“The first time I saw a Strat, I thought it was a joke,” recalls Buddy Guy
“I had no idea what to make of it.”
Image: Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images
The Stratocaster is now somewhat synonymous with the electric guitar itself, but let it be known that Buddy Guy was not impressed with the design the first time he laid eyes on it.
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Speaking to Guitar World, the blues legend says that his switch to the Strat early in his career was due to practical reasons more than anything.
“The first time I saw a Strat, I thought it was a joke,” Guy recalls. “So I had gone down to New Orleans and saw Guitar Slim playing a Strat, and I had no idea what to make of it.”
“But I realised the hollowbody guitars I was playing needed to be babied because of the weather. God forbid one got wet; they’d swell up and break. Then I’d have to get them repaired, and they’d have all these nasty scars all over ‘em like someone was chopping at them with an axe.”
“So I turned to Strats because they didn’t get overwhelmed by the weather,” the guitarist explains. “And I’ve stayed with them ever since.”
During the chat, Guy also shares that his iconic polka dot finish originated from a lie he told his mum when he first moved to Chicago.
“My mother would have a stroke with worry whenever I’d go out into the world. At the time, I was working at LSU [Louisiana State University], making nothing,” he says. “I knew I had to do something different. So I decided to go to Chicago, but my mother was sick over it. So before I left home, I lied to her and said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to Chicago. I can make more money there.’”
“Then I told her, ‘And when I make some money, I’m gonna drive back down to you in a big polka-dot Cadillac.’ That made her smile. But I regretted it because I never got the chance to tell her that I lied to her before she passed away. So, I said, ‘You know what? I never did get that polka-dot Cadillac, but I can get a polka-dot guitar in her honour.’”