In late summer of 1957, "Paulie B", a working CT musician only a couple years out of High School in Middletown CT, had just had the tool of his trade stolen, a 1950's "F Hole" Guitar
. Having a few gigs lined up he had to pick up a new guitar. With disappointment in his heart over his recent loss, he mustered up enthusiasm to visit John Tirkot Music
in West Hartford to see what he might replace it with. This
would be his first solid body electric guitar, the likes of which was
played by Buddy Holly and so many Country Western and Rock & Roll
musicians of the time started playing.
Paul was thrilled to be back in business for the last of the Summer gigs in East Hampton where those New Yorkers would weekend and "dance past midnight", as he recalls. Having had much better luck over the years, that guitar was the last one Paul would buy. Fast track to 2007, Paul, now 72 had not played for some 15 years since he chopped off the end of on of his fretting fingers. So he decided decided, maybe it was time to sell his old guitar.
What he soon found out after having his son do a little research, is that this utilitarian instrument of 50 years was actually one of the most sought after vintage guitars in the market today. This particular year, 1957, represents a unique period of the development of the Fender Stratocaster line, the most commercially successful guitar design in history. This particular year had some subtle, yet significant design features that are to this day deemed "the ultimate" in the guitars 50+ year reign.
After Paul brought it to a local music shop, Matt's Music, Main Street Middletown, the proprietor and my friend, Bob Matterazzo, (Unfortunately Bob hung up the towel and sold his store in fall 2008) contacted me to let me know that a 1957 Strat just walked into his store with its owner. Being an active guitar player since the first grade and a novice collector of guitars of late, the thought of such an opportunity to hold such a piece of vintage Americana was an event only imaginable. When I arranged to see the guitar and hear the story, I had to figure out how I could make this a part of my collection.
After inspecting the guitar for authenticity, meeting with "Paulie B" and speaking with his son, we came to terms. I've since enjoyed the opportunity to investigate this guitars history and the various parts which date such an instrument and have found that this guitar was born in the California Fender plant circa August 1957 and likely shipped in September or October, just in time for "Paulie B" to adopt her from a Tirkots Music Store in West Hartford Connecticut music store.
The last couple months of 2007 there has been much hype of 50th Anniversary of the 1957 Fender Stratocaster with various commemorative reissues being promoted. But I think I'll just enjoy a quiet evening celebrating my baby's birthday, strumming a verse of "That'll be the day".
Wayne D'Amico, based in Essex CT, has been a working musician and musical entertainer for over 25 years and hosts ClassicaCafe.com, a website for Guitar and professional musical gear enthusiasts.