“The original sounds the best, I’m not gonna lie, but this one is right next to that”: Mike McCready’s been playing his new Mexican-made signature Strat onstage with Pearl Jam
“I wanted to make sure I was playing this thing live so I could have the confidence to go, ‘Oh yeah it’s something that’s worth buying.'”
Credit: Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images
McCready was seen playing a prototype version of the Roadworn Strat on tour last year, alongside his longtime favourite 1960 Strat and his 2021 custom shop signature model.
Now, the finished product has become part of the show, and McCready has been seen playing it for songs including Daughter and frequent show closer Yellow Ledbetter.
“I wanted to make sure I was playing this thing live so I could have the confidence to go, ‘Oh yeah it’s something that’s worth buying’,” McCready tells MusicRadar. “I played it on Indifference, I played it on [Yellow] Ledbetter, Daughter… I’ve played it on six other songs. Strat-type songs, just to see if it can hold up to what my real 1960 does. And it does.”
Check out fan-filmed footage from the band’s recent show in Saint Paul, Minnesota:
McCready also says that changing up his guitar choice, whether in the studio or in a live setting, isn’t uncommon for him. “As a band, I don’t want everybody playing the same type of guitar because it’s gonna sound too samey, and that’s not good,” he says. “So Stone [Gossard] will play a Les Paul, I’ll play a Strat. Stone will play a Strat, I’ll play a Les Paul – I’ll mix it up.”
During the band’s European run last year, McCready road-tested around three prototypes of the new signature model. “I was playing them there to [judge],” he says. “[I’d say] ‘The pickups aren’t right on this one but on this one they’re a little bit better, and that’s not as good a neck but it’s good on this one’, so we ended up working with Fender very quickly, they’re very easy to work with. We ended up [combining] those three together and that’s what we have now. It’s the one out of those three.”
He also mentioned that he was “fascinated” by the work Fender’s Ensenada factory did to mimic the appearance and age of his famed 1960 guitar.
“I don’t know how they do it. They don’t tell me. I’m assuming there are a lot of secret methods. So it’s kind of like alchemy in this interesting way to me that they make it look that way. I love that they do that. But I like guitars that play like they’re old,” he says. “That’s what I gravitate towards. And they have to play good the first time I play him or they never get better for me. And this one does that for me. That was huge for me.”
He continues: “The pickups had to sound as close as they possibly could to the ones on my 1960 original. The original sounds the best, I’m not gonna lie, because that’s the original, but this one is right next to that.”