Mike McCready’s 1959/60 Fender Stratocaster
This is probably Mike’s trademark guitar. He bought it in 1991, north of Seattle at Danny’s Music, shortly after Pearl Jam’s debut album “Ten” came out and began taking off. Commonly mistaken by fans and McCready himself as a 1959 instrument, the guitar is actually a 1960 model (more details about that at the end of the article).
Funnily enough, the main influence for buying specifically this year’s model, Mike mentions Stevie Ray Vaughan – who himself didn’t really play a “real” ’59 Strat. Stevie’s guitar was actually a 1962/63 model, and only the pickups came from a ’59 (you can read more about Stevie’s guitar here – Stevie Ray Vaughan 1962/63 Fender Stratocaster (Number One))
It was the first guitar I bought when we started making money. I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to buy a vintage guitar, and I’m going to buy a ’59. Because I had read that Stevie (Ray Vaughan) had a ’59, and now I could afford one.Mike McReady
In any case, Mike states that he is a huge Stevie Ray Vaughan fan and that he saw him perform four times.
The guitar features an alder body, with a flat-sawn flame maple neck with a well-known 60s‘ oval C’ profile, and a 21-fret rosewood fingerboard. It is equipped with three Stratocaster south-wound single coil pick-ups and a classic vintage tremolo bridge.
The fretboard radius is 9 ½-inches, but it was originally 7 ¼-inches (see Vincent Van Trigt’s interview with GuitarWorld below for source).
As far as all the heavy wear on the body, this is a relatively common thing on these vintage Strats due to the nitrocellulose lacquer used, and obviously the age of the instruments. Mike’s guitar is covered in these battle scars, most notably over the scratchplate, where McCready dug the hole in the wood while playing with his pick throughout the years.
He also slammed the guitar through a Marshall amp on one occasion in the 90, while playing with Neil Young, chipping the top of the headstock, making it recognizable and iconic.
Mike used this guitar extensively ever since he got it, and it is essentially one of his main instruments. Most notably, he uses it live to perform songs such as “Yellow Ledbetter”, “Even Flow” and “Dance of the Clairvoyants”.
Even though this Strat left a solid footprint in the Grunge world on Pearl Jam’s later projects, unfortunately, its potential was not captured on tape whilst recording their first iconic record. This is because, as previously noted, Mike bought the guitar shortly after the release of that album.
In April 2021 Fender Custom Shop did a limited run of 60 replica pieces of the 1960 Stratocaster that belongs to Mike, each one selling for $21,999. This is an increase in price when compared to Gibson’s replica of Mike’s ‘59 Les Paul, which sold for $11,449.
Funny enough, when Fender’s Master Builder Vincent Van Trigt inspected Mike’s original Strat so he would have all details needed for replicating the guitar, he discovered something very interesting. After he unscrewed the tremolo from the back of the guitar, he discovered markings that indicated that the guitar is actually a ’60 model. This, of course, left McCreaty speechless.
The guitar came to Fender and I spent a day just taking it apart – every screw, every wire. […] It said it right there in the back cavity, under the springs: 1960.Vincent Van Trigt – How Fender built Mike McCready’s Custom Shop Strat, one of its most intricate replicas yet
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