Post 57: Fender Stratocasters in Umeå – where?
A prize to anyone who knows where Umeå is? Well it is the largest city in Northern Sweden and has a number of achievements to boast – not least this year it is European Capital of Culture. But more relevant to the blog is that in the centre of the city there is a new museum all about guitars.
Simply called Guitars The Museum it has over 300 priceless guitars from the 1950s and 1960s, so if you want to see the kind of guitar that Jimi Hendrix set on fire in Monterey you can see it here along with 7 other stratocasters. I visited just this afternoon and was delighted to discover the twin brothers who have amassed this amazing collection over the last 40 years were actually there in the building hanging out and chatting about guitars, museums, Hendrix, Zappa and Abba!
They remember being about 12 years old after school one day listening to the family’s radio and hearing a presenter saying “Now we are going to listen to what is called electric music.” And what began playing was Purple Haze. They immediately set about finding out what guitar Hendrix was playing and were determined to get one like it themselves. No small feat for twins living in the Northern reaches of Sweden in the Seventies without the aid of the internet, today’s vital research tool.
As well as guitars they have a 1950s style shop set up within the exhibition and you can touch and feel some of the instruments and they give live demonstrations whenever they can – when the crowd is big they perform in the bar and club downstairs! There is also a display comparing how Gibsons and Fenders were made, starting with the blank wood block working through to the finished guitar.
Although an unusual holiday destination I recommend Umeå for anyone who wants wonderful beaches, great food, excellent opera and to learn everything they could want to know about Fender and Gibson guitars. Perhaps not in the winter temperatures are -30!