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Fender Eric Johnson Virginia Stratocaster Artist Signature - Vintage '54 tone?  ·  Source: Fender

You can now place your order for the new Fender Eric Johnson Virginia Stratocaster Artist Signature model! Based on a 1954 Strat, this particular reissue has some unique features and hardware choices that make it stand out from the plethora of reissue Strats out there.

Tones of Virginia

The new Eric Johnson Virginia model, announced at this year’s Winter NAMM, is finally ready for shipping. The guitar is based on Johnson’s iconic 1954 Stratocaster model, lovingly named Virginia after a label that was found inside the pickup routes. A staple of Johnson’s career, it has been used on several of the Grammy-winning artist’s most acclaimed albums. Fender is now offering replicas of this famous instrument in a limited run of fifty Custom Shop models, as well as part of its standard US production models.

 

Fender Eric Johnson Virginia Stratocaster Artist Signature with an ofset-seam sassafras

Fender Eric Johnson Virginia Stratocaster Artist Signature with an offset-seam sassafras

Offset-seam sassafras

The guitar features a two-piece, offset-seam sassafras body, which is unusual for a Strat and definitely one of the standout features of the Virginia model.

The Custom Shop versions are limited to fifty instruments worldwide and are crafted by Fender Master Builder Carlos Lopez. The guitar is a 1:1 replica of Johnson’s Strat and has a V-profile, AAAA flame maple neck, with a traditional 21-fret maple fretboard. There’s a set of hand-wound Virginia single-coil pickups in the neck and middle positions, while the bridge position has a DiMarzio HS2 hum-cancelling pickup. The finish has been lightly aged and made to look like a nicely worn-in vintage instrument.

Eric Johnson Virginia Stratocaster

Eric Johnson Virginia Stratocaster

Fender Eric Johnson Virginia Stratocaster Artist Signature

If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to Custom Shop levels, the Virginia Stratocaster is also available as a standard US production model. This version has a soft V profile maple neck, minus the flame. You still get the DiMarzio HS2 in the bridge position, however, the middle and neck positions have been swapped out for Fender ’57/62 Strat single-coil pickups instead. There’s no ageing applied to the finish this time, which also helps keep the cost down.

Eric Johnson Virginia Stratocaster

Eric Johnson Virginia Stratocaster

Unique Features

Based on years of playing, and his extensive knowledge of the instrument, Johnson’s original 1954 Virginia Stratocaster underwent many refinements and upgrades during its lifetime, to suit the guitarist’s signature style. This is no closet classic, but a player’s guitar and comes with some unique appointments.

Both the Custom shop and the standard US models have a much flatter, modern-day 12″ radius fretboard with medium jumbo frets. A true vintage ’54 Stratocaster would have had a far more rounded radius and smaller frets.

The high-E string gets a block saddle (a Graph Tech® String Saver for the Custom Shop version), while the remaining strings have vintage-style saddles and are set on a traditional 6-screw tremolo bridge. The middle and neck pickups are out of phase with the DiMarzio bridge pickup, so as to deliver what Fender is calling “Johnson’s unique koto tone” in position two.

Having owned one of the previous standard US-made Eric Johnson models in the past, I can attest to their great build quality and playability. I can only assume that these new Virginia models will be on par with those original run of instruments and therefore, great vintage-styled guitars.

RRP – Custom Shop Eric Johnson Virginia Stratocaster – GBP 8099 / USD 9000

US Standard Production Eric Johnson Virginia Strat – GBP 2429 / USD 2499

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by Jef

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