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1958 Stratocaster

1958CustomShopStrat

I turn 58 in a few days. Still living the dream.

Last year was a 57/57 year. Born in 1957 and 57 years old. Surely it was time for a 1957 Fender Stratocaster? Sadly that did not happen. I mean, yes, I turned 57 but no. No 1957 Stratocaster.

Perhaps this is the year. I turn 58 and I could get a 1958 Relic Stratocaster from the Fender Custom Shop. Like the one pictured above. A relic Strat for an old relic like me.

This is what Fender had to say about the guitar:

Perfected into its current form by 1958, the Stratocaster in that year was poised for greatness and had already found its way into the hands of several legendary artists. As a musically wild new decade loomed on the not-so-distant horizon, the already ahead-of-its-time Stratocaster was ready for anything as the 1950s wound to a rocking ‘n’ rolling close.

I called the team at the custom shop and they told me that sorry, we stopped building those guitars in 2011. But there might be one for sale in Sweden.

And sure enough, there it was. An original 1958 Fender Stratocaster. I guess the custom shop folks need to do a bit more work on the relic side of their reissues. This original certainly looks like a relic. The custom shop guitar? Not so much.

1958Stratocaster

But, sold.

How much though?

Well, if you have to ask you can find out here.

Still not satisfied? There was another one here.

And, if you don’t want to click through the links, a 1958 Stratocaster can sell for about $60,000. Unless it has been played by someone really famous. Then it could be much higher. Or, if it has been signed by someone famous. And then the age of the guitar really doesn’t matter.

The more signatures, though, the better.

This 2004 Fender Standard Stratocaster fetched a staggering $2.8 million as part of an auction to aid victims of the 2004 tsunami disaster.

FenderMillions

It was signed by Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Brian May, Liam Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Ray Davies, David Gilmour, Bryan Adams, Tony Iommi, Mark Knopfler, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Paul McCartney, Sting and Noel Gallagher.

I believe it still holds the record as the most expensive guitar ever sold.

By comparison, $60,000 for a 1958 Stratocaster seems pretty cheap.

I’m not getting my hopes up though. I thought I had made it pretty clear last year about a 1957 Stratocaster for my birthday. But this is what I got instead:

UkeGtr

Colourful.

Not a Strat.

Drat.

Crook Vintage Pink Paisley

CrookPinkPaisley

Bill Crook builds custom guitars. Paisley Telecaster style guitars mostly. He does other styles as well but he is best known for his Paisleys.

He got started by building a Paisley for Brad Paisley. Brad’s “Old Pink” is an original 1968 Fender Pink Paisley. You can see it in the video he did for Fender here:

Fender decided to make a “hippie” version of their guitars and basses during the late 60s. It was, after all, the era of flower power.

TDPRI has a good summary on Paisley Teles. The Fender Custom Shop has put out a few Masterbuilt Paisleys over the years. The last one I have seen was this 2012 Custom Shop Masterbuilt Stratocaster — a relic reissue of a 1969 Gold and Pink Paisley. Some great tones from Gregor Hilden:

I have a Fender Select Tele but there are a few issues with the build. If I were to look at a new one, Bill would be the first guy I would contact. He is the one that can create an outstanding Paisley in a wide range of colours. I like the vintage pink one though. Very cool.

A Clean, Fresh Smelling Amp

OldDeluxe

Let’s say you find a really old Tweed Deluxe amp at a garage sale somewhere. Everything is working fine but the amp itself has a bad odour. A little cleaning up and the amp looks much better inside.

NewDeluxe

But that smell! It is still there. What to do?

I followed such a thread on The Gear Page. And I have no idea whether any of these suggestions work. But here they are:

Use Odaban.

Put coffee beans in a brown paper bag and leave them inside the amp.

Remove the chassis and leave it and the cabinet in the direct sunlight in spring.

Place lots of baking soda along with a cup of apple cider vinegar inside the cabinet.

Put the amp in a large trash bag and fill it with loosely wadded up newspaper. Then put a small cup of baking soda with a few drops of lemon juice in it.

First, vacuum out the dead cat.

Well, you get the idea. Lots of things you need to deal with as a guitar player.

Build Your Own Boutique Stratocaster

StratRelic

The Fender Custom shop released this 1954 Heavy Relic Stratocaster in 2014. The instrument had an MSRP of about $4,700USD. It celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster. George Gruhn sold the first production Stratocaster guitar made in 1954 for $250,000USD last year. I guess a guitar can be a worthwhile investment. If you pick the right one.

But how much would it cost to build your own boutique Strat?

We would need a neck and a body. MusiKraft is a logical candidate. It is Fender licensed and it offers high quality components that you can customize to your own needs.

I would order a 10” radius neck with heavily rolled edges and a bone nut at a cost of $395. And a one piece swamp ash body for $475.

Since I want the same kind of relic treatment as the 1954 Strat, I would have them send the body over to MJT Custom Aged Guitar Finishes with a shipping charge of $40. I would have to spend about $500 to relic the neck and body.

