Who has Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitars

Fender Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster

by Heinz Rebellius,

Yes, I know - the Fender SRV Stratocaster is still in the manufacturer's range and is therefore neither a vintage nor a limited edition guitar. But there is just so much to write about them, and their origins and development have their very own vintage myth, so this model fits very well in this column!

So this SRV Signature Stratocaster has its own story, which I would like to try to tell here - not only because on August 26th. The author of these lines celebrated his birthday, but mainly because it was the 23rd anniversary of the death of Stevie Ray Vaughan. In 1989 Fender had a plan to offer the people a signature guitar from the Texan Über-Guitarist.

Originally, a small edition of the custom shop was to be built together with a high-volume series production. About ten weeks before the helicopter crash in which Stevie Ray Vaughan lost his life, he had three prototypes of his signature guitar in hand for the first time. He didn't have much time to take care of her intensively, but he found her okay and only criticized the missing SRV letters on the pickguard. After all, the signature of his favorite guitar, Number One, should be as similar as possible.

Number One

This original, also known as the "First Wife", was acquired by Stevie in Ray Hennig’s Heart of Texas Music in Austin / TX in 1973, allegedly exchanged for a 1963 Stratocaster. Number One consisted of a 1963 body and a 1962 neck, which featured an unusually thick D-profile that Stevie immediately liked. Over the years Number One has seen some changes, many ill-treatment, accidents, and major surgeries. Stevie replaced the originally white pickguard with a black one and stuck his initials on it. In 1977, inspired by guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Otis Rush, a golden left-hand vibrato system was installed, followed by completely gold-plated hardware in 1986.

The guitar's pickups were from 1959 and are said to come from a post that was accidentally made with more windings. Contrary to many statements, these pickups are said to have remained original and not have been rewound, only the shielding was brought up to date at the time. The thinner, curved “veneer” fingerboard made of Rio rosewood on the 1962 neck was fretted several times, at the end with Dunlop 6100 bass frets, which not only fit better into the fret slots, which have now become quite wide, but Stevie does too Grip that he favored for his extended bends.

He benefited from the fact that the fingerboard had long since lost its original radius of 7.25 "due to frequent straightening and fretting and was more flatter. Coupled with thick strings (.013 "to .058"), a fairly high string position (2 mm / E1; 2.8 mm / E2) and a tuning that was half a tone lower than normal, Stevie Ray Vaughan achieved his unbelievable fat signature sound that made him immortal.

When this neck could no longer be fretted, Rene Martinez, Vaughan's Guitar Tech, swapped it for another guitar from the SRV inventory. But it was destroyed in 1990 when parts of a stage installation crashed into Vaughan's guitar rig. Fender then delivered a new '62 neck, which from then on completed Number One.

After Vaughan's death, Martinez put the original neck back on the body and gave the guitar to the family. Number One is owned by Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie's brother, and not, as many claim, buried with Stevie in Dallas.

Artist Signature Model

Jimmy Vaughan drove the process of releasing the signature guitar after the death of his brother, convincing Fender to drop the custom shop version and only bring the standard version onto the market from 1992 onwards.

And that's exactly the guitar that you can still get today. Nevertheless, there are also many inconsistencies, myths and rumors about this rather well-behaved production model compared to the original, mainly revolving around the Rio rosewood, which was used as the fingerboard material for some of these guitars. As we all know by now, the species protection program came into force in 1992, from which the trade in and use of Rio rosewood was practically prohibited.

A few SRVs have appeared with the same fingerboards, but production was soon switched over; From July 1992 at the latest, Pau-Ferro, also known as Bolivian rosewood or ironwood, was the material for the fingerboards. It seems that the first SRVs with Rio fingerboards were still built by the Custom Shop for the mentioned, planned limited series, but then came on the market as normal SRV Strat after this plan was dropped - at a normal series price ! How many, nobody knows ...

