Pearl Jam founding member Mike McCready has played a number of guitar models over the years, but he’s perhaps most associated with Fender Stratocasters. And of those, his vintage ’59 model is his most prized. So it was this instrument that was chosen for a very limited Custom Shop replica run. But while researching the build, Master Builder Vincent Van Trigt discovered that not all was as it seemed.

I remember being completely floored when I first heard Alive on the radio, immediately hooked on the killer opening riff sporting just the right amount of warm fuzz to precisely match my tastes back then, hypnotized by the woeful vocals and punchy rhythm section, ready to rock the anthemic chorus, and blown away by the searing solo. I had to hear more.

This year mark’s the 30th anniversary of the release of Pearl Jam’s debut album Ten (named after the jersey number of basketball player Mookie Blaylock, who inspired the band’s original name), on which Alive appears, along with other hit singles Even Flow and Grammy nominee Jeremy. What better way to mark the occasion than a Custom Shop replica of a vintage guitar acquired by McCready due to his high regard for a Texas blues-rock legend and his “Number One” ’59 Strat?

“Once I could afford a quality guitar, I immediately went for the vintage Stratocaster,” said the guitarist. “It was my dream guitar because of my love for Stevie Ray Vaughan, and as my musical aspirations were coming true I had to have it.

“It was the first significant guitar that I bought, never thinking I could ever own one before Pearl Jam happened. My favorite feature is the playability of the neck. It’s so worn in and easy to play. It’s got the best neck and fretboard of any of my guitars. I also love how light it is. I actually picked up the prototype thinking it was the original a couple of times which shows me how meticulous and caring Master Builder Vincent Van Trigt and the whole Fender team has been throughout this process.”

Authentic touches include custom pickups hand-wound by Josefina Campos, a treble-bleed tone capacitor and 1960 "oval C" neck profile
Authentic touches include custom pickups hand-wound by Josefina Campos, a treble-bleed tone capacitor and 1960 “oval C” neck profile

Fender

But while deconstructing McCready’s original instrument, Van Trigt found that the guitarist’s long-held belief that he had purchased an original ’59 was false. Even worse, Pearl Jam’s long-time luthier had found out years ago while working on the guitar and stumbling upon date stamps on the neck, but had decided to keep the discovery to himself rather than cause upset to McCready. He kept this secret for 28 years.

With the truth now out in the open, Van Trigt got to work recreating the 1960 Strat – including a flat-sawn maple neck with a 1960 “oval C” profile and topped by a flat-lam rosewood fingerboard with 21 vintage frets, custom Josefina Campos hand-wound pickups, vintage wiring (including a “treble-bleed tone capacitor”), and a relic finish on the two-piece alder body that includes all of the many battle scars of the original.

This production run is limited to just 60 examples, to match the actual year of the original’s manufacture, and being a Master Builder Custom shop model, it carries a premium price tag of US$15,000. It ships with a deluxe hardshell case to protect it from attracting even more scratches and dings, as well as a strap, polishing cloth, McCready case candy kit and certificate of authenticity,

McCready talks about the original, the replica and more in the video below.

Mike McCready Limited Edition 1960 Stratocaster | Fender Custom Shop | Fender

Product page: Mike McCready 1960 Stratocaster

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