I would need to get some distressed hardware and Callaham Vintage Parts would be able to help me out for about $300. And about $20 for shipping.

I still need some pickups and for those I would head over to Sliders. A nice set of Classic 57s would do. Roughly $350. Plus shipping.

A bit of wiring and assembly, and a really nice G&G guitar case, and I should be able to finish things off for another $250.

So, let’s see. We would likely close in on $2,500 for an overall cost of the parts.

Whether it would play as well as a Custom Shop Stratocaster is another question. They do nothing but build amazing instruments. I, on the other hand, have only ever assembled one guitar from parts.

And I don’t play that one.

Fender Custom Shop Zombie Stratocaster

WalkingDead

My son is a big fan of the Walking Dead. And a big fan of zombies generally. So this post is for him.

At the 2015 NAMM, the Fender Custom Shop highlighted some of their more unique instruments:

ZombieStrat1

The second guitar from the left is a bit hard to make out so perhaps a closer view is in order:

ZombieStrat2

Ah yes. A Zombie Stratocaster. Handbuilt by John Cruz. He is the individual pictured just to the right of the guitar.

John Cruz started working at Fender in 1987 and went over to the custom shop in 1993. He has been a master builder since 2003. I’ve played a few of his guitars and they are awesome.

This is what John had to say about the Fender Custom Shop Zombie Stratocaster:

“It”™s my tribute to The Walking Dead series, which I”™m a big fan of,” said Cruz. “Even though it”™s not really the characters, it”™s a tribute to that genre. I wanted to show a different side of me, that I could do some artistic type of stuff, as well. And something that caters to different musical forms.”

Joaquin Lopez did the painting and Ron Thorn did the inlays. In this video, John talks about the instrument:

Jackson Soloist

JacksonGuitar

A Jackson Custom Shop Limited Edition 30th Anniversary Soloist. Such a long, long name for a guitar. Perhaps we can just call it the pink guitar. Although not just any pink guitar. This is a master-built, limited-run guitar hand made by Mike Shannon.

The 30th Anniversary Soloist is made with a poplar body and a three-piece quartersawn through-body maple neck. It also features a compound-radius ebony fingerboard, EMG SA1 active single coils in the neck and middle positions and an EMG 81 active humbucker in the bridge. It looks like a great guitar although I’m not sure I would go with pink.

And why am I looking at Jackson guitars?

Well, it was this guy’s fault:

JohnMayer

John Mayer was sitting in with Ed Sheeran at the Grammy Awards last night. And there he was, looking a bit like Buddy Holly, playing a pink Jackson guitar. I was so surprised that he was on a Jackson. Mayer tends to play Fender Stratocasters. Although Fender did purchase Jackson Guitars back in 2002. I think the Jackson Custom Select guitars are built in the same plant as the Fender Custom Shop guitars. Perhaps this was a way for Fender to get a bit of a promotion out to guys like me. You know, the ones who watch the Grammys to see what guitars are being used. Like Ed Sheeran’s guitar in the photo above. Was that a Crashocaster?

56 Strat NOS

I have my eye on a Fender Custom Shop 56 Strat NOS. I enjoy my American Deluxe Fat Strat but I would like to get back into a more traditional Strat and I cannot afford to get a vintage model. Even this one is a bit expensive for me.

It seems as though money is no object for some players. I see some vintage Strats going for over $45,000 USD. When the Fender Custom Shop put the Eric Clapton Blackie Strat up for sale — a limited edition run of 185 guitars — they sold them all in seven hours. At $24,000 each. Over $4 million dollars in sales.

Given the performance of the market, I wonder if it makes sense to switch from stocks to Strats.

My Guitar Rig

I had a few emails asking about my rig and my settings. My basic guitar rig consists of a 1994 Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 electric guitar, a Mesa Boogie Lonestar Special 1×12 combo and a floorboard which is pictured below.

Pedalboard

The floorboard consists of a Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus power supply, a Voodoo Labs Analog Chorus, a Line 6 DL 4 delay modeler, a custom Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer modified by Analog Man, a Boss Noise Suppressor and Chromatic Tuner, an Ernie Ball volume pedal and the Lonestar channel/solo switcher.

I will sometimes take along my 1999 Fender American Fat Strat as a second guitar but I usually play the Paul Reed Smith.

In terms of settings, I find that most of the tone is produced by how I play the instrument — it is in the hands. The amp does make a huge difference in how the sound gets presented. I just love the sound of a Class A tube amplifier and I love the sound of the Lonestar Special. It is an amazing tone machine. I generally make very little use of the pedals. I will usually add some delay to the effects loop of the amp. And, because the Lonestar is so responsive, I find little need for the Tube Screamer.

The Lonestar is the first amp I have owned where I can find and maintain the sweet spot of a great sounding guitar tone. A wonderful and expressive amplifier.