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Through the Roof with Calgary’s Guitarworks

The giant Stratocaster replica atop Guitarworks.

If you’re in Calgary, Alberta, and you need to find the Guitarworks location on Macleod Trail, relax—it’s not hard to find. All you have to do is drive down Macleod, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, and keep an eye out for the store with the gigantic 1957 Stratocaster® the size of a bus crashing through the roof. You can’t miss it.

Mind you, there are four Guitarworks locations in Alberta’s largest city. Established in 1989, the retailer has become a major destination for guitarists and bassists in western Canada. The store pierced by the giant Strat is one of the more recent ones, having opened its doors in 2008.

Watch out for this giant lower bout when you walk in the foyer.

Back to the giant guitar stuck in the roof, though—you’ve really got to see this thing. It’s an exact replica of a relic ’57 Stratocaster, with rust and chipped paint and everything. It’s 35 feet long and is made of heavy-duty Styrofoam. It was made by a company right there in Calgary, and it had to be hauled in on a flatbed truck and perched atop Guitarworks’ entrance with a crane. The really cool thing is that it actually does appear to be crashing through the roof and ceiling—most of the giant guitar is fixed to the exterior, on the roof, but a portion of the lower bout extends down from the ceiling inside the foyer, with faux structural damage to make it look even more realistic. It’s eye-catching, to put it mildly. Made the local paper, even.

“It’s become kind of a city landmark, almost,” said Guitarworks manager Dave Simpson.

It’s also great for initiating new employees.

“Typically, any time we have new staff, the hazing is to tell them that they need to go intonate the guitar on the roof and give it a setup,” Simpson said. “They look at us kind of blankly.”

Totally understandable. It can be hard to find a string gauge that large. And don’t even get them started on adjusting the truss rod …

Above, several making-of photos.

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