If you’re a fan of Texas blues, you’re probably a fan of Stevie Ray Vaughan. One of the hardest hitting, meanest guitar slingers in the world. SRV, as he’s known, took the blues formula, sprinkled some Texas magic on it and turned it up to 10. His ferocious playing style, coupled with crisp production sounds on his albums revitalised a new generations love for the blues when he appeared right at the start of the 1980s.
With tracks like Cold Shot, Couldn’t Stand the Weather and Scuttle Buttin’, 1984’s album Couldn’t Stand the Weather was a tonal masterclass. This was Stevie Ray’s second full length studio album and contained some of his most desired guitar tones.
- Vox V846 Wah
- Ibanez TS9 Tubescreamer
- Fender Vibratone
Vox V846 Wah
Many of the pedals in Stevie’s rig were put there because of his love for Hendrix. Later in his career he added other aspects of Hendrix’s signal chain to his own. At this stage in his career, he was using the Vox V846 Wah pedal for all his wah tones on the Couldn’t Stand the Weather album.
A great example of this is in that album’s cover of the Hendrix classic Voodoo Child (Slight Return).
Ibanez TS9 Tubescreamer
Stevie Ray’s overdrive of choice was the Ibanez TS9. While many people argue that SRV was a TS-808 lover, there is a lot of evidence from live videos and photos that show him using a TS9 in his rig.
He used the TS9 as a boost for solos where he would set the level all the way up to increase the volume but keep the drive knob set relatively low so that the amps main character is preserved.
Stevie Ray Vaughan used a Leslie style effect on tracks like Cold Shot and Couldn’t Stand the Weather. This was from a Fender Vibratone. The Vibratone was a Leslie style cabinet that was designed for guitar players. It was designed to have a focused midrange like a real guitar amp. Stevie later replaced this with a Univox Univibe similar to that of Jimi Hendrix.
The main guitar associated with Stevie Ray Vaughan is the Fender Stratocaster. Stevie was most often seen with one of his main Strat’s in his hands for live performances. In 1984 the main guitar’s he would have been using would be:
- 1962/63 Fender Stratocaster “Number One”
- 1963 Fender Stratocaster “Lenny”
- 1962 Fender Stratocaster “Red”
- Hamiltone Lurktamer Stratocaster “The Main”
1962/63 Fender Stratocaster “Number One”
The exact origins of “Number One” are not fully clear. It is believe to be a ’63 body with a ’62 neck through Stevie was convinced the guitar was actually a 1959 Stratocaster based on his claims that the pickups are stamped 1959 from a time he took it apart to investigate. It was only in 1980 that his guitar tech Rene Martinez took the guitar apart to find the neck and body dating from ’62 and ’63 respectively.
The worn sunburst body, black pick guard and gold hardware became the iconic imagery of Stevie Ray Vaughan. This was the guitar he played most of the time live and in the studio. The original neck had so many re-frets that it changed the overal radius of the fretboard from a 7.25″ to 10″. The guitar is now in the possession of Stevie’s brother Jimmy.
1963 Fender Stratocaster “Lenny”
“Lenny” is a ’63 Stratocaster that Stevie came to own in 1980 as a gift from his wife Lenora and a few of his friends who all chipped in to purchase it for him. The original neck had a rosewood fretboard. Stevie swapped this for a maple fretboard neck gifted to him by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. There is no proof that this guitar was played on 1984’s Couldn’t Stand the Weather but with it being such an important guitar to Stevie, it is assumed it would have been used.
1962 Fender Stratocaster “Red”
Any live footage from this era which featured a red Stratocaster would have most likely been this particular one. “Red” was a ’62 Strat that Stevie purchased in late 1983. It was original sunburst but he had it refinished by Fender to Fiesta Red. The guitar remained stock until 1986 when he swapped the original neck for a left handed neck with a reversed headstock.
Hamiltone Lurktamer Stratocaster “The Main”
“The Main” was a gift to Stevie by Billy Gibbons. It was made by luthier James Hamilton in Buffalo, NY and was presented to Stevie in April 1984. It was a neck through style Strat that borrowed heavy visuals from the Gibson Les Paul. It was a flamed maple top and came stock with EMG pickups and Gibson style control knobs. This guitar was used in the video for the single Couldn’t Stand the Weather where it got soaked and the pickups were damaged.
SRV was not a fan of the EMG pickups so after the video shoot, these were replaced with Fender pickups.
Amplifiers and Cabinets
Stevie was seen with a range of amps from Fender, Marshall and Dumble throughout his career. He mainly used clean, high headroom amps. In 1984 he took delivery of two very special amps that helped define his tone for years to come.
- 1964 Fender Vibroverb
- Dumble Steel String Singer
1964 Fender Vibroverb
The Vibroverb appeared in Stevie’s live rig in 1984 and remained there from that point on. The Vibroverb was a single 15″ speaker which contributed to his overdriven tones. Stevie would run the amps incredible loud to achieve natural amp overdrive. He would also use one to power the Vibratone rotary speaker cabinet that he used on stage.
Dumble Steel String Singer
Dumble amps are known in the guitar world for their rarity. Hand built by Alexander Howard Dumble, only 300 are known to have been made and are only available to those “in the know”. Dumbles on the resale market often fetch upwards of £75,000. In 1984 Stevie took delivery of a 150w Steel String Singer which became his main clean amp. Stevie loved that he 150w of power was pure clean headroom and no matter how hard he pushed it, it would remain totally clean. The amp was paired with a 4×12 custom made cabinet.