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60 DAYS OF STRAT: The guitar has always been totemic, to a degree. Many are the tales of wide-eyed hopefuls stood agog at music-shop windows, transfixed by a stringed conduit of wonder and possibility.
These days, that shop window is more likely to be on your computer screen than in your high street, but it’s still happening every day, all over the world. This guitar, with its drop-dead curves and near-perfect functionality, has transcended totemic status.
In its 60 years to date, the Fender Stratocaster has nestled right in there alongside the Ray-Ban Wayfarer and Levi’s 501s as a staple of 20th century culture and design that remains 100 per cent relevant. Much imitated, never equalled, not old, not new: it just is. You might even call it timeless.
Like you, I remember the first time I ever saw one, for real, up close. I was 14 and our local pub had a band on. My dad insisted I watched them, having noticed the spark of enthusiasm in me ignited by electric blues. “You might learn something,” he said. “And he plays a real Strat!” Nobody I knew had a real Strat.
The Aran B Sweaters featured one Marco Rossi on the fabled Fender, punching out Albert Collins and T-Bone Walker licks among many others, through a 4x10 Fender Concert. The combination made noises that stirred something very deep that remains with me to this day. My dad was right, I did learn something, and I’m still learning.
I was thinking about Marco on the plane to Umeå, Sweden, back in January this year. It’s probably down to him I was making this journey at all; it’s probably down to him that what’s at the end of it will excite me more than any rock band or superstar ever could. I know it’s not a minter, I know it’s not 100 per cent original, but in many ways, that’s what makes it all the more interesting...