1977 Fender Stratocaster
This was my first real guitar. I bought brand new at Alex Music on 48th in New York City in December of 1978. Picked it up on Christmas eve. It was $450 dollars with the black tolex case included. This is still a great guitar though I've swapped out a lot of parts out of necessity. Pots, switch, nut, saddles, tuners etc. The finish is a little beat up but I love that cream color. This guitar proudly displays the same leather strap I bought and used in high school and for the last twenty something years.
1996 American Standard Stratocaster Despite the opinion of some that American Standard Strats with their "swimming pool" routes have an inferior tone due to less wood around the pickups these guitars are by far the easiest and most fun guitars to modify and sound great. Also it is easy to undo if you change your mind. In addition the two pivot bridge makes for a far more stable tuning situation for whammy fans like me then any vintage Stratocaster. Maybe this is easy to say if you own both vintage and new but I can't say enough good thinks about these guitars. Be sure to check out my Cool Mods page to see other modifications this and other guitars have gone through. As pictured below (and in it's current state) this incredibly fun to play guitar sports a matched set of Rio Grande Tallboy pickups and sounds great. Also three push/pull pots allow for all seven possible parallel pickup combinations including neck/bridge and all three and since the middle pickup is reverse wound/reverse polarity the neck/middle OR middle/bridge can be used in series for true humbucker tones! Why? why not baby? WHY NOT!
CLICK HERE for cool wiring diagrams including the completely absurd Rio Grande Tallboy "humbucking" conversion scheme!!!
1997 American Standard Stratocaster This eBay bargain was new old stock guitar with the film and Fender sticker still on the guard. A set of calibrated O.C. Duff Pickups quickly replace the standard Fender set. Owen Duff is a local New Jersey guy who makes really great pickups. These pickups have Alnico3 magnets in the bridge, Alnico2 in the middle (rwrp) and Alnico5 magnets in the neck and sound really great. Owen will make whatever you want at an extremely reasonable price. Go to his website for more information. I digress. In regard to my love of the American Standard Stratocaster all the same rules apply for this as the 1996 above. Great guitar, stays in tune, sounds terrific and is delight to play. If you only have one guitar make it an American Standard Stratocaster. These are all over eBay. Buy one now! UPDATE: The originally black body of the 1997 has now been replaced with a 2004 American Series Olympic white body to die for. Eating my words I really do hear a difference with the smaller pickup routes compared to the swimming pool route. I always shrugged this off as crap.....hate to say it... seems it's true.
2004 American (hybrid) Stratocaster While this page is comprised of Fender guitars I bought over the years this particular guitar is the one exception in that it was actually pieced together from parts. I had completely forgotten about yet another black American Standard Stratocaster body I had purchased on Ebay. This body sold for under $100 shipped. At this point I don't even remember the year but I decide it would be fun to build a Stratocaster with Jaguar pickups. I found some American Series Jaguar pickups for sale at Angela Instruments and decided to buy three. I then bought a Fender American Series Stratocaster neck on Ebay and a set of Lefty Sperzel locking tuners to complete this guitar. The Fender American series Jaguar pickups are nice and hot clocking in at just over 7 ohms. They are said to be made to original specs with fiber bobbins and cloth wire. I decided to follow the Jaguar theme with a master tone and a choke to cut low frequencies. Unlike the Jaguar with it's choke switch this guitar boosts a second master "tone" control choke. I wired the bottom tone control to be a master with a .003µF capacitor (actually three .001µF caps in parallel). This gives the ability to control how much low frequency is rolled off. Curiously unlike my 1964 Jaguar's choke, this one also squeezes off a bit of the glassy highs. Go figure. Perhaps the 250k pot is the reason why. Nonetheless this second "tone" proves to be very useful. Lastly my usual middle tone "push/pull" pot modification gives the "two outer and all three" additional pickup combinations along with the standard strat five.
CLICK HERE for more pictures of this cool modified Stratocaster.
1993 62' Reissue Custom Telecaster This perfect specimen of a Telecaster is made flawlessly in Japan. I purchased this guitar new at Sam Ash on 48th street in New York city. It currently sports a Fender six saddle 'vintage' style bridge. This Telecaster gets a lot of use these days when playing with Jet Weston and his Atomic Ranch hands and so I decided that this guitar should have a set of O.C.Duff Pickups. Owen made me a great set of Stratocaster pickups for one of my Strats and always has cool ideas for something out of the ordinary. Owen used Alnico 3 magnets and wound them to 7.5K ohms. Lots of mids and nice full sound but also still very twangy and very Tele! The neck pickup is reverse wound/reverse polarity so the middle position is parallel humbucking. Using a Fender Super 5-way switch I wired in two extra settings. 'Series humbucking', and 'series out of phase'. The 'series humbucking' tone is loud and proud. Nice for solos etc. Fender Mustangs gave the option to do a 'parallel out of phase' which is interesting but very thin and weak. 'Series out of phase' gives this really wild scooped out almost wah-wah like tone. Very useable and interesting and with plenty of output. So now this Tele with the 5-way gives neck, neck/bridge series, neck/bridge parallel, neck/bridge series out of phase, and bridge. These guitars even left handed can be found for not alot of money. They are great guitars and once tweaked can be perfect!
1995 65' Reissue Jazzmaster This "Craig's list" swap deal is a beautiful Crafted in Japan Jazzmaster. Upon receiving it I quickly swapped out the lame Fender pickups for a set of Lindy Fralin vintage hot pickups, a set of Fender aged covers, knobs and tips. I added a Mustang bridge and topped this guitar off with custom red pearl guard. This is now a fun and awesome sounding guitar.