This was the freakout guitar. I bought it in the parking lot of some office building complex in Rye Brook, New York from a guy who posted it on Craig’s List. Ghost Ghost was on tour headed to Boston, I think, and it magically worked out that we were passing through when this guy was selling it. He said he “rescued that guitar from a lefty girl in Brooklyn.” It’s a left-handed 1999 Fender Stratocaster (made in Mexico) that was already set up for a right-handed guitarist. I know what you’re thinking–it’s a Hendrix thing. Well, yes, sort of, I mean if I weren’t blown away by Hendrix when I first saw him burn that guitar in the Monterey Pop film as a kid maybe I wouldn’t play guitar. But also no, it’s not. I actually needed another guitar at that time because we were playing constantly. Specifically I wanted a Strat, to minimize the sonic differences from my main stage guitar at that time (“Betty”). This guitar is about as close to Betty as I was likely to find, in terms of year, model, and features. It was also cheap, which helped.

I have most frequently used this guitar on songs that required noise freakouts, dive bombs, stepping on the guitar, etc. It was prominently featured on “Rock the Grotto” and the Ghost Ghost recording of “Hide and Seek.” I also used it onstage for “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” which tended to end with improvised freakouts and general purpose stage devastation. It also was my backup guitar for any string breakage problems on stage.

In 2019 it finally got some updates. I replaced the stock tuners with Fender locking tuners. The nut was never quite right for the string gauges I use, so I replaced the nut with a Graph Tech Tusq nut. Then I opened up the guts of it for maybe the first time ever to paint the control cavity with conductive paint to reduce hum. That’s when I discovered that the pickguard has a 15 MAR 1999 stamp on the inside. Unlike Betty, I never liked the stock pickups on this one that much, so I replaced the stock ceramic pickups with Golden Age alnico pickups. The neck was beat up bad enough that the truss rod adjustment did nothing, so I replaced it with a new Fender maple lefty neck (the stock neck had a rosewood fretboard). The neck cavity has a 24 FEB 1999 stamp on the body. I guess now it’s too nice to play with my feet.

It’s really a lovely guitar. I named it Bernadette because it always reminds me of how I got started on this whole guitar thing, my heart pounding from a video tape of a man burning a guitar. Better than good times.