In 1967, George Harrison stayed up late one night, grabbed some day-glow paint and nail polish and re-decorated his Fender Stratocaster in a ferociously psychedelic colour scheme. That guitar later featured in famous Beatles videos and telecasts, becoming an iconic guitar in its own right. At NAMM 2020, Fender displayed a recreation of Rocky, as the guitar was nicknamed. Rocky is now being offered in a limited Custom Shop run that’s retailing for – hold on to your hats – €26,000! Can it possibly be worth that kind of asking price? Let’s take a closer look.
Fender George Harrison’s “Rocky” Stratocaster
Fender first unveiled this model during Winter NAMM. The announcement got a lot of people excited, as it’s one of the more famous guitars in rock history. “The Rocky Stratocaster has been recreated to perfectly emulate George Harrison’s signature sound and voice,” says Fender Custom Shop Master Builder Paul Waller in the Fender press release.
Back in 1967, George Harrison took a brush and some day-glow paint and went to town on his 1961 Fender Stratocaster. The result was Rocky, a Strat that has become nearly as famous to guitar players as his all-Rosewood Telecaster. If you’re a Beatles fan you will more than likely be aware of this brightly coloured guitar. It featured in the live worldwide telecast of “All You Need is Love” in June 1967, as well as the “I Am the Walrus” segment of Magical Mystery Tour.
With that kind of history, this is likely so be a sought-after guitar. Now factor in the small production run as part of Fender’s Dream Factory Series, meaning it will only ever be available in this run of 100 guitars released worldwide. The result will no doubt be a highly collectable instrument.
Which brings us to… the price. It’s in the ballpark of $25,000! I’m not going to mince my words: I think this guitar is hellishly overpriced. Even if I had a few million kicking around, I wouldn’t be tempted. Yes, I get that the rarity value is driven by the small production run of the guitar, but even then it doesn’t quite add up.
The formula here seems to be as follows: take a 1961 reissue Custom Shop Stratocaster template, match it to some measurements taken from the original and adjust as needed. Then recreate a haphazard paint job, which doesn’t look very complex.
Now add some pickups hand-wound by Abigail Ybarra. Sprinkle on some Grimshaw decals to match those on the original, added by the dealer who sold the original guitar. Does that add up to $25,000? Whatever way you stack it, it looks like there’s a lot of profit in this run of guitars.
Should you invest?
I am sure that this guitar will be exceedingly collectable. Yes, it recreates George’s famous one-of-a-kind acid-fuelled creation. But as a guitar to play, this package doesn’t makes a lot of sense to me. As far as I can see, there’s not much more than a paint job and some nice pickups on a vintage specified Strat on offer here. But there is high chance that these will sell out quickly and become highly sought after by collectors. If you like to invest in musical instruments, this could be a guitar to take a punt on.
RRP: GBP 23099 / EUR 26549