Fender has worked some magic and added a side of mystery with today’s announcement of a meticulously crafted recreation of George Harrison’s iconic “Rocky” Stratocaster. Built by Fender Custom Shop Master Builder Paul Waller, who worked hand in hand with the Harrison estate, the guitar is an exact recreation of the late Beatle’s 1961 Strat, down to the beloved guitarist’s DIY psychedelic paint job.
Master Builder Waller personally examined the original version himself in order to create this identical replica, and even enlisted Abigail Ybarra, a legendary Fender employee during the time George Harrison’s original Stratocaster was produced, to wind the pickups.
During the 1965 Help! recording sessions, roadie Mal Evans was sent out to buy a pair of Stratocasters for Harrison and fellow Beatle John Lennon, and returned with matching Sonic Blue models. To this day, Harrison’s guitar, serial number 83840, still retains the decal from a music store where it was purchased at one point — “Grimwoods; The music people; Maidstone and Whitstable.”
Sometime in 1967, Harrison began painting the guitar, adding his own color scheme and christening it “Rocky” on the headstock. In a nod to his musical influences, the phrase “Bebopalula” appears on the upper body and “Go Cat Go” on the pickguard.
The guitar, a favorite of Harrison’s as can be seen in the Dream Factory Series video below, made an appearance on the Fab Four’s iconic live performance of “All You Need Is Love” on Our World, the very first global satellite TV program. It can also be seen in the “I Am the Walrus” segment of 1967’s?Magical Mystery Tour film.
Initially previewed at Winter NAMM 2020, the guitar caused quite a stir, with an elaborate circular wall display of the models that had been built up to that point.
“The Rocky Stratocaster has been recreated to perfectly emulate George Harrison’s signature sound and voice,” Fender Custom Shop Master Builder Paul Waller said in a statement. “A big part of owning a guitar and playing one is finding your own voice and creating your own sounds with the instrument. That’s what I call a guitar player’s voice. George initially customized his 1961 Stratocaster based on his musical influences in the ‘60s, such as the semitones of the sitar and the slide solos he incorporated into his solo music. That became a large part of his voice. Capturing that, and honoring that special moment in time, is what makes this guitar so important.”
As you might expect, this collector’s item is a limited run (only 100 made) and comes with a high price tag of $25,000. According to Fender, each and every Limited Edition George Harrison Rocky Strat comes complete with vintage 1961 hand-wound pickups by Ybarra. The replicated dayglo details from George Harrison and pickups emulating the same tones of the original make this guitar a true work of art. Other notable specifications include: 21 vintage-style frets, chrome hardware, a 6-saddle vintage-style synchronized tremolo, nitrocellulose lacquer finish, a 2-piece select Alder body and a rare 5A Flame Maple neck with a 1960 Oval “C” shape and 7.25” (194.1 mm) radius.
More information here: http://www.fendercustomshop.com/guitars/stratocaster/limited-edition-george-harrison-rocky-strat/