Sei sulla pagina 1di 4

Stevie Ray Vaughan's Guitar

Setup
This page contains detailed information on Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar
setup. The information comes directly from the article "Supernova Strats" by
Dan Erlewine as published in February 1990 issue of Guitar Player
magazine. That issue featured Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff Beck together in
one interview as they were touring in tandem at the time. The Supernova
Strats article actually contains details on Jeff Beck's setup also, but for the
purpose of this page I have included only the Stevie Ray Vaughan related
information.

In November 1989 longtime Guitar Player magazine repairs and


modifications columnist Dan Erlewine had the chance to go over Stevie's
guitars with a fine-toothed comb. He spent the day with Rene Martinez,
Stevie's guitar tech and compiled a detailed report on virtually all aspects of
the setup on the guitars Stevie was touring with at the time.

The guitars

Stevie's guitars were all pre- 63 model Fender Stratocasters, except for
"Charley" (outfitted with the Danelectro "lipstick tube" pickups, it was made
from kit parts at Charley's Guitar Shop in 1984). They all have names, too:
Number One, Red, Butter Scotch, Charley, and Lenny. The only significant
change from the stock on these Strats has been the addition of 5-way switches
and a good coat of shielding paint in the control cavities. Number One, the
beat-up sunburst that we all know, is Stevie's main squeeze.

Neck adjustment

With all the guitars, neck straightness (or relief) is the first thing I checked,
sighting down the fingerboard. A fingerboard should either be dead flat or
have a slight up-bow, known as relief, in the direction of the strings' pull.
Stevie's guitars had approximately .012" of relief around the 7th and 9th frets,
and then leveled out for the remainder of the board.

String gauge

Stevie tunes his guitar down a half-step and uses GHS Nickel Rockers
measuring .013, .015, .019 (plain), .028, .038, and .058. On this particular
day, Rene had substituted an .011 for the high E to keep down the sore fingers
that blues bends can cause. Rene changes strings every show for each guitar
that gets played.

Fretwire

If you're trying to evaluate action, it's nice to know what size and shape of
fretwire is used on any guitar. Number One's frets measure .110" wide by
.047" tall. These frets would have started out at .055" tall when they were
new, and were probably either Dunlop 6100 or Stewart-MacDonald 150 wire.

String height

I measured the distance from the underside of the strings to the top of the fret
at the 12th fret on both E strings. Rene Martinez describes "I set up all of
Stevie's the same: 5/64" on the treble E string and 7/64" at the bass E."

Fingerboard radius

Knowing the radius of the fingerboard can help in setting up a comfortable


bridge saddle height and curve. Stevie's Number One was somewhat flatter
than the vintage 7-1/4" radius. Rene has refretted the neck at least twice, and
in the process the fingerboard has evolved into a 9" or 10" radius in the upper
register. This isn't the result of a purposeful attempt to create a compound
radius, which allows string-bending with less-noting out; it just happened.

Bridge saddles
Stevie's Number One wants to break high E and B strings at the saddle every
chance she gets. Rene showed me why the strings break, and how he takes
care of the problem: As a string breaks out of the vintage Strat tremolo
block/bridge top plate, it "breaks" or contacts, the metal directly; this causes
a slight kink that weakens the string. With the bridge saddles removed, Rene
uses a Dremel Moto-Tool to grind the holes edge until the lip is smooth and
gradual, and any binding is eliminated.

Number One uses vintage replacement saddles (the originals wore out long
ago), and they're not all alike --some have a shorter string slot than others.
The high E and B strings may contact the front edge of this string clearance
slot as they rise toward the "takeoff point" at the saddle's peak. The kink
formed by the contact stretches into the saddle peak during tuning, and
breaks right at the crown. Rene elongates the slot, again by grinding, and
then smoothes any rough metal edges. Finally, he slides a 5/8"-long piece of
plastic tubing (insulation from electrical wire) over each string to protect it
from the metal "break points." He uses the heaviest piece of tubing he can get
that still fits down the tremolo/block hole. Even with this, the high strings
still cut through the plastic quickly (sometimes in one set), and when they do,
the strings break. Rene plans to try a Teflon wire insulation if he can find the
right size.

Nuts

Stevie's Number One, Lenny and Charley have standard Fender-style nuts,
but Rene makes them from bone. Stevie prefers the sound of bone, although
for studio work he had Rene make brass nuts for Scotch and Red.

Tremolo setup

Vaughan's standard vintage tremolo uses all five springs. Rene prefers the
durability of the stainless steel Fender tremolo bars. He puts a small wad of
cotton at the bottom of the tremolo-block hole to keep the bar from over-
tightening and becoming hard to remove if it breaks. He emphasizes the
importance of lubricating all the moving parts of the tremolo system,
preferring a powdered graphite-and-grease mixture (the grease holds the
graphite in place where it's needed). He lubricates everything that moves:
mounting screws/plate; all string "breaks" and contact points, including the
saddle peaks; where the springs attach to the block and claw; the nut slots;
and the string trees.

Pickup height

As a reference point I laid a precision steel straightedge along the frets for
making the measurement. Stevie's pickups were raised fairly high. I measured
from the straightedge to the polepiece tops: On the treble side, the bridge
pickup touched the straightedge, and the middle almost touched the
straightedge, and the neck pickup was 1/16" away. The bass side measured
1/32" at the bridge pickup, 1/16" at the middle, and 1/32" at the neck.

Tuning machines

We've covered about everything except tuners, and there's nothing secret
here. Stevie Ray's tuners are all originals, and each has three full string winds
to get the best angle at the nut.