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Fender to Reissue Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Lenny” ’65 Stratocaster

In a collaboration between Fender, Guitar Center and the Stevie Ray Vaughan estate, the famous Stevie Ray Vaughan “Lenny” Stratocaster guitar has been commissioned by Guitar Center to be reproduced in a limited edition by the Fender Custom Shop. As part of Fender’s Tribute Series of guitars, Lenny will be produced in a limited quantity, with 185 guitars offered for sale in the United States exclusively through Guitar Center. Guitar Center stores throughout the United States will introduce the guitar on December 12, 2007 at a price of $17,000.

This emotive addition to the Custom Shop Tribute Series will feature an intricate reproduction of Lenny down to the smallest of details—from the customized neck that was a gift from ZZ Top’s Billy F Gibbons to the reflective SRV stickers on the body to the battered headstock, the autograph that Stevie himself etched into the neck plate, and even an autograph from legendary baseball great Mickey Mantle.

Guitar Center, the world’s largest musical instrument retailer, purchased the original guitar for $623,500 at a 2004 Christie’s auction that benefited the Crossroads Centre, Antigua, a charitable organization founded by Eric Clapton.

“Guitar Center is both thrilled and privileged to be able to offer Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Lenny Fender Stratocaster to the world,” said Keith Brawley, Guitar Center vice president of merchandising for guitars and amplifiers. “Stevie Ray Vaughan’s fans are among the most loyal and passionate guitar lovers in the world. The Lenny Stratocaster, Stevie’s main instrument for his love songs, is a truly fascinating guitar that has, as part of its DNA, a tender, personal love story and an incredibly colorful and touching history.”

The original Lenny guitar is a universally recognizable Fender Stratocaster, best known for its uniquely bright and powerful tone and known as one of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s favorite instruments throughout his entire career. The guitar itself has an almost mystical heritage that can be traced back to the very beginning of Vaughan’s rise to stardom.

Stevie Ray Vaughan was just a struggling young guitarist in Austin, Texas, in 1980, when his wife, Lenora “Lenny” Vaughan, gave him a used Stratocaster that had recently caught his eye in a local pawnshop. It was a 1965 Fender Stratocaster guitar with the original pickups that had seen better days. Although it began life as a three-color sunburst model, it had been inexpertly refinished to a dark natural finish, and an elaborate inlay had been added behind the bridge. Nonetheless, something about the guitar resonated deeply with Vaughan.

Seven friends each pooled $50 to buy the Stratocaster, which was given to Vaughan on his birthday during a celebration at a local Austin nightclub. He took the guitar home and, that night, as Lenora slept, wrote a new song on it. In the morning, Lenora recalls, “He was sitting on the edge of the bed with the guitar and said, ‘Listen to this.’ ” He played her “Lenny,” the song he had written that night. The tune became one of Vaughan’s most well-known instrumental pieces, and he continued to perform it exclusively on the “Lenny” guitar.

Throughout the remainder of his career, the Lenny guitar traveled with Vaughan almost everywhere he went. On April 10, 1985, Vaughan had just performed the National Anthem at the season’s opening game for the Houston Astros, where baseball great Mickey Mantle was also in attendance as a guest of honor. Without a baseball or bat nearby, Stevie offered up his beloved guitar to Mantle for his signature.

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