Red Dog Music | Oct 9, 2018 | 0
How to sound like Stevie Ray Vaughan
While so much tone and all of the style lies in the fingers, if SRV is your guitar icon there are ways to point your rig in the right direction to get close to his distinctive tone. So, what do you need gear-wise to sound like Stevie Ray Vaughan?
The guitar: has to be a Stratocaster-style here really. You need that scale length and those single-coil pickups. Upgrading your pickups to Texas Specials or a pickup type with a bit more output can also make a big difference. As far as the guitar goes though, possibly the biggest difference may come from thickening up your strings. If you’re using light gauge strings, try a set of 12s (SRV has been known to go up to 18s!) and see how that can beef up your tone, don’t forget to tune down a half-step as well!
The amplifier: the choice of amplifier is also relatively easy. If we rule out hard to track down and harder to afford boutiques and rarities such as the Dumble, any mid-size tube combo will get you close, assuming you stay away from models designed expressly for those high-gain metal tones. Fender combos such as the Blues Junior, Blues Deluxe or Twin Reverb are ideal, but you’ll get good tones with amps from other manufacturers, like the Blackstar HT5R. The same goes for your modelling amp: try amp models such as ‘Tweed’ or ‘Blackface’ with a 1×12” or 2×12” cabinet and you’ll be in the ballpark. With your amp, the trick is in getting the gain control set just right. You want a mostly clean sound, just with that hint of breakup that you can control with how hard you dig in with the pick.
As for effects, classic Ibanez Tube Screamers can be hard to find, but a number of overdrive alternatives will get you close. Try pedals such as the TC electronic MojoMojo, the Rothwell Tornado or Blackstar HT-Dual. Keep the gain knob down and use the output level to really drive the input of your amplifier. Beyond overdrive, you’re getting into specific song sounds, but I really do like my TC Electronic Shaker for that Leslie sound in tracks like ‘Cold Shot’.
So, go forth and nail that Stevie Ray Vaughan tone, then let you fingers do the hard work bending those telegraph cables of strings in all that Scuttle Buttin’ goodness!