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Vintage Stratocasters, Custom Shop & Artist Strats. For Sale & Auction Listings. Boutique Strat-type Builders included.

Custom Shop Art Esparza Moto Strat
Fender Custom Shop Rockit Caster Moto Strat, Masterbuilt by Art Esparza, 1996

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Michael Tuttle Guitars






Valley Arts - pre '92 = pre Samick & pre Gibson

ANDYS-GUITARS-ETC of Tallahassee, FL - Dealer for Suhr, Nash, Grosh, Melancon and LSL, plus several nice boutique amp lines.

Guitar Adoptions - Online Dealer for G&L, Michael Tuttle, Flaxwood, Delilah & Giffin

Resource Links:



SNAGG RFID chips for gear theft recovery!

If you didn’t read this at Guitar Blog, it’s been bootlegged! ©2006 - 2016 JP Holesworth. All rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted, distributed or duplicated without author’s written permission.
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Fender Product and Customer Support

1952 Fender Calendar

The Product & Customer Support page at contains an extensive resource directory that everyone oughta know about. CLICK HERE for current Custom Shop Calendars.

Included there are:

Set up guides, wiring diagrams/parts lists, manuals, product dating guides and amplifier schematics in FREE PDF downloads.

Related Resources:

Pimp Your Strat Directory
(wiring mods & hardware sources)

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Do the Timewarp Series With Nash Guitars

Nash Guitars(

Custom builder Bill Nash has one of the coolest "relic" concepts I've run across. He's also quite the wit and will have you laughing repeatedly as you tour the NashGuitars website. So if you need a break from the "serious" luthier scene, Nash is your man.

Nash's Timewarp guitar series features 3 levels of aging:
1) Light (Church Gig)
2) Medium (Working Man)
3) Heavy (Louisiana Roadhouse)

Beyond the usual Strat & Tele type models, Nash also has an "E Series" and "J Series", and I'll let you find out for yourself what those are.

One the lighter side, be sure to check the legal disclaimer at the bottom of the home page, as well as the "Links (sorry)" link just above the disclaimer. Also read the FAQ page very closely and realize that Nash has been around the block as a custom builder. The final FAQ item is hysterical!

You are advised to let Bill make guitars, and contact his dealers (as listed on home page) with any questions or inquiries you may have.



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Bobby Yang-- Typical Atlanta Fiddle Player... NOT!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled guitar bloggery to bring you this violin eruption from Atlanta's very own Bobby Yang...

Ok, not yer typical fiddle playin' good ol boy from down South. Nonetheless, Bobby serves to remind us of that old Devil Went Down to Georgia story. He plays everything from Nirvana to Black Sabbath to Zeppelin to Van Halen, and boldly goes where no Jean Luc has gone before. A regular throw down and hoe down all in one.

After you finish the video, there's more surprises in store at these fine sites:

We now return you to guitar programming. Pin It Now!

Guitar Gun From Columbia Promotes Peace


Columbian musician Cesar Lopez, with the help of instrument builder Luis Alberto Paredes, has designed the "Escopetarras", which means "gun-guitar".

There is actually a motive of peace behind these instruments-- click the image for the full story.

Here's our TOP TEN LIST of things this guy could be saying:

#1 "Airport security... Doh!"
#2 "Say hello to my little friend!"
#3 "We're playing it in 'E' because I SAY SO!"
#4 "I caught her messin' round with another man."
#5 "We're gonna take a 15 minute break-- you got a problem with that?"
#6 "You're gonna like this next tune-- or else..."
#7 "Actually, I don't have to turn it down!"
#8 "You WILL pay us for the gig."
#9 "Badges? We don't need no stinkeen badges!"
#10 "Go ahead, make my gig!"

Thanks to Mr. Monk at Truth In Shredding for the ref.!
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Strat-o-Stretch? Stretch-o-Caster?

(photo:Kirin Brewery Co. LTD)

Rick Nielsen, eat your heart out! You ain't really a man till you can do a dozen!

Artist Yoshihiko Satoh created this exhibition piece entitled: "Present Arms".

I'm losing sleep over this guitar. Somebody help me!

source: Neatorama
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Eric Steckel -- Young Strat Burner!!

