SRV was an instant classic and absolute legend. While I’d like to believe tone is all in the hands, I know someone that good wouldn’t be so specific about their gear if that was true. Running multiple amps with the very specific tube screamer and a relatively narrow haul of single-coil guitars, he knew what he wanted and how to get it. The most unique part? Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar strings. We wanted to explore a bit of the history that lead to the many myths and truths behind that highly speculated but essential piece of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s tonal puzzle.
Despite public opinion, SRV actually played as light as 12’s and as heavy as 17’s throughout his career. His most well-known Strats – Number One and Lenny – featured a unique set of 13’s tuned to Eb. A typical set of 13’s you might know for acoustic would look like: .013 – .017 – .025w – .034 – .044 – .056, but this is not what Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar strings were at all. SRV used a more unique blend of .013 – .015 – .019 – .028w – .038w – .058w, the only thing that has in common with the 13’s we know and love (or fear) is the 13 itself! Instead, this provides a more flexible top end, with a snappy mean low end. It makes total sense when you hear him absolutely rip the guitar apart.