish for a drum set and then did a mock-up of a guitar. He sent a picture of the guitar to the folks at Fender and was surprised to get a response and an invitation to that years NAMM show.

Fender’s management was so impressed that they took him aside and asked that he not show his guitar to any other people at the show. On the spot, they agreed to finish 300 instruments with Johansen’s finish.

Fender gave all of these Strat and Tele bodies a coat of primer and then sent to Johansen for finishing. Fender decided to have three-color groups of 75 guitars produced using differing color patterns.

To promote the Marble Strat and Tele, Fender produced posters, baseball style caps, and T-shirts. Dealers commented they liked the guitar, but it looked more like a bowling ball than a marble. Hence, the term Bowling Ball Stratocaster is the name by which they came to be known. Unfortunately, this guitar was not a success. No additional Bowling Ball Strats manufactured after 1985.

A running joke about these guitars is that they are as heavy as a bowling ball. This one, however, is quite light for the era at about 7.75 pounds.

The guitar is beautiful, all original and in excellent shape.  Included is the harder-to-find tremolo arm that differs from others due to the different bridge design of this era.

The case that is included is assumed to be the original Fender case.

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Three day UPS air shipments will be automatic for buyers including these states and those to the east of them: Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas.  Shipments will require signature on delivery, no exceptions.  If there is damage, the buyer must retain all packing materials intact and picture them immediately and send them to sales@maharsvintageguitars.com.  Less than 2% of our shipments are damaged in transit, and we are committed to making sure your item arrives safely, but we are taking these additional measures to make sure you are happy with your purchase. 

  • Color: Bowling Ball Blue
  • Weight:7lb 12.5oz
  • Body: Alder
  • Neck: Maple
  • Neck Date: Oct 14, 1983
  • Neck Profile: U
  • Fretboard: Maple
  • Inlays: Black Dot
  • Frets: Original, minimal wear
  • Fret count: 21
  • Nut material: Bone
  • Nut width: 1 11/16"
  • Scale: 25.5"
  • Radius: 10"
  • Neck thickness at 1st fret: .83"
  • Neck thickness at 12th fret: .88"
  • Action 1st String at 12th Fret: .050"
  • Action 6th String at 12th Fret: .050"
  • Total length: 38.5"
  • Lower bout: 12.75"
  • Waist: 9.25"
  • Upper bout: 11"
  • Body depth/thickness: 1.75"
  • String gauge: .010-.046
  • Hardware Color: Chrome
  • Bridge Pickup Brand: Original Fender Single Coil
  • Bridge Pickup Reading: 5.70k
  • Pickup Original?: Yes
  • Middle Pickup Brand: Original Fender Single Coil
  • Middle Pickup Reading: 5.80k
  • Pickup Original?: Yes
  • Neck Pickup Brand: Original Fender Single Coil
  • Neck Pickup Reading: 5.79k
  • Pickup Original?: Yes
  • Pickguard: 1 ply white
  • Bridge: Free Flyte with push in whammy bar
  • Tuners: Original Fender
  • Switch: 5 Way
  • Pots/Codes: Original
  • Case: OHSC
  • Notes: 

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