Music

Custom Shop recreates Mike McCready's extremely road-worn vintage Strat

Custom Shop recreates Mike McC...
The Custom Shop recreation of Mike McCready's original 1960 Stratocaster is so good that he says he has trouble telling them apart
The Custom Shop recreation of Mike McCready's original 1960 Stratocaster is so good that he says he has trouble telling them apart
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Battered, beaten and worn: The limited edition Mike McCready 1960 Stratocaster wears all of the battle scars of the original instrument
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Battered, beaten and worn: The limited edition Mike McCready 1960 Stratocaster wears all of the battle scars of the original instrument
The Custom Shop recreation of Mike McCready's original 1960 Stratocaster is so good that he says he has trouble telling them apart
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The Custom Shop recreation of Mike McCready's original 1960 Stratocaster is so good that he says he has trouble telling them apart
Authentic touches include custom pickups hand-wound by Josefina Campos, a treble-bleed tone capacitor and 1960 "oval C" neck profile
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Authentic touches include custom pickups hand-wound by Josefina Campos, a treble-bleed tone capacitor and 1960 "oval C" neck profile
Pearl Jam's Mike McCready believed that his vintage Strat was made in 1959, until the Custom Shop research revealed that it was in fact built in 1960
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Pearl Jam's Mike McCready believed that his vintage Strat was made in 1959, until the Custom Shop research revealed that it was in fact built in 1960
The relic finish on the two-piece alder body faithfully reproduces all of dings and scratches of the 1960 original
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The relic finish on the two-piece alder body faithfully reproduces all of dings and scratches of the 1960 original
Mike McCready's aggressive playing has taken its toll on the original 1960 Strat, and all of the battle scars have been included in the limited-edition replica
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Mike McCready's aggressive playing has taken its toll on the original 1960 Strat, and all of the battle scars have been included in the limited-edition replica
The replica is even missing a chuck of wood from the headstock, which flew off of the original when Mike McCready attacked an onstage amp cabinet with his guitar during a show
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The replica is even missing a chuck of wood from the headstock, which flew off of the original when Mike McCready attacked an onstage amp cabinet with his guitar during a show
Master Builder Vincent Van Trigt has been meticulous in his attention to detail
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Master Builder Vincent Van Trigt has been meticulous in his attention to detail
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Pearl Jam founding member Mike McCready has played a number of guitar models over the years, but he's perhaps most associated with Fender Stratocasters. And of those, his vintage '59 model is his most prized. So it was this instrument that was chosen for a very limited Custom Shop replica run. But while researching the build, Master Builder Vincent Van Trigt discovered that not all was as it seemed.

I remember being completely floored when I first heard Alive on the radio, immediately hooked on the killer opening riff sporting just the right amount of warm fuzz to precisely match my tastes back then, hypnotized by the woeful vocals and punchy rhythm section, ready to rock the anthemic chorus, and blown away by the searing solo. I had to hear more.

This year mark's the 30th anniversary of the release of Pearl Jam's debut album Ten (named after the jersey number of basketball player Mookie Blaylock, who inspired the band's original name), on which Alive appears, along with other hit singles Even Flow and Grammy nominee Jeremy. What better way to mark the occasion than a Custom Shop replica of a vintage guitar acquired by McCready due to his high regard for a Texas blues-rock legend and his "Number One" '59 Strat?

"Once I could afford a quality guitar, I immediately went for the vintage Stratocaster," said the guitarist. "It was my dream guitar because of my love for Stevie Ray Vaughan, and as my musical aspirations were coming true I had to have it.

"It was the first significant guitar that I bought, never thinking I could ever own one before Pearl Jam happened. My favorite feature is the playability of the neck. It's so worn in and easy to play. It's got the best neck and fretboard of any of my guitars. I also love how light it is. I actually picked up the prototype thinking it was the original a couple of times which shows me how meticulous and caring Master Builder Vincent Van Trigt and the whole Fender team has been throughout this process."

Authentic touches include custom pickups hand-wound by Josefina Campos, a treble-bleed tone capacitor and 1960 "oval C" neck profile
Authentic touches include custom pickups hand-wound by Josefina Campos, a treble-bleed tone capacitor and 1960 "oval C" neck profile

But while deconstructing McCready's original instrument, Van Trigt found that the guitarist's long-held belief that he had purchased an original '59 was false. Even worse, Pearl Jam's long-time luthier had found out years ago while working on the guitar and stumbling upon date stamps on the neck, but had decided to keep the discovery to himself rather than cause upset to McCready. He kept this secret for 28 years.

With the truth now out in the open, Van Trigt got to work recreating the 1960 Strat – including a flat-sawn maple neck with a 1960 "oval C" profile and topped by a flat-lam rosewood fingerboard with 21 vintage frets, custom Josefina Campos hand-wound pickups, vintage wiring (including a "treble-bleed tone capacitor"), and a relic finish on the two-piece alder body that includes all of the many battle scars of the original.

This production run is limited to just 60 examples, to match the actual year of the original's manufacture, and being a Master Builder Custom shop model, it carries a premium price tag of US$15,000. It ships with a deluxe hardshell case to protect it from attracting even more scratches and dings, as well as a strap, polishing cloth, McCready case candy kit and certificate of authenticity,

McCready talks about the original, the replica and more in the video below.

Mike McCready Limited Edition 1960 Stratocaster | Fender Custom Shop | Fender

Product page: Mike McCready 1960 Stratocaster

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1 comment
1 comment
Karmudjun
Interesting article Paul, and including that clip of Mike talking about the musician's space is so telling. I agree with Mike - you can play with many different people, but with some musicians you just sync and go into a zone that is magical. For every move you make, everything around you moves in response and you just feel the next move you make culminating in the best jam of your life. You have to get over stage fright first but even then finding the zone is not guarantied. Awesome story - and so true! People have been faking and selling specific guitars for years, I know of a guy who sold a Paul McCartney guitar about 7 times before he was arrested for fraud!