The name ‘Johnny A.’ might not be so mainstream, but there’s no doubt that it’s synonymous with guitar.
His passion began at the age of 13, when he first saw the Beatles in Boston, followed two years later by an in-person witnessing of Jimi Hendrix. From there, he was hooked, getting a cheap beginner guitar to try and play along with his early heroes — which also included Yardbirds icons Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.
Soon enough, Johnny A. got it.
By the 1970s, he was forming bands in the New England area, drawing attention from several established musicians, like Derek and the Dominos keyboardist Bobby Whitlock and Doug Clifford of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Johnny A. became Music Director of J. Geils Band singer Peter Wolf’s outfit, coordinating the onstage arrangements, playing on several tours and co-producing Wolf’s 1996 album, *Long Line*. What’s more, he was even asked to join the Yardbirds as their lead guitarist in 2015.
All this is to say that Johnny A. has the chops, and that’s not to mention his prolific solo career. Spanning three full-length albums, Johnny A. has earned a Grammy Award nomination, the honor of Boston Music Awards “Blues Artist of the Year 2010” and a spot in the revered Boston Music Hall of Fame.
He still fervently carries on the tradition of the legends he respected as a teen.
To celebrate his journey, the Fender Custom Shop is releasing the Johnny A. Signature Stratocaster.
A longtime admirer of Strat players, this model feels like home to the guitarist.
“The way it responds to one’s touch, it’s very dynamic to the person that’s playing it,” he said. “It has the ability to let the player control its personality.”
Personal touches include a new-to-Fender Lydian Gold Metallic lacquer finish, alongside another model with a Sunset Glow Metallic paint job that adorned his father’s old Pontiac.
A ’65 style oval “C”- shaped neck is perfect for most playing styles, this classic neck profile allows for comfortable chording and unfettered access to the upper frets, while a steel bottom plate under the 1956 bridge pickup offers livelier tone with wide-ranging response.
An amalgamation of Johnny A.’s four favorite Stratocaster models — a ’63, ’64, ’65 and ’66 version — this guitar is the epitome of what he wants to play.
“It’s pretty hard to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “The Stratocaster, in my mind, if you had to pick one electric guitar that was the most perfectly designed electric guitar, you’d be hard pressed to come up with something other than the Stratocaster. The design, the ergonomics, the neck set, how long it is, it’s just comfortable.”
And at the end of the day, Johnny A. believes Strat enthusiasts will agree with him.
“I just hope the guitar feels great, sounds great and makes someone want to be a better version of themselves,” he said.
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