Review: Fender Kenny Wayne Shepherd Signature Stratocaster

by Paul Riario
Posted Jan 10, 2013 at 10:09am

Fender and Kenny Wayne Shepherd have been working together since the blues artist was a 17-year-old phenom and heir apparent to the SRV throne. Since then, Shepherd has established himself as both a singular contemporary blues guitarist and a master of the genre’s established forms and tones. His signature Fender Strat is made of the same stuff, combining modern components with features inspired by some of Shepherd’s favorite vintage Strats. The result is a powerhouse blues guitar at a wallet-friendly price.

FEATURES

The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Signature Stratocaster appears to be the simplest form of Strat, but it includes the special modifications that Shepherd feels improve the performance and playability of an otherwise vintage-style platform. Chiefly, these are tall-and-wide jumbo frets, a synthetic bone nut, a 12-inch fretboard radius and Graph Tech bridge saddles (Shepherd has used Graph Tech saddles for many years and praises how they widen frequency response, improve sustain characteristics and reduce string breakage compared to typical, stamped saddles). The pickups are also specially voiced for low output, Fifties-style clarity and the smoky overtones of an early Sixties Strat. The six-screw tremolo’s maxed-out spring tension keeps it from floating on bends and further improves the guitar’s base tone.

All of those features notwithstanding, the heart of the KWS Strat lies within the fairly massive 21-fret neck. A neck of its size has a high inherent stability, giving the strings more power to produce resonance throughout the guitar, allowing for greater dynamic range and focusing the tone. Its true “C” shape is quite comfortable and reasonably fast, not too wide and tapering to its thickest dimensions around the 12th fret. The 12-inch radius makes it easier to play quick runs and set the action low without fear of fretting out on steep bends.

PERFORMANCE

Acoustically, the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Signature Strat is everything that it should be: loud and percussive, with ringing depth. These traits remain unchanged when plugged into either a clean or driven amp channel. Even when coupled with fuzz or distortion boxes, the guitar’s acoustic qualities shine through. Most notable is the note bloom—the attack envelope opens and closes very quickly, making it possible to achieve the nail-gun punch and clean articulation of Shepherd’s staccato lines. Likewise, the guitar’s full tonal and dynamic potential is realized with a heavy-handed approach and an aggressive style.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Fender’s Kenny Wayne Shepherd signature Strat is the ideal partner for blues players who want clean, vintage tonality, a stout neck and modern improvements, at a workingman’s wage.

LIST PRICE $1,099.99
MANUFACTURER Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, fender.com


Add a Comment
0 Comments

Similar Guitar News

Fender Releases Limited American Standard Guitars, New Classic Player Models and Special Edition Blacktop Model (8/27/2014)
Fender has released several new Limited Edition American Standard Series guitars, new Classic Player Series models and a Special Edition Blacktop Series guitar. All the details can be found right here: The venerable American Standard Stratocaste...
Jim Campilongo on his Fender Custom Shop Telecaster and Princeton tone (8/10/2014)
Read more about Jim Campilongo on his Fender Custom Shop Telecaster and Princeton tone at MusicRadar.com Jim Campilongo is one of the most creative, Tele-twisting guitarists in the world, seamlessly melding jazz, early country and blues together...
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Discusses Muddy Waters' 'Hard Again' — The Record That Changed My Life (7/25/2014)
Kenny Wayne Shepherd chooses (and discusses) the record that changed his life. Muddy WatersHard Again (1977) "Hard Again is not just one of the greatest blues albums of all time, it's one of the greatest albums of all time. It came out the year ...
Fan uncovers previous owner of Kurt Cobain's Fender Jaguar (7/14/2014)
Read more about Fan uncovers previous owner of Kurt Cobain's Fender Jaguar at MusicRadar.com Kurt Cobain's famous 1965 Jaguar is shrouded in mystery. It was bought through an advert in the LA Recycler in 1991, and had already undergone heavy mod...
Bottleneck: Check Out Fender's Strat-Style Collector's Wine Bottle Holder (6/26/2014)
The Fender Collector's Wine Bottle Holder is available now at the Guitar World Online Store! Fender's Stratocaster wine holder is a sleek and stylish way to ensure that your favorite wine sustains all the right notes. Constructed from actual ald...
Cheese Board Made from Recylced Wood from Fender Guitar Factory (6/23/2014)
Round out your Fender wine collection and entertain with style using the Fender Collector's Cheese Board, an instrument-inspired cheese board, guaranteed conversation starter and a must-have touch of rock and roll refinement for any gathering. ...
ChordShaker Announces Fender CD-60/iPhone 5c Giveaway (6/17/2014)
Music-app developer Musopia has partnered with Guitar World to give away a pair of Fender CD-60 series guitars and iPhone 5c’s to launch its new guitar-teaching app, ChordShaker. ChordShaker enables beginners to learn guitar chords on the move s...
Watch Meg Myers’ Fender Studio Session at Capitol Records (6/13/2014)
Dressed in cut-off jean shorts and a black crop top with auburn hair, flawless, porcelain skin and bright red lips, Meg Meyers arrived for her Fender Studio Session at Capitol Records looking barely out of her teens. But the 27-year-old soft-spo...
Gear Review: Fender Newporter Pro Custom Bolt-On (6/1/2014)
Here, Paul Riario demonstrates the new Newporter Pro Custom Bolt-On acoustic guitar from Fender. Reminiscent of Fender’s original ’60s Newporter acoustic, this modernized version has a specially designed bolt-on neck system with a ’68 Stratocas...
U2's The Edge and Bono Join Fender's Board of Directors (5/29/2014)
The Edge and Bono have joined Fender Musical Instruments Corporation’s board of directors. The duo, best known as the guitarist and lead singer for U2, bring a unique blend of experience in music, entertainment, business and advocacy to the 68-y...
Bono and The Edge join Fender board of directors (5/29/2014)
Read more about Bono and The Edge join Fender board of directors at MusicRadar.com Bono and The Edge are to join Fender's board of directors. Commenting on the appointment, The Edge said it was: "something of a kid in a candy store situation for...
Fender 60th Anniversary American Vintage 1954 Strat, 60th Anniversary Commemorative Strat and American Deluxe Strat Plus — Review (5/27/2014)
These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the July 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store. In some ways, ...
Old gold: '63 Fender Stratocaster (5/9/2014)
Read more about Old gold: '63 Fender Stratocaster at MusicRadar.com For many players, the Strat reached its apex in the early 60s. The reputation of guitars from this era among players was such that when Fender’s fortunes were waning in the earl...
Fender Musical Instruments Corporation to Sell Guild Guitars Brand to Cordoba Music Group (5/7/2014)
Cordoba Music Group, manufacturer of Cordoba acoustic guitars, ukuleles and accessories, has announced it has finalized a letter of intent to purchase the Guild guitar brand and related assets from Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. “It was...
Fender To Sell Guild Brand to Cordoba Music Group (5/7/2014)
Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) announced today that it has finalized a letter of intent to sell the Guild guitar brand and related assets to Cordoba Music Group, the manufacturer of Cordoba acoustic guitars, ukuleles and accessori...