The ultimate Mark Knopfler gear database: Fender Stratocaster 1961
|Colour:||stripped to bare wood when he got it, refinished to red in late 1978 (similar to fiesta red but more intense), finish cracked in early 90ies and was refinished again|
|Woods:||alder body / maple neck/ Brazilian rosewood fingerboard|
|Pickups:||original pickups in bridge&middle position, DiMarzio FS-1 in neck position in 70ies and probably 80ies, was probably replaced to an original Strat pickup (or reissue) in the 90ies|
|Strings:||only little information available, possibly thin (08 or 09) strings with Dire Straits, possibly D’addario 09 – 42 on the Sailing to Philadelphia tour|
|First seen with MK:||summer 1977|
|Still in MK’s possession/Last seen:||yes|
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Info: This was Mark Knopfler’s first Stratocaster. This guitar changed his tone (he mainly played a Gibson Les Paul Special before) and playing style, e.g. he immediately adapted some chords and patterns of Sultans of Swing – which was originally composed on his National steel guitar – to the new sound he got with this guitar plugged into a Vibrolux amp. This Strat- and his second red Fender Strat, the one with the maple neck – were the guitars to create Knopfler’s unique guitar sound on the first two Dire Straits albums. It is almost impossible to tell which of the two Strats was played on which song on the albums. On tour he normally prefered one of the two and used the other as backup, changing his preference after a few weeks again (a detailed list here).
The volume knob was replaced with a black plastic knob. In fact the poti itself was replaced to one with a solid shaft so that the original knob did not fit anymore. This was already true on the first available pictures of this guitar so presumably the modification had been done before he got it. The volume knob was on the middle poti. We don’t know if only the knobs were exchanged or if the function of the potis was modified as well (compare the blog post on the idea behind the iSound-ST).
The tremolo back plate is missing, some pictures seem to indicate that the tremolo had 5 springs.
After he changed to Schecters for the Making Movies tour in 1980, this guitar was only rarely used but made a comeback for the recording of On Every Street, and also on some songs on the Sailing to Philadelphia tour in 2001. The guitar was restored to the original condition (no black volume knob, volume knob on the upper poti again, no DiMarzio anymore) as can be seen on the picture below.
He still owns it, it is one of the guitars that seem to be around in the room over his British Grove studio.
Related blog posts:
New picture of the Sultans Strat before being refinished to red
Early Dire Straits: Which of the two red Fenders was used in which concert?
Pictures from Hamburg Oct. 28, 1978 (?)
Early Dire Straits picture
Features and specs of a ’61 Vintage Stratocaster