Fender Japan 1968 Reissue Stratocaster Review

Todays review is on one of my favorite guitars I own, a Fender MIJ 1968 Reissue Strat. If you are familiar with this guitar, you know thats its not easy to attain as they aren’t made anymore. I had actually gotten lucky. One day I was gas-ing for this strat in particular and decided to check Ebay to see if any were listed. I had done this in the past, but only found one or two that were very overpriced due of the rarity of the instrument. But on this particular day, there happened to be one for about $500 or $600.

There was one catch however: it was a lefty strat. Being a big fan of Jimi Hendrix, I took the opportunity to flip the guitar upside down and play it that way. It was a ’68 strat after all. After another couple hundred to cover shipping, taxes, and a new nut for the reversing, this strat was ready to play!

The neck on the 1968 reissue strat is probably the best features on the guitar all together! Reason being is that its maple capped. What this means is that instead of the neck being all one-piece maple, the maple fretboard is separate and glued on, much like a rosewood fretboard strat. This was only done around this time period in the late 60s’. The result is one of the smoothest necks I’ve ever played on. Two things to note, the neck is extremely thin, which is ideal for fretting with your thumb a la Hendrix. The other notable is that the neck features vintage frets. The fret wire is thinner and smaller than the fret wire used today. I prefer this and find that it contributes to the vintage tone.

The tone of the 68′ strat is very very good. Some notes on the electronics: Many Japanese guitars are quite amazing, but are not usually known for their electronics. What I did is change out the pots and cap for a vintage electronics kit from RS Guitarworks. This really improved the overall tone and usability of this strat. The pickups are very very good though, and I am very happy with the tone they produce. Though I would consider some boutique pickup options is you are really trying to nail the 1968 tone exactly. But don’t worry, the stock pickups do enough justice.

Overall, I gotta say, this is a very very fine instrument, better than the majority of American Made Fender guitars made today (with the exception of the Custom Shop of course). I spent around $750ish in total for a guitar that is worth double that. Right now, it is my main stage guitar. The cleans are sparkling, and when it gets dirty, there is a very nice growl. If you are looking for the Hendrix guitar without shelling out the big bucks, this is it!

Fender 1968 Reissue Strat Sound Clips:

Blues Through a Fender Blues Deluxe

7 thoughts on “Fender Japan 1968 Reissue Stratocaster Review”

  1. Hi. I will be getting my 68 re issue in about a week . ( lefty) I can’t wait to hold her in my arms. She has a really smooth touch and the sped on her is amazing . I will post a picture of her when I get her next week.
    Got her for the same price you paid.

  2. 1968 Reissues. Have a ’98 in Ash dark-burst and another real gem, a ’96 in vintage white like yours in right-handed – basswood, warm and midrange-emphatic tone that has a nice ‘honk’ through an amp.

    These are both cool guitars – the white 1996 ’68RI is still from the legendary Fuji-Gen instrument plant (says “Made In Japan” on neck heel.) The 2-piece ash body ’68RI is from Tokai & Dyna Gakki as they took over the Fender contract with the “Crafted In Japan” designated guitars around 1996/97 (also very finely made.)

    1. That’s awesome Jonas! Some great guitars you have there. Mine is a crafted in Japan.. does that mean the body is basswood rather than alder? I’ve been noticing that the guitar is very bass heavy, too much actually where the cleans are not very good. I have the set the bass very low on amps. I also chalked it up to the body being too heavy and its quite heavy for a strat.

      1. Yes. From the exposed wood in the neck cavity I’m guessing this 1990’s era solid-color guitars were basswood. Alder wood costs more, and sometimes doesn’t dent as easily. Either wood can be comfortably light in weight to somewhat heavy so that’s no tell.

        Basswood can be a higher or lesser grade; my ’92 Wayne’s World Strat dents very easily, yet my 1985 ’62 Reissue Strat does not dent at all – I guess the 62 RI body is made of better-grade basswood (think high-end Ibanez) or less likely alder.

        Basswood is good stuff in the right guitar, and Leo’s slab body guitar designs did not depend at all on one or another wood species.

  3. ^ should have clarified the Wayne’s World and the 62RI are also MIJ guitars from FujiGen-era Fender Japan – not USA, Mexico or anywhere else.

    1. Hmmm interesting.. Perhaps that’s the reason my ’68 reissue is muddy sounding at times. It is very difficult to get sparkly sounding fender cleans on it. I just ordered a Nash S-68 HX Strat… so stay tuned for my review on that :)

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