Fender Visitor Center Adds New Hard Rock Stratocaster 60th Anniversary Exhibit

60 Years, Countless Hits.

Fender, in conjunction with the Hard Rock hotel and café memorabilia team, has assembled a collection of famous artist Stratocaster guitars that will be on display at the Fender Visitor Center though the end of the year. 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the iconic U.S. guitar, and the instruments on display are a veritable Who’s Who of rock royalty.

Here’s a rundown of the guitars in the exhibit.

Though many fine guitarists have made their reputations on Fender Stratocaster guitars, one name stands alone as the undisputed Strat master—Jimi Hendrix. He used this one toward the end of his career, with both the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys. With its distinctive large headstock and serial number 263568, it was made in Fullerton, Calif., in 1969 and features an uncharacteristically-Jimi rosewood fingerboard. Hendrix gave it to his roadie, Tappy Wright, in 1970. Wright used it as his personal instrument (the cigarette burn on the headstock is from him) before turning it over to the Hard Rock. This guitar is normally on display at the Hard Rock Café in Seattle—Hendrix’s hometown.

Visitors to London’s Islington station in 1967 were greeted with graffiti that read “Clapton is God.” Though that may be a bit of an overstatement, it’s easy to see why Slowhand elicits such a strong reaction from music lovers. The man is arguably the most talented, tasteful and fluid player to come from the ’60s British blues scene—taking the blues to incredible heights and helping to turn it into a truly universal musical language. This 1988 Stratocaster, from the introductory year of the Eric Clapton signature model, was owned, played and signed by Clapton, who used it during the 1988 Nordoff-Robbins charity concert in London. This guitar is normally on display at the Hard Rock Café in Orlando, Fla.

With monumental hits such as “Highway Star” and “Smoke on the Water” with Deep Purple, and “Temple of the King” and “Stone Cold” with his own band, Rainbow, Ritchie Blackmore is easily one of the most important and influential guitarists of the classic rock era. Crafting his legacy with a Fender Stratocaster guitar, Blackmore’s incendiary, classically influenced style set the template for a generation of shredders and metal players who borrowed liberally from his playbook. This two-Strat display features 1970s-era guitars that Blackmore reduced to splinters onstage with Rainbow.

When the Cars released their game-changing debut album in 1978, the guitar world was introduced to an incredible talent—Elliot Easton. This Berklee College of Music-trained virtuoso demonstrated just how vital and exciting guitar could be in the new wave era, which was becoming dominated by synthesizers and electronica. Easton’s seemingly effortless chops and melodic sense propelled classic songs such as “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “Just What I Needed” and “Let’s Go,” but it was the absolutely blistering solo he unleashed on 1981 hit “Shake It Up” that cemented his standing as a bona fide guitar hero. Easton owned this left-handed 1959 Stratocaster guitar during the band’s heyday, and used it onstage and in the studio for the recording of the Candy-O and Panorama albums.

The Hard Rock Cafe also set up a small display with some of these guitars during the Fender Showcase at the 2014 NAMM Show.

This incredible 1962 black Strat guitar was owned by Roomful of Blues guitarist Ronnie Earl, but it was commandeered by New Orleans R&B icon Earl King during the recording of his 1986 album, Glazed. In fact, King can be seen holding this very axe on the cover of the album. King was a longtime Strat devotee and influenced many players, including Jimi Hendrix, who covered King’s “Come On” and “Let the Good Times Roll.” For Stratocaster collectors and aficionados, the 1962 model is a particularly coveted vintage; they’re among the most versatile and soulful electric guitars ever produced.

Also on display is an original Stratocaster from the first year of the guitar’s production. The essential components, design and musical signature of the Strat have remained unchanged for sixty years; it was “right” from day one. A beautifully preserved instrument, this sunburst work of art is testament to the fact that Fender guitars have a virtually unlimited life expectancy. Their handcraftsmanship and functional design features keep them in service from the day they’re born to, well, who knows? This guitar is the property of Fender and is valued at more than $100,000.

For 2014 only, Fender celebrates the diamond jubilee of the world’s greatest electric guitar with the limited-edition 60th Anniversary American Vintage 1954 Stratocaster. This special guitar honors the Stratocaster’s very first model year as an “exciting new instrument” with a tone “as new and different as tomorrow,” and is reverently crafted with a rich selection of features, appointments and accessories.

Each guitar comes with a 1954 Anniversary Stratocaster certificate, and the first 54 instruments in the run feature a special 60th anniversary “1st 54” engraved neck plate. Available only during 2014 in a limited edition of 1,954 guitars.

The Fender Visitor Center is located at: 

301 Cessna Circle

Corona, Calif.  92880

Click here for hours of operation, and ticket information.



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