The late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan is an undisputed blues legend and since his tragic death in 1990 Fender has honoured his legacy with production line and Custom Shop recreations of his famous sunburst number one Fender Stratocaster. Now, SRV devotees have the opportunity to own a comprehensive recreation of Lenny, the guitar that featured on some of his best-loved tunes.
Lenny was originally a 26th birthday present from Stevie Ray's first wife Lenora back in 1980. The 1965 Stratocaster was the most modified instrument in SRV's collection, the most dramatic upgrade being a replacement maple Charvel neck donated by ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons.
The original guitar now resides with Guitar Center, who purchased it in 2004 for $623,500 at a Christie's auction in aid of Eric Clapton's Crossroads Centre in Antigua. The fifth edition to the Custom Shop Tribute Series, Fender's Lenny recreation is limited to just 240 pieces worldwide, with a list price of $12,800.
Jason Smith was the Master Builder at Fender's Custom Shop who was closest to the project and central to this loving recreation: "I thought, if this guitar could talk, what a story it would tell! I just wonder who owned it first? And, how did it end up in a pawn shop? I was a little nervous to even pick the guitar up, let alone take it apart! It was an honour to work on such a legendary player's instrument."
Smith describes the challenges of a build that recreates the original, cigarette burns-and-all: "One of the major obstacles to overcome was recreating the over-sanded body perimeter. It's quite difficult to over-sand something accurately. Another challenge was finding a source for the inlay material, as well as recreating the SRV sticker on the pickguard.
"Some parts were hard to come by and many of them were custom-made, including the diamond-shaped strap button on the upper horn. As for the bridge saddles, we were lucky enough to find the vendor that originally made them. They turned out to be the same saddles used on the Andy Summers tribute, only chrome plated."
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