Stevie Ray Vaughan Guitar Methods

Stevie Ray Vaughan was a God. He incorperated many different techniques into his playing that gave his music the edge that we love. This will show you some of the techniques that he used.

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Stevie Ray Vaughan had such great range in his playing, anywhere from his signature shuffle style songs (Love Struck Baby, Pride And Joy) to his deep blues songs (Texas Flood, Couldn't Stand The Weather) to his mellow jazz songs (Lenny, Riviera Paradise). All that he plays are great. Stevie Ray Vaughan used a lot of common techniques that we all know about today, and use in our everyday playing, but what makes his style unique is how he used these techniques. I will be explaining the techniques that he uses. NOTE: that Stevie tunes to Eb, Bb, Gb, Db, Ab, Eb, so if you play along to a CD it might sound a little off.

1. Alternate Picking

Stevie Ray Vaughan uses a heavy down stroke on the bass line notes and a soft upstroke that is usually on a chord or muted note. An example of this is in the song Pride And Joy:
E|----0----0-----0-----0-|-----0-----0-----0-2-0-|-0-0--|
B|----0----0-----0-----0-|-----0-----0-----0-2-0-|-0-0--|
G|----1----1-------------|-----------------1-2-1-|-1-1--|
D|-----------------------|--2--------------------|------|
A|------------2-----4----|--------------2--------|------|
E|-0-----3---------------|--------3--------------|------|
As you can see, he alternates between playing single notes and E A D strings, and then a chord.

2. Tremelo Picking.

Stevie Ray Vaughan uses the tremelo picking to add a effect that adds almost another type of instrument to create the mood of the song he is playing. An example of this is in the song Pipeline.
Intro: Tremelo pick while sliding down.
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|--18\---13\---8\---4\-----------------------------------------------|
E|--19-\--14-\--9-\--5-\----------------------------------------------|

Final Verse:Constant tremelo pick
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|--000022220-22-4-22002222444422-44442222002200----------------------|
A|-2---------------------------------------------22-------------------|
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------|

3. Trills.

Stevie Ray Vaughan uses a lot of trills in his more upbeat songs during the verses as a short fill, and most commonly in his solos. An example of this is in the song shake for me.
Main Riff: The trill is at the end.
E|---5-------------5--------5---------------5--5----------------------|
B|---5-------------5-8-10---5---------------5-----5trill8-------------|
G|-/6------------/6-------/6--------------/6--------------------------|
D|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|--------555567------------------555567------------------------------|
E|------88----------------------88------------------------------------|

4. Chords.

Stevie Ray Vaughan uses about every chord imaginable throughout all of his albums, but he is very particular to a few of them. They are:
A9: 
E|----17----| 
B|----14----|
G|----16----|
D|----17--- |
A|----------|
E|----------|

E7:
E|----------|
B|----5---- |
G|----7-----|
D|----6-----|
A|----7-----|
E|----------|

5. Stevie Ray Vaughan's Equipment.

Stevie's #1 guitar was his signature Fender '59 Stratocaster with stock pickups, and a '61 left-handed neck. Most of his guitars had bass frets because he felt that it was easier to get a grip on the strings. He played his strats through Howard Dumble amps, Fender Vibroverbs, and Marshall cabinets, but they veried depending on where he played. I hope this will help you to attempt to be able to play like Stevie Ray Vaughan.

