Joe Bonamassa's Guitar Safaris: A Timeless Fender Clock

Not all guitar safaris result in the fantastic vintage guitars and amps you see on my social media sites or hear about on the vast rumor mill that percolates through the interweb forums and guitar gossip sites.
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Not all guitar safaris result in the fantastic vintage guitars and amps you see on my social media sites or hear about on the vast rumor mill that percolates through the interweb forums and guitar gossip sites. Many times our searches yield nothing at all (except a big old taxi bill and a martini at the hotel bar). It is okay, and quite frankly, I welcome those days. It’s fun to look, and the thrill is in the hunt—it’s definitely all about the chase. I thought today I would clue all you fine folks in on another aspect of collecting that I enjoy: vintage point-of-purchase signs and banners.

You see, as a dealer from the ’20s through the present day, you had the option to buy fixtures to decorate your store, including signs, banners, string displays, and anything else that would help sell the product. In this instance, the product in question was Fender Musical Instruments. These mainly were sold to authorized dealers only. As the decline of the mom-and-pop shops began in the early ’90s, entire stores were sold as a lot, and that included all the signs, banners, and, yes, clocks. All of us geeks began to run across these at guitar shows with increasing regularity. It is a fun and affordable way to get into collecting without having to fork over the price of a Honda Element for a slab-board Telecaster. Plus, as decor for an unrepentant nerd like myself, they can’t be beat. As a matter of fact, my whole house is basically decorated with point-of-purchase signs and Bill Graham Fillmore West posters. The reaction upon entering my place— which I call “Nerdville”—is polarizing. Some view it as Valhalla (remarking that it smells of vintage cases), while others simply say, “You are definitely not married.” But it is mine nonetheless, and unapologetically created for me.

The circa 1963 Fender clock you see here was found on safari in Denver. After exhausting all avenues of guitar shops including the store of kryptonite— the acoustic shop—we finally made our way west of town to this little shop that did mostly consignments. No guitars nor amps in there, but we did spot the clock lurking behind the counter. I ask the clerk, “How much for the Fender clock?” He shouts to the owner, who’s in his office, “Hey—someone wants to know how much the clock is!” The owner shouts back, as if to put a stupidly high number on it, “$500!” I shout back, “I’ll take it for $500 if the bulbs work or $400 if they don’t.” I paid $400. The clock works now, thanks to some bulbs and TLC. It was made for Fender by the PAM clock company in New Rochelle, New York. It keeps bad time but it looks great on my wall…

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