The Iconic Fender Stratocaster

Let’s talk about my new guitar. Did I need this guitar? Absolutely not. My Variax will always be my number one and can get the sounds of so many amazing guitars all in one plus so much more (I could go on for days but that is not the subject of this post). Plus I have two other amazing electrics already. So why did I buy this guitar?

Well first of all, most of us musicians suffer from something we call GAS: “Gear Acquisition Syndrome. To us, instruments are like works of art, not to mention that no two guitars will play or sound exactly the same, so really each one is unique. But this goes much deeper than that. The Fender Stratocaster is an iconic instrument and was my first real “goal” guitar. My first guitar was some cheap no-name that I got from Craig Henderson through my lifelong friend Chris Pruitt (literally lifelong, our mothers were friends before we were born). My next guitar was an Ibanez Roadstar II I bought from Bill Kemp.

I had learned my first few chords from my late uncle Jim. One of his friends was a guy named Scott Eddy (who has also sadly passed on). He became somewhat of a role model to young Heath. In addition to just being an amazing person, he was a phenomenal guitar player. I remember when he brought over his Roland Juno 3P synth with the external programming module and I was FASCINATED. I went over to his house a few times to just hang out and talk which was very generous looking back as I’m sure I was just some kid an he was an adult! However, I vividly remember him saying that he had decided he wanted to get a Stratocaster. I had never even heard this word before. I asked him about it, but I don’t remember what he told me.

I also lived next door to the late Tommy Smith, another great guitar player in my home town who I idolized. I remember asking him about what pedals he used and that’s where I learned about compressors which also went on my list of future acquisitions. Tommy was also an avid Stratocaster player.

My first big accomplishment as a guitar player was learning “Sultans Of Swing” by Dire Straits all the way through by ear. I would learn that Mark Knopfler played a Strat. As I got into Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, I learned they too were Strat players. I very quickly learned it was one of the most-played iconic guitars in music of many genres. Many of my favorite tones came from Strat players. All of this, plus the fact that Scott Eddy had wanted one, made this a guitar I was determined to own one day.

Well, that day came when my Ibanez as well as my Eko bass (which was very much a copy of Paul McCartney’s famous Hofner bass), and a bunch of other equipment were stolen from the A&M Methodist church where we had been rehearsing with the Church Street Rockers. I was never a religious person but many of my friends went to to this church so sometimes I would go to the youth group gatherings and I took up the offer the play some music with this group.
Luckily Paul J Fagan and some others got the insurance situation sorted to get our instruments replaced. We took a trip to Ray Hennig’s Heart Of Texas Music here in Austin (I still lived in College Station) where I picked out and candy apple red, sparkly Fender Stratocaster. It was an epic day. I played that guitar until the day I smashed it out teen angst and heartbreak when I found out the girl I had a crush on had started dating one of my friends (it’s longer complicated story, but again, not the subject of this post).

I owned many more Strats over the years and even had my own custom “Superstrat” type of guitar built from parts, but the thing is, while I was waiting for my custom Purple Sparkle body, the first Variax came out and once I had that, suddenly my Custom “Strat” went on hold. Eventually I did get it finished and had it as a spare guitar, but being what I really needed was a backup Variax, I decided to sell it. Then I got a offer from a guy to trade it for a Reverend Guitars Spacehawk. What I wanted was money for a 2nd Variax, and I had never heard of Reverend Guitars but then I looked it up and I was smitten. Intrigued. I did the trade and for the first time in many years, was Stratless. I did eventually buy a 2nd Variax as well.

Cut to now, where I often like to window shop guitars just for fun. I felt the pull to get back to my roots and have a Strat in my collection again, even if my Variax had a “Strat” model in it’s digital modeling capabilities and I knew the Variax would always be my main guitar. I had eyed many Strats but none had all the particular details I wanted. Until I stumbled upon this one being sold used on the internet. It had many of the things I wanted. A maple fretboard just like my first one. And it was sparkly purple. In a way it felt like coming home. I knew from the listing that it has some wiring issues which I’ll need to have addressed, but once again, I have a Strat among my guitar collection and it feels right.

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