This article isn’t about Vaughan’s life though. If you’re here, you want to know what kind of guitar Vaughan played and about his other gear. You’re probably a fan of his sound and want to know how he did it. If you want to know Vaughan’s life story, read the Wikipedia article.
While having the same gear as Stevie Ray Vaughan won’t make you sound as good as him, it will surely help. It’s also fun to know what your favourite artists played and get a bit of an insight.
So let’s take a look.
What Kind Of Guitar Did Stevie Ray Vaughan Play?
Vaughan was know for playing a Fender Stratocaster. Specifically, Vaughan played a 1963 Strat that was custom fitted with a 1962 neck. That being said, Vaughan thought the body may have been from 1959. However, according to Guitar World, Vaughan’s Strat was fitted with ’59 pickups, so maybe that’s where the confusion has come from on some of my sources. All in all, the axe was cobbled together and was known for being very well worn and a bit beat up. But that was kind of the point and gave it an awesome look. The guitar was originally painted a sunburst colour, and you could still see that, although a lot of the paint had been worn off.
Vaughan called this main guitar of his “Number One” or “First Wife.”
Another strange aspect to Vaughan’s main guitar was that the bridge and tremolo system was actually for a left handed guitar, putting the tremolo arm at the top of the bridge rather than the bottom. Again, according to Guitar World, this was done by Vaughan himself as that’s the way Hendrix had it.
Also notable was the string gauge Vaughan liked to use. He liked 13’s, so heavy, but the whole set was a custom collections of gauges. I won’t go into the total set up on his strings, because someone else has done it a lot better than me. Check out the Stringjoy article here.
Of course, Number One wasn’t Vaughan’s only guitar. He played a number of different Fender Stratocasters with different set ups and configurations, but it was the beat up Stratocaster he was best known for.
What Kind Of Amp Did Stevie Ray Vaughan Play?
Vaughan mostly played Fender and Marshall amplifiers, specifically a 1960’s Fender Super Reverb and a Marshall Club and Country. However, Vaughan also used Mesa Boogie amps, particularly in the studio.
All that being said, looking at the SRV archive, he didn’t seem to have a preference for a single type of amplifier. Vaughan wasn’t shy about experimenting with different amps in order to get the specific sound he wanted.
What was (mostly) consistent though was that Vaughan usually used two amps at the same time. One he used distorted the other clean (or at least less distorted).
What Effects Pedals Did Stevie Ray Vaughan Use?
Although Vaughan got a lot of great sounds out of his guitar, his selection of guitar pedals was actually pretty small.
To get that typical overdriven blues sound that he (and so many blues musicians) was known for, Vaughan preferred an Ibanez Tube Screamer overdrive pedal. For distortion he typically used a Fuzz Face and an Octavia.
The Octavia is probably how he achieved a sound so similar to Jimi Hendrix’s, who the pedal was originally designed for. The Octavia reproduces the signal of the guitar one octave higher then mixes the original and the reproduction together for thicker tone and a bit of distortion.
And finally, Vaughan also used a Vox Wah pedal, which is really the standard in the world of Wah pedals.
And That’s Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Gear
Stevie Ray Vaughan was a monumental guitarist who was taken from use too soon. A lot of his playing style and gear was influenced by Jimi Hendrix but, at least in my opinion, he built on Hendrix’s playing a lot.
If you want to sound like SRV, practice, a lot. Some of the same gear may help too.