The Greatest Guitar Finds: A Jersey Turnpike Treasure

Buying and selling guitars has given me some of the most incredible experiences and stories I could imagine over the years. The story I am about to tell has always been one of my favorites to recount.

In 2007, I received a call from a gentleman who told me he had a 1954 Fender Stratocaster, the highly collectible and desirable first year for the model. My partner at the time, Richie, and I decided to meet him halfway at the exit 7A rest stop along the New Jersey Turnpike to inspect and hopefully purchase his guitar. He was heading out from western Pennsylvania, and we were coming from Long Island, NY. We planned to meet at 9:00 PM, but if you’ve ever traveled in this area, you’re likely familiar with how intense the traffic can get. By no surprise, it took both the seller and us quite a bit of extra time to get to our agreed-upon destination. We finally arrived at the rest stop close to 11:00 PM.

To our dismay, once we arrived, we realized the rest stop restaurant area was already closed for the night. So, there we stood, disassembling a genuine and original 1954 Stratocaster in the back of my Suburban. As if that wasn’t crazy enough, we followed up our authentication with a nerve-racking cash-counting experience in a dark parking lot. Frankly, I don’t recommend doing something like this anymore. However, back in the day, it was like the wild west! These were great times for buying, accompanied by even greater guitars. Believe it or not, buying original vintage guitars in the strangest of places from original owners was more common than you think.

We drove home with the 1954 Fender Stratocaster, original strings on it and all! We’re lucky enough to have it back in our showroom after over 16 years of it being in a private collection. As soon as I saw it, this story came flooding back to me! I hope you enjoy reading about this buying adventure as much as I enjoyed living it.

For more information on this guitar (for sale now), please call us at 516.221.0563.