Strictly Ltd Edition American Original 50’s Strat in “Mary Kaye” White Blonde Nitro Cellulose Finish and Gold Hardware. Vintage Style Tweed Hard Shell Case included.
- Alder or ash body (White Blonde only) with lacquer finish
- Three Pure Vintage ‘59 single-coil Stratocaster pickups
- Thick “Soft V”-shaped neck profile; 9.5”-radius fingerboard
- Vintage-style hardware; six-point synchronized tremolo bridge
- Includes vintage-style hardshell case
Of all the rare, sought after custom model guitars introduced by Fender over the decades, few have inspired the kind of cult following that the “Mary Kaye” Stratocaster has. The translucent white, mid-‘50s Strat, with its maple neck and distinctive gold hardware takes its name from legendary guitarist and Las Vegas performer, Mary Kaye.
Known as the “First Lady of Rock and Roll” for her guitar-driven, calypso-tinged, swing music, Kaye was a musical innovator who helped pioneer Vegas lounge music. Although, one of the most surprising aspects of the story of the “Mary Kaye” Strat, is that Kaye never really owned, and rarely played, the guitar that informally bears her name.
So just why is the distinctive ash blonde Strat with the gold hardware known as the “Mary Kaye” Stratocaster?
The answer lies in a 1956 Fender promotional photo of Kaye and her Mary Kaye Trio bandmates, Frank Ross and Norman Kaye. In the photo, which was shot between sets at the band’s Vegas lounge residency, Kaye can be seen brandishing the distinct white Strat that she would become forever associated with. But the guitar didn’t belong to her. At the time, she actually favored custom D’Angelicos.
The unique white guitar Kaye is seen with in the photo was actually the first custom Fender Stratocaster ever produced – a sort of forerunner to today’s Custom Shop models. Assembled in 1956, the guitar was the first model Fender issued in this particular color scheme.
Although Kaye continued to wield D’Angelicos in her Vegas act, the image of her with the guitar was syndicated worldwide via ads in musicians’ magazines. And while Kaye never actually owned the guitar, the photo wasn’t the only time she was seen using it.
Fender president Don Randall loaned Kaye the guitar again for the Mary Kaye Trio’s appearance in the film Cha Cha Cha Boom! Images of Kaye with the guitar were circulated in movie posters and lobby cards promoting the 1956 musical, in which Kaye appears as herself.
So although Kaye only used the translucent white Strat twice during her heyday with the Mary Kaye Trio, the images of her with the guitar somehow struck a chord with guitarists that persists to this day.