The 1963 Fender Stratocaster didn’t really bring on massive changes. There were just minor changes like the pick guard screw between the middle pickup and neck pickup was moved about 1/2″ towards the middle pickup. That change took place around April 1963. Another subtle change was the stamping of “Fender Pat. Pend” being slightly more pronounced on the bridge saddles.
The biggest change in 1963 to the Fender Strat was in the hard shell case for the guitar. Since 1961 or so the cases had been covered in brown Tolex with brown leather ends and included a red velour interior. Around the middle of 1963, the case was now covered in white Tolex with black leather ends and had a burnt orange velour interior. This case was manufactured until early 1964. There were also cases made during late 1963 that were covered in black Tolex with black leather ends and a burnt orange velour interior.
The serial number range for the 63 Fender Strat runs from 93000 to 99999 in the early part of the year. Then, in the spring of 63 Fender introduced the L series serial numbers. They started with L00001 and roughly go up to L20000. If you need to figure out the exact year of your pre-CBS Fender Stratocaster, use the serial number, written or stamped dates and the general features of the guitar.
1963 Fender Stratocaster guitar specs:
- By April or so the location of the pickguard screw between the neck and middle pickup is moved about 1/2″ towards the middle pickup.
- Bridge saddles’ “Fender Pat.Pend” stamping is more pronounced.
- Contouring of the body is slightly less dramatic compared to previous models.
- By mid-1963 the 3-way CRL switch changes to the “half moon” shape instead of having the angled sides.