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The Who's Pete Townshend Teams with Fender to Help Design Custom Stratocaster

© George ChinThe Who's Pete Townshend has played, and smashed, a variety of electric guitars over the years, but since 1989 one of his favorite go-to instrument has been a customized red Fender Stratocaster based on a signature Eric Clapton model. Now, a limited-edition version of Townshend's Stratocaster has been created by the Fender Custom Shop in collaboration with Pete himself.

Townshend's custom Strat differs from Clapton's in that features a piezo pickup, which allows the player to switch the guitar to a more acoustic sound. Pete's tribute model also boasts a fourth control knob for mixing the electric and acoustic signals.

In a new YouTube video promoting his custom guitar, Townshend says he's been enamored with Stratocasters since his childhood because he was a fan of the famed U.K. instrumental group The Shadows, and that was the type of guitar they played.

"I just remember thinking it's a perfectly proportioned, beautifully balanced design in every respect," Pete says of the Stratocaster. "And then when you pick one up to hold it, you know that thing about it being contoured to the body…it really is."

Speaking about the added pickup, he points out, "I wanted to play acoustic guitar but sometimes I wanted to strap on a Fender Stratocaster so that the Who fans would think that I was playing electric guitar when I actually was still playing acoustic."

Townshend also notes that when he mixes the piezo pickup sound with the other pickups, "you get this singing, you get extra harmonics so I can have kind of a dirty Pete Townshend kind of sound…but with this kind of zing in it."

Only 75 custom Townshend Stratocasters are being produced, and the guitars will ship to select instrument dealers starting in September or October. You can find out more about the limited-edition guitar at

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