Special thanks to Vern for the scoop on young guitar wonder, Eric Steckel!! Vern had this to comment:

"Another one to add to your young guitarist list is 16-year old Eric Steckel from Jacksonville, FL. At 13, Eric became the youngest person ever to play onstage with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers and later at that age toured Scandinavia as a guest artist with that group. At 14, he recorded the lead guitar track on one song on Mayall's 57th CD, "Roaddogs". Liner notes say - 'Eric Steckel - the hottest 14-year old guitarist we've ever come across.' The Eric Steckel Band is scheduled to make its 3rd European tour beginning late May. Drummer for the band is 18-year old Duane Trucks, youngest brother of Derek."

Thanks again Vern!

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Guthrie Govan's Suhr "Root Beer" Guitar

There's a lot going on here folks! Guthrie Govan is playing an awesome Suhr guitar and demoing BluesJamTracks, a high quality production jam track source that allows you to purchase tracks online and download them to your computer (a very cool website).

Guthrie's playing speaks for itself. The finish on that maple top Suhr looks like you could pour it on waffles-- that finish is actually called "root beer". I love root beer. See the links below to find out more about everything mentioned here.

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Guitar Headstock Origins- Part 2


Pictured is a Croatian instrument called a "Bugarija".

A profile of The Strat Chronicles at includes an mp3 clip of Leo Fender describing his inspirations for the classic Fender headstock design. Click the image for the sound clip.

Besides an African relic he saw in a museum, there was also the experience of observing the stringed instruments played by a Croatian band.

Ivan Mihaljevic was kind enough to send me the Bugarija photo link after I referred him to Leo's story. Ivan lives in Croatia and is one of our featured Strat-o-Brothers.
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Guitar Headstock Origins- Part 1

Anon, Central Africa, Female Anthropomorphic Arched Harp with Five Strings, 19th C. © Musée du Quai Branly, Paris

You're probably looking at a reason why the term "headstock" came about.

A profile of The Strat Chronicles at includes an mp3 clip of Leo Fender describing his inspirations for the classic Fender headstock design.

One inspiration was an ancient African relic Fender saw in a museum. Click on the image for more details.

The pictured item is simply something I found to represent the idea-- and not intended to duplicate exactly what Leo Fender saw.

Headstock Origins Part 2

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A Strat For Friday #22 Molicaster

Molinelli Guitars- Milan, Italy

Molinelli Guitars Molicaster(

This week we travel to Milan for Molinelli's relic recipe. This "Molicaster" looks like a Creme Brulee approach. I imagine them coating it with sugar and carmelizing it with a torch. See the torch marks on the pickguard and gooey colors.

Last week's relic from Van de Haar in Holland resembled a partially smoked Texas brisket, so it's only fitting that today we feature a dessert Strat.

Food Network must be getting to me...

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Foto Flame Strats and The Hamburglar Mystery...


Xhefri's Guitars is an interesting website loaded with tons of Strat & Tele lore. It's run by a fellow guitar fanatic who does a great job featuring various models and providing useful background info. A great reference site. Check all the links there.

I discovered the site while researching Fender's "Foto-Flames" models, and found all the data right there. A friend sent me a link to a Foto Flames Strat listing in Craig's List that also mentioned "The Hamburglar" behind the neck. So I also had to find out what that was all about.

The above photo illustrates "The Hamburglar", named after a McDonalds character. Click on the photo for the story of The Hamburglar and more.

Current eBay Listings

If you didn’t read this at Guitar Blog, it’s been bootlegged! ©2006 - 2013 JP Holesworth. All rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted, distributed or duplicated without author’s written permission.
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Strat-o-Detour -- Hamer Monaco III


Ok, let me explain. No, I'm not out of Strat material.

My brother is itchin' for a versatile guitar incorporating both Fender and Gretch aspects. This seems like quite a stretch, but I'm very intrigued by Hamer's Monaco III model. The 3 single pickups (Duncan P-90's), perhaps the only remotely "Fenderish" characteristic, obviously caught my attention. The 25.5" scale length also piqued my interest, as well as its 5 pos pickup selector.

Lo & behold, my suspicions were correct. A review at has this to say:

"...The sounds are heavily Strat-flavored but markedly fatter, with pronounced midrange bite... fat, crunchy single-coil tones in the overdrive channel and with the volume on the guitar backed down a little, very Stratocaster-like tones with a lot of sparkle in the clean channel..."

