Back in 2010, Fender announced this guitar, which immediately came across my radar thanks to my longstanding love of the MC5. Kramer famously (to those who follow these things) customised a hard-tailed Fender Strat with an eye-catching American flag design on the body and headstock. The middle pick-up was also swapped out for a humbucker.
It featured in what’s one of my favourite rock photos of all time, the MC5 playing live. The angles and the pure abandon all make it a striking image, so much so for years it was the wallpaper on my work PC. Taken by Leni Sinclair, you can see the image here, the top photo on the article.
So, I was stoked to see this guitar being reborn as a signature model from Fender, with a reasonable price tag to boot (for a signature, road-worn guitar at least!) One drunken night, the decision was made, the guitar was ordered (it had been a good year for the business that year…) I think at the time it was around the £600 mark, and this is what I got for my money.
“Special features include a roaring Seymour Duncan® ’59 humbucking middle pickup and a commemorative neck plate engraved with “This Tool Kills Hate.” Other features include an alder body, lacquer body finish, maple neck with C shape and large ’70s-style headstock, 21-fret rosewood fingerboard with 7.25″ radius and vintage-style frets, vintage-style single-coil Stratocaster neck and bridge pickups, American Vintage hard-tail string-through-body bridge, Fender/Schaller® vintage-style “F” tuners and chrome hardware.”
I remember opening the box and being blown away by of all things, the smell. The lacquer still had that freshly dried smell about it, and everything looked lovely. The road-wear wasn’t too excessive, and the finish of the body and headstock were delicious. It really looked and felt special. It sounded great as well! Switching between the single coil and humbucker gave a good solid sound suitable for anyone after some proto-punk shenanigans.
Sadly though, this was bought as a collectible, a displayer rather than a player. I would give it a blast every now and then, but in the long-run, it was there for its looks, which were, for me, up there with the pop-art of Warhol or the striking poster design of Saul Bass. They encapsulated an age and an attitude that I wanted to celebrate, which this guitar did in spades.
I think anyone actually taking this guitar out to gig with might raise the odd eyebrow, given its iconic nature. I mean, if you were playing one of these, you’d better mean it. Otherwise, it would be the equivalent of seeing Rachel from friends wearing the MC5 T-shirts that were fashionable at the time, without ever being able to name a single song by the band. Blaspheme!
Given it was a Made In Mexico Stratocaster, I was happy that it held its value so well, when I recently had to sell the guitar due to a move that would leave it without anywhere to be displayed. In fact, I made a bit of money on it in the end, which is always nice. Since they came out less than 10 years ago, the small run of them has sold-out, you can’t get a new one for love of money.
What’s more, they don’t come up on eBay very often either, which would suggest they are well thought of and well regarded by those that do own them. I’ve included a listing below that will probably remain blank most of the time, but if you’re in the right place at the right time, and the winds are blowing all the way from the Motor City, you may just spot one…