Duane Allman’s 1956/57 Fender Stratocaster
Duane used this guitar from around 1964/1965, and it was most likely the first Stratocaster that he ever owned. The guitar’s previous owner, Lee Hazen, gave an interview to Vintage Guitar Magazine in 1997 explaining how the guitar found it’s way to Duane:
I traded it off to a fellow in Sanford [Florida] who had a guitar shop. I think his name was Jimmy Jewell, and Duane ended up with it. I think that was somewhere around 1964 or ‘65. I don’t know why I did it. I bought it in 1959, right after I graduated from high school. [Dave Kyle: Remembering Duane Allman, Vintage Guitar Magazine’, January 1997, Vol. 11 No. 4) – the full interview is available over at DuaneAllman.info]
In the same interview, Lee noted that the guitar was a sunburst model modified with a rotary pickup switch with eleven positions, each connected to eleven different capacitors in the tone control circuit. The pickup selector switch was also modified to five positions, and additional three switches were installed for phase switching allowing for any combination of the three pickups in any combination of phase.
Again in the same interview, Sylvan Wells – former member of The Nightcrawlers and Duane’s high-school friend, confirmed that Allman did indeed own a modified Stratocaster.
Duane had a Stratocaster that Lee Hazen had modified, and Gregg, I think, was using a Stratocaster, too. But I remember Duane’s because it had three little switches that Lee had put in and nobody knew what they were (laughs). I found it real interesting because I was in London at the Hard Rock Cafe and there was “Duane Allman’s First Stratocaster” and it wasn’t that guitar (laughing)! [Dave Kyle: Remembering Duane Allman, Vintage Guitar Magazine’, January 1997, Vol. 11 No. 4)]
The second guitar that he’s referring to is most likely the 1954 Fender Stratocaster currently owned by the Hard Rock Cafe, which is for the most part still a mystery.