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Author Topic: Fender 'Mark Knopfler' Signature Series Stratocaster (0117800-815) - Owners list  (Read 148215 times)

Offlinediremark86

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Flip side is that MK was using Glen Worff's MK strat for a while, would Glen have had a special version too?

The serial numbers available to the public didn't start until 00011. Presumably, 00-10 went to Mark, many of which he gave out as gifts. I know for a fact that's how the Martin's were done because I had the opportunity to purchase a single digit one from his former brother in law that was given to him as a gift by Mark. An opportunity I still kick myself for not having done.

At the very least, the first couple were certainly not production guitars. Once he settled on liking it, who knows where the true 'production line' started. They were special in their own way, and Fender has really kind of kept them that way. You can't really get that package on a production strat still. The neck is my favorite of all my strats I have ever owned, the hot rod red color, and nitrocellulose finish. Pickups are pickups and easily changed, but the other options in a reasonably priced package was really something. They have always felt like a better guitar to me than my other production line strats, which I have sold all of for that reason.

There is also a certain attraction to how hard they are to find in good shape, let alone a reasonable price. I always have my feelers out for a third.

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Flip side is that MK was using Glen Worff's MK strat for a while, would Glen have had a special version too?

The serial numbers available to the public didn't start until 00011. Presumably, 00-10 went to Mark, many of which he gave out as gifts. I know for a fact that's how the Martin's were done because I had the opportunity to purchase a single digit one from his former brother in law that was given to him as a gift by Mark. An opportunity I still kick myself for not having done.

At the very least, the first couple were certainly not production guitars. Once he settled on liking it, who knows where the true 'production line' started. They were special in their own way, and Fender has really kind of kept them that way. You can't really get that package on a production strat still. The neck is my favorite of all my strats I have ever owned, the hot rod red color, and nitrocellulose finish. Pickups are pickups and easily changed, but the other options in a reasonably priced package was really something. They have always felt like a better guitar to me than my other production line strats, which I have sold all of for that reason.

There is also a certain attraction to how hard they are to find in good shape, let alone a reasonable price. I always have my feelers out for a third.

Mark Knopfler gives a guy his signature guitar as a gift. Guy proceeds to sell it :lol Never understood that. My rule in life is I never sell gifts, because I treat that almost like an insult.
By the way, I was speaking about MK Neck that I had, and it's true, it was one of the finest strat necks I've ever seen, the wood grain, quality of it, truly insane quality. So it's true!

Offlinehunter

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Certainly the early batch of MK strats were highly regarded as very fine instruments in their own right, don't know if that continued.

All that said, yes, a strat is a strat, and paying thousands for one is kind of silly. MK played Mexican strats at the 2002 charity shows and no one knew the difference.


A Strat is a pretty crude instrument, and you can only refine it so much. Unless you go for hand-carved tops, ornate mother-of-pearl appointments, exotic woods, it reaches a certain point where spending more money is, well, pointless.


And of course Mark can make the cheapest Squier or Harley Benton sound great.

OfflineTomcaster

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Certainly the early batch of MK strats were highly regarded as very fine instruments in their own right, don't know if that continued.

All that said, yes, a strat is a strat, and paying thousands for one is kind of silly. MK played Mexican strats at the 2002 charity shows and no one knew the difference.


A Strat is a pretty crude instrument, and you can only refine it so much. Unless you go for hand-carved tops, ornate mother-of-pearl appointments, exotic woods, it reaches a certain point where spending more money is, well, pointless.


And of course Mark can make the cheapest Squier or Harley Benton sound great.

