Dulltown, UK: Today’s weather will feature bloated cumuli, fastidious droplets, gusts of February chill, a dangerous downdraught, and eventually a splash of orange marmalade in the west around dusk.
Warning: If you are not a guitar nerd dear reader, you might as well stop reading this right now.
I was recently poking around in my files and came across a jpg, an image from an old 35mm black and white negative that I had scanned along with a few others a while ago. The picture was taken in the early 1990s soon after I bought an old and very distressed 1962 Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. The chap wanted £100 for it, which I happily gave him – I knew there would be a lot of work involved getting it back to a reasonable condition, but I do really like doing that sort of thing. For some reason I took only one picture of it in the condition it was when I bought it – it just shows an area of the body – would you like to see it?
Oh dear, there really was plenty wrong with it. The body had had all the paint stripped off it and had been repainted using a brush and some blue-grey metallic paint; the rosewood of the fingerboard had (for some reason) been covered with a coat or two of thick polyurethane varnish; the pickguard/scratchplate looked as if it had been sandpapered; the pickup switch wasn’t working and was bent over a bit to one side; there was plenty of rust and muck on the bridge and pickups, oh, and note those slotted screws holding the pickguard on. On the head (headstock) it said ‘Fender’ but the original decal was long gone and the name had been written in shaky handwriting in black enamel paint using a hairy brush.
But of course I was delighted!
One of these old instruments in good condition even back then would be worth a pile of money – not that that mattered really, I wasn’t intending to sell it. It took a few months to take it to bits and repair stuff and clean the horrible paint and varnish off it – to get the neck refretted, and sort the wiring out and replace the switch. I actually wrote to the people at Fender, and included a photo of the thing and its serial number, and they (free of charge!) sent me an appropriate replacement decal for the head. How very nice of them! I’ll bet they wouldn’t bother to do that these days.
Anyway, within a year I had it working and playing, and looking quite good – not looking ‘new’ of course, but back to what it might have looked like if it hadn’t been messed with. Of course all this happened twenty odd years ago, and the nice red finish I put on the body (I decided on red because found a small speck of the original red paint remaining inside one of the body cavities) is now quite old and a bit scuffed and knocked about – and it probably looks a lot ‘nicer’ that it did when it was freshly done.
Anyway, a few days ago I popped into town, got them to open up the bank vault for ten minutes, and took a new picture of thing in a similar pose – it looks rather good in its plush Fender case doesn’t it?