I first posted this review August 21, 2007. I still have and love this guitar!
Jimmie Vaughan Fender Stratocaster Longer-Term Review and Impressions, the first of many!
Just for web stuff and completeness: Jimmie Vaughan is one of the best musicians I’ve ever heard or seen. I’d love to shake his hand in person (and get him to sign my JV Strat!). Check out his recordings and discography. He’s played with the kings and queens of guitars and the blues. The fellow is amazing. Thank you, Jimmie, for your gifts of music! (By the way, his name is not Jimmy :-))
My previous review of my Jimmie Vaughan Fender Stratocaster has had hundreds of reads and lots of positive reactions and emails. Thank you all for reading! I’ve been playing my Jimmie Vaughan for many years now… it’s still a seriously wonderful instrument, and is a pleasure to play. I’ve had other Stratocasters now and then since I purchased my Jimmie Vaughan, but none give me the vibe and feel that Jimmie does. (Some folks call these Strats the Jimmy Vaughan Strat…)
I’m going to deviate a bit from my standard review format for this particular write-up. The Jimmie Vaughan Fender Strat is an extraordinary instrument, and has been an extraordinarily good influence on me and my music. I have used my Jimmie Vaughan on three albums now (soon to be a fourth). It is indispensable and an absolute joy to play. Imagine an instrument with an old warm soul – warm and complete – even though it is only a couple of years old. That old soul is harnessed in the Jimmie Vaughn signature Fender Strat.
What follows is my (humble) opinion about this fine instrument – based on real-time experience and many hundreds of hours of play. I’ve made sounds from six different genres with my JV Strat…
Playability: When one picks up a JV Strat, something sparkles in one’s imagination and in one’s consciousness. It is light-weight, extremely well-balanced, and has a great mixture of features and parts. I want to be very clear that I am not gushing praise on this instrument due to a relationship with a vendor, manufacturer, or for any other reason – I’ve played this instrument a great deal, and I look forward to each opportunity to play my JV Strat.
The neck is still one of the best features of the instrument. It is a nicely-graduated V profile, with great wood, a great carve, and great finishing. The neck has a nice tint, and its finish is a wonderful balance between satin and gloss. When my hands sweat from playing in a hot room, the finish on the neck does not feel grabby or overly slippery. I wish all my Strats had this same neck and neck finish. The fretboard width at the nut and at the saddles is just right – I can finger-pick, hybrid pick, chicken-pick, strum, and more – all in complete comfort for both my hands. This guitar is the best Mexican-made Strat I’ve ever handled. It is one of the few I’ve hardly modded (mine has an “F” neck plate, a roller-string-tree, a treble bleed circuit, and a push-pull neck pickup control for 7 different combinations). I have all the original parts, although I don’t think I’ll ever need them. My wife and kids will keep this one for a long time after I’m gone.
The body contour, weight, and balance is about as comfortable and playable as any guitar I’ve ever had the pleasure to play. Even the consistent, smooth, and beautiful finish of the paint on the body makes the guitar more playable – it’s like holding a brand new guitar, even after a couple of years of wear.
Features: One of the strengths of the JV Strat is its diversity of features. It has a great, upscale neck. It has awesome wiring. It has great-sounding pickups. It has wonderful vintage-style tuners (with old-style string-in-post machine heads). What’s interesting about this is that the Jimmie Vaughan Strat neck sells for more than half the cost of a used JV Strat in its entirety. The neck is the thing and the thing is the neck!
All these features, plus a vintage-looking pick guard and an awesome vintage-style tremolo/whammy make for a Stratocaster package you’ll enjoy for years to come. Other than some funky knobs, I’ve left my JV Strat completely stock – and it will stay that way: it’s just right, just like it is.
Sound: Playability and sound are the JV Strat’s strongest suits. By far, the wiring and Tex-Mex special pickups in the JV Strat sound distinctive, strong and vintage at the same time, with dynamic sound diversity to spare. I’ve still got my original pickups and volume pots. The rest of the circuit has been changed just a tweak 🙂
The JV Strat can play along with country, rock (any), jazzy warm music, smooth music, and even hard rock music. A flip of the pickup selector and a change of gain/eq cause the JV Strat to seem like tons of different guitars. The Jimmie Vaughan Stratocaster is versatile enough to even please my son (he prefers hard-rockin’ nads-to-the-wall double-humbuckin’ guitars with ceramics and metal-looking stuff). I asked him one day which Fender he’d like to get his hands on (if I were to ever let any of them out of my cold, stiff hands ;-)). Without hesitation, he said, “I have always wanted to keep Jimmie.” ‘Nuff said!
Value: The Jimmie Vaughan signature Fender Stratocaster is not the least-expensive Strat in Fender’s stable. It is, however, very high in value as compared to other non-USA Stratocasters. With a JV Strat, you get good build quality, great electronics, a superior neck, and good finish in one nice package. I still think it is very much worth its street price. Looking back over the past couple of years, I would definitely say that I would buy it all over again, only to find joy in guitar playing again.
Wishes: I have come to love the simple, vintage-look pick guard. I have no wishes to change this guitar. I wouldn’t change a thing as it comes from the factory – except that I wish I had a second Jimmie Vaughan Strat to play – I don’t want these to go off the market before I get my hands on another. It means too much to me to be without it. Maybe a 70s “F” neck plate?