What did we learn on our trip to Umeå to see what its owners laughingly call this “old, dusty guitar”? Are we just perpetuating a vintage myth that has no relevance in modern music?
I don’t think so. What’s really astonishing about this guitar is that even 60 years after it was first designed and made, you could chuck it in a gigbag, go and do tonight’s gig and treat it like any other decent Stratocaster that has ever existed.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised, because however revolutionary, the Strat’s near-perfect blend of form and function lies right at the heart of its many other ostensible contradictions: versatile yet simple; futuristic yet timeless; workaday yet remarkable; all different, yet all strangely the same. Above all, it’s a guitar that you dream about, yet one which you can just go out and buy with a few hundred quid... as long as you don’t want this original ’54, of course!
So happy birthday Stratocaster, old buddy. I probably won’t see all of your next 60 years, but if they keep you safe, I know you’ll be as timeless then as you are now.