This is a Walnut Stratocaster Elite in nearly flawless condition.  Not to be confused with the Walnut "Strat".  It could be described as "mint" except for three or four small areas where the finish has lightened.  The largest light spot is on the heel, as shown in the photo, and another about the size of a quarter on the lower edge of the body.  Otherwise, it looks as if it has rarely been out of the case.  This guitar is a work of art, with a body and neck made of solid black walnut, gold hardware, special pearloid tuner buttons and factory installed straplocks.  My poor photographic skills don’t really capture the beauty of the Walnut body and neck.  As you might expect, this is a heavy, solid guitar (10 lbs) with tons of sustain. 

At the time of its introduction, the Walnut Elite was the top of the line, and production was stopped after only two years, when Fender left CBS.  The solid walnut elite is the rarest of them all.  It has a 12” radius ebony fret board with jumbo frets, which makes string bending easy.  It also has active electronics and special alnico pickups with solid covers.  The pickups mount directly onto the body of the guitar and there is a dummy coil under the pickguard for hum canceling.  This guitar was apparently designed to provide a wide range of tonal possibilities, to compete with the popular EMG and humbucker-equipped guitars of the time.  According to Wheeler’s book, “The Stratocaster Chronicles” page 187-188, the active electronics provide a TBX control that was supposed to “adjust the damping of the pickup’s internal resonance for a new range of tones, and an MDX active midrange boost and top-end roll off, to provide tones ranging from classic Fender to that of a fat humbucker”.  Other innovative ideas incorporated into the Elite were the Bi-flex truss rod, a four-bolt neck joint with tilt adjustment, and a pushbutton pickup switching arrangement that allows for many unique pickup combinations, in addition to being able to turn off all the pickups.  With the active electronics, you can roll off the volume without any change in the tone.  It’s powered by a 9-volt battery in the compartment on the back that switches on when the jack is plugged in. 

Some have reported difficulties maintaining pitch with the FreeFlyte tremolo bridge.  I had this guitar set up with 11’s tuned down to Eb, and after replacing the springs and adjusting the bridge to rest on the body, I’ve had no tuning problems at all, with moderate use of the tremolo.  The trem arm is a push-in deal. The other nice thing about this particular guitar is that it’s a very early issue, and doesn’t have the locking nut that Fender later added to the Elites.  

Note (02/02/06):  I no longer have this guitar, but will leave this page in place for reference.

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