How To Get A Stevie Ray Vaughan Tone

How To Get A Stevie Ray Vaughan Tone

By Daniel Widmonte
In Jul 26, 2010

Possibly one of the most sort after guitar tones, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s signature sound is an ongoing debate in the musical world today. Her we discuss exactly how to get a Stevie Ray Vaughan tone.

Being introduced to SRV and Double Trouble, and after recovering from my face melt by Stevie’s pure natural guitaring abilities, the facet that most captured mine (and most first-time listeners’) attention is his incredible guitar tone. It is a combination of raw overdriven power, mixed with the sweetest blues crunch imaginable.  All this can be tied together with that pure clean Fenderesque sound that is Stevie Ray Vaughan. It is this tone that has captured the hearts of many guitarists across the world, including me. It has become the focus of many guitarists’ ultimate tone.

From Pride and Joy’s pure blues crunch driven riffs (Pride and Joy) to Lenny’s pure soul wrenching solos (Lenny), Stevie achieved a sound that is totally dynamic and yet at the same time is instantly recognisable as his. Over the years there has been a myriad of explanations and solutions to achieving his sound and this article will attempt to help put this myth to rest – one way or another. The three key aspects to focus on here are: 1) Guitar 2) Amp and 3) Effects, and then putting them all together.


Stevie’s main guitar, know as ‘Number One’ was a 1962 Fender Stratocaster. Before anything else, if you want to sound like Stevie Ray Vaughn – get yourself a Strat. Forget the Gibsons and Ibanez, underlying all that tone is the sweet sound of a Fender Strat.

Stevie’s Strat was modified, though. Its neck was a Rosewood neck with jumbo frets. This helped with playability, especially with bending and vibrato, two key techniques to Stevie’s blues style.

The strings used on his Number One were heavy gauge strings around the 12 to 13 gauge mark which bolstered and fattened his tone. He also downtrend his guitar to E-flat which also lends to a darker, fatter tone suited for blues playing. The pickups on his Number One were single coiled pickups. This lends to a more open, trebly tone that can be heard in his playing, especially through his valve amps.


Stevie Ray Vaughan used multiple combinations of amps at the same time to achieve the sound that is typically his. His amps ranged from Fender tube amps such as Vibroverbs, Twin Reverbs, and most well known – a Fender tweed Bassman. A 200 watt Marshall stacks also featured in his setup as well as a 150 watt Dumble Steel String Singer amp. During the recording of his acclaimed In Step album, Stevie Ray Vaughan had as many as 32 amps running around the studio, which he used in varying combinations.


Vaughan’s main bundle of effect pedals almost always consisted of an Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer for that extra sustain and drive that really made SRV’s tone unique and powerful. Accompanying the TS-808 was the VOX wah pedal for that distinctive wah effect. Despite all this, one can spend thousands upon thousands of $ on equipment. Equally as many hours on your setup and still come up short on that SRV tone. You may ask yourself where you went wrong? Perhaps even spend more money on more effects and setups and still there will be that little something that just isn’t present in your tone that separates and distinguishes Stevie Ray Vaughan from all the musicians in the world. What that is I’m not sure. It could be that Stevie Magic that pulsated through his playing into the guitar and out the amp to give that incredible sound.

It could be his raw natural talent that came through in his sound as well. Whatever it is, I’ve given up on finding and am just grateful that I can blast SRV’s songs through my speakers and allow his incredible, unique and magical tone to permeate through my being. The ultimate way to get his tone with the above equipment mentioned is to play with your heart 100% of the time and feel the music.  This is the best way to get a Stevie Ray Vaughan tone. I leave you with this famous saying by one of SRV heroes. “The blues is easy to play – hard to feel!” Jimi Hendrix

The Best YouTube Video On How To get A Stevie Ray Vaughan Tone

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Why Dan is considered a Guitar Hero: * Been with your Guitar Excellence since 2009 * He is a beginner specialist * Plays in the band Guilty Clockwork * He is best air guitar player at Guitar Excellence * He can play the piano * He is fluent in blues, rock and jazz * He has been playing for 6 years.


  1. Excellent Piece

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