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In-Depth & Hands-On

REVIEW: Fender Limited Edition “Thin Skin” ’62 Stratocaster

Disclosure Policy | Wed, Apr 16, 2008 | 975 |

Fender-62-Thin-Skin-StratocasterModel 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 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 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 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 ,) 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…

16 Comments For This Post

  1. poulw Says:

    I own 7 guitars and have played for over 20 years. There is absolutely no way I could ever hand over $1500 of hard earned money and be satisfied with a guitar that “hum and buzz like nobody’s business”.
    I like Stats (alot) but to me this design flaw just says Fender cares more about it’s mystique than it’s guitars.

    Fender must change or China will simply bury them with better made, cheaper, guitars.

  2. Cary Says:

    A very understandable stance, Paul :) I recently purchased a Chinese made Morgan Monroe Creekside acoustic––basically a Gibson L-00 blues guitar, minus about $1700.

    I absolutely love it… I also own a Korean built ESP that I adore.

    The Thin Skin ’62 Strat, however, is one of the nicest playing instruments I’ve ever had the pleasure to get my hands on, so while I’d much rather that Fender updated their wiring and shielding scheme, I’m willing to put the work in to fix this one flaw.

    Doesn’t mean that I should have to––but in this case the guitar is more than worth it.

  3. Rick Says:

    I kinda agree with Paul.

    A Strat, or just about any other solid body with a bolt on neck is a mass produced guitar that is over valued. Set and through neck guitars are over valued too but at least many of those have sculpted bodies and take some real hands on craftsmanship beyond a CNC router. Gibson Les Pauls are over priced as well, but at least there is some real craftsmanship put into building them.

    As for hum and buzz, IMO that can be subjective. Many like that hum/buzz otherwise they can just buy a Strat, Tele, or Jag with Humbuckers like I did with my Jag HH Special.

  4. Cary Says:

    “hum and buzz like nobody’s business”

    hehe… perhaps my wording was a bit too colorful ;)

  5. Tom L Says:

    hum + buzz = “character”

  6. Stratoblogster Says:

    Great review!! Obviously, Fender in trying to maintain so many Strat configs across all pricing levels, isn’t going to config the perfect Strat for under $1500 or in any one model at this point. Those noises are traditional for a Strat, but quieting them is no big deal nowadays anyhow. To me, the set-up and QC is critical, from there, it’s a matter of “does the config and tone fit my taste and ears?”.

    If they were still making one basic USA Strat with a choice of basic finishes, maple or rosewood FB and hardtail or trem– like the old days, they’d need to put the latest and best improvements in every Strat. But nowadays it’s more important for Fender to shotgun their diverse market.

    If you want the ideal Strat, look at DeTemple, Suhr & Grosh.

  7. Don Says:

    I think Fender should switch over to this ‘thin-skin’ finish on all production guitars, including MIM. But then I’m sure there will be some buyers out there who don’t understand the tonal benefit, but worry about dings and scratches.
    They should also “quiet the hum” right at the factory – no excuse these days, and hey, they can use that to their marketing advantage. I mean, one of the marketing “touchpoints” for the new American Standards is a redesigned case?!?!?!?
    Either that, or license someone overseas to make a cheaper version of their SCN noiseless pickups, or better yet, DiMarzio’s Area pickups, so they can be put in all production guitars.

  8. pongo Says:

    Finally, they’re getting the neck radius right. Fender Japan’s been doing it the right way for years.

  9. Mike V. Says:

    Cary, is this the one you are talking about, I want to be clear:–FEN100140 and:

    BTW, I am going to take the opposite side of the coin of a couple folks here and say that for a well made American born and built guitar, 1500 bucks street ain’t bad.
    It’s our salaries as the middle class that are bad.. :)

  10. Cary Says:

    Thanks everybody,

    Mike, good question––no, the Hot Rod 62 Strat is a current production model guitar from Fender. It’s a very nice guitar, though I haven’t had a chance to spend more than a few minutes with one.

    The Thin Skin ’62 Strat was a limited “Dealer Run” guitar, meaning it was built exclusively for one particular dealer, in this case Music Machine Guitars, and unfortunately they appear to now be sold out of this exact model.

    They do have a number of other “Thin Skins” though…

  11. Mark Says:

    Has fender offered thin skin models for their basses? I’d be curious to hear what this can do for a P-Bass or J-Bass…

  12. Mike V. Says:

    Thanks, Cary.
    I would imagine that the ’62 Tele’s on that page would have the same kind of neck?

  13. VicG Says:

    I personally always loved the Gibson Les Paul design, but more and more I keep picking these fenders up in my local guitar store. Good to see that Fender is keeping that ’62 vintage look.

  14. Mick Says:


    Where can I find this guitar if Music Machine Guitars are out of them? I have been looking for a strat, but so far haven’t found a neck that I absolutely like. I own a G&L Tele with a 7.5 radius which I like. However the V shape neck is sometimes challenging with my small hands.

  15. Kyle C Says:

    I just read on a Fender forum that Music Machine guitars is clearing out their remaining stock of thinskins around $1200 because they are discontinued. I bought a 59 Strat thinskin from them last year and I could not be more pleased. As mentioned above, it is absolutely on par with Fenders custom shop guitars.

  16. norman boyd Says:

    I am looking for one right now! Can you send me any info on how and where I can buy one today?

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