When it comes to guitars, every once in a while a real good deal comes along. I’m convinced you only get a few of those in your entire lifetime. The greatest one for me happened back in 1985 when a dear friend and fellow guitarist named Jeff Taylor offered to sell me his sea-foam green 1961 Stratocaster for $500.00. I was playing a custom Strat-style guitar at the time and beginning to gravitate to the single coil sound when he showed up at my door with this perfect sounding example of Leo Fender’s greatest creation.
After switching out the 3-way switch and a re-fret, it’s been my holy grail of Strats ever since. Unlike some Strats the pickups never get mushy below C# on the 5th string when distortion is used. And the clean sound is shimmery and crystal clear. I’ve used it on all my records and many other artists, too. I even used to take it on the road, but the vintage market priced that option out. My LsL CV Special is as close as you can get to this guitar including pickup output, weight and neck shape.
Fast forward to the late 90s and I was playing “Guitar Week” with Seymour Duncan at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. We both attended each other’s concerts and workshops and hung out for a few days. At some point Seymour said, “You’re a Strat guy, you should check out this ’58 Strat for sale in Hollywood. It’s got the best 3 single coils in a row that I’ve ever heard.”
Seymour went on to say that each pickup on this guitar has a natural progression from one to the next. The neck pickup is full and throaty like SRV. The middle is glassy and sweet and the bridge pickup has that Tele bite but more rounded so it’s not that “ice pick in the ear” tone. The neck-middle split is warm and jazzy and the middle-bridge split is perfectly “clucky.” You Stratocaster players know what I mean. When all 5 sounds are awesome and the weight of the guitar is not too heavy and it sings when overdriving the amp and it chimes when playing clean…You’ve got a LIVE ONE!
I got home to LA and immediately went down to Voltage Guitars just off Sunset to check it out. Upon walking through the door I knew immediately which guitar on the wall it was and didn’t stop playing it for an hour through an old blackface Super Reverb at the shop. I paid a lot more for this one than I had for the sea-foam green Strat but I’ve never been sorry I did. To this day I thank Seymour for the tip and use that guitar all the time.