NASHVILLE -- George Gruhn's guitar shop in Nashville is a kind of mecca for fine, vintage musical instruments, but even Gruhn is blown away by the latest addition to his inventory -- the very first production model Fender Stratocaster ever made.
You can own it for a cool quarter-million dollars.
"This is special," Gruhn told The Associated Press. "It's not special as memorabilia because it was owned by anybody special. But it is special because this is effectively like having the right Rembrandt or Van Gogh or Da Vinci."
The sunburst-finish Strat bears the serial number 0100. Although some Strats have lower numbers that begin with 0001, Gruhn says they actually were manufactured later in that first year of production. He says the No. 1 Strat was sold to an amateur who evidently took good care of it before selling it to Richard Smith, who is a curator at the museum of the city of Fullerton, Calif.
Smith is selling it on consignment through Gruhn's Guitars.
A fair number of vintage Strats have sold for $100,000-plus. Eric Clapton's "Blackie" sold for $959,500 in 2004 and the Stratocaster that Bo Dylan played at the Newport Fork Festival recently sold for a record $965,000.
However, Gruhn says the very first production model Strat is something like a national treasure.
"I consider this to be one of the most important pieces of American, truly iconic industrial design, as well as musical instrument design, that we can find today," he said. "It's a piece of art, it's a piece of industrial design, it's a piece of musical history. And it's part of our national heritage."
-- The Associated Press