Stevie Ray Vaughan’s 1951 Fender Broadcaster “Jimbo”

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This was Stevie’s second electric guitar and one that he used in his early performances.

Origin Story

There are two different versions of the story of how Stevie came to acquire this guitar. Both agree that he inherited the guitar from his brother Jimmi, but they differ in some important details.

The first version of the story, tells that Jimmie left the Broadcaster in pieces at his parent’s house after he moved away. Stevie then found it, assembled it, and started using it.

I was over at Stevie’s house one day, and he said, “Check this out,” and showed me the Broadcaster. He said, “This was in the closet, all in parts, and I put it together.”

Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan

The second version of the story, told by Cutter Brandenburg, is that Jimmie gave the guitar to Stevie when Stevie was 12 years old. Apparently, Stevie would borrow the guitar from him without asking for permission, which would lead to arguments between the two. Doyle Bramhall, who was a mutual friend, intervened during one of them and suggested that Jimmi should just give the guitar to Stevie.

Brandenburg recalled Bramhall saying, “Man, why don’t you just give it [the Broadcaster] to him? You really don’t play it anymore at shows. If you do that, maybe he’ll leave all your other shit alone.” Jimmie agreed it was a good idea, and Stevie obtained possession of his first professional-grade guitar.

Stevie Ray Vaughan: Day by Day, Night After Night

Specs

Stevie’s 1951 Fender Broadcaster featured a maple neck and an ash body. The finish from the guitar was removed by Stevie, and he also modified it so it would have two volume controls, one for each pickup, instead of one master volume, and one tone.

Also, according to Jimmie Vaughan, at some point, Stevie attempted to route out the body in order to fit two P90 pickups. (Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan). The custom pickups were also mentioned by Stevie in an interview with Jas Obrecht in 1989.

Jimi had a Strat, and a lot of times I would use a Telecaster, but I had a little bit different pickups. I’d rebuilt the guitar myself, so there was some blood in it, you know. I would go as far as I could to get as close as I could.

Jas Obrecht interview 1989 (website now offline)

“Jimbo”

This guitar is most often referred to as “Jimbo”, because of the carving on the back done by Jimmie Vaughan. From the photos, it seems that Jimmie carved the word pretty deep, which would explain how it survived Stevie stripping the finish of the guitar.

Jimmie Vaughan’s carving on the back of the guitar.

Auction

Stevie ended up trading the guitar for an Epiphone Riviera in 1971, after which the Broadcaster ended up with a music teacher Geoff Appold. After that, the guitar changed hands again and ended up in a recording studio, and then with one of the guitar players employed at the studio. Finally, he sold the guitar to a friend, who ended up selling it at auction in 2018.

Stevie Ray Vaughan’s original 1951 Fender Broadcaster ended up selling for $250,000. For photos and additional information please visit Heritage Auctions – Stevie Ray Vaughan Owned and Stage-Played “Jimbo” Electric Guitar.

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