26. Black Modded Squier 51
ANOTHER of my creations, this dates from the time when Squier 51s were dirt-cheap and plentiful and I belonged an unbelievably nerdy specialist forum on the web, dedicated to modding Squier 51s. Much as I adored the simplicity of the original Indonesian Squier 51 design, there were a few things about them which definitely warranted improvement. That cheap and nasty top-loading bridge was definitely one. If through-body stringing was good enough for Teles and hardtail Strats, it stood to reason it would be a good choice for the bastard offspring of Fender’s two most famous instruments. (Fender Japan clearly thought the same when it produced the Pawnshop series a few years later, so I was in good company there.)
A logical progression, I reasoned, would be a Tele-style bridge – one of those units that takes a humbucker – and while I was at it, how about some of those natty-looking lipstick tubes they were offering on the GFS website?
The body came from a 51 I bought on eBay for £70. I fancied a rosewood board on this one and managed to find a suitable neck on eBay from a Squier Tele from the same factory, meaning it was a perfect fit. Like the pickups, the rest of the hardware was just about all from the GFS website – I swapped out the tuners for some nice Kluson lookalikes, and topped the body off with a lovely red GFS tortoishell pickguard and a really neat “Fender Squier 51” decal from one of the guys on the forum.
I made a bit of a hash of lining up the holes for the string ferrules on the back of the body, I’m ashamed to admit, but from the front, the guitar looked great, even if somehow, it never quite lived up to the promise of the visuals. The pickups were especially disappointing and I ended up swapping them for a set of more conventional ones – I was saving the Squier units for another project, of which I’ll tell you later. However, my pal Howard really took a shine to it, so I ended up giving it do him. I think he still has it…
27. Shoreline Gold Japanese Squier Strat signed by Peter Green
THIS could be regarded as the sequel to my earlier post about gold Strats (No14), though it does have has rather more of a story to it. I spotted this Strat on eBay and decided the price was more or less right – not an amazing bargain, but the pictures looked terrific.
By and large – especially considering the sheer quantity of stuff I’ve bought on eBay down the years – I’ve only come unstuck and bought bought a duffer a handful of times. Sadly, this was one of them. Not a bad guitar in itself, I gigged it a fair bit in the year or so I had it. From a distance, it looked great. But the finish, in the cold light of day, was a huge disappointment. Up close, that lovely gold paint was a refinish – and not a terribly good one at that.
My decision to sell it coincided, more or less, with a charity gig at one of our haunts, Club Riga in Southend, by the legendary Peter Green and the Splinter Group, so I decided to take the Squier down to the gig and see if Green would sign it for me. (Quite cynically hoping it might make the guitar a bit more saleable.)
We arrived early and our pals Dave and Steve, who ran the club let on that Green was having a quiet drink in the bar next door, so me, Owen and Dave Werewolf wandered in and found Greeny nursing an orange juice in the corner. This was the latter days of Green’s involvement in the Splinter Group. All sorts of stories have been told by Green’s family about his situation during that period, but I can only speak as I find. The man seemed reasonably all there and perfectly happy, if a bit distant. He was at his most animated when Dave got him talking about the old days in the part of East London where they both grew up – familiar haunts and characters, that sort of thing. Oh and yes, he has more than happy to signed the back of the Squier’s headstock. I’m not sure it added much to the value, but it may have made it a bit easier to sell – even with a dodgy paint job.