From the Archives: How Prince’s gold-plated, one-of-a-kind Fender Stratocaster came to be
Among his many areas of musical expertise, Prince, who died Thursday at age 57, was lauded as one of the finest guitarists in pop music. In 2010, he commissioned the creation of a gold Fender Stratocaster to use on tour, after which he planned to auction it off and donate the proceeds to charity. This story from The Times archives details how the instrument came to be created and where it ended up after he had played it on tour for nearly five months. This article was originally published on Dec. 10, 2010:
What: One-of-a-kind Fender Stratocaster, fully gold-plated from the top of the headstock to the bottom of the electric guitar’s signature solid body
Who: Prince (the artist formerly known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince)
FULL COVERAGE: The world mourns the loss of Prince
Where: He’ll introduce and play his gilt instrument during a string of shows in December in New York and New Jersey
When: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., and Sunday and Dec. 29 at Madison Square Garden in New York
Why: Prince told his friends at Fender that he’d had a dream in which he played a gold Stratocaster. For his upcoming “Welcome 2 America” performances — his first East Coast shows since 2004 — he wanted something special and asked if such a guitar could be made. Fender execs turned to their designers at the Fender Custom Shop in Corona, Calif., where master guitar builders specialize in delivering unique instruments, for superstar musicians as well as amateurs with the desire, and the money, for something out of the ordinary.
“There’s only so much rotation you can do with your arms,” he said. “It’s interesting how it all came together,” said Shishkov, who started his career building guitars for himself, in a small underground cinder block workshop in the Soviet Union, which frowned on its citizens making any product the Soviet government didn’t make and approve. “Now I can bring my dream guitar to life.”
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