Model Fender Limited Edition “Thin Skin” ’62 Stratocaster Re-Issue
Intro As long-time readers of this blog may remember, in early 2007 I began a “Quest For The Perfect Strat,” with the sole intention of digging up the best combination of playability, affordability, looks, and tone that Fender had to offer in the way of vintage-style Stratocasters.
Having had a life-long love affair with the company’s simple but versatile Tele––and somehow managing to go some 20+ years without ever owning a Strat––I decided early on that I would skip the many worthy clones on the market, and keep my efforts trained on the real deal: the Fender Stratocaster.
Because there’s really no such thing as a “perfect” guitar, and the readers of this blog alone make up a huge cross section of popular guitar-playing styles and techniques, my quest has been not so much to find “the” perfect Strat, but the Strat that best suits my own personal tastes and needs… or to put it perhaps more succinctly: when reading this review keep in mind that as always, your mileage may vary.
After more than a year of searching through big-box guitar stores and pawn shops alike, I’m happy to report that Fender is producing some particularly gorgeous instruments at *subjectively* reasonable prices right now (if you’re willing to dig around a bit,) and that I found my own little piece of heaven in a 3-tone Sunburst “Limited Dealer Run” Thin Skin ’62 Stratocaster Re-Issue––one of just 180 produced.
This thing is stunning…
- Comfort-contoured Alder body
- 1-piece “C” shaped Maple neck with nitro finish (25.5“ scale length)
- Rosewood fretboard with 21 Medium Jumbo 6105 frets (7.25” radius)
- Three American Vintage ‘62 Strat single-coil pickups (w/aged covers)
- Master volume and two tone controls
- 3-way pickup switching (5-way pickup switch included)
- American Vintage Synchronized Tremolo w/“Ash Tray” bridge cover
- Fender/Gotoh vintage-style tuners
- Chrome hardware
- 3-ply Mint Green pickguard
- 3-tone Sunburst “Thin Skin” nitrocellulose finish
- Limited Edition backplate
- Deluxe brown hardshell case (orange plush interior,) strap, and cable
What I Liked Oh the tone… like the production-model American Vintage ’62 Strat reissue, this “Thin Skin” beauty very commendably captures the sound and feel of a real vintage Stratocaster circa the 1960s––minus the heart-cluching price tag and cosmetic wear & tear of course.
In fact, if you’re already enamored of the ’62 Strats then keeping an eye out for a thin skin model is pretty much a no-brainer. Many of the classier guitar joints get “Dealer Run” limited editions on a regular basis, and they are often priced competitively with the standard production models that they’re based on.
Two of my favorite retailers are Music Zoo and Music Machine (no affiliation, folks,) but there are any number of others you might want to peruse on a regular basis.
The two big selling points on this particular instrument are, surprise, surprise, the same two things that I had found lacking from Fender’s American Vintage ’62 Strat reissue (a guitar I really loved nonetheless) ––the “Thin Skin” comes already upgraded with a set of comfy Medium Jumbo 6105 frets (those skinny vintage wires just don’t feel good to my fingers,) and of course the whole thing is decked out in a very thin nitrocellulose finish, causing it to age quickly and beautifully, and sing like nobody’s business.
As I stated in my earlier review, if you’ve ever doubted the tonal effects that a quality nitro finish can have on a guitar, then I dare say you haven’t spent enough quality time with a nitro-finished Strat––let alone a thin skin. There’s a singing richness to the sound that simply can’t be replicated by a poly-coated guitar… at least not to my ears.
And those fatter, taller 6105 fret wires add a bit of extra sustain to an instrument that already seems to wail unendingly. They’re also far more comfortable for those of us who like to bend strings to the moon and back, and feel particularly solid when chunking out big jazz chords and comping up and down the neck.
With these two added features out of the way (oh yes, and a Limited Edition backplate,) the Thin Skin ’62 Strat stays pretty much true to its Production Run predecessor.
