Before we get into this deep dive down the history of this instrument we will state the obvious. This is a 1964 Fender Stratocaster. She is 100% Original. She has a pedigree that has helped shaped both the physical and tonal attributes. And this is one of the best examples of Fenders Golden Age instruments available, which is an unbelievably rare thing.
The "Bootleggers Flame" as she is known as was born in the year of 1964 in California. She was made with the loving hands of Fenders Golden Team and made her way to a small shop in North Carolina. The final hands that ended up holding her and having a professional career with her for 51 Years was Gabby Gaskins. Gabby was a touring and recording country artist throughout the 70's. He played all across the country and had the beginnings of a solid musical career. Gabby then found Jesus and became a pastor. This is where his musical path really took off and he ended up writing a #1 hit for the Country Gospel Charts in 1972. He founded a church in Eastern North Carolina and continued to perform with his wife throughout the South East. The Bootlegers Flame continued in his service until his passing in November of 2018.
Now normally this would be enough of a story for any instrument but its first few years and how Gabby ended up acquiring it really brings her storied past to bear. North Carolina is the home of many things; tobacco, a one-of-a-kind Southern hospitality, and NASCAR. Well NASCAR didn't just grow from anywhere but rather out of necessity for the Bootleggers trying to get their booze to and fro without too much interference from the authority. The bootleggers started racing their cars for fun on Sundays and thus NASCAR was born years later. Well this here instrument started out in the hands of its first owner who somehow fell into arrears with the biggest Bootlegger in Newbern NC. In 1968 he ended up owning the Bootlegger $200. For payment, the Sunburst Stratocaster was handed over. This guitar ended up being a gift to his son and the rest is...history.
The Bootleggers Flame was built in 1964. This is a Pre-CBS Golden Era instrument. Everything on this instrument is 100% original. The Tuners, Frets, Knobs, Pickguard, Bridge, Pickups, Electronics, etc. Even the case is the original case and the original Tremelo Arm was resting inside. There have no re-soders and even the nut is original and in fantastic shape. The Brazilian board is gorgeous, dark, and warm. And the neck....oh the neck. Here is where the second part of her name is revealed. This guitar is a rare example already then the extremely flamed maple neck presents itself. The flame is on both the front and the back of the neck and seems to change as different angles of light hit her. The back of the headstock is striking to look at that we found ourselves just taking the time to stair at it. The finish is that of a well played instrument that has earned its place as a true performer. The burst has nice dark edges where in some places pull back to reveal the wood and undercoat beneath. The layers of burst fade from a rich orange into a warm golden yellow at the bridge. And the checking is something that everyone who sees her absolutely adores. The work from the Fender Custom Shop looks as if they were trying to copy this beautiful beast with their relics as its finish buckles and crackles on the top right in front of where your arm rests to being your tonal journeys.
The Sound & Feel
Everything about the Bootleggers Flame sounds and plays like what you would expect from a great vintage instrument. The pickups have a warmth from their 55 years of making music that is undeniably Fender. The neck has a warm and present tone that also carries a nice snap to it when played with a bit of attack. There really is a bit of magic in this pickup saddled right below the neck. We would find ourselves trying to play softer and softer just to here the nuances that would come out of her. The middle pickup is a stunner and has a very live and glassy tone that ranges tonally from Buddy Hollys best guitar works to that of Richard Lloyds work on Televisions Marquee Moon. The Bridge is classic Fender. There is a bite when you want it and a sonically grabbing treble dig as well. When you flip over (And flipping is slow and earned with this vintage/never modified 3 way selector) from the neck to the bridge you can propel your tones into overdrive with the searing overtones coming out of this screamer. I have played many vintage Strats and this one has a tone that is truly breathtaking. The out of phase positions will take a little maneuvering to get into but once you find the sweet spot the smile comes quickly. The warmth from position 4 (neck & middle) is unreal. It has that milky Hendrix tone form The Wind Cries Mary or SRV on Lenny and is almost impossible to want to switch. Position 2 (bridge & middle) is classic Clapton. From his time with Derek $ the Dominoes to his tones from Lay Down Sally its all there.
The neck is a very comfortable medium shaped "C."It is rated that way inside the neck as well but the proof is in the playing of her. The guitar is intimitaly comfortable to chord with below the 5th fret. There is a great pocket for the hand that fits very comfortably and the vintage radius really allows for either a soft or aggressive playing style depending on how you like the guitar setup. Much of the magic of this neck starts to reveal itself as you climb into the are of the 5th fret and beyond though as she slightly widens and you find yourself performing effortless playing on a time machine of an instrument. If this neck doesn't bring a smile to your face when playing in the upper registers than there probably won't be a guitar that will. there is a "buttery" smoothness to working around the neck. Bends and slides form position to position are performed easily and honestly the grim that forms from ear to ear is undeniable as you realize you are doing this on a 1964 Stratocaster.
This is an extremely rare chance to own not only a piece of Fenders Golden Era but also to have a phenomenal sounding and playing vintage Stratocaster. This is a unique piece from its phenomenal tone and feel but also for its storied past. Owning a piece of Fender History is one thing but owning a piece such as this that also delivers as the ultimate playing machine is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. We invite all serious inquires to contact us with any questions on this instrument. And in your journey for the ultimate example of a vintage instrument and hopefully your dream guitar we wish you a good journey and look forward to helping in anyway make this dream a reality.
From the team at Casino Guitars,
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