VG also discusses the scale length aspects. A browse through the Harmony Central User Reviews turns up all sorts of Strat references-- either about the in-between tones available from the standard 5 position switch, or more comments on the "fat Strat" tone. One reviewer offers, "... more like a Strat on steroids...". A pretty bold statement, but certainly worthy of investigation.

Versatility is also mentioned frequently. My bro plays rockabilly/swing and is especially fond of Fender Jazzmasters as well as Gretch's, so I'm thinkin' this might just cover his bases.

Of course I'll want to borrow it-- OMG a Strat on steroids!!

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Nori Bucci- Buffalo's Righteous Strat-o-Sister


Nori Bucci is a multifaceted Strat-o-Sister!

The Buffalo, NY guitarist plays instrumental progressive-fusion music with Gamalon, and acoustic guitar/vocals on her solo projects. She's also a very cool graphic artist.

I just happened to run into her online in my usual ouija board mousepad style, but as usual, Mr. Monk at TruthInShredding is already hip to Nori and has a nice video archive, so get over there and check out the vids (he's probably wearing a worn out Nori Bucci t-shirt as he reads this).

Buffalo is the birthplace of music institutions i.e. Billy Sheehan/Talas, Ani DiFranco and Gamalon-- a band that has actually existed since the 60's. Nori Bucci is proof that Buffalo has generated more than one righteous babe. When you visit her main website, be sure to click the gallery link and read the rear cover plate on her Strat.

Discover lots more about Nori Bucci:

Strat-o-Sister's Directory

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The Strat According to Harry G. Pellegrin


I just stumbled onto Harry G. Pellegrin's website quite by accident. This guy is interesting!

In addition to being a Strat aficionado, Pellegrin is also a classically trained guitarist, author of mystery novels and Bronx, New York native. Chew on that for awhile.

He wrote an interesting article about the history of the Stratocaster, as well as a brief but informative piece on Fender construction methods. His guitar collection includes a Rory Gallagher tribute Strat built by Pellegrin himself-- a huge fan of the late Irish guitar legend.

Pellegrin's mystery novels involve musicians in contemporary scenarios; written with a Bronx attitude. Cool.
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Mary Kaye, First Strat-o-Sister R.I.P.


Mary Kaye passed away today at 83. Who is Mary Kaye?

Mary Kaye was the first artist to have their name associated with a Fender Stratocaster guitar. She and her band also played a big part in creating the Las Vegas entertainment scene in the 1950's. Her son Jay Kaye is a Strat-o-Brother we've featured here.

Below are two links to Vintage Guitar Magazine's excellent features on Mary Kaye, where you can learn her entire history and the history of her namesake Strat. A fascinating story of a fascinating life. Please check it out!

Mary Kaye interview
Mary Kaye Strat Story
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Billy Norris and Chris Duarte Cuttin' Heads!!

18 year old Tampa Bay area guitarist Billy Norris gives electric blues veteran Chris Duarte a real work-out in this video. Both musicians trade licks and play together for the music and the fans, and end off with a big hug. There are few things better in life than exchanging respect and admiration with a fellow artist.

Norris fronts his fusion band Billy Norris Project and also attends college where he's majoring in journalism. He's even the movie critic for the St. Petersburg Times.

Billy has shared the stage with Chick Corea, Marcus Miller, Anton Fig and others. Ya hear that little Robben Ford trademark turnaround. He's a true young wonder and joins Chris Duarte in our Strat-o-Brother line up.

Young Guitar Wonders Directory

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Ridin' That Stratocaster into the Sunset!

(image by artist David Harnetty)

There's art... and then there's ART. Here's a sample of fine Strat art available in poster/print format and suitable for framing. Can you really add anything to a beautiful sunset? This artist found something. What do you think he named it? You'll never guess.

More fine Strat & guitar art at

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Guitar Blogger Begins Quest for Perfect Strat


Cary at Electric Guitar Review, one of my favorite legitimate guitar review blogs, has just begun a quest for the perfect Strat. He's not simply gonna go into the nearest Guitar Center one Saturday, work the wall and take a few notes. Cary is lookin' for a MOJO-caster. So tune into regularly as Cary documents his progress.

Click here for the formal kick off details of his magical mystery tour into the Stratosphere.

Meanwhile I must accompany my wife on her quest for the perfect shrubbery...
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A Strat For Friday #21- Van de Haar 'Aged'

Holland's Relic Guitar Builder

Van de Haar Aged Guitar(

Holland's Haar Guitars is a high end dealer featuring Suhr and Heritage guitars, and several boutique amp lines in addition to their own Van de Haar Custom Guitars.

