Jimmie Vaughan Remembers the Old Days of Hunting for Parts

"Strats were like race cars—workhorses—and if you found something cool, you could switch things out."
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Jimmie Vaughan fell in love with his trademark white Stratocaster after seeing Gene Vincent play a “Mary Kaye” model in a long-forgotten film.

“But I couldn’t have a Mary Kaye, because I couldn’t find one,” says Vaughan, “so I just went for a white one. I wanted to be like Buddy Guy when I was a kid, and my first Strat was a ’58 sunburst. Back in the day, there were lots of ’50s and ’60s Strats available, and they didn’t cost that much. I finally got a white one from a friend.”

But Vaughan found that keeping those guitars in working order was difficult under the duress of constant gigging.

“You’d be on tour for three months—just bam bam bam—and, you know, something would break,” he says. “The pickups would just quit on me. Now, you didn’t have all the [replacement] parts available that you do now. So I’d have to go to guitar shops seeking beaten-up old guitars that I could ‘part out,’ or I’d beg around for things, or I’d trade players for whatever I needed. Luckily, Strats were like race cars—workhorses—and if you found something cool, you could switch things out. I was always tinkering with my guitars—trying to figure out how to screw up all the other guys. It’s like gunslingers—you’re trying to outdraw the other guy, right?”

The Fender Custom Shop debuted a “Vaughan Brothers” Limited Edition series built by John Cruz at Winter NAMM that includes SRV’s “first wife” Strat, as well as Jimmie’s late ’70s model.

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