Artist Spotlight: Stevie Ray Vaughan

Difficulty: Medium/Advanced | Guitar used: Fender Stratocaster | Tuning: Standard

Stevie Ray Vaughan (SRV) is one of my favourite guitarists and I can’t be alone in that as he was ranked #7 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Albert King and Buddy Guy he went on to bring the Blues back into style in the mid 80s.

His main guitar was a beaten ’62 Fender Stratocaster bought in Austin, Texas. The guitar was heavily modified during his career but always had large gauge strings on it- usually 0.13 to 0.58 but sometimes a ridiculous 0.18 set! He would usually tune the guitar down a half-step to Eb but my examples are all in standard tuning for convenience.

Tragically, he died in a helicopter crash in 1990 returning to Chicago after a sold-out gig with Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy. He was only 35 years old and a true blues legend.

Little Wing live@El Mocamo says it all.

The Hendrix Influence- Testify

|-------------------|-----------------------------|
|-------------------|-----------------------------|
|---------------8v--|-14pb16r(14)p12---12v--------|
|---------------7v--|----------------14-----14p12-|
|-7-------------x---|-----------------------------|
|---4--5-6--6-7-7v--|-----------------------------|

|------------------12----------------|
|---------------12----15--------15---|
|--14b16==(14)r----------14s17-------|
|------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------|

The example shown above highlights the influence of Jimi Hendrix on his playing style. Note the fast pre-bends into pull-offs and stylistic use of the minor pentatonic scale.

Texas Shuffle

|----0----0-----0-----0-|-----0-----0-----0-2-0-|
|----0----0-----0-----0-|-----0-----0-----0-2-0-|
|-----------------------|-------------------2---|
|-----------------------|--2--------------------|
|------------2-----4----|--------------2--------|
|-0----3h4--------------|--------3h4------------|

The Texas Shuffle is a rhythmic technique where you play a percussive mute on the up-beat. You can here SRV use it on tracks such as Pride and Joy and Cold Shot. Use your fretting hand to mute the strings after you play the notes on the 1st and 2nd strings. This is all about attitude so dig into the strings as much as possible! My example is a slightly simplified version of SRV’s riff in Pride and Joy.

Jazz Blues- Riviera Paradise

                                 Emadd2            !
|-^10-12-10-^8-10-8-^6-8-6------|-----------0----|-0-----------8-/11-|
|-^10-------^8------^6-----/9-7-|---------0------|-0-------11--------|
|-^10-------^8------^6-----/8-8-|-------0--------|-0-------10--------|
|--------------------------/7-7-|-----4----------|-4--------9--------|
|-------------------------------|---7------------|-7-----------------|
|-------------------------------|-0--------------|-0-----------------|
                        B6            D6
|--9-7-----------------|------------------------|
|------10---/10-8-7----|---7---/7-7-7s-10-10----|
|------------/9-----9--|---8---/8-8-8s-11---11--|
|------------/8--------|---6---/6-6-6s--9----9--|
|----------------------|------------------------|
|----------------------|-7-----/7-----/10-------|

Another big influence on SRV were Jazz guitarists such as Kenny Burrell. I have picked out the intro to Riviera Paradise as a good example that shows this Jazz influence in his playing. The ‘!’ in the tab should be played as an arpeggio starting on the 1st string and strummed as close to the bridge as possible. I’ve used the whammy bar on certain notes, particularly the B6 and D6 chords.

Buddy Guy Influence- Leave my Girl Alone

|----8--8--8----8--8--8----8-8s5------17\-|
|-8h10-10-10-8h10-10-10-8h10-8------------|
|-----------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------|

|----8--8--8----8--8--8----8-8s5-------------------|
|-8h10-10-10-8h10-10-10-8h10-----------------------|
|--------------------------------7b9==(9)r(7)p5----|
|-----------------------------------------------7v-|
|--------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------|

SRV covered this Buddy Guy song on the 1989 In Step album but you can hear Buddy’s influence in loads of his songs.

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