The first fifty years

I started learning to play the guitar at the age of fifteen on an f-hole acoustic (with strings and action like the Forth Bridge) which I found in the loft. Before that, my only experience of string instruments had been a ukelele banjo with 'Elvis' carefully drawn on the front on which I learned to play the carol 'Silent Night'.

My first electric guitar was, if I remember rightly, a red 'Top Twenty' followed by an Antoria Telecaster copy which I customised with a Dan Armstrong low impedance pickup (and bits of plastic).

The customising habit stuck. I followed the Antoria with a terrible home-made guitar and then bought a second hand Strat in 1974 for £180. It was a '66 sunburst Strat which I promptly stripped and re-painted, re-fretted etc.. I sold the '66 Strat for £180 3 years later - after all it had the large headstock which marked it out as not pre-CBS and it was built in October '66 (Leo Fender sold out in June of that year). I suspect it's worth a little more now if it's still around.

With the proceeds, I bought a Dan Armstrong sliding pickup model from Stephen Delpht in London. An excellent guitar (I still customised it though) which served me for years until I bought a Fender Squier Japanese 'Hank Marvin' Strat. I've still got the Dan and use it regularly.

Oops, I haven't mentioned the Vox Tornado I bought in Zimbabwe and rebuilt to my own spec. The Vox was my main guitar through the Bernie Hot Hot years.

Anyway, I bought Hank because, being a cheap Jap copy, it was eminently qualified for customising. By the time I was finished, the only original parts were the neck, body and bridge. It served me faithfully through Reel Funk Inc and Jazzrascals and I loved it. It always felt 'just right' under my hands.

Of course, like the Dan Armstrong and the '66 Strat before it, the 'cheap Jap copy' turned out to be something of a collectors item.
But it also turned out to be the basis for the best guitar ever!