1961 Fender Stratocaster

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In early 1965, John Lennon and George Harrison dispatched their roadie, Mal Evans, to purchase two Fender Stratocasters.  Beatles manager Brian Epstein apparently offered to pay for both guitars, as long as they were a matching set.
Soon, Evans appeared with two nearly identical pale blue  “Strats” in a rare factory custom color officially called Sonic Blue. The only differences between the two guitars were, Lennon’s neck wood was plainer while Harrison’s had some nice figuring or flaming. Also, photographs showing the back of Harrison’s headstock reveal a gold decal that reads “Grimwoods; the music people; Maidstone and Whitstable” 
Leo Fender introduced the Stratocaster in the spring of 1954. This very successful solid bodied guitar is also one of the most often copied designs. The 1961 model features: Alder body, "slab" Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, clay dots, 1 volume pot and 2 tone pots, 3-way blade switch, Peghead decal logo with two patent numbers, fatter neck backshape with “D” profile, and a 3-layer (white/black/white) celluloid pick guard which ages to a mint green color.
Lennon wasted no time recording his Strat on their very next single, “Ticket to Ride.” However, it appears Harrison may have waited a bit longer. Notably, both Strats can be heard played in unison during the solo break of “Nowhere Man.”
Lennon and Harrison would continue to use their Strats extensively through out the remainder of the 1960’s. The distinctive sound of a Fender Stratocaster can be heard through out the “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver” Albums.
Although it does not appear that Lennon or Harrison ever used their pale blue Strats during a live performance, Lennon is briefly spotted one-time on stage with it during a rehearsal in early January 1965, around the time he must have first received it. His main guitar, the iconic black 1964 Rickenbacker 325, had just suffered damage and he used his new Strat for the rehearsals. For the live performances, however, Lennon switched to a 1964 Rickenbacker 325 Rose-Morris Model ”1996” in a red (fireglo) color.
We are delighted to present the 1961 Fender Stratocaster in our collection. With a plainer neck, it is identical to the one John Lennon would have received.64_325.html64_1996.html64_1996.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1shapeimage_4_link_2
Lennon and McCartney on stage during a January 1965 rehearsal. Although Lennon is briefly using his new 1961 Fender Strat during the rehearsal, he would switch to a Rickenbacker 325 Rose-Morris Model "1996" for the actual performances
Lennon in the studio with his Strat during the "Sgt. Pepper" sessions
The only known photograph showing both Lennon's and Harrison's pale blue Stratocasters in the studio at the same time
John Lennon with his just received 1961 Fender Stratocaster during the "Ticket to Ride" and "Help" sessions

2007 Fender Custom Shop ’61 Sonic Blue Stratocaster “MMT”

Lennon and Harrison would continue using their Stratocasters during the Sgt. Pepper sessions. In mid-1967, when the Beatles performed “All You Need Is Love” on a live television special, broadcast worldwide, Harrison can be seen playing his Strat, which by then has been painted in its initial phase of psychedelic colors. This version of the newly painted guitar can also be seen in The Magical Mystery Tour film during the “I Am The Walrus” segment. Harrison would continue adding more colorful paint on the guitar over the next couple of years, including its now famous name: “Rocky”
We are pleased to showcase our 2007 Fender Custom Shop ’61 Sonic Blue Stratocaster “MMT.”  It is presented in the same paint configuration as Harrison’s first incarnation.  Jeff Levenson was commissioned to paint our guitar using the exact same paint materials that Harrison used.
George Harrison during filming of the “I Am The Walrus” segment.
Harrison with his “MMT” Stratocaster in the studio.

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