The guitar is loaded with a trio of Fender’s reissue American Vintage ‘62 Strat single-coil pickups, and these things do a very impressive (if noisy) job of re-creating that warm, organic, early ’60s Strat punch. Mid-tones are emphasized, and the traditional Strat “quack” is there in spades. As is to be expected, the bridge pickup is a bit more biting than I personally find useful, but once again: your mileage may vary.
From snarling Hendrix-style chord chaos to gut-aching blues and twang, the Thin Skin ’62 is both highly versatile and impressively true to that vintage Stratocaster sound––shimmering highs, fat and round lows, and a truly walloping mid-section make for a thick full tone that’s difficult, if not impossible, to adequately explain.
As far as playability is concerned, the Thin Skin ’62 Strat is everything you could want it to be… provided you like a vintage feeling guitar (like I do!)––the highly curved vintage 7.25“ fretboard radius makes for easy chording and vamping, but if you’re a serious string bender (who isn’t?) you’ll probably need to ride that action fairly high. With that kind of curve in the neck you are bound to fret-out a bit above the 12th fret otherwise.
Of course, this is true-to-form for a vintage Strat, and for folks who like their guitar to fight back a bit it’s no big thing, but if you’re a speed demon who prefers his action low and fast then you’ll probably want to look elsewhere––a vintage-style Strat just isn’t going to float your boat.
Neckwise, the ”Thin Skin“ is armed with what is easily my favorite Fender neck profile: the Vintage ”C“ shape. Now, neck preference is a very personal thing, but time and again I’ve found the vintage ”C“ to be wonderfully contoured for my own playing style, hand size, and finger length… it just feels good in my hands.
Tuners are solid, the six-point vintage tremolo is surprisingly dependable, and even with string trees on the headstock I have found this guitar to have fewer tuning issues than any electric I’ve owned in the last 20 years. For blues it’s a true godsend.
Last but not least, the ”Thin Skin“ ’62 Stratocaster is about as handsome a guitar as you’re going to find. Beyond its tonal value, the thin Nitrocellulose finish on these beauties is absolutely stunning just on looks alone. Gone is the thick, plastic-like gloss of polyurethane––this bad boy is imbued with a subtle, almost matte-style sheen that wonderfully accentuates the natural wood pattern beneath.
On top of that, a ”mint green“ pickguard matched with aged plastic parts (including switch tip and pickup covers,) makes for a throughly vintage vibe all around. The Deluxe brown Tolex hardshell case brings the package full circle with a funky orange plush interior and old-school Fender good looks.
What I Didn’t Like Surprisingly, my only complaint after many months of constant playing is that the Thin Skin ’62 Stratocaster, like pretty much all vintage-style Strats, has a propensity to hum and buzz like nobody’s business.
Why a world class guitar behemoth like Fender doesn’t bother to supply better shielding in its instruments is anyone’s guess, but luckily for us, adopting the much less noise-prone wiring of the popular Quieting The Beast modification is fairly straight-forward business… provided you’ve got a few soldering chops and an afternoon you can safely set aside for pulling your guitar apart.
It’s a shame that this fairly basic wiring scheme hasn’t been introduced into any of Fender’s guitars, but I definitely wouldn’t let this one ”true to the time period“ flaw get in the way of purchasing such an otherwise amazing instrument.
Other than a bit of noise I have no reservations about this guitar––it does what it does, exceedingly well, and at a surprisingly decent price point. What’s not to love?
Final Word In the end, the Limited Edition ”Thin Skin“ ’62 Stratocaster Re-Issue takes an already great thing (the production model American Vintage ’62 Strat,) and makes it truly shine––all for a price well below that of very comparable Custom Shop models.
Sure, you could pay a few thousand more for a pre-worn-in Relic, but why bother when you can get a ”Thin Skin“ model that should age quickly and gracefully on its own, and for a surprisingly reasonable price of just less than $1500.
If you can find one, grab it––these things are a steal…