Sonic Blue Persuasion
Guitar World|March 2021
LONGTIME STRAT ADDICT KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD UNVEILS HIS NEW SIGNATURE OFFERING FROM FENDER — AND A NEW LIVE DVD/ALBUM
Richard Bienstock

KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD has served as one of the foremost modern practitioners of the blues, and also of the Fender Stratocaster, for going on 25 years. For most of that time, his primary Strat — the one heard on his 1997 breakthrough Trouble Is… and every album he’s recorded since — has been a 1961 sunburst model. But now he has a new number one, having collaborated with Fender on his second signature model, which, like his approach to the blues, combines classic elements with forward-thinking and unique appointments. “It’s a number of different ideas and different components and different perspectives that are all based on some of my favorite guitars,” he says of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Stratocaster. “The goal was to make not only a premium-looking instrument, but also something that would provide a premium experience for the end user.”

And premium it is. The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Stratocaster starts with a classic Fender ash body and an early Sixties “C”shape maple neck. “For years we’ve been trying to replicate the neck from my ’61 — all the dimensions, where it joins the body, the overall feel,” Shepherd says. “And this one comes the closest out of everything we’ve ever done.” This familiar-feel neck is topped with a rosewood fingerboard that, unusual for a Strat, boasts white binding and pearloid block inlays.

Shepherd got the idea for these features after recalling a very-limited run of Strats from the mid Sixties that sported binding and blocks. “I’ve always wanted to see a premium Strat with that treatment,” he says.

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