The Current's Guitar Collection: Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit, Fender Kingman

matt vasquez fender guitar
Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit with his Fender Kingman. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)
Delta Spirit - From Now On (Live at 89.3 The Current)
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While in the studio at The Current, Delta Spirit's Matt Vasquez played a Fender Kingman, which actually has a connection to Elvis in the movies. Matt explains, and he also describes some of his other favorite guitars.

Let's talk about the Fender acoustic you were playing today.

Sure, but I should mention that at home, I have a Gibson ES-335, and the one I have is from 1974, the last year they made the guitar in Michigan. And I got it for my 30th birthday present from my wife. I got it off a lawyer guy.

And like Fender '65 stuff, with Gibson's 1970s stuff, they kind of grabbed all the parts that they hadn't used, so my pots and my T-top pickups are from '67, and it's the last year that the neck doesn't taper at the nut, so it's a really wide, true neck, and it's walnut. It's actually the same year as Ryan Adams' Cold Roses guitar. Same exact guitar. It sounds incredible. I can't bring it on tour.

Is it because the neck is prone to breaking?

No, but TSA is prone to breaking everything. I tour mainly with my Jazzmaster, which is a '62 reissue neck with a Mexican black-top body which I sanded down and also made walnut, and then it has a PAF [humbucker] in the bridge and then a USA soap-bar pickup. There's a rhythm switch in the Jazzmaster which is an orange drop capacitor, and so I put the orange drop after the pickups so that I could effect that tone on both pickups, and it's a really cool-sounding guitar. That's my number one. I play it all the time.

And today in the studio it looks like you have a Fender California model.

It's a Kingman, which is the Elvis Presley signature model. It was made in Connecticut at the Guild Factory. It's a good guitar. Totally sturdy, pretty well-made instrument. It's pretty boxy.

And you say it was made at the Guild factory?

It's a Fender, but yes, they make it at the Guild factory in Connecticut, so it's a USA-made guitar. The only Fender stuff they make in the USA is either at the Guild factory in Connecticut or at the custom shop in Corona, California.

And it has the Stratocaster-shaped headstock.

It does. Originally it was a set-in-neck body that was invented in the '60s, and it was made in the time when Elvis was in the movies. I think it might have been in Blue Hawaii, I'm pretty sure it's in Blue Hawaii. But that's a bolt-on neck inside, and this actually has a proper dreadnought — like a D28 — back end to it. So it's set more solidly in the guitar, so they sound different. There's more ass in them.

How long have you had this?

About three years. Fender sent us twins, sent us two of them, and yeah, I love the guitar.

So you got it directly from Fender?


And what about the tone of it struck you?

It's just like any good dreadnought … it's like the perfect beater guitar. It's not something that I would take to the studio and record soft-played things, but it works actually really well in the studio when you're just strumming really hard. It creates a full rhythm and fills up a lot of frequency.

Do you ever write on this one?

No — I write a lot on bass guitar and on my Martin. My Martin 000 12-fret.

Did you remove the lacquer on this Fender?

No … it has lacquer on it. It's a lacquered, solid top, but the back and sides are satin. But it still has a good, solid, clear coat on the neck, which I prefer. I don't like satin necks, because they go faster. You gotta wear it in, you gotta earn the neck!


Delta Spirit - official site

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    Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit plays his Fender Kingman in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)

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