I have been a Strat nut for 20 years now (!) and I went through the whole chain. From Made in Mexico to American Deluxe, American Vintage, Custom Shop, Masterbuilt. There is a misconception that an electric guitar is just a plank of wood and only pickups matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. When I was still learning about Strats I modded the hell out of them, always moving closer to find myself at the point that I am a total vintage spec purist now. I will give you a couple of examples:

- the wood itself is very important. Take two guitars of the same line. One will sound mediocre when plugged in, the other will shine - all because of wood. There are Made in Mexico "roadworn" Strats that will sound like expensive custom shop guitars, there are also custom shop guitars that sound really bad. The more expensive the line, the higher the probability you get a good one or even an exceptional one. Here is a cool interview on that topic:
- the tremolo block with deep holes vs shallow holes changes tension and focus of the note. Only 2013 upwards did Fender bring the blocks as they were done in the 60s.
- the truss rod position (neck butt or headstock operated) is a massive tone changer. Go to the store and compare an American Series with an American Vintage. The rather will have tons more depth.
- non RW/RP pickups create a different magnetic field than RW/RP pickups. In every position, they sound a little different and should be a conscious choice
- fret size makes a massive difference. The lower they are, the woodier your tone, but the harder to play. This explains why people often sell their instruments after refrets. The tone is suddenly gone because somebody wanted SRV style of stuff ;-)
- neck radius on 7.25 is also best suited for vintage stagger. if you have a flatter neck you slightly overemphasize the bass and treble, getting a more modern tone. Again, it's not bad, but not what you crave for if you want to copy the stars from the record who all played pre-CBS Strats.
- at least to me, scatter wound pickups have a more "magic" sound than machine wound but this is debated. Some details here: http://www.dylanmckerchie.com/scatter-wound-vs-machine-wound-pickups/
- thin lacquer makes a massive difference in terms of resonance. Fender didn't like doing thin lacquer for a long time because customers wanted "new" looking guitars. This changed over time and results in the current "thin skin" lacquer.
- there are no good and bad pickups. Pickups need to suit a particular guitar. The same set of pickups can sound good in one guitar and bad in another.
... it goes on and on...

Sure, Mark played other guitars than his as well but I am sure he would not accept playing a bad one.

@dustyvalentino thanks for the good info on the first ten guitars. This is what I suspected.

What makes me curious is how Mark chose the specs. Any insights here?

Onlinequizzaciously

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I have been a Strat nut for 20 years now (!) and I went through the whole chain. From Made in Mexico to American Deluxe, American Vintage, Custom Shop, Masterbuilt. There is a misconception that an electric guitar is just a plank of wood and only pickups matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. When I was still learning about Strats I modded the hell out of them, always moving closer to find myself at the point that I am a total vintage spec purist now. I will give you a couple of examples:

- the wood itself is very important. Take two guitars of the same line. One will sound mediocre when plugged in, the other will shine - all because of wood. There are Made in Mexico "roadworn" Strats that will sound like expensive custom shop guitars, there are also custom shop guitars that sound really bad. The more expensive the line, the higher the probability you get a good one or even an exceptional one. Here is a cool interview on that topic:
- the tremolo block with deep holes vs shallow holes changes tension and focus of the note. Only 2013 upwards did Fender bring the blocks as they were done in the 60s.
- the truss rod position (neck butt or headstock operated) is a massive tone changer. Go to the store and compare an American Series with an American Vintage. The rather will have tons more depth.
- non RW/RP pickups create a different magnetic field than RW/RP pickups. In every position, they sound a little different and should be a conscious choice
- fret size makes a massive difference. The lower they are, the woodier your tone, but the harder to play. This explains why people often sell their instruments after refrets. The tone is suddenly gone because somebody wanted SRV style of stuff ;-)
- neck radius on 7.25 is also best suited for vintage stagger. if you have a flatter neck you slightly overemphasize the bass and treble, getting a more modern tone. Again, it's not bad, but not what you crave for if you want to copy the stars from the record who all played pre-CBS Strats.
- at least to me, scatter wound pickups have a more "magic" sound than machine wound but this is debated. Some details here: http://www.dylanmckerchie.com/scatter-wound-vs-machine-wound-pickups/
- thin lacquer makes a massive difference in terms of resonance. Fender didn't like doing thin lacquer for a long time because customers wanted "new" looking guitars. This changed over time and results in the current "thin skin" lacquer.
- there are no good and bad pickups. Pickups need to suit a particular guitar. The same set of pickups can sound good in one guitar and bad in another.
... it goes on and on...

