Learn Stevie Ray Vaughan blues lead guitar and funk-rock rhythm

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Guitar lessons (opens in new tab): Stevie Ray Vaughan (opens in new tab) was primarily a Strat (opens in new tab) man throughout his career; from the battered '50s / '60s partscaster ‘Number One’ Strat to his ‘62 ‘Red’. High frets, hot overwound pickups, heavy gauge guitar strings (opens in new tab) and downtuning to Eb all helped supercharge the tone he produced from Fender, Marshall and Dumble (opens in new tab) amps – with the help of an Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer (opens in new tab).

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5 songs guitarists need to hear by… Steve Ray Vaughan (opens in new tab)

Though he’d typically flip to the neck/middle position pickup for glassy cleans, the quintessential SRV tone can be heard on Pride And Joy – a medium gain tone delivered in his Strat's neck position single coil. The song sums up much of Stevie's fluid playing style too. 

The riff is pure SRV (opens in new tab) magic. It's part chord, part blues boogie, yet also showcases his effortless switching between rhythm and lead. We've taken inspiration from it with these two exercises… 

1. Funk-rock riffing 

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This is a rhythm groove of the kind you’ll hear in songs such as cold Shot or pride And Joy – and shows the influence of funky players like Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson. 

Good timing is vital here, so do your best to lock in with the backing music when you play along. The bridge/middle pickup will sound great.

2. Blues lead 

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The lyrical string bends in bars 1 and 2 showcase Albert King’s influence on the Texas bluesman. The pentatonic phrasing in bars 3 and 4 is in the territory of SRV’s other main hero – Jimi Hendrix. 

The fast lick at the end will take practice; try to hit the first and last note bang on time and let the other notes fall into place gradually as you improve.

More SRV lessons: How to play guitar like Stevie Ray Vaughan (opens in new tab)

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