The Van de Haar line consists mainly of gourmet Strat/Tele type models. Although most of their site text is Dutch, their hardware specs contain terms i.e.- Fralin, Swamp Ash, US Birdseye Maple and Suhr V60's.

A large part of their custom line includes "Aged" finish models. Obviously they're into the vintage-relic thing-- as you can plainly see from our feature guitar; this one, no doubt inspired by Rory Gallagher. Click on the image for a better look.

Next time you're in Amsterdam, pick up one of these, but don't pick up anything else... except maybe some Heineken and some nice tulip bulbs for Mom.

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Steven Seagal Kicks Strat-o-Butt Too!


That's right-- martial arts, action movie hero Steven Seagal is also a serious guitar player.

I didn't know this till recently. The British online guitar magazine All Out Guitar features an extensive interview with Seagal. AOG is a serious guitar site too.

Seagall's recent release "Mojo Priest" expresses his genuine affinity for The Blues, and includes such guests as: James Cotton, Koko Taylor and Hubert Sumlin, among others. Yeah, that's BB King in the above photo. Seagall is a pretty good singer too-- just check this VIDEO.

The AOG article mentions that Seagall was also featured on Carmine Appice's Guitar Zeus album alongside Brian May, Steve Lukather and Yngwie Malmsteen. Nobody's saying that he kicked their butts, but it gives the impression Seagall is a serious player. Read the interview and also check out the entire AOG website.

Now what about Kiefer Sutherland? Gibson just made a custom guitar in his name? Anyone heard him play? I need to start a Strat-o-Actor feature series with Tommy Chong as the official mascot.

Strat-o-Brothers Directory

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NAMM Oddities Site Has The Rest of The Story


NAMM Oddities is a feature of The Other Room, a site by Master Audio Engineer Barry Wood, contributer to Keyboard, Electronic Musican and Home Recording magazines. Anyone with a home studio MUST visit The Other Room and check out all the links there for lots of practical info.

NAMM Oddities documents many products introduced at the trade show that you probably wouldn't otherwise find out about unless you attend NAMM. Various categories are featured, as well as a menu of past shows.

Pictured is the Guitar Jacket from none other than (of course!!). A really cool thing about this form-fitting protective guitar cover, is that the website provides a file upload browser tool so you can send an image/pattern .jpg for your very own custom guitar jacket.

Imagine pictures of your cat adorning your Strat-- now how about that!! Visit NAMM Oddities for something completely different.
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Guitar Collector and Creator of "Anographics"


So what is "Anographics"?

Rick Messock at Modern Guitars Magazine did a very interesting interview with Peter Kellett-- guitar collector, artist and owner of PK Selective, a large anodizing business in Northern California.

The interview features several photos of Kellett's very cool guitar collection including several Strats, as well as guitars he has built himself. Discover more about anodizing and how Peter Kellett has adapted the process to various graphics applications.

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Rumors of Easy Button Strat Totally Untrue

Spinning off Fender's recent VG Strat debut are rumors of the upcoming "Easy Button Strat".

These rumors are completely false, as there are no plans of a Fender/Staples venture for the purpose of adapting Easy Button Technology "EBT" to future Strat designs.

The popular office supply chain is thought to have somehow stolen EBT from the Dept. of Defense "DOD", who actually originally borrowed EBT from the pharmaceutical industry, a facilitator of EBT for quite some time.

Spokespeople for all the aforementioned entities have refused to comment.

However, Stratoblogster Labs intends to pursue with its own R & D into EBT, possibly combining this technology with its VGSVViGG project.

This is all very hush hush stuff and if not for the low traffic stats this blog receives, I'd be very hesitant to say anything about it... Let's keep this in the family.
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Bryan Baker- Stealth Program Fusion Guitarist

Bryan Baker (B-R-Y-A-N, that's right, Bryan with a "Y" in the middle) is the latest to emerge from Berklee's arsenal of high-tech fusion guitar weaponry.

In spite of being well known in certain Jazz Circles and the Berklee community, Bryan Baker is somewhat in a "Stealth Mode".

