Thursday, June 12, 2008
Fender Telecaster 1974
The first really nice electric guitar I bought was a 1974 Fender Telecaster back in the mid-'80s and there is a really cool story to go with it. If you've ever seen ads for the Texas Guitar Shows and other big guitar shows produced by the Four Amigos, you might recognize the name Larry Briggs. Larry is from the Tulsa area, as am I. He used to own a store called Strings West and I LOVED to go to his store and wander around. It was in an old musty smelling building and it was packed full of cool guitars and amps from the floor to the ceiling. When you first walked into the place there were photos in a case of Larry with just about every famous rock god of the day buying a guitar from him. There was ZZ Top and Nancy Wilson from Heart and Ted Nugent and the list goes on and on. Larry had figured out the appeal of the vintage guitar long before most others and his store was a treasure trove of guitar history. There was also a huge metal building next door to Strings West that was a giant pawn shop that had quite a selection of guitars and pedals and stuff too, so a trip to that part of town was a real treat for someone like myself. I can't imagine that it could exist the same way these days with the explosion of the vintage market.
One day I had saved up enough pennies to get serious about buying a real electric guitar. I'm guessing this to be around 1986, so prices were a lot different. I had noticed some cool Telecasters in his store before with the F-hole...which I now know to be a Telecaster Thinline. When I walked in I asked if he had any of those and he said he had JUST sold one the day before to Clint Black or some famous country musician at the time. So I started checking out what he did have. He pulled down a '74 Telecaster with a white pickguard and that sort of see-through creamy yellow-ish stain. You could see the wood grain through it just slightly and it was in absolutely mint condition. I have to admit that I wasn't completely sold on the color combo, but it was such a nice guitar and he really started giving me the hard sell about how nice it was. I asked how much and he said $400. That was all I had to spend. I sat and thought about it for awhile, strumming a D and a G and an A over and over.
The phone rang and Larry started talking to someone on the other end, describing some of the guitars he had in the store. I heard him mention the one I was playing and he said, "I've got a really nice, super clean '74 Tele that would be perfect for what you are looking for, but there's a guy who might be buying it right now." Right about that time is when I had decided to go ahead and buy it, so I walked up and mouthed the words, "I'll take it!" to him. He turned back to the phone and said, "Okay Billy, he's going to take it. If I find something else for you I'll call."
He was on the phone with Billy Squire. I had stolen a nice Tele right out from under Billy Squire's nose.
It came with a nice black tolex case and I was tickled to death to be walking out of the store with my new Telecaster. I kept it for around two years and moved to California somewhere in the middle. I owned this Telecaster and an Ovation 1984 Collector's Series guitar at the time. I walked into Guitar Center one day and saw a guitar that I just HAD to have. It was a late '70s Martin D-41 with a lot of extra inlay all the way down the fretboard. It was stunning and I decided I had to have it. I ended up trading the Telecaster and the Ovation plus some cash to get it. I'm sure the guys at Guitar Center were stoked to get the Tele and I was ecstatic to get the Martin. It was one of the only times I've walked out of Guitar Center feeling really good about getting hosed. Now I'm going to have to find photos of the Martin, which was definitely one-of-a-kind, so I can tell you about it.
Note: I couldn't find any photos of my actual guitar from the '80s, but these photos I grabbed off eBay are EXACTLY the same and in the same excellent condition as the one I had. It's almost spooky!