Mike McCready confirms a more affordable version of his signature Fender Stratocaster is in the works

Mike McCready of Pearl Jam performs onstage during the 2021 Ohana Music Festival on October 2, 2021 in Dana Point, California.
(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

One of 2021’s most drool-worthy gear releases was Fender Custom Shop’s Mike McCready Stratocaster, a recreation of the Pearl Jam great’s heavily used ’59 ’60 Strat.

However, with a price tag of $15,000, the hand-built replica was out of reach for the vast majority of guitarists. Thankfully, however, it seems a more affordable version will be available before long, according to a new Guitar Player interview with McCready.

“They did such a great job that I’ve actually confused the new model with the original at times,” he says of the Custom Shop replica.

“I did wonder for a moment if my original might feel a little different once they’d taken it apart and reassembled it, but it was in the hands of Master Builders, so the mojo was still there when I got it back. I guess I’ve done maybe a thousand shows with it, so it’s a part of me.

“We’re working on a more affordable signature model now, because obviously this limited-run Custom Shop model is a relatively expensive guitar.”

Elsewhere in the interview, McCready reveals Pearl Jam fans shouldn’t have to endure the same agonizing seven-year gap between albums, as experienced with 2013’s Lightning Bolt and 2020’s Gigaton.

“Assuming all goes according to plan, we’ll be touring the States and Europe in 2022, and then we should be looking at making an album after that,” he tells GP. “So I don’t expect there to be anywhere near as long an interval before the next record comes out.”

Indeed, McCready spent much of the pandemic working on ideas for the upcoming record, so writing is already well underway.

“Just as lockdown kicked in, we were all rehearsed and ready to go on tour,” he says. “I learned to use GarageBand, and since I had a lot of time on my hands, I got pretty good at using it and worked on a lot of song ideas. It helped me keep my sanity. I’m always learning, working on improving my songwriting ability and staying in gratitude. I try to keep learning new things all the time.”

Given Pearl Jam are touring from May through to late-September, it could be a little while before the Seattle vets hit the studio proper, but fellow guitarist Stone Gossard has confirmed the group have already laid down some riffs with Andrew Watt, who is lined up to produce the record following his collaboration with frontman Eddie Vedder on recent solo effort, Earthling.

The production gig is yet another dream come true for Ozzy Osbourne producer Watt, who has been living his wildest Mike McCready fantasies onstage with Vedder, tearing through Pearl Jam classics and deep cuts on the singer’s recent tour.

For the rest of the interview with McCready, in which he shares five guitar highlights from his storied career, pick up a copy of the new issue of Guitar Player from Magazines Direct.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.