Iconic Strat-wrangler Eric Johnson collaborated on a maple-fretboard signature model well over a decade ago, with a rosewood-fretboard model following a few years later. The Stratocaster Thinline marks Johnson’s biggest contribution to the Stratocaster family since then.
The most attention-catching detail of Johnson’s new instrument is its upper-bout f-hole. The word “thinline” alludes to the late-’60s Telecaster Thinline, the semi-hollow, f-holed Tele that CBS-owned Fender introduced in 1969. Like that model, the Strat thinline is partially hollow, significantly reducing its weight relative to solidbody Strats.
Yeah, some purists will bitch about the f-hole, because Leo Fender never conceived such a Strat model. But hey—he didn’t create the Telecaster Thinline either. (The credit goes to German luthier Roger Rossmeisl, who also devised Fender’s less-successful Coronado, Montego, and LTD electrics, as well as the company’s acoustic line in the mid-to-late ’60s.) But novelty notwithstanding, there’s no objective reason why the design is any less attractive than an f-hole Tele.
The Stratocaster Thinline is lovely from headstock to endpin. The immaculately applied “vintage white” body finish is a warm, soft yellow, offset by a white, ’50s-style, single-ply, 8-screw pickguard. The “aged white” knobs and pickup covers split the difference between the two shades, while the glossy yellowish cast of the neck’s old-school nitrocellulose finish completes the look. These colors don’t try to mimic an aged guitar—they’re just really pretty. The model also comes in two-tone sunburst.