What makes me curious is how Mark chose the specs. Any insights here?

Absolutely right, that's true for basically any professional-grade things, did you know that there exist $1,500 batons for orchestra conductors? And it's just a stick to wave to the orchestra... But it has weight, it has the feel and also looks. I'm actually not kidding. Or take a billiard cue... Seems simple enough, but you can easily find a cue as expensive as a Fender Stratocaster guitar. Because of the reasons you've listed above — every little detail matters.

I have no insights on how Mark chose the specs, but I'd say it's just trial and error, like everybody else. If you look throughout history, Mark tried many many many combinations of pickups, string height, string gauges, amps, even colours. And even several Strat-type guitars brands (Fender, Fernandes, Schecter, partscasters...). Here's the list of all guitar he used through years: http://www.oneverybootleg.nl

What's common between all of them is that Mark loves thick necks and big frets, that's probably the only spec that's consistent.

Offlinedustyvalentino

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The MK Strat neck isn't that thick?
"You can't polish a doo-doo" - Mark Knopfler

Onlinequizzaciously

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The MK Strat neck isn't that thick?

I don't think that thick neck is especially popular among Strat users, so that's common for Strats I suppose. Thick necks are more like a Gibson and acoustic guitars thing, but either way extremely personal preference. As with everything else :lol :lol :lol

OfflineTomcaster

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I have dug a bit into the recipe of the MK Strat, particularly the wood and pickups and came to some conclusions that are perhaps worth sharing.

1. WOOD

An ash body and a rosewood fingerboard neck seems to be an unusual combo.

There are many discussions on gear page covering this topic, many of them citing an all statement of John Suhr: 'Rosewood fingerboard on Ash body will give too much sizzle for many players. We would only build such combination if you are positive that this is what you want.'
https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/swamp-ash-rosewood-fingerboard-clarification.542427/

John Suhr later commented in a forum: 'Rosewood has a more brilliant presence than Maple, Maple is strong in the upper mids but not brilliance. Most of the misconceptions regrading Maple has to do with the neck construction and a thicker finish. If Maple is close to no finish at all with a vintage truss rod construction it is pretty fat and sweet. Rosewood does however have a rounder warmer bottom end than Maple on the bass strings. This is still a generalization since each specific piece of wood can and will sound different. Even at Fender I remember many of the Master builders not liking Brazilian Rosewood and Ash. It is a personal choice and nothing is right or wrong. It will depend on all the gear you run thru and the way you play.'
https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/ash-body-tele-with-a-rosewood-board.1016577/page-2#post-12267636
 
Sounds like the wood choice for the MK Sig makes it a mid scooped guitar, i.e. very prominent treble and somewhat prominent bass. The ash will give a sweet sound.

2. TEXAS SPECIAL PICKUPS

The following information comes from the Fender webpage. All of this is rather theoretical, but it gives you a point of reference.
https://www.fender.com/articles/gear/a-guide-to-fender-single-coil-stratocaster-pickups

Found in Fender American Special Stratocaster guitars and characterized by their midrange chirp, crystalline highs and tight bass, Fender Texas Special Strat pickups feature an overwound single-coil construction that produces big Texas-blues tone.

