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Mark Knopfler's Fender Stratocaster 80470

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This Stratocaster is probably from 1961 or 1962, the serial number is  80470. The guitar is refinished in red. 

It has a laminated maple fingerboard (no one-piece maple neck like the Fender Strats from the 50ies).  For this reason  there is no 'skunk stripe' at the back of the neck and no dark spot at the headstock.

Normally Fenders had a rosewood fingerboard in the early 60ies. I have seen one or two with a laminated maple board like this one, but I prefer to think that what we have here is a later modification.

Note that the strap button is at the back of the guitar, near the number plate!

The guitar had a white plastic pickguard (original would be a greenish-white celluloid guard), and the volume poti was moved towards the bridge (possibly to have more space for resting those two fingers). There is no information available about the pick-ups installed.

Mark's friend Steve Philips (of the Notting Hillbillies) once told me he remembers that Mark gave this guitar to a luthier called Sam Lee (or Sam Li?) in Soho for these modifications.

Often Mark put the complete pickguard - including electronics and pick-ups -  of his other Fender Stratocaster on this guitar, so he swapped the pickguards to have the greenish-white board (the one with the black volume knob) on that Strat which he prefered for a particular tour (see my blog article Early Dire Straits: Which of the two red Fenders was used in which concert? for more information on this matter)

You can hear this guitar on album one and on Communique, and you can see it in the videos of Sultans of Swing, Wild West End, Lady Writer or on many other videos (e.g. Rockpalast) or pictures from 1977-1979. It can be considered as  Mark's main live axe in the early days. According to all pictures I have seen from this period, he played this guitar on about 60-70% of the concerts, and maybe on 30-40% his other red Strat (Note that  he did not change the guitar between songs as he does today, instead he favoured one for a particular leg of a tour and had the other as backup!)

In 1982 the neck was replaced with a Schecter one-piece maple neck. It is confirmed that Mark does not have this guitar anymore, it seems it was auctioned for a charity

Is this an original Fender or a Japanese fake?

Originally Mark considered this guitar as an original Fender from the early sixties. It was Sohn Suhr, builder of the Pensa-Suhr, now owner of Suhr guitars, and who worked a lot on Mark's guitars in the 80ies, who claimed that this guitar was a Japanese fake, and that Mark was not aware of this.

However, if you compare this guitar to Japanese copies from the 70ies, you will note that many details are "right" (like Kluson style tuners, staggerd pole pieces of pick-ups, the serial number of course, bridge construction, body shaping etc.) All in all it is difficult to tell a Fender that has not only been refinished but also modified a lot from a copy.  Since John Suhr normally knows his stuff, it is nevertheless likely that parts are Japanese (my guess would be  the body)

posts from my blog about this guitar: 
Early Dire Straits: Which of the two red Fenders was used in which concert?
Pictures of Dire Straits, Live at the Zirkus Krone, Munchen, May 29, 1979
Amps and Gear on the Dire Straits Bootleg Leeds 1978