Me and my guitar: Aynsley Lister

A guided tour of his treasured Japanese Strat

(Image: © Jamtrackcentral.com)

The British blues rocker Aynsley Lister explains why this humble budget guitar is his most treasured instrument...

“This is a Japanese Fender Strat from 1988. I got this when I was 12, and I was pretty happy about it. It was brand new at the time and I kind of learned to play on it. It’s been around the world with me and served me really, really well. 

I changed the pickups to Lindy Fralin Blues Specials. They sound fat enough to drive a good amp well but still have a really nice Stratty tone

“My dad only took me into the guitar shop to get a case originally. I wanted one of the Fender moulded cases for my Marlin Slammer Strat copy. But the shop assistant said, ‘I can throw a guitar in with that for another £229.’ So we ended up walking out with the red Strat and the case. The Marlin Slammer just got put away in the cupboard.

“I always wanted an American Strat, and never actually got one. It wasn’t until I tried to replace it and get a Sunburst Strat or a white one, that I realised this is actually a really, really good Strat that just has this sound. And I suppose it’s because I’ve played it since I was 12, which is 28 years… it’s got a lot of DNA on there.

“I changed the pickups to Lindy Fralin Blues Specials about 20 years ago. So for the main touring it’s done it’s had those. It just worked straight away. They sound fat enough to drive a good amp well but still have a really nice Stratty tone with loads of clarity. They suit this guitar perfectly!”

If I lost this guitar I’d be really upset. Not because it’s worth a lot of money, but it’s got a sentimental thing

“If I lost this guitar I’d be really upset. Not because it’s worth a lot of money, but it’s got a sentimental thing. And I think I definitely play this differently to any other Strat or any other guitar I’ve got. Just because I’ve spent so long with it. It just goes to show you don’t have to spend a fortune to find a good guitar. They’re not all good, I’m sure there’s a lot of these 80s Japan ones that are not great.

“The neck’s pretty [worn] - that’s all me by the way, it’s not relic’d, it’s just played to death. It’s on its fourth set of frets, I think - big jumbo frets. The saddles are Graph Tech and were put on initially to stop string breakages but I found they also improved the tone by smoothing out some of the high mids. It has a Master Tone [control mod], too, to just link it to the bridge pickup, but I still always leave it on 10 anyway!”

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