As you might tell reading my last post, I’m a big supporter of Gibson guitars. I’ve owned a Gibson Flying V, 3 Les Pauls, and my most recent purchase (Not very recent), a 1970 Gibson SG in 2013. The SG was given to me by my mom as a gift for my grade 12 graduation. The sad thing is, though it was a super cool, vintage vibe guitar, I just didn’t like the way it felt in my hands. At this point I had already sold my Flying V and 1981 Les Paul, and this 70’ SG would live out the same fate.
After consulting my mom, and a successful Kijiji deal, I decided to do something I never thought I’d do. Buy a Fender. Gibson and Fender the probably the most legendary guitar companies in the world, but they are two completely different worlds. It was the summer before I started Seneca’s Independent Music Production course, and I figured I could use a different style of guitar to help get a new variety of tones in my music. It was also right at the time I started listening to Pearl Jam heavily. (This will be relevant in the next paragraph.)
I decided to look for the most popular Fender model, the Stratocaster. I went over to The 12th Fret guitar shore at Woodbine and Danforth to hunt down a nice Strat. I walked in and saw about 6 strats in a row hanging on the wall, all vintage and used. While glancing over them, I noticed one in a color so rare, that I could only recall one guitarist that has ever played one famously. Mike McCready of Pearl Jam. (Ta-da!) I can’t even recall what the other strat’s looked like, and it probably didn’t matter. It was a 1986 Fender Strat in “Banana Yellow”! I was so drawn to this vintage strat because of its unique color, and the fact that it has some fading in the finish down the neck and where your arm rests on the body. I plugged it in and the first thing I played was “Yellow Ledbetter” by Pearl Jam, and it was then that I realized I had been missing out by playing only neglecting Fenders my whole guitar playing life. It was on consignment, so I called the owner and I took it home that day.
After doing some research over the years, I’ve learned that it’s a “1986 American Vintage Reissue 57’ Strat”, which is a pretty rare model! The mid 80’s was the first time Fender decided to reissue the classic designs of the 50’s and 60’s models for people that couldn’t afford the real deal. The value of these specific reissues have almost doubled since I bought mine in 2013. Guitarist are only now discovering the vintage vibe, construction, and potential of these things. I’ve since modified a couple little details and played the hell out of it! These days I’m getting into strat-slingers like Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Mayer, and Jimi Hendrix. Those three especially have totally blown open my playing vocabulary, but still I can’t help but think of Mike McCready when I open it’s case. If it wasn’t for my huge Pearl Jam faze, I might have never seen that Pinkpop 1992 concert with Mike playing that banana yellow strat. I might have just passed that strat by. And I might have never decided to buy a Fender when I did. The stars seriously aligned on that one, and I owe it all to you my friend!