1957 Fender Stratocaster – Seminole Red ( Roy Lanham’s Stratocaster )

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Stratocaster - Seminole Red ( Roy Lanham's Stratocaster )
1957 ( pre-CBS )
Original Fender hardshell tweed case
Very Good + / All Original

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SKU: 1957-fender-stratocaster-seminole-red-roy-lanhams-stratocaster Category:

1957 Fender Stratocaster – Seminole Red ( Roy Lanham’s Stratocaster )

One of the best Fender Stratocaster find of the last 20 years. An important piece of Fender history discovered in 2024. 

The grand nephew of Luther “Red” Roundtree, went into a local musicstore in New Mexico with a 1957 Stratocaster in Red to get an appraisal for insurance purposes. After a longer conversation the local musicstore called John Shults from True Vintage Guitars because they knew he liked rare Fender custom color’s. 

24th of February 2024 John went down to New Mexico and inspected the guitar and was of course blown away of how special this Fender guitar was. After a long proces of closing a deal with the owner the journey now begins on figuring out what exact guitar it is. This is not just a custom color Stratocaster, it’s a very special and unique guitar with special features. So John bought it from the family of Luther Roundtree – nicknamed “Red” (August 4, 1905 – April 30, 1990), who also played in Sons Of The Pioneers.

Luther “Red” Rountree was a professional musician living in Los Angeles, California who played with so many great musicians including Spade Cooley, Spike Jones, and even Elvis Presley (Love Me Tender soundtrack). Red was mostly hired as a banjo player, but his nephew said that the guitar was his first love. He passed away in 1990 and the guitar has been in the family ever since.  

After John came back to his office with his new guitar he wanted to dig out more information on why a Banjo Player had such a special custom Red Stratocaster? A great detective work from John’s side should now change the whole history of this Fender guitar. It turns out that Rountree was not the first owner but the second owner of this Red Stratocaster. John discovered a picture from 1957 inside the Tom Wheeler’s book ‘The Fender Archives (page 36) of a very special 1957 Stratocaster in a Custom Color with Gold anodized pickguard and a large mineral streak in the fretboard that match 100% to the guitar he just purchased played by a guy called Roy Lanham.

In 1963, Roy Lanham released a record called “The Fabulous ”, which on the frontcover features Lanham playing a Red Jazzmaster, but more importantly, on the backcover it features another (Later picture) with him playing this 1957 Fender Stratocaster. The picture shows a large scratch on the bass horn of the guitar that also indicate the newly discovered Red Stratocaster. Overall, these unique and identical features of the guitar confirms that this guitar was in fact the same guitar that had been built for Roy Howard Lanham in 1957. The circle was know complete and Rountree was just a footnote in the history of this incredible guitar. 

We don’t know exactly how Roundtree got this guitar. But we know that Roy Lanham and Rountree played in The Sons Of Pioneers. Therefore we suspect that at some point during Sons Of The Pioneers time, Lanham or someone else in the band, gave Roundtree “Red” this 1957 Stratocaster, and he then became the second owner.

Roy Howard Lanham (January 16, 1923 – February 14, 1992) was an American guitarist best known for his work with the Western-style band and also played in Sons Of The Pioneers . He had a long career spanning from the pre-war years all the way to his death. His main playing style was early country and western swing, although he also played jazz remarkably well.

Roy Lanham had a close relationship with Leo Fender back in the 50’s, which is why he got this special Stratocaster made for him directly from the factory. This information about Roy Lanham’s relationship to Leo Fender is later confirmed by Terry Foster, co-writer of the book ‘Fender – The Golden Age’ and it is also stated in the book “Fender: The Sound Heard ‘Round The World” by Richard R. Smith. After 1958, Lanham became an official promoter of the Fender Jazzmaster, that was introduced in 1958. He was therefore not seen playing his 1957 Stratocaster hereafter. Roy Lanham kept a close relationsship to Leo Fender up until the 1970’s. 

Regarding early custom color’s and 50’s red finishes

In the 1950’s, a lot car companies used very similar color formulas, but advertised the colors by their own names. Automotive painting were provided by a few companies, including DuPont and Ditzler. Red finishes on Fender guitars can be extremely tough to determine from that time. Probably the most famous Red Fender custom color is Fiesta Red. It was first introduced in Ford’s color chart in 1956, and Fender started to use Fiesta Red by the end of 1959 – same goes for Dakota Red.

The custom color called Roman Red was introduced around late ’58 and early ’59 at the Chevrolet Automobile color chart, but Fender only used this color from 1958 up until 1959, although some say all the way up to 1962. All the Red colors mentioned do not fit this Red finish. First John thought it could be Matador Red which is very close, but after getting a color chart to see if it matched it unfortunately failed. Then we at Guitar Hunter tried to figure out what other color’s were available in that era and that had been seen before. We then figured out that Seminole Red was an option. That finish was a DuPont color for Buick automobile from 1956. When comparing the Roy Lanham 1957 Stratocaster with an original 1957 Buick color chart, it became certain that this 1957 Fender Stratocaster has the Seminole Red finish.

