As part of me encouraging people to point out my mistakes and share their own stories over at GroundGuitar’s Gear Page, on lucky occasions, I get contacted by people who happen to actually own the piece of gear that the article is focused on.
One such thing happened recently, and I was contacted by Rene Kramer from Amsterdam, Netherlands, who happens to own one of the super rare Fender-made replicas of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Charley Stratocaster.
Rene was kind enough to send in some photos of the guitar, and since the guitar is such a rare and interesting piece, I decided it would be a good idea to publish them.
The guitar is, of course, based on a 1983 Stratocaster nicknamed “Charley”, made by Charley Wirs for Stevie Ray Vaughan. What’s interesting though is that Fender never really announced that they are making a replica, and only a few people have ever got their hands on it (among them, John Mayer).
The only other Fender Custom Shop-produced Charley replica that I was able to find on the internet is this 1960 Fender DW Stratocaster. The author in the linked article is confused by the “DW” in the branding, and I sort of suspected that this simply means “Dale Wilson” – who is one of Fender Custom Shop Masterbuilders.
However, if a guitar is master-built, usually the back of the headstock is signed by the person who built it. That is not the case with the guitar linked above, nor with the one guitar shown here.
Aside from this version, it’s worth pointing out that there are replicas out there built by Charley Wirs, but he apparently only managed to make 23 of them before Fender stepped in. There are also some Japanese made Fender Stratocasters which seem to be Charley replicas, but I honestly don’t know too much about these.
However, this particular version of the Fender “Charley” Stratocaster, made by the Custom Shop, seems to be extremely rare. I first suspected that this is simply just a custom order by an individual, but since there are at least three of these guitars out there, it’s more likely a part of a limited run.
All the specs are taken directly from the Shop Floor Traveler document, provided by the owner (thanks Rene).
The neck on the guitar is early 60s maple with rosewood slab fretboard, interestingly – with a thicker transition-style Fender logo. The headstock is, of course, painted in the same aged-white color as the body, to replicate the look of Charley’s original Lipstick Strat.
The pickups in the guitar are Seymour Duncan Lipsticks, made in the style of the original Danelectros, and the guitar has a master volume and a master tone knob, as well as a hardtail bridge – all in the style of the original Charley Strat.
So, all in all, a pretty interesting and very rare instrument, which seems to be a mystery for the most part. No one seems to know exactly how many of these were made, but the number that most often comes up is 16.
Based on my internet research, one is owned by John Mayer, one by Bill Gephardt (linked above), one by René Kramer (who was kind enough to provide photos), and one by James Arnold (see comments below).
Again, I would like to thank René Kramer for sending the photos. If you happen to own an interesting piece of gear and would like to share it, shot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.