Take Your Pic Contest Winner Claims his Prize
By Mike Duffy
As the grand-prize winner of the Fender Take Your Pic contest, Brent Harwell of Rossville, Ga. and his 12-year-old son Asa enjoyed a free trip to Corona, Calif. last week to visit the Fender Visitor Center and tour the factory.
Harwell’s prize package also include the opportunity to build his very own dream guitar in the American Design Experience at the Fender Visitor Center. His choice? A one-of-a-kind Stratocaster with a yellow-to-brown burst on an ash body, flamed maple neck, tortoiseshell pickguard and gold hardware.
“It’s like when you go car shopping and there are lots of options to choose from, but when you see the one, you know that’s the one,” Harwell said with a chuckle and a touch of Southern twang. “It’s like seeing one girl in a crowd. They’re all pretty, but sometimes one stands out. As soon as they showed me the body of that one, I knew that was it.”
The contest called for fans to go to their local guitar dealer and take a picture with Fender gear.
Sounds easy enough, but one had to truly stand out to take home with the gold.
For Harwell’s winning picture, he dressed up in a tuxedo and waxed the ends of his mustache, twisting them in a manner that would make Rollie Fingers proud. Toting a Strat, Harwell cheesed with a Fender banner in the background at the perfect angle.
“I thought I had a pretty good idea, so I thought I had a chance,” he said. “But who thinks you’re actually going to win one of those things?”
Fans voted to narrow the competition down to five semi-finalists. From there, a panel of Fender judges selected Harwell’s entry as the winning photo.
Harwell said he was definitely surprised when he heard the news.
“Actually, the winner was supposed to be announced later in the week,” he explained. “But one day, I checked my email, and there was one from somebody from Fender. I was like, ‘Who’s this?’ When I opened it up and read, ‘Congratulations, you are the grand-prize winner of our Take Your Pic contest,’ my jaw dropped. I was home alone, so I couldn’t tell anybody. That was tough.”
Harwell doesn’t claim to be the most accomplished player, but it is something he’s been passionate about since he picked up a guitar in college.
“From middle school on, I played saxophone, but when I got to college, I thought I wanted to play something different,” he said after taking full advantage of the many guitars available to play at the Visitor’s Center. “It’s pretty difficult to sing while you play saxophone [laughs]. I certainly haven’t been super dedicated, but it’s something I really enjoy doing.
“I have several guitars. I like to play with the wiring, do weird things to them. That’s why I buy cheap guitars, because if you do something to it, it’s no big deal.”
After much deliberation, Harwell believes his main prize – the custom Strat – is a masterpiece. Judging by the reaction of those who saw the final prototype, he is right.
“The tortoise shell, I think, looked the best with the ash woodgrain and the stain,” he said. “The flame maple on the neck has some real interesting grain in there. And Stevie Ray Vaughan had gold hardware, so why can’t I?”
Although the Fender Visitor’s Center was a long trek from his home in Georgia, he recommends the factory tour and American Design Experience to guitar enthusiasts everywhere.
“If you like guitars, then this is a must,” he said. “Just to see how everything is made, and seeing all of these people working together to make a guitar is really amazing.”