Sometimes they are just beautiful and need to come home, if you've you've the monies you just have to buy them
Rather like the Knopfler Signature, but not such a fan of the price tag. When I was a teen I used to go to some of the pretty big name guitar stores in the Los Angeles area while on travels with my family visiting friends and I saw the Fender Clapton Signature Strat when it was still pretty new out and being a massive Clapton fan I was absolutely fascinated with this thing and the salesman tried to do a hard sell on me, clearly mistaking my dad for a rich British dude when, reality bites, we really had no viable way to raise that kind of cash for a guitar for a kid. But the story remained with us and we reminded ourselves of it often and kind of wondered what it would have been like to manage to buy it and if somehow we ever went back on another trip with some money and perhaps tried to get a similar deal, knowing that it was so much cheaper to get a USA thoroughbred guitar in the USA than imported through local guitar stores. And the price he'd offered it for was $900 back when it was virtually a 2:1 exchange rate. Gutted I never had the means to snap that one up. I went back a few years later and this time with some saved up money. We knew a lot of musicians back then and I was out in hicksville in Eastern California and asking a family friend who was in country music whether he had any contacts back in LA for a decent deal on a Strat. He recommended McCabe's and gave me a contact but then paused for a minute and said 'does it have to be a Strat? What about a Les Paul?' Honestly, I loved Strats because... they're Strats.... and had never played any other electrics other than a few friends Jackson and an Ibanez. So he says 'let me make a call.' Next thing I know I'm being taken out to a cabin out in the foothills and I'm meeting a guy who has a Les Paul... which I know NOTHING about. Its getting plugged in, I'm getting to jam with it and I'm really enjoying it. Heavy, but what a sound. The owner has a story - that he's a property repairer and several months before he was working on a property for a fairly recent widow when he sees a guitar propped up in the corner of a room and asks if she plays. No, it was her husband's and she hasn't been able to bring herself to dispose of it. Does he play? Would he like the guitar? Sure, of course. He's more of a bass man himself, but if she just wants to get rid of it he'd be glad to play it, and even more mad, he probably has as much awareness of Les Pauls and their values as I do at that point. And now, out here in hicksville, he's having a real hard time getting work in 'the economy' and could see himself selling it on to get some money for bills. I ask how much he's looking for. Would $500 be OK, he asks. I look across at my country friend absolutely clueless for what to say, and he's nodding his cowboy hat up and down furiously over the guy's shoulder with a huge grin and a thumbs-up. I say 'well... I was going to go to LA and get a Strat like I always wanted.' My friend says 'hey... Strats are nice and they'll always be on sale... but this here is a LOT of guitar and something that a connoisseur would appreciate - the best guitars to buy have some kind of a vintage and some kind of a story, and this has a great story to tell.' The seller adds 'yeah, man... I'll get a real buzz from having met you and jammed with you and knowing that it's going all the way to the UK man... like Jimmy Page man... I'll know you're really enjoying it and you can tell our mutual friend here how you're doing with it and I'll feel like I'm still in touch with it...' I ask to think about it, because after all my country friend is following us down to LA about five days after us and we're hooking up down there. Sure... No pressure. Well, it doesn't take me long to think about it really because mostly I just like the idea of this story-telling guitar making it's journey from owner to owner and the romanticism of continuing in that tradition of story-telling, like I am now literally two decades on. So I call my country friend and say 'yeah... do it. I've not even gone to see Strats yet... I like what I played. I'm a Les Paul man now.' And that's it. The deal is done. Three days later I have it in my hands, my friend has the $500 for his friend who is thrilled that he's just paid the gas and electric. I'm a week from loading the thing on a plane and bringing it to its new home. I'm advised to get it a proper set up when I get back at a real reputable guitar store and my country friend winks and says 'if I were you I'd go to a Guitar Center while you're here and ask them to tell you something about it.' So I do. The guy in the store calls for someone else. Who calls for someone else. Serial number is examined and I'm thinking 'please tell me it's not fake...' 'Wow, man... this is a really nice number... how'd you come by this? It's a 1982 Les Paul Custom and in really great condition. Sorry? How much you paid for this? I'll give you two thousand bucks for it right now, you can buy whatever Strat you want...' No thanks. I'll keep the story... It's my pact. 