The Super Rare Fender “Charley” Lipstick Stratocaster in the Style of SRV

Published : - Author : Dan Kopilovic
Posted under: Interesting Guitars

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.

Fender Custom Shop Charley “Lipstick” Stratocaster. (Photo credit: René Kramer (Amsterdam, The NETHERLANDS)

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.

The back simply reads “Fender Custom Shop”. Photo credit: René Kramer (Amsterdam, The NETHERLANDS)

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.

The Specs

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.

Fender Custom Shop Charley “Lipstick” Stratocaster. (Photo credit: René Kramer ( Amsterdam, The NETHERLANDS)

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.

Fender Custom Shop Charley “Lipstick” Stratocaster. (Photo credit: René Kramer ( Amsterdam, The NETHERLANDS)
Fender Custom Shop Charley “Lipstick” Stratocaster. (Photo credit: René Kramer ( Amsterdam, The NETHERLANDS)

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 [email protected]

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james arnold
james arnold
3 years ago

I have one. I just pulled it out of the shipping box last weekend, November 2019, so the COA was intact stating that it is a limited series to 25. It is called the “Texas Special.” There can only be 24 or less at this point as I did locate an ended listing on reverb that stated that the guitar had the body from this limited series but was frankensteined with other things. There is also a Northwest Special made the same year, 1992, that I would love to locate.

Marc Herman
Marc Herman
3 years ago
Reply to  james arnold

Hello there, would you consider selling your guitar, as I have serious interest. Please let me know. Thank you, Marc Herman in Toronto, Ontario. [email protected]

2 years ago

I’m glad that the model is named after the name of my band that I founded in 1991. And this name was actually given in that year before others in the States. But, it is normal that many bands around the world have called their SRV Texas Special tribute band, also because they were inspired by the name of the pickups that were produced in the mid 90’s by Fender. I had my idea before. However, this is not the focus of my speech; I can say that here in Italy, many people have seen the SRV and double trouble tours, in particular some guitarists searched and found lipstick pickguards on the internet, in the San Francisco area and had copies of Charlie built by buying between Japan, Canada and the USA all parts to have the same type of guitar that Charlie built for SRV. Personally I tried one of the first copies built or rather assembled in Italy and the sound of the lipsticks is absolutely beautiful. Said this. thank you for your post. A greeting. Alex Porrini by TexasSpecial

PEter E
PEter E
1 year ago

I own this guitar now ! It’s back stateside

PEter E
PEter E
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan Kopilovic

Thanks! I got it off reverb from a guy who had bought it from Rene- sound buddy

Jason Tallent
Jason Tallent
10 months ago

Just saw this thread and wanted to show you guys another rare one that looks familiar. In 1992 I purchased the last Charley Wirz made lipstick stratocaster. He made about a dozen of these (this is what I was told at the shop when I bought it) and they are all a little different. This one is set up with the traditional 3 knob. These are set up with chandler lipstick pickups and sounds great.

I posted this last week on this forum.


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