Early Dire Straits: Which of the two red Fenders was used in which concert?

Before Knopfler changed to the Schecter Strat in 1980, he played two red Fender Strats with Dire Straits, one with a rosewood finger board (SN 68354) , one with maple (SN 80470).

rosewood Strat
Rosewood Strat (68354)

Maple neck Strat, white pickguard
Maple neck Strat (80470) with white pickguard

maple neck Strat with greenish pickguard
Maple neck Strat (80470) with the greenish pickguard of the rosewood Strat

Have you ever wondered which of these guitars was used on which of the many bootleg concerts that are available from that time?

(yes, in fact he didn’t change beween these Strats from song to song, like he does now, instead he played one guitar for a whole concert while the other served as back-up)

After checking probably hundreds of pictures over many years, I came to the conclusion that apparently he had a favourite guitar for each particular tour, but there are also some tours on which he used both. In detail:

Sommer 77 to late 77:
rosewood (it seems he only had this one then)
e.g. The Demos bootleg

late 77 to summer 78:
maple only (with original white pickguard until early 78, with the greenish pickguard of the rosewood Strat after the recording of the first album in Febr. 78, yeah, he swapped the complete pickguards incl. pick-ups)
e.g. the official CD Live at the BBC
Live at Chester
Revolver TV show …

late 78 (likely from Sept/Oct to the end of the year):
rosewood only (which was painted red from probably then on, his brother David’s Strat was painted black probably at the same time, before both were wood finish)
e.g. Live at Rotterdam
Live at Hamburg

early 79 (Jan/ Febr):
mainly maple (with its original pickguard), but sometimes rosewood as well
e.g. Rockpalast

March 79 to summer 79:
maple with greenish pickguard of rosewood Strat
e.g. Live at Old Waldorf, On the Road to Philadelphia

late 79:
both, but always the greenish pickguard (or possibly maple on the US tour, rosewood at least on the very last gigs in London, see Arena documentary)

rehearsals in 1980 (BBC Arena documentary): both


47 thoughts on “Early Dire Straits: Which of the two red Fenders was used in which concert?

  1. Thanks for post. My buddy advice to visit you. Good thing. Subscribed on RSS! Want to read your blog more and more!

  2. Isn’t it more likely that he just changed the neck of the 68354 guitar, than that he moved the pickguard, pickups and nobs from the 68354 over to the 80470? And back? That would mean that the pics of the strat with a greenish pickguard and maple neck is the 68354, not the 80470. (Just a thought and a question, you probably have the right evidence).
    Morten 🙂

  3. Hi Morten, this is not the case because the bodies can be identified easily: a) the colour is different (80470 is darker, agreed – hart to tell on pictures) but b) 80470 has the strap pin on the backside and not on the upper cutaway horn, like the 68354 and any other Strat.

  4. hey ingo, I’m tryin to figure out where he would have the stap pin located at. Do you know the exact location?
    Thanks man

  5. I think it is above the neck plate, I once did the same, using one of the four neck screws to hold the pin but this looked different (I have that same Music Man strap so I can tell). I guess he wanted it to be as he was used to it coming from the Les Paul Special that he played before.

  6. just a screw driver? wouldn’t it be hard to penitrate through the paint too? Would you use power tools?

  7. Take a piece of masking tape where you want that holre for the pin, drill a tiny hole through the tape (the tape avoids paint splitting), drill a little larger hole, still smaller than the screw, remove the tape carefully, screw in the pin.

    The vol poti was replaced, no idea about caps or anything else inside the circuit

  8. It seems to me (especially noticeable on the rockpalast recording)like on the white pickguard, the pot which the volume knob would sit on is about an inch closer to the bridge than is usual on a fender, rather than directly under the screw for the bridge pickup. Does anyone know why?

  9. You are right. There is no sign of a repair at the normal position, so I tend to believe that the pickguard was custom made for Mark, I guess he wanted the pot to be away from where he normally rests his right-hand fingers.

