Arizona Guitar Safari in January 2023
Posted on January 17 2023
I've just returned from a fantastic trip buying vintage guitars in the Flagstaff, Arizona area. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Flagststaff has an elevation of about 7000 feet above sea level! I looked at three vintage guitars for sale and one amp and came home with all but one of the guitars. If you're considering selling your vintage Fender or Gibson guitar then I would like to take a look at it. I travel worldwide to buy Fender and Gibson guitars made in the 1950s and 1960s. You can contact me here to sell a Fender guitar.
The first vintage Fender guitar I arrived to look at buying was this very cool 1959 Stratocaster. I spoke with second owner at length about the very cool history of this special guitar. Glen purchased this Stratocaster from its original owner in 1972 and it already had a rather rough refinish in an opaque blue sparkle. Glen took it to have it refinished in what he thought was its original finish at the time - Sunburst. This was a safe choice since Sunburst is the most common finish, but we can tell in the picture above why this guitar did not originally have a Sunburst finish! The dark visible grain lines in the body are a stark indication that this Stratocaster body is made of Ash instead of the typical Alder wood used for Stratocasters after 1956. The only color to have an Ash body after 1956 would be Blond. This guitar originally had a Blond finish over the Ash body.
But that isn't the only reason why this Stratocaster is special. It's special because all of the metal parts are gold plated! We call this "gold hardware" in the Fender collector world. You can check out another Stratocaster with gold parts here: Fender Stratocaster 1962 Red with Gold Hardware. When you combine the features of factory Blond finish, gold plated metal parts, and Maple fretboard, we get what is commonly referred to as a Mary Kaye Stratocaster. This guitar is one of the few Stratocasters to be an original Mary Kaye Strat. I absolutely had to buy this guitar and am thrilled to own it.
After buying the old Stratocaster, I drove an hour and a half out into the Arizona desert to look at buying the Gibson guitar in the above picture. I was thrilled to find a very clean guitar with pretty low mileage on it. It was only when I looked closer at the Gibson that I found many replaced parts, all of the wiring resoldered, and very low confidence in what I was looking at. I very much wanted to buy this guitar but I wasn't totally sure of what I was looking at in the low lighting in the seller's home that evening. I passed on it in hopes of finding a nicer old Gibson later. You can contact me here to sell a Gibson guitar.
I woke up early the next morning to a blanket of snow on the ground in the high desert in Flagstaff, Arizona. I grabbed a coffee and set out for the mountain town Pinetop, Arizona about 2.5 hours away to meet the seller of a 1958 Fender Precision Bass and 1956 Fender Bandmaster amp. I was very pleased with the condition of both the old bass guitar and the amazing Fender amp. The gold anodized pickguard on the Precision Bass was very clean and didn't show any wear through the plating. The original frets were nearly untouched; the neck was as straight as I've seen an old Fender bass guitar; the finish showed very little to no checking. It's a stunning vintage guitar that I'm thrilled to have.
The 1956 Fender Bandmaster amp with original tweed covering was also in totally satisfactory condition. While the original tweed showed some wear, it still had its three original Jensen P-10R speakers and the original transformers. 3x10 tweed Fender Bandmaster amps are very rare and often are worn out after so many years. This one has low mileage and is a fantastic example!
I drove the old Fender guitars back to Flagstaff and shipped them back home to Birmingham, Alabama. As a Fender guitar collector, I'm always on the hunt for the nicest examples of Fender guitars made in the 1950s and 1960s. You can contact me here to sell a Fender guitar.