Tipped about Bryan by an anonymous source, I've made some interesting observations. Neither Bryan's main website or his myspace include any photos of Bryan-- and the song samples at both sites are extremely short snippets. The above photo, from the Berklee site, seems to be the only online photo. Finally, until a youtube video mysteriously appeared this weekend, there was no video. To further obscure things, another Baker, acoustic guitar fingerstylist Brian Baker seems to dominate web search results. But I'm not finished... The sole BRYan Baker video presents Bryan from a fixed side angle preventing direct observation of his playing.

I'm tellin' ya, Stealth Mode. But Stealth Guitarists aren't a new phenomenon. In '76 while touring with Ponty's band, Allan Holdsworth stayed out of the spotlight behind guitarist Daryl Stuermer, allowing many to believe his solos were coming from the keyboards (we knew they weren't coming from Stuermer). Around the same time, a yet unsigned Edward Van Halen was playing solos in clubs and at parties-- his back turned to the spectators. Then there's the guy under the KFC bucket and white mask to protect his face from the 7 secret herbs and spices. All very mysterious stuff of the guitar stealth underworld.

Since age 4, the now 21 year old Baker has been studying guitar in some amazing programs resulting in full tuition scholarships to Los Angeles Music Academy (at age 14) followed by Berklee College of Music. His education bio provokes a guitar version of "Ender's Game".

Currently fronting The Bryan Baker Quartet and opening for Steps Ahead, Bryan has performed with Jimmy Haslip, Russ Ferrante, Jeff 'Tain' Watts, Bob Mintzer and many others. He is promoting a recent release entitled "APHOTIC". The site links below provide more details on Bryan and the Aphotic release.

Those with the opportunity to see Bryan Baker perform live are advised to cover your eyes at the end of the show when Bryan and bandmates put on the MIB shades. It's that stealth thing...
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Custom Guitar Vaults Keep Your Prized Strats Safe

Theft & Fire Proof Guitar Safes

Guitar Vault Security Safe(photo:PrivateSecurityProducts)
The safest way to keep your guitars safe is in a SAFE. A vault, that is. In addition to preventing theft, a guitar vault also protects your instruments from fire, floods, beavers, termites, etc...

ANYWAY, PrivateSecurityProducts.Com is in the security and safe business. They've added custom guitar vaults to their line which can accomodate up to 15 instruments. A 12-15 instrument vault built to withstand 2300 degrees F for 60 minutes, *costs  less than one Custom Shop Strat.

The 5-7 unit pictured, goes for around $1200. Such a deal!

Also check out: SNAGG RFID microchips for theft recovery tracking!!

If you already live in a vault, check out COOL GUITAR DISPLAYS for fine crafted exotic wood display cases & cabs for guitars and basses.

If you didn’t read this at Guitar Blog, it’s been bootlegged! ©2006 - 2013 JP Holesworth. All rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted, distributed or duplicated without author’s written permission.
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Scott Henderson Open's Up The Trunk!

Here's a little clinic with my hero Scott Henderson. Remember to tune down a half step.

Learn "Dolemite" from Tore Down House in a snap! Thank God I installed that "Easy Button" on my guitar. Some guy was selling them outta the trunk of his car... "There's nothin' in my trunk man!"

Oh, you don't have an Easy Button? Just ask your doctor and find out if Easy Button is right for you. Certain side effects may occur, including confusion, delirium, bleeding of the fingers and numbness. Stop using the Easy Button if you experience any of these side effects-- "Dolemite... it's real bad out there."

Suhr Guitars
Current listings

If you didn’t read this at Guitar Blog, it’s been bootlegged! ©2006 - 2013 JP Holesworth. All rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted, distributed or duplicated without author’s written permission.
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A Strat For Friday #20- Be My Valentine, By Grosh!

Grosh Guitars Bent Top Custom

This Don Grosh, Bent Top Custom in Transparent Pink says, "Be my Valentine!"-- like nobody's business! Like Tom Anderson, Grosh is just a wild man with maple top finishes! Click on the image to visit a full array of Bent Top Custom models in every color. The photo quality is much better there too, so be sure to go and look at every single one. I did... twice.

If not for Valentine's Day coming up, it would have been really tough choosing the feature guitar. They simply call it "transparent pink", but I call it "A Rippling River of Rosebud Riff-essence"-- but that's just me. Also check out the Trans/Blue with Red Tortoise Pickguard. Is that sick or what?!! I do sick! And Lindy Fralin pickups are standard equipment! I need professional help here!!!

