My very first electric guitar was a Fender Lead III – a dual humbucking Strat shaped hardtail that was wonderfully contoured and also featured the ability to split the pickups into single coil configurations. My parent’s bought it for me new in 1982 and I can vividly remember running home from school everyday just so I could play it sooner. It served as my main guitar up until the late 80’s when it was semi-retired after I ordered a custom made Hamer Californian from the Hamer’s Arlington Heights factory.
I’ve spoken in other articles how nerve damage from a car accident ended my career as a guitarist in my early 20’s and how all my guitars & gear (save for an acoustic guitar I picked up later while traveling) were stored away at my old family home. While those guitars sat hidden in that closet my life post accident saw me slip further and further away from my identity as a musician and the guitar became something I used to play; an echo of past life.
This all changed around 2013 when I discovered home recording for myself. A few small music projects followed on the heels of that discovery and soon thereafter all my gear and guitars were retrieved from their decades of slumber. I was soon flooded with the joy of rediscovering and reclaiming my identity as a musician. I still had to deal with permanent limitations to my playing hands but through home recording I could see a way in which I could make music that wasn’t dependent on my ability to knock off a live performance.
As part of this newly rekindled interest I started following Fender Lead series guitar auctions on Ebay. I had no thoughts of buying a guitar, but enjoyed the idea of following auctions non-the-less.
Oh — important note to the story: somewhere around there in 2012 I got married to my longtime partner (we’d been together 14 years at that point).
On the afternoon of my 2nd wedding anniversary my wife and I found ourselves at lunch with my two elderly aunties at their home here in Vancouver. At some point during the lunch the topic of Ebay came up; the aunties having never seen an auction site before. Well I whipped out my phone and one of the auctions that I was watching for a Fender Lead II was about 30 minutes from ending. It was a no reserve auction and the bids were still criminally low (around $200) for a guitar that regularly sells between $700-1100 USD.
“Watch this” I told them. “There are 30 people actively watching this auction – they’ll all wait until the last minute before bidding and then try to snipe it!” I explained what sniping was and explained how the bids would all roll in those last few seconds and the guitar would sell somewhere in the historical range.
The conversation moved on and at one point I offered to walk the dog for them. One of the aunties (Jill) decided to join me so we left the house together with Milly, a lovely and venerable Border Terrier, while my wife stayed behind visiting with my other aunt (Robbie).
At some point on the walk my Auntie Jill asked me again about the auction. I had my iPhone with me so I called up the auction. There were a few minutes to go and no new bids. I had an idea:
“Hey” I said, “Lets drop a throw-away bid at the last few seconds with everyone else so we can say we bid on something. We wont try to win anything, we’ll just throw in the standard three-fifty nonsense price, but we can have some fun bidding and losing while the rest of them go crazy trying to land the guitar.” My aunt thought this was a grand plan. She understood that we could bid to lose and still have a story to tell all their friends about how we tried to buy a guitar but lost it in the final seconds of the auction.
Well you can guess what happened. We ended up winning the auction with a bid of $321 dollars – including the OHSC. It was a fantastic deal – almost $500 USD undervalue. The problem: I had to go back to their house and tell my wife I had just bought a guitar on our second wedding anniversary.
That’s how I acquired the red Fender Lead II to go along with my black Lead III. The Lead II is a fantastic strat shaped hartail with two X1 single coil pickups that were made for the famous “The Strat” stratocaster model of the early 80’s.
On the Original Stairway Project the Lead II was strung using Nashville tuning, and together with a duplicate part played on the regular strung Lead III comprised the simulated 12 string guitar part. The Lead III was also used on several other small guitar parts including the bottle neck slide guitar at the end of the solo, and for a lot of the post solo rhythm guitar tracks.