Alongside stunning electric guitars, the Norman’s Rare Guitars YouTube channel often documents some of the store’s celebrity visitors, and recently, Maneskin guitarist Thomas Raggi popped into the iconic LA store and got a fun surprise after eyeing up a vintage Strat reissue.
Footage of the visit shows owner Norm Harris giving Raggi a quick tour of the store, before the Italian guitarist pulls out a 40th Anniversary 1954 Fender Stratocaster reissue, in two-tone Sunburst.
It’s a beautiful guitar, and Harris duly sets Raggi up with an amp to give it a go, with Raggi commenting its “really comfortable”.
However, the vintage expert has a trick up his sleeve, cracking open another case and handing over a different sunburst Strat – sourced from Norman’s mythical ‘back room’.
“That is a ’54 reissue,” explains Harris. “And this is a real ’54.” It’s fair to say that Raggi is pretty shocked by the compliment paid to him, as Harris hands over the priceless instrument for him to try, dubbing it “The holy grail!”
“This is number 588,” explains Harris. “One of the first Stratocasters ever made.”
To give Raggi his dues, the guitarist is not too shy about putting it through its paces, and doesn’t play it with kid gloves in the way some might.
“It’s so sick,” comments Raggi. “I love, also, the action – it’s really nice. And, in this case of course, it’s a masterpiece!”
The instrument is in remarkable condition for its age, with some clear wear visible on the maple fretboard, but the scratchplate and body look in great shape.
It’s worth sticking around on the clip to catch Raggi jamming All Along The Watchtower with Norm’s dependably brilliant in-store star Michael Lemmo, too.
The two players are like very different in many ways, with Lemmo’s considered yet soulful picking acting as a fine foil to Raggi’s wilder, breakneck rock picking and trademark fingerstyle electric sound.
The tune twists and turns as the duo alternate leads, roaming far away from its central inspiration and back to the Hendrix-inspired treatment of the chord progression.
Despite handling high-end gear at Norm's, it seems the Måneskin man is not snobbish when it comes to his own guitars – provided, of course, it’s a Strat.
Indeed, Raggi owns both a red Custom Shop ’63 Strat and a Squier model – and has previously told Guitar World he favors the latter.
"It’s one of the older ones from Japan," explained Raggi. "I used to play only Fender Strats. To me, a Stratocaster is like a complete instrument. I love how you can play funk and rock and metal with a Strat. It’s a very comfortable instrument, too, so that’s pretty great."