Well, I just received a new Jimmy Vaughan Stratocaster on approval today and I spent most of my afternoon getting to know her in my den….so I thought I’d post a few first impressions of the guitar. General specs: alder body, one piece maple neck/fingerboard, American hardware, hot Tex-Mex pickups, medium jumbo frets on a 9.5" fretboard radius, tone controls assigned to bridge & neck only, and factory straplocks. Eye candy: Being somewhat of a Strat traditionalist, I ordered the sunburst finish ($50 extra) but I think white would be cool for this model too. Right out of the gig bag, I was quite surprised how light the guitar was….7.2 lbs. according to my scale. Another VERY BIG surprise to me was the ONE PIECE alder body….not what you’d expect to see in a Strat in this price bracket. Body: The two tone sunburst is nicely done and the color looks similar to a ’54 model. The poly finish is perfect and smooth as glass. The single layer pickguard is a little cheezy but I suppose they did this to keep the price down….not a big deal to me though as long as the pickups are stable. The neck pocket is very tight….paper won’t even get into the joint! Neck: the neck has a flat, slightly tinted finish and, with no sharp edges, it has sort of a broken-in feel to it with practically no drag. The medium jumbo fretwork is perfect although not highly polished, and there’s no fret sprout. Typically, I don’t care for jumbo frets because so many I’ve played felt like I was playing on railroad rails….but these are very nice and not overdone. I tried a John Mayer Strat not too long ago and the frets on that guitar actually got in my way, which made the guitar not too much fun to play. Perhaps I got a bad one, I don’t know….but this JV Strat plays soooo much better than the Mayer I tried, and even better than the SRV I once owned. The nut is cut perfect but I need to lubricate it as there’s a bit of string pinch on the higher strings. The fretboard is a little wider than most Strats which is very nice for someone with large paws like me. The neck carve is a chunky soft V…..not quite the baseball bat of a Nocaster but fairly substantial and feels great. Setup was perfect out of the gig bag and I doubt that I’ll change anything other than pulling off the 009 guage strings, installing a set of 010’s, and checking the intonation. Tone: I have to say up front that I never really cared for Strats with maple fretboards because they tend not to have the nice bottom thump of a good rosewood board Strat and their top end is generally too glassy for my taste….but this guitar has me rethinking that. The pickups in the JV have a very interesting voice with a big bottom AND a full top end….all of which gives any amp a lot to work with. Some Strats are dark with no clarity while others sound glassy with no bottom end….but this Strat has both thump AND sparkle...."Thurkle", if you will! As a matter of fact, I can even feel the thump from the back of the guitar’s body against me….and not many Strats I’ve played did that. When I set up may amp, I had to dial down the treble one notch from my normal Strat settings but it’s better to have a little too much than not enough as long as there’s enough bottom to balance out the tone. One important thing I look for in a Strat is the response of the wound strings. I like the wound strings to have focus AND oomph, and not a lot of Strats I’ve played have both. The low E string on this guitar almost has the oomph of a bass guitar but with the clarity of a good Tele….piano-like would be a good tonal description. The pickups are supposedly overwound, and they are fairly hot….but I don’t hear the mud typically associated with overwound pickups like say Fender’s Texas Specials. However, the bridge pickup is a little darker than the neck & middle one's.The quack tones have slightly less tonal bite than the single pickup tones but, nonetheless, very Stratty in the classic sense. Final thoughts: Did I happen to stumble upon an excellent example of this model? I don’t know because it’s the only one I’ve played…..but I now understand why many say that the JV Strat is an excellent bang for the buck Strat. It is much better than I expected….but I have yet to gig the guitar so we’ll see where that takes me. This guitar gave me the warm fuzzies from the first few notes so I hope it gigs well, as well. Anyway, if you like thump & snarl in a Strat, check one of these out….you might be as surprised as I was! IMHO, the JV Strat can hold its own with Strats in ANY price range. I’d rank the JV Strat several notches above the Mayer and a notch or two above the SRV. This guitar also questions the theory that a guitar needs a nitro finish to sound good! Good job Fender, I’m impressed.