June 10, 2013 in Blog

The Mystery of the 0001 Stratocaster

stratgilmourAll great creations begin with a prototype. Iron Man’s armor began with the Mark I, all of the world’s airplanes can trace their roots to the Wright Brothers’ Flyer I, and all Fender Stratocasters started from the 0001 model. This incredibly valuable and sought after guitar currently resides in the hands of Pink Floyd guitar legend David Gilmour.

This famous guitar has been used by Gilmour in many stage performances. It was first seen in 1978 on the live promo clips filmed for his first solo album. It is also featured in Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2. The 0001 Stratocaster can also be heard on Paul McCartney’s Back to the Egg album and was seen in 2004 during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Stratocaster.

How the guitar ended up in the hands of Pink Floyd’s guitarist is an interesting story. In a 1986 interview with music magazine Guitarist, Gilmour said he got the guitar from guitar technician Phil Taylor. In 1976, Taylor desperately needed money to purchase a house, and Gilmour offered to loan Taylor the money provided he would sell him the 0001 Stratocaster. Taylor gave in and sold the legendary guitar for only $900.

There are, however, many doubts as to the origin and authenticity of the 0001 Stratocaster. The guitar possesses an uncommon gold color scratch plate and hardware. That design is considered too unusual for a prototype, which means the guitar is more likely a custom-made showpiece. Also, the only part of the guitar that bears the #0001 serial number is the neck, making it possible that only the neck is from the original prototype and the rest of the guitar is pieced together parts.

According to guitar pickup manufacturer Seymour Duncan, the guitar is not the original Fender prototype. Duncan claims that he was approached by Richard Green in 1976 to repair a 1957 Stratocaster. He sent the worn out body to guitar manufacturer Charvel, where it was replaced with a similar body and given a vintage finish to resemble the original. Duncan sent the neck to repairman Phil Kubicki to be refinished. When both parts returned to Duncan, he put the newly refurbished Strat together and recalls seeing the #0001 serial number stamped on the neck.

gilmourstrat

Duncan then was able to get his hands on the original body that he had sent to Charvel. He fitted it with a 1957 neck that he purchased from Kubicki and finished building the guitar with 1960’s replica pickups. Strangely, this guitar also was stamped with a #0001 serial number on its neck. This is the guitar that Duncan sold to Phil Taylor, which he later sold to David Gilmour.

If Duncan’s version is accurate, then there is another Stratocaster in the world that is also stamped with a #0001 serial number. There are, however, many who doubt the accuracy of Duncan’s story, and many more who have their own theories. It is highly likely that neither of the guitars Duncan worked on contained any parts at all from the original Stratocaster prototype, however the mystery of what happened to that legendary guitar. Either way, the controversy has made Gilmour’s 0001 a unique piece of history.

Here is a video of David Gilmour playing his 0001 Stratocaster:

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