In-Depth Guide to Stevie Ray Vaughan's Amps & Effect Pedals

Guitar World online has put together an amazing breakdown of research dedicated to Stevie Ray's Amps and effects. For any fan of "Killer Tone," this article is without a doubt a Must Read...

Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar tone was as dry as a San Antonio summer and as sparkling clean as a Dallas debutante, the product of the natural sound of amps with ample clean headroom.

However, Vaughan occasionally used pedals to augment his sound, mainly to boost the signal, although he occasionally employed a rotating speaker cabinet and wah pedals for added textural flair.

Vaughan’s fierce playing style was the key to his distinctive sound, but it was also very hard on his equipment, and over the years his amps and pedals were heavily modified to withstand the abuse.


1980 Marshall model 4140 Club and Country

Most guitarists with multi-amp rigs will use Fender amps for clean tones and Marshalls for distortion and overdrive, but Vaughan did the opposite. However, it made sense that he used a Marshall for clean tones, as his Marshall was a model 4140 Club and Country combo with two 12-inch speakers, which was Marshall’s version of a Fender Twin Reverb. With 100 watts of output and a power amp section driven by KT77 tubes, the Club and Country provides more clean headroom than the typical Marshall design. The amp remained in Vaughan’s rig until early 1984, when a Dumble Steel String Singer replaced it.

1964 Fender Vibroverb

The heart and soul of Vaughan’s live rig for most of the Eighties was a pair of Fender Vibroverb combos. The Vibroverbs, each featuring a single 15-inch speaker, were the source of Vaughan’s cranked-up overdrive tones, and he also used one of the combos to power his Fender Vibratone rotating-speaker cabinet throughout his career. Introduced in 1963, the Vibroverb was Fender’s first amp with built-in reverb.

Fender initially produced the Vibroverb with two 10-inch speakers and brown Tolex covering, but in late 1963 the model’s design switched to a single 15-inch speaker and black Tolex. Vaughan always assumed that his Vibroverbs were one serial number apart from one another based on the numbers “5” and “6” on the tube charts, but those are production run numbers and the actual serial numbers were 36 numbers apart.

Dumble Steel String Singer

Vaughan first discovered the amps of legendary Los Angeles boutique-amp pioneer Alexander “Howard” Dumble when recording Texas Flood at Jackson Browne’s Downtown Studios in 1982, using Browne’s Dumbleland 300-watt bass amp to record most of the tracks during the sessions.

Impressed with the Dumble amp’s ability to maintain crystal-clean tone even when subjected to his aggressive low E string attack, Vaughan custom-ordered a Steel String Singer head, which Dumble beefed up with 6550 tubes and 150 watts of output instead of the model’s usual 6L6 tubes and 100 watts. Vaughan usually used his Dumble head with a custom-built 4x12 cabinet loaded with Electro-Voice speakers.

When delivered in 1984, the Steel String Singer immediately became the main clean amp in Vaughan’s rig, earning the “King Tone Consoul” nickname that Vaughan bestowed upon it. Vaughan acquired a second Dumble Steel String Singer in 1986.



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