CLICK HERE for specs and hardware info.

Don Grosh Custom Guitars
Broomfield, Colorado USA

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Oz Noy: Serious Progressive Jazz Strat-o-Brother

Oz Noy is like John Scofield, Mike Stern and Scott Henderson rolled into one!

Based in NYC, the Oz man hails from Israel and has been in The Big Apple since '96. He has gigged and recorded with an entire who's who of the East Coast jazz community. The above video from NYC's legendary Bitter End, includes Letterman's CBS Orchestra rhythm section-- bassist Will Lee and Anton Fig on one of the drum kits.

Oz Noy's latest release titled "Ha!" features Lee, Fig, Mike Stern and others. His myspace site includes lots of mp3 and video action. If you like progressive jazz fusion guitar with an East Coast edge, Oz Noy ain't no boy-- he the Man!

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eBay Guidelines for Buying Guitars Safely

(photo link)

When shopping guitars and any music gear on Ebay, following a few simple guidelines can help ensure that things go right.

I recommend eBay Stores because they've usually been around awhile, and have enough customer ratings history to indicate they are trustworthy. It's easy to check their ratings.

The following eBay pages were written by experts at buying & selling gear online:



Each guide is broken down into a few sections. The most important sections are the first and last.

There's a lot of very cool stuff on Ebay and good deals to be had. Just do what the guide says and check out the seller, their feedback, their sales history, location, satisfaction ranking, etc. Email the seller with any questions or concerns.

Remember, whether you do business with a seller or not, you can always post feedback. If you recognize something dishonest in a product listing, report the bastard!


Recommended eBay Stores Gear Merchants



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Strat-O-Blogster Amazon Guitar Mall

Marshall Amp T-Shirt
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Eddie Van Halen at Winter NAMM 2007

"...We interrupt your regularly scheduled party, to bring you this special report!!!"

Is it nuclear or nuc-u-ler? What was my phone # in 1977?

Does Ed really still smoke, or is it just a prop? Pin It Now!

Scott Henderson's Definitive, Classic Stratocaster Tone

Tore Down House

The Strat tones, in the title cut of this '97 Scott Henderson release, still put a lump in my throat, raise goosebumps and give me "swimmers nose".

Check out Scott's house! I think he's on the road too much! His house sitter sucks big time.

All you Scott Henderson fans need to write ABC and tell 'em to get those Extreme Home Makeover people out to Scott's place.

Visit the Scott Henderson website to check his gig schedule, and also make donations to his Home Depot fund while you're there ok.

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Ergonomic Guitars vs Guitar Culture


What's the role of ergonomic guitar design in guitar culture and it's relationship to the Stratocaster?

The Strat certainly incorporates & implements ergonomics with its double cutaways, body contours, fretboard curvature and inline tuners, but did it prematurely crystallize into an icon before it could evolve further? An era of guitar heroes adds so much significance that the symbolism of the shape has frozen its face and marketing position.

Why didn't the Fender Stratocaster experience a similar evolution from 1956 to 2006 as the Chevy Corvette automobile?

The late 70's & early 80's saw lots of radical shapes & designs, but the retro thing reversed that. I recall seeing old Gretch guitars gathering dust, until The Stray Cats appeared on MTV. Strats were a long time standard utility but no longer terrifically exciting until Eric Johnson & SRV hit, and the subject of solidbody TONE became a focus. Coupling the fact that those two played Strats, along with discourse on the superiority of OLDER Strats, repositioned Strats from standard utilitarian fare to vintage mystical significance. EJ & SRV also boosted a Hendrix resurgence, and we also began to see more of Jeff Beck, who switched back to Strats from Jacksons because they were less ergonomic-- his reason being that if he had to fight the guitar more, it brought more out of his playing. His point also being that without discipline, an easy to play guitar can be used merely for showy displays-- kinda the way the ball point pen or keyboard permits one to write without the amount of measured thought required when using a quill pen. (no comments about my writing, please).

And at some point, the Hendrix-with-Strat silhouette became the symbol of Rock Guitar.

With the reissues, signature models and custom stuff we do see more emphasis on neck profiles, fret size and heel profiles, but the Strat physiognomy is something we don't touch. Notice Fender's efforts with the VG Strat at adding as little as possible to detract from the standard appearance. Though many Shredders prefer say, Ibanez models for their slimmer/wider necks, the Strat profile is adhered to.