NECK PICKUP
TREBLE — 8/10 | MID — 6/10 | BASS — 4/10

MIDDLE PICKUP
TREBLE — 7/10 | MID — 6/10 | BASS — 4/10

BRIDGE PICKUP
TREBLE — 7/10 | MID — 6/10 | BASS — 8/10

TOTAL POWER RATING: 4/5

A comparison with the Pure Vintage 59 pickup, that would be somewhat similar to what Mark has in his 1961 Strat (different polarity but rest is good enough for an approximation):

NECK PICKUP
TREBLE — 5/10 | MID — 4/10 | BASS — 6/10

MIDDLE PICKUP
TREBLE — 5/10 | MID — 4/10 | BASS — 6/10

BRIDGE PICKUP
TREBLE — 5/10 | MID — 4/10 | BASS — 6/10

TOTAL POWER RATING: 2/5

-> we see that the Texas Specials are more powerful, have more treble and more mids than a vintage voiced pickups.

THE EQUATION 1+2=?

The wood gives us a "scooped" sound with pronounced treble and bass. The Texas Specials offset the mid scoop with their own mid chirp. Bass is also balanced. Treble stays very prominent.

I can only guess that Mark likes the prominent treble because he plays with his fingers, with the meat part, so no nails like Chet Atkins. He doesn't use 'the biggest amplifier there is' - the pick. The Texas Specials compensate with more treble and output. It's simply a Strat setup tuned to fingerstyle!

This sounds all very theoretic haha  :o Apologies.

Looking at Marks 61 Strat things are of course different. The body wood is alder, but that alder is offset by a Brazilian Rosewood fingerboard. Brazilian Rosewood has a little more presence compared to Indian rosewood - this is why John Suhr referred to that one specifically as problematic paired with ash. The pickups in a 1961 Strat are of course vastly different than Texas Specials but let's not forget that Mark did like hot pickups even early in his career (DiMarzio FS-1).

On another note: his other favorite guitar, the Gibson Les Paul, also has very interesting wood combinations. It's very mellow mahogany offset with bright sounding maple caps for the body and bright Brazilian Rosewood for the fingerboard. The pickups are PAFs, so much more powerful than single coils, and yet rather trebly compared to later hum buckers. People say that the best Les Pauls sound like Telecasters on steroids - so not dark at all!

I do all the maths because I consider going Custom Shop and having a higher quality version of that guitar built. It would cost the same as a mint MK. Before I order I try to explain myself what I order  ;D

It is all worthless anyway because each piece of wood is different  ???

Offlinedustyvalentino

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Great post!


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OfflineSilvertown

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Yes, nice investigation and speculation. We all love that!

OfflineJustme

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And she's sitting in her Lusso, in the early morning sun.

OfflineKnopflerfan

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Great, interesting post Tomcaster - thankyou.. :clap
* Mark Knopfler - NOT just a hobby, but a way of life!

* Owner of Two Fender 'Mark Knopfler' Signature Series Stratocaster's (SE00616 & SE03805) both with signed Fender labels after meeting MK at Bridport, Dorset UK on the 27/09/2013!

Offlinedustyvalentino

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One thing to consider I guess is that the MK Strat is likely to increase in value, the custom shop likely to decrease.


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"You can't polish a doo-doo" - Mark Knopfler

OfflineKnopflerfan

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One thing to consider I guess is that the MK Strat is likely to increase in value, the custom shop likely to decrease.


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Yes indeed, I fully agree dusty.......
* Mark Knopfler - NOT just a hobby, but a way of life!

* Owner of Two Fender 'Mark Knopfler' Signature Series Stratocaster's (SE00616 & SE03805) both with signed Fender labels after meeting MK at Bridport, Dorset UK on the 27/09/2013!

OfflineTomcaster

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One thing to consider I guess is that the MK Strat is likely to increase in value, the custom shop likely to decrease.


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Yes indeed, I fully agree dusty.......

I agree as well! It's a double edged sword:  buying a non-collectible Custom Shop make you lose some about 25%-30% value but you get a Custom Shop guitar instead. The difference to factory guitars is quite obvious (wood, hand wound pickups, better trem, better finish, better setup, even better fret material). A Knopfler costs 2.5k, a CS costs 3k.

 

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