A Real Fender Firebird

Of all the mythical creatures I don’t believe in, the phoenix is my favorite. Throughout my life, I’ve learned and grown the most following abject failure (usually after I’d said to myself “I got this, 100%”).

In the case of this guitar, which started out life as a late 90s Made in Mexico Fender Super Strat, the “rebirth” analogy applies, too.

After some back and forth on Craigslist, I met the owner at a small coffee shop in the Lower Haight, and it was quickly apparent that she didn’t know anything about guitars. It was her ex-boyfriend’s, and he had left it as a “gift” when they broke up (which I assume to mean he was simply too lazy to take it with him). I ended up buying it for a steal, but needless to say, I had a strong desire to wash the instrument of its sordid history.

First, I commissioned my friend Molly Michelle Smith to paint the beautiful phoenix motif that stretches across the entire guitar:

The design covers the back too:

Next, I replaced the neck with one I’d been playing for the last 15 years. You can see the discoloration from having sanded down the finish all those years ago:

I also put on some locking tuners, as well as a synthetic string tree. The Fender logo is just a decal, and you can see part of it wearing out. This neck was custom made by Warmoth:

Finally, I ripped out all the old electronics, and wired up a set of Seymour Duncan humbuckers.

Working on this together was super fun, and I’m really lucky that I got the chance to do something special like this. True to the theme, I’ll be gigging with this guitar, rather than letting it sit on display. And when it finally starts falling apart, I’ll figure out what to do next – just like with everything else in life.

Note: The title is a guitarist’s joke about rival guitar maker Gibson’s Firebird.