Once Fender introduces the color chart in 1961, almost every custom color had been standardized, but Roman Red and Seminole Red guitars do on extremely rare occasions appear up until 1962 and has never been at the Fender color chart.

Before 1961, the notion of ”Custom Color” meant that Fender could potentially paint a guitar in any available color upon a customer’s request. This meant that any other color than the standard Sunburst was considered an option subject to a surcharge – even the most common option: ”Blond”. Therefore the earliest custom colors were mostly selected by the customer alone, and not from a selection of Fender-provided options. It is therefore also worth mentioning that Fender did not have any names for their specific colors up until the color chart officially was introduced ’61.

Starting 1956 – as stated in the Fender catalog for 1956/57 – getting a Stratocaster in a color other than Sunburst became an official option with the words: ”The Stratocaster is available in custom colors at an additional 5% cost”. At that time Fender had no standardized color chart, so any color could technically be an option in this period, as long as the customer was willing to pay for it. In this case Fender used 1956 Buick Color Chart which includes Seminole Red.

According to interviews with George Fullerton, it wasn’t until 1958 that the idea of a standardized custom color chart was born, but it was not fully implemented until 1961 model year, where Fender introduced an official color chart.

It is important to note that solid color finishes were not very popular at the time and were therefore made in very limited quantities and were sometimes probably even ”one-offs”. While still being rare, the official custom color chart from 1961 onwards meant that solid Color Stratocasters became relatively more common in the ’60s and especially by 1965 it really took form.

Specs and condition of Roy Lanham’s 1957 Fender Stratocaster

This is in an original 1957 Stratocaster in its original Seminole Red finish made in Fullerton, California. It was built to Roy Lanham at the Fender factory back in 1957. This incredible Fender Stratocaster is all original throughout except for two small tiny holes ( like sting tree holes ) in the headstock because the banjo player added a string mute in the style of a tenor banjo. Otherwise no modification, breaks or repairs. Even comes complete with its original tremolo arm, bridge cover and strap. The string mute that the banjo player used is also included for the guitar. 

This 1957 Stratocaster features the original one-line Kluson tuners that are in perfect working order. A unique custom ordered C neck meaning 44.45mm / 1 3/4″ (1.750″) wide. It’s not a “C” shape neck profile but a “V” but with a big neck. The .B neck was what Fender considered standard and sometimes A neck being the most narrow. It’s very rare to have Wide C neck on a Stratocaster. This is the only example we have ever seen on a Fender Stratocaster. But it match the rest of this rare guitar. It has the rare original Gold anodized aluminum pickguard with Gold anodized aluminum back plate which is also extremely rare.

Besides of this example there is only one more example known with a Gold anodized aluminum back plate. Furthermore it has a very unique ground wire that goes from the tremolo claw up to the back of the body that attached the back plate. According to Terry Foster – Co. writer for the book “ Fender The Golden age “ – there is only one other original example that he has seen featuring that extra ground wire. The ground wire is sitting at the exact same spot as the Roy Lanham Strat and is the only guitar besides the Lanham Strat also that also have an anodized back plate. The very nice custom ordered maple neck with the beautiful and unique mineral streak do not have a pencil date but it has the pencil writting: “Wide Neck” The neck is perfect and straight and the truss rod is in perfect working order.

The original volume knob and pickup covers are abs and the tone knobs are polystyrene. 1957 is the transition year for abs instead of polystyrene so it’s common and we have seen a mix of that before on a early 1957 Fender Stratocaster hardtail we’ve had. There’s a slightly raised circle on the front underneath the finish – a factory large filled hole a plug dowel/knot that has expanded over the years. The original Red finish is strong in the color. It shows the common nicks, dings, finish checking and other cosmetic wear. Some spots on the finish you can see some spots of the desert sand undercoat and that’s what you also like to see from that period. 

Pickups and the electronics/wiring remain untouched and intact, with no broken solder joints, no re-wound pickups. All original and correct.

Comes with its original Fender hardshell tweed case. Latches and handle are in perfect working order.


Neck DateNone ( never been ) only pencil wide neck.
Pots Dated304 704 ( 4th week of 1957 )
Neck Pickup5.46 kOhm
Middle Pickup5.55 kOhm
Bridge Pickup5.46 kOhm
Weight3.416 Kilograms
Serial Number-18520




With your purchase you get picture documentation on a USB drive and a Certificate of Authenticity. Read more


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