  10. Hi Ingo,
    I’m jean-François, the french guy who asked you many questions some years ago. Do you remember me ? As you said : “many people mail me to ask questions about MK’s gear or about stuff on my
    page, but hardly anyone is interested in so many details than you”. We’ve “lost from view” (as we sy in french) in 2004 but I’ve always read with great interest your posts on MKnews forum, on your personnal site, and then on this very documented blog.
    Now, THE question 🙂
    Do you know if Mark swaped also th white pickguard to the rosewood strat. We all have seen pics of the mapple one with the green pickguard, but I think the other strat was a spare one for live, so it must have been with the other pickguard, don’t you think ? Are there pics of this ?
    I will post others questions…

  11. Hi Jean-Francois,
    welcome back 🙂
    Yeah, it seems he swapped the pickguards so the rosewood got the white one when it was the back up. There are only very few pictures that show the rosewood standing somewhere backstage in the back of the stage but it seems he never played it with the white pickguard.

  12. Just noticed the Kluson tuners on the red maple strat have longer shafts that normal? All adds to the copy strat theory.

  13. I also noticed that, however, all other details of the tuners and the peghead are exactly like vintage Fender (while basically all Japanese copies differ here).

    Have you ever noticed that the lower (body end) strap button is not in the middle (between g and d strings) where it is normally but moved almost an inch towards the treble strings?

  14. Last night I was thinking at something (yes you can call me mad 🙂 ):
    on the original white pickguard of the mapple strat, if the position of the volume poti has been changed, we should be see a little hole from the old position.
    The pickguard should had been perforated near the original gap, to place the new poti, so there shoud be 2 little gap, on this pickguard.

    And I can’t see any sort of little hole near the volume poti on any pics. So, is this pickgurad custom made ? I mean, before pierce at the factory ?

  15. I agree with you and also think that the pickguard is custom made. It is not vintage Fender anyway (too thin, wrong colour), and I don’t know of any copy that has such a pickguard, either.

  16. is there any pics to confirm if it has a skunk strip on the back of the neck. Although fender did make some strats with a glued on maple fingerboard. And i saw a picture once of mark playing a blue japanese fernandes strat copy, cool ! I think i have a pic somewhere in my mums attic

  17. it has no skunk stripe and a laminated maple cap, like a late 60ies Hendrix Strat. I have seen a few (very rare)pre-CBs Strats with maple caps, but the board on Knopfler’s strat seems to be really fat (ca. 4 mm), much fatter than the standard 2 – 3 mm they normally measure at the edge.

  18. Ingo,
    is the neck of your part-o’caster a mapple cap neck, or is it a one piece mapple neck ?
    And, is your neck PU a FS-1 ?
    Did you put a different volume poti ?

    To say it clear, is your part-o-caster a very close replica to Mark’s one ?

  19. I have two part-o-casters, one has a FS-1 and a one-piece maple neck (the one with the black volume knob) and the other a maple cap.

  20. Nice 🙂

    I remember the FS-1 was on another strat with a rosewood neck, and a natural wood finish body, which you used on some articles.

    Could you tell us more about your own guitars ? Maybe an article which features all your gear could be interesting 🙂

  21. The neck was replaced (to my knowledge with one-piece maple neck) before he sold it, and yes, the serial no is 80470

  22. I played the guitar last tuesday, the fingerboard, like I said is rosewood, the volume and tone controls are all white, the pick up selector is 3 way. There are big scratches on the back from belt marks and some scratches on the front of the body. The varnish from the back of the neck is all worn away and the strap pin is on the upper horn as it should be . I need to verify the exact serial number and I will try to photo it this week. I think it really is Marks strat.

  23. The serial number doesnt tally with either of marks strats it is 87896 if it helps I believe the owner bought it from Mark, it might not have been an historic guitar but the owner owns some genuine collectors pieces so this is even more of a mystery.

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