There are examples like this one from Burkhard Schmitt, who runs the website www.vintagestrats.de and who describes his SRV signature as follows: “The potentiometers are dated to the 5th week of 1992. The neck on 02/18/92 and the body on 01/28/92. So really one of the very first ever. After inspecting the innards, I found a small round sticker with the imprint, C / 2-19 MK ‘. Which could suggest Mark Kendrick, a masterbuilder from the Fender Custom Shop. "

It is also noticeable that the fingerboard is not made of Pau-Ferro and the weight of the guitar at 3.75 kg is relatively high as the original, while many other SRVs are lighter. So this could be one of the rare SRV signatures from the Custom Shop that was sold for a normal series price. Especially since I have an SRV signature here myself, which is from September 1992, has a Pau-Ferro fingerboard and just misses this small, round sticker.

There is a lot of chaos with the serial number system, because on the one hand the SRV signatures did not have their own number pad, on the other hand the numbers seem to have been assigned quite randomly. What is certain is that SRVs with a Rio fingerboard are older than those with a Pau-Ferro fingerboard. But there are Pau Ferro SRVs, as lists on the Internet show, with smaller serial numbers than the Rio SRVs. In this respect, only the neck, body and potentiometer coding can provide more precise information about the age of the guitar.

The recom. The selling price of a new Artist SRV Signature is € 2450, over the counter it goes for just under € 2000. When it was first released in 1992/93 it cost just under DM 3000. Used, early SRV Signatures from 1992 are now increasing in value and are already being sold for Offered at € 1500 and more, the specimens with the Rio rosewood fingerboard can already fetch prices that are higher than the original price.

The average used price of younger SRVs, on the other hand, is still around € 1200, sometimes higher, sometimes lower. But the trend is increasing. Stevie Ray Vaughan - and he has that in common with Kurt Cobain, for example - never got around to playing one of his signature guitars himself. And he would probably have had a hard time with the production model, because Fender has adapted some of the features to the mainstream - and that's a good thing.

After all, who of us wants to play bass frets, thick strings and a really thick neck stick? The signature guitar only has moderate medium jumbo frets (Dunlop 6105) and an equally moderate, grippy neck profile. At least the wonderful Texas Specials pickups were built for the Signatures, which were used here for the first time - and have since been one of the most popular Stratocaster pickups ever. Custom Shop Tribute Model 2004 saw the Stevie Ray Vaughan Tribute, an exact copy of Number One from the Fender Custom Shop, presented at the NAMM Show with a lot of Tamm. John Cruz, the Fender masterbuilder, was responsible for the production of exactly 100 pieces of this guitar, in which every flaking paint, every dent, every crack and also the smoke trail on the headstock should correspond to the original.

The Tribute SRV did not come alone, but in a flight case labeled "SRV - Number One" and a red gig bag that was modeled on that of Stevie Ray Vaughan. The famous leather belt with the large, white notes was also included, as was a documentation from John Cruz about the production, a photo of Stevie with Number One, a Fender DVD showing the investigations on the original Number One, and a DVD an SRV gig at the El Mocambo Club and a tube of Rene Martinez's graphite oil. SRV full service, and for the collector a really nice and round thing, for which he had to pay € 10,000. An amount that should be worth it ...

In such cases, Fender uses a numbering system that is related to the master builder, but not to the model being manufactured. The first tribute, for example, had the number JC044, the last JC229. So other guitars that John Cruz built during the SRV tribute phase had serial numbers within this range.

The Tribute SRV guitars were sold out within a very short time despite their high price. At that time, only five made it to Germany, and they are all in good hands. If such a guitar appears today, then at very different prices. The first (JC044) fetched more than € 40,000 at Eric Clapton's Crossroads auction.

Several Tribute SRVs have appeared in auctions, selling for approximately $ 25,000. The Guitar Center asked for up to $ 45,000 and probably got that amount. In May, Guitar Sofa in Hong Kong reportedly even sold an SRV Tribute for $ 51,500 ...

You can find playalongs and karaoke versions of Stevie Ray Vaughan pieces in our Playalong shop!

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