Wednesday, December 16, 2009
1978 Fender Antigua Hardtail Stratocaster
Submitted by Michael Rose • Madison, NC
1984; I'm in college at Western Carolina University (Cullowhee NC, about an hour west of Asheville). I had been playing guitar since I was 13, but didn't get an electric until my third year of college. A Memphis Les Paul copy ... after a year of that, I was ready to get something better. I was a college student with limited funds. But I did work each summer, and during the Fall semester I had scored a job as a short-order cook three mornings a week at a restaurant right on campus.
In the spring semester I got a small tax refund check and was ready for a guitar upgrade. I planned to drive into Asheville on a weekend and hit all the music shops and pawn shops in one Saturday. If that panned out, I would go to Atlanta the next weekend and hit Rhythym City.
It was then that I learned about a student in my dorm who was in a bit of a predicament (we'll call him Mr. X). Mr. X missed a lot of classes and always seemed to be hanging out in his room...laying on his bed in his underwear...eating a large bag of Doritos, watching TV...and a record might be playing at the same time. Mr. X drank a lot too...not just on weekends. Mr. X had a baby pet squirrel that fell out of a tree. He kept it in his room for about a week but rolled over on it in his sleep and it died. Mr. X was a little overweight...and Mr. X was in trouble. BIG trouble. Mean people were looking for him...people he had purchased substances from...so there was a large debt he couldn't pay, we're talking about a lot of money.
Mr. X was going to go away, but he needed some money.
So, Mr. X was selling everything in his room that wasn't bolted down. Including a '78 Antigua Stratocaster I had played several times when visiting. I knew nothing about guitar values, rarity, and the "Vintage" market (this was pre-Internet, after all). All I knew was that it was a Fender. Stratocaster. Maple neck. Hardtail, so it always stayed in tune. And, he had the original case.
Mr. X knew I played and told me the guitar was for sale. He said he was hoping to get $500 for it. I told him it was several years old and had a couple of scratches. He came down to $450. I could tell by his state of mind (and the state of his room) that he was desperate. I offered him $175 cash! He got upset, but didn't rise from the bed. He said it was way too low. I told him about my tax refund check and, that if he didn't sell me the guitar at that price, I was going to Asheville Saturday morning to buy one. And that was that. My best deal, ever.
I "grew up" on that guitar - it was inspiring to play a professional, American-made instrument. In a couple of years, boredom set in ... the folly of youth. As stated earlier, I didn't know anything about guitar values. I put a Strat-sized humbucker in the bridge position. Later, the neck started fretting out. Instead of getting a fret job done and keeping the original neck, I replaced the entire neck ... and the guitar shop kept the original neck. And then I traded the guitar in to the same shop for something of lesser value which I shall not name. A year later, I was in the same shop and saw my guitar on the wall. A Fender Stratocaster decal had been carefully placed on the headstock of the replacement neck. At least I knew that was creepy, and told all my friends to steer clear of that shop.
Because of the Internet, it's a lot easier to learn about guitar values today ... but it's a lot harder to find deals like I did. Whenever original Antigua Strats do pop up on ebay, Gbase, or Craigslist, they typically go for between $1800 and $3000.