'Hey... respect... I like it... that's a good thing to do. You enjoy it, and if you change your mind, you come back to me and we'll work something out...' I bring it home, take it to the local big-city guitar repairers in the basement of a guitar store and arrange the set up. He asks for a week. I go back to collect it and he says 'I've got a phone number here... I have a customer that came in here and was down in the workshop and he saw this on the bench... I told him it wasn't for sale but he offered me two grand and then said he might go to a bit more. I thought I'd pass it on, in case you... weren't attached to it....' But no, man... it's the story. Still have it. Still telling the story. Never worked out quite what made that guitar so interesting to people. It was in nice condition, sure, and it was an LP Custom. Only hint I ever got was that apparently The Edge played an identical one at the time. It was in a kind of Yellow wood burst, rather than the more obvious classic Les Paul colours, really nice finish. Something about getting a used guitar over something fresh out of the factory and with the smell of packing materials still on it... I'll add that a few years later I got a performance related bonus at work that was quite hard-earned and I decided, being young free and single, to finally get a Strat in the collection. I went to an Academy of Sound to look at the Standard USA's and was jamming a kind of a bluesy vibe on them when the salesman came over, asked what I was looking for specifically and then commented that they had a particularly niche model of Strat that no one was buying, list price was a lot more than I was looking at but if I'd be interested he'd do a deal. Would I like to take it out for a stretch? Turned out it was one of the USA Floyd Rose Strats with the HSS configuration, and boy did it sound like a fat boy... great for my bluesy rocky ZZ Toppy kind of interest. I asked why it wasn't selling and he said it was something to do with the fact that most Strat players have guitar heroes who play the typical standard Strat configuration and thus a lot of shoppers have a mental block with both the humbucker and the locking trem, because they associate both those things with guitars other than Strats and want to imitate their guitar heroes who play those other brands. He added that this model was so similar to the Richie Sambora Signature released around the same time, that the guitarists who idolised Sambora all wanted the Sambora signature and not the regular 'Classic' design and it was kind of stuck in this no-man's-land. He also said that most players were really intimidated by the machine heads on it and the idea of stringing a Floyd Rose. I can understand why. He offered it to me for the same budget I had for a Standard, which was a £500 saving on the list price. I bitteth his hand off and then politely coughed it back up so he could reattach and casheth me out at the front desk. Still got that one too.
Gotta say I absolutely agree. Although my notable exception... I went to have a look at a Yamaha Silent, thinking I liked the idea of a convenient pack-away backup that was easy to travel with and the whole 'not too loud' thing... To be fair to Yamaha for some inexplicable reason PMT had clearly left a set of strings on their display model which were obviously years old and obviously very used, perhaps because it was a 'curiosity' guitar that many wanted to try and just couldn't learn to like. Whatever, it played like a dog. More accurately it played like it was a lump of 4x2 with fencing wire for strings. So being considerably disappointed by my 20 mile drive to go see a gimpy dog that I'd never be able to take out for a decent walk, I decided to just wander round the acoustic section and inevitably wound up in the Taylors, not least because I already own one and I always like to see what their latest developments are. At which point I spotted the T5. Again, perhaps not expecting so many sales all they had for display stock was the entry level, plain wood, barely finished, no colouring or lacquer, no trim, no premium hardware. Actually quite ugly, but so new to me - first time I'd seen them. So I started playing one. And then started walking around the room still playing it. Then sitting playing it. Just going and going... it was so damned playable. Don't even think I plugged it in, so I didn't even yet understand exactly what the electronics on the thing were designed to do. Just loved the way it played. They did try to sell it to me, but at three times the price of the Silent that I'd gone to see with a mind to buy, I just walked away. But then it burned in my mind and looking the things up I find out about the range of colours, the hardware options, the more premium models etc. etc. And the price tag. So I thought about looking up a nice used model. Took my chances and went on eBay and tracked several nice candidates for several weeks, a gorgeous blue T5 S standing out particularly. Started bidding on it... and I'll be damned, I looked like I was in with the winning bid... And right at the last second someone went £100 more. Gutted. And man, that guitar haunted me for several more weeks. I looked and looked and couldn't find that gorgeous blue anywhere. Until one day the identical guitar turned up on eBay. I think it even had a 'Make an Offer' on it. So I emailed the seller to ask a few questions as I had done the previous one. As I began broaching making an offer and the seller mentioned he wanted a quick sale, I told the story of the one I'd missed out on. The seller then reveals that he was the buyer that outbid me, and what a wonderful guitar it is but that he too had been desperate to get one and had asked a friend who was going to the States if he could see if he could get one at a decent price, and a week after buying 'Blue' his friend had managed to get the T5z in exactly the colour he wanted and of course, the Missus wasn't going to let him keep two... so back on ebay it went and I managed to get it for what my winning bid would have been. First time I've ever bought a guitar blind, and maybe it's a testament to the pedigree of the guitar but it was even better than the one I had played and I've no regrets and absolutely love playing it at any opportunity. Sometimes it's the only way to bag a great deal. Not, of course, without its risks.
QC on these Fenders is very high, I doubt there's much difference in playability or sound between models. Plus, I generally have to redo the setup anyway on new guitars as soon as I put heavier strings on.
I agree. I'm not buying any more guitars online. I did in my early years but I'm after a Suhr next, so I'll get one ordered in store.