Rene Martinez replaces Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar mid-song

By: GroundGuitar Dan
Posted under: Stories

If you ever took the time to explore and learn about the world of guitar techs, the name that will often pop up is that of Rene Martinez. As of lately touring with one of the biggest guys in the industry nowadays, John Mayer, Rene certainly has quite a resume behind himself.

The fact that Mayer chose Martinez to be the person to responsible for taking care of his guitars, such as his 1960s sunburst Stratocaster that John is using as of late as his main guitar, is not a coincidence. If you’re familiar with Mayer you’ll likely be aware of the fact that his biggest influence in music was late Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Rene Martinez started his career as a guitar tech in 1985 working for Stevie, or just after the release of the 1984 album Couldn’t Stand the Weather, which was Ray Vaughan’s second album in total. Given that both albums were well accepted and the entire world wanted to see the band on tour, Stevie needed someone reliable to take care of his guitars on the road.

According to his own bio (posted on Rene Martinez’s personal website Texas Guitar Wiz) prior to meeting Stevie, Rene spent 13 years repairing various musical equipment, so all the experience that was needed for the job was right there. But working for Stevie also meant making a huge change to his lifestyle, as he was no longer working from one place, but became a full-time roadie.

Initially, Rene was not doing particularly much aside from cleaning the guitars and re-stringing them, but as the time went on he took on more and more responsibilities.

As time progressed, the guitar guy who was doing all the set up and everything wound up quitting, and then I took up his place because we needed somebody to do that. I’ve been setting up and touching them up ever since. I learned about guitar cables, shorting in plugs, I learned about tubes and about pickups. You name it. [Rene Martinez – Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Guitar Tech, Adam St. James,]

By late 1989 Stevie and Rene worked together flawlessly. Rene knew exactly what Stevie needed and when he needed it, and nothing shows this synergy between the two better than the clip recorded in November 1989, when Stevie broke a string while playing a solo during “Look At Little Sister”.

Take note as Stevie finishes the solo playing a good part on it on just five strings, and a guitar slightly out of tune because of the removed tension from the neck. He knows Rene is already out there with a backup Stratocaster, already tuned and ready to be strapped on and plugged in.

Following the untimely death of Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1990, Rene continued working as a guitar tech for various artists such as Mick Jones of Foreigner, Prince, The Moody Blues, Carlos Santana, and John Mayer.

Over the years he also contributed his knowledge in the design of various guitar products, such as the Big Core Strings (manufactured by GHS, see price and availability on Amazon), and a guitar lube named GraphitALL (particularly useful if you’re having trouble with keeping the guitar in tune due to the friction at the nut – usually more common on Gibson-style headstocks).

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 years ago

Saw them do the exact same thing mid song when Stevie opened for Robert Plant in Toronto on Plant’s Now & Zen tour.

ben chris
ben chris
3 years ago

Wow, Amazing information. Thanks for sharing.

1 year ago

I believe it’s the same person who does an even smoother change during “Life Without You” in Passaic NJ in Sept of 1985. Seeing that is what led me to look up who SRV’s guitar tech was. Near the end Stevie says “Thank you“ to what I thought was Tony. But not Tony. Rene. Thanks for the video and information.

Other Stories from the Blog

Layla – Story Behind the Greatest Electric to Acoustic Guitar Song Conversion

No doubt, the original recording of "Layla" featuring Duane Allman is one of the most iconic songs in the history of rock and roll music. Yet, a song that was…

Iconic Recordings

Genius way to play “Wish You Were Here” on one guitar

Ever since I stumbled upon Yoni Schlesinger's cover of Dire Strait's Brothers in Arms, I've been a fan and a subscriber. Apparently, he did this cover as an YouTube ad…

YouTube Discoveries

Led Zeppelin win lawsuit, Stairway officially not a rip-off

The lawsuit that argued that Led Zeppelin's mega-hit Stairway to Heaven was basically a result of Jimmy Page ripping of the chord progression from Spirit's song Taurus, finally came to…


Josh is Out, John is In – Peppers go Back to the Old Formula

As a surprise to pretty much everyone aside from the band members themselves, Flea recently announced on his Instagram account that the Red Hot Chili Peppers are about to make…


The Super Rare Fender “Charley” Lipstick Stratocaster in the Style of SRV

As part of me encouraging people to point out my mistakes and share their own stories over at GroundGuitar's Gear Page, on lucky occasions, I get contacted by people who…

Interesting Guitars

AC/DC’s “You Shook Me” Unplugged Acoustic on the Howard Stern Show

AC/DC is one of the few bands that just avoid doing any sort of an Unplugged version of their songs. An AC/DC song pretty much always sounds exactly like it…

YouTube Discoveries

The Two Only Known Video Recordings of Jimi Hendrix Playing an Acoustic Guitar

Jimi Hendrix is someone who, for one reason or another, we didn't often see playing acoustic guitars. Obviously, the late 60s were all about electrics, and there were usually no…

YouTube Discoveries

Best Distortion Pedal, Bang for Your Buck (2019)

Distortion pedals are a tricky subject for a few reasons. First, distortion as an effect is a spectrum, and there's no clear definition of what's the right 'amount' of distortion.…


Jeff Buckley sings an amazing cover of Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” over Phone

YouTube can be an amazing place sometimes. One can occasionally stumble upon an unexpected treasure - amazing talent exhibited by people both known and unknown. One such treasure I stumbled…

YouTube Discoveries

How to Age/Relic Plastic Guitar Hardware (Pickup Covers, Knobs)

What's worse than brand new white plastic hardware on my Stratocaster? Brand new plastic hardware that's supposed to look old, but doesn't. Yes, I know that relicing and aging guitars…


View All on Blog