We started to see more incidence of repetitive strain injury with the supershredders of the 80's. Slimmer/wider necks and more heel relief were offered by companies like Ibanez & Jackson, which is why we see those type of players playing JEM types instead of Strats, but the overall profile remains Strat. Although Yngwie still plays a Strat-- his special scalloped fretboard, is definitely intended to enhance the ergonomics of bend-vibrato technique.

Perhaps it will require a new BLIND guitar hero who somehow gets his hands on a great sounding, but unorthodox shaped & dramatically ergonomic guitar, to gain cosmetic acceptance for more ergonomically designed guitars. But you see that this would be "positioning" to a great player and not emphasized as a solution for tendonitis. Ergonomics with automobiles has been successfully marketed by positioning ergonomics with sexy & sporty looks and appeal. Merely positioning "against" repetitive strain injury doesn't address or align with sex appeal or artist appeal. Positioning involves aligning with, to, at, for, against, above, below, around-- (pick any preposition). Watch the TV commercials for this. Great sounding instruments, regardless of design & appearance might show up in recording studios or artist collections, and if the artist believes in them or needs an interesting prop, those guitars may make it on stage and in the press.

Recently, I watched Prince perform the Superbowl halftime show. He started with a Tele, switched to a Strat, and ended with a guitar in the body shape of his symbol. But I betcha, a lot of folks thought the final guitar was cool. Sequencing also helped with that positioning. But without the artist to associate it with, that guitar would be just plain weird to anyone. Billy Gibbons brings some bizarre stuff onstage and yet remains himself positioned with very rootsy traditional blues-rock culture. Flying V, Explorer & Firebird shapes are still accepted-- mainly in metal, the latter in blues & classic rock.

Then there's the Fracturecaster, which may have nothing to do with this context, but I have to mention it, as well as the Distortocaster.

An ergonomic guitar may need to be disguised as something else, as like hiding medicine in a food or candy delivery system.

Strats are like Choppers. They look fast and agile, but compared to Gran Prix bikes, Choppers are sluggish and barely manageable. Ergonomics is the actual primary difference. But the ergonomics is positioned with "racing", the enhancement of racing and the sexy CULTURE of racing, and not focused on or positioned to handling, safety or crash prevention. Thus, race style motorcycles enjoy a culture and market position, so we see them on the road with choppers.

Incorporating certain key styling cues and cultural aesthetics into ergonomic guitars, appealing to both metal and fusion shredders, may be a way to attract the interest of these players and give higher profile to ergonomic guitars. They've also must have exceptional natural tones that can be identified with Strats and/or Les Pauls. It's evident that in spite of electric guitar's position as a relatively new instrument due to it's role, via effects, as a major synthesizer and chameleon, that the fundamental Strat/ LP tones represent a plateau in its basic sonic evolution. The timetrack is really stretching out for basic electric guitar look and tone due to the impact of the last 50 years and resulting symbolisms. Eric Johnson, who has brought so much focus on Strat tone has also, with his signature Strat, helped implement the most ergonomic refinements to a Fender labeled production model Strat, since its invention. Sounds like a bold statement, but besides the Malmsteen scalloped fretboard model, there simply hasn't been this degree of neck alteration with production Fender Strats. So it took a progressive player like Eric Johnson, with a respect for the traditional Strat form and fondness of Strat tones, to help Fender make some long overdue advancements with very minor cosmetic alteration. It takes a highly respected player's player to create change that a large market and a large manufacturer will agree to. Still, there is probably some Strat-snob purist out there complaining about the EJ Strat's lack of string wings.

In a pure sense, many current ergonomic guitar designs do incorporate aesthetics of form and materials, but without more "positioning adornments" will still appear too strange or simply utilitarian to the marketplace. Remember how Parker introduced their line with the lower priced- more strat looking NiteFly? Steinbergers have been through various convolutions. Joni Mitchell moves between Martin Dreadnaughts and Parkers. A couple months ago, some popular reggae guitarist, whose name escapes me, had one helluva time trying to auction off his machine gun looking guitar, probably because it was politically incorrect.

In the wink of an eye, an entire trend can emerge or change, given specific positioning and alignment. Meanwhile, I can feel the pain of those desiring more ergonomics.

And you thought the Comfort Contour was all ya needed...


Building the Ergonomic Guitar (blog)

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