This spring, Heritage Auctions in Dallas will auction off a 1951 Fender Broadcaster that once belonged to Texas blues master Jimmie Vaughan and his famous little brother, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan.
According to the November 2006 issue of Guitar World, Jimmie gave the guitar to Stevie in 1966 at the request of their mutual friend, Doyle Bramhall. Apparently, Stevie was in the habit of "borrowing" the guitar without asking Jimmie. Bramhall's brilliant solution? Give the ax to Stevie so he'd hopefully leave Jimmie's other guitars alone. Jimmie saw the wisdom of the idea—and that's how Stevie came to own his first professional-quality guitar.
According to legend, Jimmie carved the word "Jimbo" into the back of the guitar before giving it to his brother—back when both guitarists were still teenagers. You can see the "Jimbo" carving in this 360-degree image of the guitar right here.
The "Jimbo" guitar—a 1951 Fender "Nocaster" (serial number 0964) that might've even started its life as an Esquire—has a maple body (it originally sported a natural finish that was removed by Stevie), a black pickguard, a fixed bridge and two single-coil pickups (Some sources say it has two volume pots—another SRV modification). "Jimbo" was displayed in the Grammy Museum beside Stevie's iconic Stratocaster, and it's the guitar on which Stevie paid his dues, developing his signature style on stages in the late Sixties through the early Seventies. It's been noted that, during this period, Stevie and "Jimbo" were inseparable, with the young SRV even sleeping with the guitar.
Stevie, who played the guitar with his early bands—Southern Distributor, Liberation and Lincoln—wound up trading it to North Texas music teacher Geoff Appold for a red 1963 Epiphone Riviera in the early Seventies. Years later, Stevie asked Appold about the guitar, and Appold broke that news that it had been traded away. Stevie was disappointed, and he searched for the guitar until his death in 1990.
The guitar is slated for an entertainment auction March 24 at Heritage Auction Galleries (even though there's no mention of the guitar on the auction house's website). Mike Gutierrez, a consignment director for HA, says bidding will begin at $200,000 with no reserve. He estimates the final price will surpass $400,000. Gutierrez recently oversaw the sale of Bob Dylan’s Martin acoustic, which went for nearly $400,000.
“We have collectors all through Texas that may be interested,” Gutierrez told the Dallas Observer in December. “But we’ll have to wait and see. At that value level, the winner of this may be out of state.”
Stay tuned for more information from Heritage. In the meantime, check out this 2014 video featuring Norman Harris of Norman's Rare Guitars, who visited the ax while it was on display at the Grammy Museum.