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zZounds' Legends of Tone:
Stevie Ray Vaughan

Discover Thick Texas Blues Tone!

What can be said of Stevie Ray Vaughan that hasn't been mentioned before? Incredible player, killer taste in gear, and gone too soon -- check, check, and check. While SRV's legacy as a guitarist may be one of the most written/talked about in the last 40 years, it's easy to overlook how he achieved all that praise: he was actually that good. Steeped in Texas blues down to his very soul, SRV was known to play hard, and play loud. Legend has it that he would play so hard that his calluses would fall off and he'd have to glue them back on just to keep going.

While we aren't asking you to dedicate yourself to those same practices, approximating the tone of SRV is all about setting yourself up with a solid foundation. Picking up a high-quality Fender Stratocaster and a Fender combo amp will get you close right off the bat. Explore our picks for getting close to Stevie's sound in this month's edition of Legends of Tone!

Check out more legendary artists in our Legends of Tone video series »

Fender Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster

We know that tone is usually found in your fingers, but getting the right gear doesn't hurt when looking to emulate the sound of your favorite guitarists. The Stevie Ray Vaughan signature Stratocaster from Fender gets you just about as close as you can get to SRV's own Strats. While it looks like a regular Strat from afar, a peek under the hood yields many upgrades from the standard. The maple neck sports a large thick oval profile that's perfect for players who crave a substantial amount of wood to grip when bending strings. The exotic Pau Ferro fretboard is similar to rosewood, but is known for its pronounced high end. The tremolo even has a left-handed orientation that mimics the bridge on Stevie's own Number 1.

The Texas Special single-coil pickups offer plenty of classic Stratocaster bite, but also deliver a meaty midrange that cuts through the rest of the band. Play this guitar through a cranked tube amp and and your tone will really start cooking.

Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb Vintage Reissue Guitar Combo Amplifier

A key ingredient to Stevie's tone recipe involved screaming-loud tube amps. He didn't just need the amp to be loud for personal monitoring, but, as many players know, tube amps really start to show their character when the power amp is getting a workout. While Stevie played through a number of different Fender and Marshall amps, among others, this Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue will get you in the ballpark.

Known for its incredible cleans and vibrant reverb, the DRRI can also be quite a mean amp once you turn the volume up past 4 or 5. Crank it, and you have a screaming tone beast. At only 22 watts, it isn't the angriest of Fender amps, but don't be fooled by its size -- this thing can and will get loud.

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Ibanez Tube Screamer TS9 Overdrive Pedal

One other key component of Stevie's sound is the ubiquitous Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer. This little green monster is a no-frills overdrive that gets the job done every time. Paired up with a tube amp that is on the verge of breakup, the TS9 adds a little lift that pushes through the front of your amp for a delightfully powerful, yet controlled, overdrive. The drive itself is creamy and will give your guitar just the right amount of sustain.

The TS9 is also quite dynamic -- play with a softer hand to clean up your signal through some verses, then really dig in during the choruses for some added grit. The overdrive also tends to add a hint of midrange to your tone, which will put you right in the sweet spot for nailing the classic Stevie sound.

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Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer Reissue Overdrive Pedal

Just like its cousin, the TS9, the TS808 Tube Screamer offers up some smoking hot overdrive from a deceptively small, green box. The TS808 is a reissue of the original version of the Tube Screamer from the late 1970s, and its magic comes in the form of the same JRC4558D op-amp chip found in the originals. You'll find you get a little more of that classic Tube Screamer mid boost, making this one just a hair thicker than the TS9.

Obviously, whichever Tube Screamer you prefer is ultimately based on which one you think sounds the best for your purposes. Choose wisely, since the tank-like durability of both these pedals means that you won't be wearing either one out for years to come.

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Stevie Ray Vaughan Tone of Your Own

Looking for tips to get that fat "Texas Flood" tone? Join us as we deconstruct the sound of Stevie on the zZounds Blog!

Check out our Legends of Tone: Stevie Ray Vaughan video!

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Seen it for less somewhere else? Get it for less at zZounds. Simply click the “Seen it for less?” link on any product page and as long as we‘re not losing money, we‘ll beat any legitimate competitor‘s lowest price, usually within two hours. Want our best price even faster? Call us at 800-zZounds (800-996-8637), and we‘ll provide you with a lower price on the phone. Also, if you purchase from us and later find the product for less elsewhere, call or email us within 45 days, and we‘ll refund you the difference. price match details »

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At zZounds, we know you want your gear fast, and shipped to you free of charge. That‘s why we have absolutely free ground shipping on every single order shipped within the continental United States. This includes heavy and oversized items. No minimum purchase required. No exclusions. We also ship over 90% of our orders with FREE 2-day shipping. We pull it all off with our strategically placed, coast-to-coast warehouses. shipping details »

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Buy it, try it, like it, or return it to us for a full refund. It‘s just that simple. If you‘re not in love with what you bought, return it to zZounds within 45 days, and we‘ll promptly arrange for an exchange or a refund. No hassles. No hidden charges. And if a product‘s defective or damaged, call us at 800-zZounds (800-996-8637), and we‘ll email you a prepaid shipping label so you can easily return it to us at zero cost to you. return details »

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zZounds has received multiple Bizrate® Circle of Excellence Platinum awards, placing us in the top 0.7 percent of Bizrate‘s network of 5,200 retailers. Our success in meeting the needs of our customers -- since 1996, we‘ve satisfied over 1,000,000 people -- is due in large part to the fact that zZounds only hires experienced musicians to answer your calls and emails, and they are never paid a commission. customer service »
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