In November 2003, Fender announced that 100 Stevie Ray Vaughan “Number One” replica Strats would be made by its Custom Shop (all by John Cruz), priced at $10,000 each.
A few months before, Fender (with Stevie’s brother Jimmie overseeing proceedings) was able to get a hands-on look at the original instrument, with the goal of painstakingly matching every minor element of the famous guitar using detailed photographs and video which an be seen in the clip below.
Sometimes also referred to as the “First Wife," Stevie acquired the guitar at Ray Hennig’s Heart of Texas Music in Austin. He allegedly traded a '63 Strat for it. “Number One” consists of a 1963 body fitted with pickups taken from a ’59, and a 1962 neck, which has an unusually thick D profile that clearly suited SRV’s unique approach.
Over the years, “Number One” has undergone several changes and a few accidents—and even some abuse—all of which adds to its unique characteristics. The original white pickguard was replaced with a black one, which Stevie also glued his initials to, and a lefthand vibrato system (inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Otis Rush) was installed.
The completed guitars debuted at the 2004 Winter NAMM Show. Although they have serial numbers, they are not serialized 1 through 100, as each guitar John Cruz makes—regardless of model—receives the next serial number in line. With the first numbered as JC044 and the last JC229. Today these Cruz Tribute Stratocasters have more than held their value, with some recent reported sales having reached up to an incredible $50,000 price tag.
Jonathan Graham is an ACM UK graduate based in London studying under the likes of Guthrie Govan and Pete Friesen. He is the creator of ForgottenGuitar.com, a classic-guitar media website, and is completing his debut album, Protagonist, due for release in 2016. Updates also can be found at Graham's YouTube channel.