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Reader Guitar of the Month: A Strat Comes Full Circle

A Hendrix fan details the journey of his first real guitar, a 1972 Fender Strat that he modded, returned to spec, and is now enjoying again in quarantine.


Name: Tony Houston

Location: Dayton, Ohio
Guitar: 1972 Fender Stratocaster

After years of reading about other readers’ guitars, I decided to write about my original 1972 black Fender Stratocaster. Attached is a picture of my Strat and original warranty card, and myself.

I was 21 years old back in 1971 when I first started to learn guitar. I was already a fan of Jimi Hendrix, as was a co-worker who played guitar. We were talking about Jimi and I mentioned that I would love to learn guitar, but at that time couldn’t afford it. It turned out that he had an original Sears Silvertone guitar/amp in the case that he gave me. It was almost impossible to play, but I loved it.

By 1972, I was in much better shape financially (well, somewhat) to buy a “real” guitar. For over a year I would stop in Bernie’s Music here in Dayton and look at guitars. I was mesmerized by the white Strat that Jimi played at Woodstock. They had one in the store, but when I went in to buy it, it was gone. They had a black Strat, and I was told that I could trade it back when another white Strat was in stock … they never got another one.

Fast-forward to the late ’70s. I’d read enough about guitars to mod my Strat, so over a few years I installed a brass bridge, replaced the stock bridge pickup with a DiMarzio Fat Strat, and did various re-wirings of the pickup switch. Also the stock pickups weren’t wax-potted properly and would squeal like a pig! I re-potted the pickups by dipping them in melted beeswax.

Here’s Tony Houston playing his black Strat in 1980 with his band BLACKMALE, getting awesome feedback at around 2:38.

I gigged with it until 1988, when it was almost stolen at a show. I decided then to retire it, as I had brought a couple more Strats. In the mid-90s, I decided to restore it to factory specs. I’d kept the original bridge pickup and the original bridge. While testing the bridge pickup with a multimeter, I found it had a short. I sent it to Lindy Fralin and had it wound to original spec.

Since being in quarantine, I have it tuned to Eb now, and, at 70 years old, decided that I was going to properly learn to play Jimi’s “Little Wing.”

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