At a time when the guitar world’s attention was focussed on sounds more
and more saturated and martian-like, and where it wasn’t imagined having a
guitar without humbuckers, even on the super strat made so famous in the
mid-80s, along comes a dude in a cowboy hat, with a Texan accent who hardly
used effects, crunched a clean sound from his vintage amps, hang a Fender Stratocaster over his shoulder
that looked older than it really was. Stevie
Ray Vaughan got back to his roots, and thanks to him, the electric guitar
world was tied to the blues. Vintage had come back in charge.
He did it because Mr. Vaughan brought the sound of guitar blues to a new planet. He had the rage of Hendrix, the class of Clapton, and every note had a force and energy that gave his music an original pure taste and truth that associated him to the greats of the 50s and 60s like Albert King, Freddie King and Muddy Waters. To the point: he had it all.
About his life and miracles it is all written so we will focus on his gear. The fundamental piece in his world of sound was the Fender Stratocaster “Number One”. He always spoke of it as a ‘59 model although the makers at Fender, on closer inspection to make his signature model, discovered that though the pickups were from ‘59, the body and neck were actually from ‘62 and ‘63.
As alternatives to this guitar he had several vintage Strats (baptised as ‘Red’, from ’62, and ‘Yellow’, which was previously owned by Vince Martell from Vanilla Fudge). On many the occasion he would switch guitars even in the middle of songs, given that his aggressive style would break the strings with ease...something really amazing, as he was known to use a 012 calibre string. As a test, try some day to make a couple of bindings using that calibre and see what happens to your fingers...
The vintage doesn’t end with just his guitars but also the rest of his gear, mainly the 60s amps: both a Marshall and especially a Fender. Incredibly, and just the opposite of most mortals, he used the Fender for the most saturated sounds and the Marshall for the clean strokes. Among his choices stick out the Super Reverb, Vibrolux and Twin Reverb by Fender and a Plexi by Marshall. Sometimes connected to a Leslie speaker giving it a vintage touch also with swivelling loudspeakers.
Regarding the pedals, he might even be responsible for one of the the chosen ones by many guitarists even today to be the Ibanez Tubescreamer. Onstage he used various models: the Ts808, the Ts9, and the Ts10. Also throw in a couple of Vox wahs (vintage of course, late 60s) both connected simultaneously on some songs.
So as you can see on this little stroll through SRV’s gear we can say without hesitation that, his being one of the most currently admired and followed guitarists by a large part of the guitar community, he is one of the main ‘culprits’ of authentic passion for sound and ‘vintage’ gear...and that’s perfectly alright. Who wouldn’t want to sound like Stevie Ray Vaughan?