Thursday, June 30, 2011

Awesome John's Pink Dream Strat

I became aware of Awesome John some years ago, when I used to post on The Fender Forum. There is no question about it, Awesome John is...well...Awesome!

One of the guys from the Forum, who is a player in New York City wrote that Awesome John is one of the nicest guys he has ever met and John is indeed a master of the guitar.

At the time, Awesome John was playing a beautiful custom made Fender Stratocaster, that looked like no other. 
While Fender was building it, many famous guitarists who saw it in Fender's shop, including Brian May, just had to get their hands on it.

For those how have never with Awesome John, he grew up in New York City. In the 1980’s he put together a 3 piece band that played original material in local clubs. At the time he was known as John Gundez.

John is of Turkish heritage. About the same time he was becoming popular in New York music circles, family obligations forced him to return to Turkey. Not being one to give up, he started playing his same original music and same style there and has become a hugely popular performer in Turkey.

In addition to periodically returning to New York City to play, John is well known in Europe, has toured the Soviet Union and of course is beloved in Turkey.

Not only is John a wonderful guitarist, but he is a super showman as well.

His given name is Asim Can Gündüz, but uses the stage name Awesome John, since it sounds similar and is much easier to pronounce. When he sings, he sounds a little like George Benson, but with the high tenor range of Vince Gill. He plays guitar better than Jimi or Eddie Van Halen and he looks a little bit like Fred Flintstone. Awesome John can play shred, jazz, pop and he will amaze you.

When John was first mentioned on the Fender Forum, he had put up his beloved pink Custom Shop Fender Stratocaster for sale, in order to help out people from his home in Turkey.

The Strat is a beautiful instrument known as the Dream Strat.

It is said this guitar cost $70,000 to build.  Custom Shop designer and master luthier Gene Baker worked on the instrument and it took him over three years to complete the guitar.

The 24 fret neck is custom designed by Sims in the UK.

Sims is a company that speciallizes in building necks with light-emitting-diodes as part of the design. This Stratocaster has LED’s on the side of the neck for position markers.

The colour of the neck matches the body. In fact, the neck goes through the body. It is adorned with gold-plated Lace Sensor pickups. The hardware likewise is entirely gold plated. This is truly a remarkable and unique instrument.

The guitar was purchased by UK rocker and guitar collector Tony McKenzie for an undisclosed price. On McKenzie’s web page, he states the guitar is now owned by “Peter” in the south of England.

Currently Awesome John is playing a custom made stratocaster style guitar with no name on the headstock.

The guitar has 3 humbucking pickups. The neck and bridge pickups are possibly DiMarzios and have blades instead of pole pieces. The center pickup is a stacked humbucker.

Look closely at the video and you will see the Sims neck. The LED's are position markers on the neck and the side of the neck.

Recently Awesome John became an endorsee with a fairly new company called Early Bird International. They are the world-wide distributor for a line of guitars called Master Guitars.

These guitars are designed by Latvian luthier George Gorodnitski, who has been building guitars for over 35 years.

The guitars are currently made in Korea using Gorodnitski’s design and instruction for wood and hardware. The wood is beautiful and the workmanship is superb and the guitars are awesome. The designs are based on strats, Les Pauls and BC Rich guitars, but all have original features.

Awesome John also uses and endorses the StepMax tremolo system for his guitars.

This unique device allows you to pull the strings up or down a whole step without pulling the strings down to the fretboard. It is not a floating tremolo, but is self-contained and requires no drilling or routing.

It comes with an adjustment that allows you to bend to a specified pitch up or down. The plastic tip for each of the StepMax tremolos is uniquely designed.

In addition to being a superb player, Awesome John does charity work and service to the needy within his country.

John is also a popular talk show host on TV and radio in Istanbul. He is a Muslim, but one of his best friends is Rabbi Jay Levy aka the Rock and Roll Rabbi. Levy grew up in New York City and played in studio bands before he took up his religious career.

Levy met Awesome John at a street booth in New York City where John was selling Turkish cymbals and drums. Their mutual love for music has made them fast friends.

Check out Awesome John in action:

1 comment:

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