34 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    fender4me
    Lozdog wrote: wtf's a trill?!
    It's basically hammering-on and pulling-off in rapid succession.
    patmann3 wrote: how the **** do you tremelo pick?
    It is picking up and down in a rapid, controlled motion.
    max v
    Playing Steve's shuffles is not all that simple even with taps....because a big part of the S.R.V. shuffle style is in how he rested his arm on his strat. It is never flat on the front of the guitar's body. To play Steve's tacts with much more accurately you must have your arm rest over the strats body and, your wrist at a right angle hanging down...but not touching the guitar's body. Then strum in circular motions. On each up stroke the thumb is muting the strings as the pick rakes across every string. This is just the chords...the note picking as he is strumming is done with an amazing damping controlled by his thumb and palm working together. This allows him to pick fearless base notes with a very muscular sound and the higher notes that sound like they are screaming for mercy..... This kind of hard to explain on paper...but check out DVDs with Steve and pay attention to the arm and wrist as it sits on the guitar and , watch how his thumb palm and pick work together.....
    smalltownbabe
    well, i love any thing written about stevie ray vaughan(well as long as it is something good) this was nice to read.i am soo excited. i just got my first guitar today and i am on the road to fame.lol SRV is my hero if he only was around still R.I.P., but he is the one that inspire me to want to learn how to play the guitar wish me luck please. if you have any advice feel free to right me ~Chaundee,15
    joshpwc
    and a '61 left-handed neck.
    All was well until i got to the end. Its a left-handed bridge. Not neck.
    TeenageJesus
    joshpwc wrote: and a '61 left-handed neck. All was well until i got to the end. Its a left-handed bridge. Not neck.
    It's a left handed neck on his guitar called "red"
    bennyc09
    calanbyrd wrote: hey folks.. it may make your egos feel good to dis this lesson.. but remember ITS A LESSON.. not the 10 commandments.. instead of everyone saying they already know this how about writing a better lesson if you feel so superior? I think free lessons like this are very important to new comers.. so please.. lets be positive here and add to rather than be pissed cause you aren't good enough to write a lesson like this... (or just are to lazy to)....
    Very well said my friend, I'm not even a SRV fan but appreciate the dude who's taken the time to do it for the new guys... give the man a break. Or write some lessons yourself?
    Dirty Pool
    Hey this is good info on SRV. Yes his 59 strat was really a 61 but that really doesn't matter does it? and yes a lot of his techniques he got from Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, The 3 Kings BB, Albert and Freddie, Guitar Slim and many others but he always gave them credit and let's face it he is the undisputed king of urban blues barr none. Good lesson let's spend time adding to this instead of critizing it. I'll start it off by adding something myself look for it soon.
    bluesman_63
    Overall, this article is a good starting place for anyone wanting to gain insight into SRVs playing style. Its great to see that people are still interested in learning to play an instrument, instead of creating instant cRAP from all of the electronic equipment that is out there today. As for the negativity on the preceding posts, if you cant find anything good to say dont say anything at all. If you know all there is to know about SRVs playing style write your own damn page. I would like to see what you could do. Ive been playing his music for close to 20 years; just when you think you have a song figured out, you find something that you didnt notice before. I agree with the author of this page Stevies influences and approaches are wide and varied. Listen to Albert King, Buddy Guy, Howling Wolf, Guitar Slim, and the list could go on and on. I still find that the author has done a fine job helping people that want to play SRVs music. Great Article, I wish I could have had access to something along these lines when I started out over 30+ years ago.
    wyldeshredder
    one thing you could've included could be his use of ibanez tubescreamers. i believe he used two in front of his amps, which would be a huge part of his sound.
    playWoW247
    was having trouble playing Pride and Joy before I viewed and this helped a ton. thnx dude
    harley10_5
    harley10_5 wrote: "Stevie's #1 guitar was his signature Fender '59 Stratocaster with stock pickups, and a '61 left-handed neck." sorry dude but it was a 61 strat...stevie thought it was a '59 and i didnt have a left handed neck that was a totally different guitar...learn your stuff before you post things.
    It****
    Anty 7
    This is just standard blues stuff, but nothing particularly SRV-ish number one is just a standard walking bass played on guitar, but it was made popular by muddy waters and john lee hooker two is obvious BS 3 is just classic blues rock, anybody in the seventies (AC/DC led zep, deep purple etc....) would do that and 4 is nothing, you could have at least tried to give the nam of the chords (I won't because I'm gonna make a mistake!) too bad, this isn't a lesson, it's just classic, unoriginal blues basics taught by somebody who's been playing a year.... I'm sorry I gave this a 2, you tried, but ive another shot when you have something interesting to say. This may seem a little harsh, sorry
    Spanner
    Not bad at all, also: Stevie was a great executer of a technique called "unison bends" - a technique where you bend one note on one string to a certain note, and play that exact same note on a different string, and tremolo picking it while gradually releasing it, check out "rude mood" for some good examples.
    SethMegadefan
    bengi wrote: grammars good, but the material should already be common knowledge, especially for someone wanting to sound like him.
    It's halfway beginner, I'm assuming. Yes, the grammar was off in places, but overall, this lesson still had some pretty healthy and need-to-know material. For someone who isn't already familiar with most of that stuff, I can imagine that this lesson would be really helpful. Hey, I have to say I got some good info out of it. I knew most of it already, yes, but it's nice that you put it in a Vaughan perspective. Pretty interesting. 8/10. Could've been longer and had more examples, but overall it's pretty nicely done.
    iggy pop
    enjoyed the lesson seeing as i taught myself nearly everything i know and i don't know much about this
    Qaphela
    Anty 7 wrote: This is just standard blues stuff, but nothing particularly SRV-ish number one is just a standard walking bass played on guitar, but it was made popular by muddy waters and john lee hooker two is obvious BS 3 is just classic blues rock, anybody in the seventies (AC/DC led zep, deep purple etc....) would do that and 4 is nothing, you could have at least tried to give the nam of the chords (I won't because I'm gonna make a mistake!) too bad, this isn't a lesson, it's just classic, unoriginal blues basics taught by somebody who's been playing a year.... I'm sorry I gave this a 2, you tried, but ive another shot when you have something interesting to say. This may seem a little harsh, sorry
    chill dude... and btw if tremolo pickin and trills arent SRV-ish, then what the hell is it?
    harley10_5
    "Stevie's #1 guitar was his signature Fender '59 Stratocaster with stock pickups, and a '61 left-handed neck." sorry dude but it was a 61 strat...stevie thought it was a '59 and i didnt have a left handed neck that was a totally different guitar...learn your stuff before you post things.
    bengi
    grammars good, but the material should already be common knowledge, especially for someone wanting to sound like him.
    calanbyrd
    hey folks.. it may make your egos feel good to dis this lesson.. but remember ITS A LESSON.. not the 10 commandments.. instead of everyone saying they already know this how about writing a better lesson if you feel so superior? I think free lessons like this are very important to new comers.. so please.. lets be positive here and add to rather than be pissed cause you aren't good enough to write a lesson like this... (or just are to lazy to)....
    CloudOne
    By the way someone make a better version of this because I'd like to learn some more of his soloing methods ha ha
    irishRW
    Good lesson, nice an short - only useful information. Learnt a nice new technique an a couple nice chords. Cheers mate
    CloudOne
    Ya should of put licks he used on there... he uses them like every song haha... and I've had a mighty bad habit of catching them... been playing them all day.
    juwain
    At least one error in Pride And Joy tab... The chord is E major, and in the main riff he played G#, not G. And a thing about equipment... It had left-handed tremolo, not neck. And he used 13 gauges. Now try to bend such string up 1.5 tone and end up with a vibrato there, sustained for a couple of bars. Wanting to sound like him, I went to 11th, still far away from the tone. Oh, and he used Ibanez TS. Don't remember the model - most likely 808.