The Bill Carson Strat:
In July 1991, Don Schwartz, owner of Music Trader in Panama City Florida contacted John Grunder at the Fender Custom Shop to inquire about the design and construction of the "Bill Carson Stratocaster". Mr. Grunder was intrigued by the idea and after speaking to Mr. Carson and receiving confirmation from Fender Senior Management, started working on the exact design of the guitar. The Bill Carson Stratocaster was designed based on the year Bill Carson officially came onto the Fender payroll, as a full-time employee in 1957. The guitar is built to U.S. 57 Reissue specs with a highly figured specially shaped bird's eye maple neck and features Bill Carson's signature engraved on the neck plate and as a decal adjacent to the headstock logo. 100 guitars were planned to be issued.
In 1992-1993 Fender made 100 of these Limited Edition Strats. As it turned out, only 41 of the original 100 Carson Strats destined for Music Trader were ever actually shipped to MT, forty right-handed models, serial numbers MT 000 through MT 039 and a single left-handed model, serial number MT 100. This is due to the fact that the bank providing the financing for the project was taken over by federal regulators in early 1992 resulting in the bank cancelling its financing for the project. Music Trader tried to continue with their own funds but this was not acceptable to Fender and Fender subsequently stopped the project in July 1992, halting and denying any further involvement in the Carson Strat by Music Trader. The initials MT on the back plates stand for Music Trader. Guitars from numbers 40 through 99 do not contain all documents, especially the one from Music Trader that is signed by Donald Schwartz stating the origin of the guitar and the history of the color of the guitar.
The unique color Cimarron red, was only used once for this Limited Edition. The Alder body in Cimarron red, named for the Cimarron Ball room where Leon McAuliffe, long time player for the famous Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys used to play. "Cimarron" is said to be the Cheyenne word for "Wild" or 'Wild one'.
The Bill Carson Stratocaster is one of the 3 Strats ranked on Strat Collector/Tom Watson’s "B" list of non-vintage collectible Fender guitars.
The number after the guitar is the total number of units manufactured.
Tom Watson's “B” List:
1987 – 1989, low serial number Custom Shop guitars. 100
1993, Bill Carson Signature Stratocaster. 100
1994, Freddie Tavares Aloha Stratocaster. 153