British Columbia·Video

Bluesman reunited with long-lost Stratocaster guitar

Blues musician Jason Buie was reunited with his cherished Fender Stratocaster guitar six years after it was stolen during a break and enter.

Musician Jason Buie lost his prized Fender Stratocaster guitar in a 2010 break and enter

Jason Webb hands Jason Buie his long lost Fender Stratocaster Wednesday evening. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

For a working musician, there isn't much more important in life than one's favourite instrument.

Blues guitarist Jason Buie, who now lives in Victoria, had his cherished 1973 Fender Stratocaster guitar stolen during a break and enter in 2010.

"I think I bought it for about $800 when I was 15," said Buie, who played the guitar for 25 years before it was stolen. "It was a lot. I worked hard for that guitar."

Buie has owned many guitars, and he lost three or four others in the same break and enter, but it was the worn-out Stratocaster that he loved the most.

"I played this guitar every night in every band that I've played in," he said. "It's one of those things you can't explain, but it just had that feel, and I thought, 'I'm never going to get that guitar back.'"

Buie has opened for some big names over the years, and he had several autographs scrawled on the back of the guitar, along with his own name carved into the wood.

Blues musicians including Buddy Guy, Jeff Healey, Otis Rush, Albert Collins, and Jimmie Vaughan had all signed the Stratocaster.

Jason Buie's guitar was eventually returned because he had carved his name into the back of the instrument's body. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

6 years later, a phone call

But this week, after six years without the guitar, Buie got a message on Facebook.

"I have a Stratocaster you may be interested in," the note from a stranger named Jason Webb read.

"I was shocked. I gave [Webb] my number. We spoke briefly. He texted over some pictures, and that was the guitar."

On Wednesday, Buie arranged to take the ferry into Vancouver to meet Webb, who works as a concrete cutter in Maple Ridge. The two men met at the Yale Hotel on Granville Street, a venue Buie had performed at countless times over the years.

Jason Buie (right) and Jason Webb celebrate the return of Buie's cherished Stratocastwe with a shot of Jack Daniel's Whiskey. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Webb walked into the bar with the beaten-up wood-toned guitar in hand and immediately handed it over to Buie.

"That's amazing. Wow, I can't believe that. Thank you so much, man. I really appreciate it. I really appreciate it," said Buie. "Let's have a beer, man. Come and sit down."

The two Jasons had a shot of Jack Daniel's whiskey and a beer and chatted about the guitar.

Webb said he got his hands on the Strat about four years ago, when he and some friends were doing some "pretty hard partying" in downtown Vancouver.

"We were just tripping around — a night of partying — and [we] just happened upon this dude that had it and was trying to sell it," said Webb. "Just one of those kinds of guys you'd see out in the middle of the street selling stuff when everyone's drunk, right."

The search for the owner

Webb, who plays guitar and also enjoys the blues, said he paid two or three hundred dollars for the instrument, and thought it looked like a piece of junk, though he recognized that it was a Stratocaster.

It was missing some strings, and Webb just wound up leaving it in the closet the entire time he had it.

"As time went on and I started playing a lot more, I found it and started looking into it," said Webb, who recognized the Buddy Guy autograph.

"I was thinking about fixing it, and it didn't take long to realize that, no, there's more to this one than just some crappy guitar that a guy bought in an alley."

Webb said he wasn't the best at using the internet, but he was eventually able to find a video of Buie playing online, after searching the name he found carved into the back of the guitar.

"I'm just happy it's back where it's supposed to be. It's a crappy thing when things like that happen," said Webb. "It just feels good."

"It makes me feel fantastic. I really, really appreciate what Jason's done here and the effort he made to find me and get the guitar back. I can't thank this gentleman enough. I'm looking forward to stringing it up and playing it, and I'll be doing that real soon," said Buie, who said the guitar was exactly the same as the day he had it stolen.

"All it needs are some strings and maybe the intonation tuned a bit, and I'll plug it in and away we go."

Jason Buie's guitar is safely back in his possession nearly six years after it was stolen in a break and enter in White Rock. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)


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