Stevie Ray Vaughan is one of the greatest guitar icons, the true guitar connoisseur's favorite bluesman and one of the Strat’s most famous users. To this day, no one has gotten such a fat sound out of a Fender. In spite of the Texan legend’s status and popularity, his guitars are preciously kept by his family and never appear for sale. The very presence of a Strat played on stage by the master at Matt’s Guitar Shop can therefore be considered as an event in itself.
This Strat is not a vintage piece like SRV’s Number One (made of parts from 1962 and 1963) or Lenny (a 1963). It is a ‘62 American Vintage Reissue made in 1987. The finish is quite unexpected and unusual. It is a Mary Kaye, ie a transparent white blonde with gold hardware. However, vintage Mary Kay Strats only existed in the late fifties with a maple fretboard. A 62 Mary Kaye reissue is a weird animal in itself, one that only existed in 1987.
Vaughan has bought this guitar to replace his usual models that had been damaged during a tour and needed a lot of repair work done. It has been refretted with jumbo frets to accommodate SRV’s energetic playing, and set up to be playable with his favorite string gauge, an impressive 13-58. Stevie’s string are still on this true relic. The true fans will also notice small cables around the treble strings at the point of contact with the vibrato saddles, which his guitar tech Rene Martinez would do to avoid breakage.
When he finally got his usual guitars back, Stevie Ray signed this Stratocaster and gave it to his bus driver. It now comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Rene Martinez himself.
(1954 - 1990)
Main guitar: Fender Stratocaster
Compulsory listening: Cold Shot
Every decade comes with its white bluesman that reminds everyone of how deep and timeless that music is. There has been Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, John Mayer, Joe Bonamassa and more recently Marcus King, and of course for the eighties the chosen one was Stevie Ray Vaughan. His perfect image, from the feathered hat to the heavily worn Strat and the cowboy boots made him a model for many guitarists and a superstar for the general public.
His clever blend of Albert King and Jimi Hendrix started out of his native Texas, where Stevie Ray got his start. Then everything changed after an incendiary show with his band Double Trouble on the stage of the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1982. The world immediately recognized the guitar hero’s true genius, and a few months later David Bowie himself hired Vaughan to play on his 1983 album Let’s Dance, including on the hit single of the same name who has an amazing SRV solo during the fade out. In spite of the huge success of that album, Stevie Ray canceled his participation to the Bowie tour and chose to concentrate on his solo career.
His first solo album, Texas Flood, came out in that same year of 1983, and Couldn’t Stand the Weather quickly followed. Those two jewels feature songs that became classics like Pride and Joy, Lenny and Cold Shot, all with SRV’s huge clean sound from his Super Reverb and Dumble amps. Soul To Soul wasn’t as good, probably because of the addictions Stevie Ray was battling during the recording.
In Step came out in 1989 and was a deeply mature album, on which virtuosity fades away to make room for the fine art of songwriting. This could have been an indication of things to come, but a helicopter accident put on abrupt stop to Vaughan’s musical output at the age of 35. His heritage is absolutely huge, and even now it is rare for a serious player not to go through a phase of copying Stevie Ray as they discover his music.