Play like Stevie Ray Vaughan

A taste of many guitarists's favourite bluesman, SRV

Image 1 of 8 Play like SRV Full track
Play like SRV - Full track
© Neville Marten
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Image 3 of 8 Play like SRV Just the licks
Play like SRV - Just the licks
© Neville Marten
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Extract 1
Image 5 of 8 Play like SRV Playalong
Play like SRV - Playalong
© Neville Marten
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Lick 1: Stevie would put this lick, or any number of variations on it, in any part of a blues song, slow or fast. It’s a direct descendant of Hendrix, and what makes it different is the fact that the hammer-on, pull-off move uses a tone (fifth to seventh fret) on the first string instead of the more common minor third (fifth to eighth frets).
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Lick 2: This is a typical ‘space filler’ lick of Stevie’s, but it works well because it’s interesting on the ear and you can lengthen or curtail it however you like. It’s a great way to slide between positions two and one of the minor pentatonic, too - try it in other positions on the neck, and on other sets of strings.
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Lick 3: You’ll need first, second and third fingers on your fretting hand for this: bend the first string up a tone at the seventh fret with your third finger, but supported by fingers two and one. Now quickly let it down and pre-bend up just over a semitone with your second finger at the sixth fret and pick the note (this is the Albert King ‘sharp’ bend); now fret the fifth fret with your first finger and silently let the bend string down before re-picking the string. Now do all this as one move. It’s really hard to get it right, so you might need an hour on this move alone. Now, who said Albert King was a ‘simple’ guitarist?

Tab simply cannot convey what goes into an SRV solo, other than telling you where to put your fingers, so listen to the audio carefully too.

Stevie Ray Vaughan usually didn't play with that much gain, which makes getting his speedier licks, bends and hearty vibrato that much more tricky - you have to put real effort into your playing. Attitude is paramount here. You can't get the vibrato, the tone or the vibe of a player like Stevie Ray Vaughan just by playing his notes; you have to think yourself into his persona.

The SRV tone

Stevie used all his Strat's positions, but a favourite was the middle pickup, as used here. You'll need to dig in hard for the SRV tone, and the heavier the strings the better (Stevie tuned down to Eb, while our leson is kept in concert pitch for ease of reference). Reduce gain and work on your vibrato for sustain. We used a Strat and Korg Tonelab software, on a Black Face amp with Tweed 4 x 10 cabinet with added treble boost.

Click 'see all pictures' in the picture box for full-sized tab.

Audio - Full track

Audio - Just the licks

Audio - Playalong