You always remember your first…


Ladies & gents… let me introduce my #1.

I decided I wanted to play guitar when I was 16, while at home, bored on school holidays. My cousin Sam had been playing for a few years (he had a white Riviera Strat copy) and looked like he was having fun, so one afternoon after seeing an ad on TV for the local music shop I just thought “Stuff it, might as well…” Like most hobbies I get into, I become obsessed pretty quickly (my Superman collection is quite impressive) so the first thing I did was bought the first guitar book I found (this was 1991… pre internet, kids) which happened to be “Guitar Identification by A.R. Duchossoir”, which while being the most BORING looking book on guitars ever written, had a lot of pictures for a total novice like me to pick his future soul mate from.


While there were a lot of beautiful Les Pauls and Gretsches in there, one guitar stood out. It was a sunburst 1957 Stratocaster with a maple neck. Holy moley, it looked hot.


It’s funny now, as I’ve been playing guitar for 22 years and seen a GAZILLION Strats, but I still remember how that photo of that Stratocaster blew me away. I’m not sure why that guitar in particular drew me to it… I just knew that it was the guitar for me.

Next day, I went to the local music store (Custom Music in Griffith, NSW) and said (pointing at the Strat photo) “I want this guitar” to which they said… “It’s $1,500” to which I said “$@%#%!” to which they said “Maybe you want one of these” and handed me the 1991 Fender Squier catalogue. There on page 2 was my guitar, a red Squier Strat with a maple neck. EXACTLY like the guitar in my book.

Me: “How much?”
Custom Music: “$750”
Me: “See ya later.”

I walked to the newsagent, picked up the Melbourne Trading Post and flicked to the guitar section. “For Sale: 1990 Squier Stratocaster, maple neck. Mint condition. $400.” Wow, weird. Luckily we were going to Melbourne that weekend to visit my grandmother, so I rang the guy and said I’d be there tomorrow to have a look.

The next day, my Dad, my brother, my cousin and I were standing in an old house in Brunswick, Melbourne. A young guy was explaining that he’d bought the guitar to backup his Fender, but realised he didn’t need it. He brought out the Squier and it was love at first site. For someone who had only 4 days earlier decided that he might like to play guitar, this red Squier the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.


As I couldn’t play (yet), the seller played some tasty blues licks to show me that the guitar actually worked. SOLD. I was about to hand over the cash when my cousin Frank & Dad stepped in and haggled the guy down 50 bucks to $350. (No threats of broken kneecaps… I promise)

Next day, Dad bought me a 5 watt Rocktron guitar amp and a Mel Bay ‘Learn Guitar’ book and I was on my way to super stardom. The first song I attempted was the Star Spangled Banner. I was pretty awful.

21 years (and many guitars) later, I still own my red Squier and play it all the time. The neck on that series of Squier (made in Korea) is equal to ANY USA Fender Strat I’ve played. It’s tinted a great shade of yellow (not bleached white like the modern Strats) and the frets are a great size (not tiny like Japanese reissues).


The body, admittedly, is plywood and quite weighty, but the Torino Red paint still looks fantastic.


And the bridge saddles, unlike other Squiers since, look like vintage Strat saddles, with Fender stamped into them. After 20 years they still look great.


I’ve modified the guitar slightly over the years. As I was a metal head, I thought I needed a humbucker, so Custom Music fitted a Seymour Duncan Hot Rail. As it was black, I custom cut some white signwriters vinyl to slip over it (I was a screenprinter / signwriter back then) to help it look standard.


I also fitted a graphite nut and string tree to help the tuning, along with some graphite roller string trees. You may have noticed the 3 screw holes on the headstock. For some reason I got talked into fitting a behind the nut locking nut device that looked like a V8 engine block and weighed about as much. I still have it, but the adjustment screws are long lost.


In honour of my hometown, I added a sticker from the local tomato sauce company, Pops, on the back. I grew up eating the stuff and as soon as I moved to Brisbane missed it terribly. So this is a nice reminder of my early guitar playing days…


I just loved looking at this guitar… which made me want to keep playing it. Thanks to that (and the awesome neck) my playing came along really quickly. I was soon progressing from struggling on ‘Wild Thing’ to struggling on ‘Seek And Destroy’ by Metallica. But then I thought… Well, this guitar doesn’t look very ‘Metal’, does it? So, like an idiot, I sold her to a kid at school for $350 and bought a Gibson Flying V.

About 2 months later, I got severe sellers’ remorse. I realised how much I loved that guitar and how much it meant to me. I pleaded with the kid to sell it back to me, but he had fallen in love with it as well, so he declined. I was heartbroken.

Fast forward 2 years later and I walked into Custom Music to talk guitars with Anthony. There hanging on the wall behind the desk was a familiar looking red Strat. I ran behind the desk and grabbed it… the massive string lock device confirmed what I already suspected… it was my #1! I was speechless… I couldn’t believe it. Anthony said the kid had traded it in on an Ibanez. Nearly in tears… I bought it on the spot. To this day, I still feel guilty that I lost her for a few years.

If you see one of these 90’s Korean Strat’s at your local Cash Convertors, grab it. They’re a great playing workhorse guitar that are amazing value for money.

I love you, baby. *hugs*