Friday, January 31, 2014

Garrett Mason's Firebird Strat

G. Mason
In August of 2007, I was on the hunt for a Fender Thinline Telecaster. I couldn't find one anywhere. So while I was at Buckleys (remember Buckleys?) in Halifax I asked one of the sales people if they knew where I could find one.  They had a friend. He was a local guitar player and had just gotten one but wasn't going to keep it. They gave me a phone number.  It turned out to be blues artist Garrett Mason. My wife and I were big fans of his so it was great fun to go over to his house and have a look at the Fender. It was a black and white one MIM with a blonde neck. The perfect guitar I thought at the time. I had a Fender USA Strat with me and after talking to Garrett for a few minutes and trying out the Telecaster I asked if he might want to trade. He didn't think so but was always interested in looking. The neck on my Strat was too skinny for him - and for me actually. He said he had discovered that in the end it was "all about the neck" and I have to agree with him. We had a great visit with him, got to look at some of his guitar and amp projects, and I bought the Telecaster with no haggling.

I later decided the neck on it was not a good radius for me and I traded it for a very nice Epiphone Sheridan II with a case. That later got sold. I ran into Garrett a few times in Halifax and he played some gigs near me on the South Shore. He always remembers us. We were very impressed with what a nice person he is, a straight arrow for sure. I saw this Strat with Firebird pickups on Kijiji and inquired. The person selling it said that he thought it was designed by Garrett Mason and built by Tom Abriel for Garrett. Abriel is a terrific guitar and amp tech and later I bought a whack of Guitar Player mags from him -some of them from the early 1980's with the acetate recordings still in them.

The Firebird Strat certainly felt like something Garrett would have played. He verified that it indeed was one of his instruments. The body is an authentic relic, the reverse Fender neck is wide and very comfortable. The wiring is perfection inside it. The pickguard is custom made for it with only a volume knob (where a tone knob should be - Mason likes the volume knob out of the way) and a tone knob. The neck and middle pickups are wired out of phase and it is has a great tone in that position but the middle and bridge pickup together are where it plays the blues.

The only thing missing is Garrett's fingernail file that he usually has sticking out of the pickguard near the  bridge!

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