Stevie Ray Vaughan 1962/63 Fender Stratocaster (Number One)

Stevie acquired this guitar in 1974, at Ray Hennig’s Heart of Texas Music in Austin. The guitar was an old Stratocaster, characterized by the shop owner as one of the worst guitars that he ever had in his shop.

Nonetheless, it felt right for Stevie, and he asked Ray whether he could trade in his previous guitar for this one. After Ray agreed, they took apart the guitar, cleaned it up, and set it up according to Stevie’s preferences.

In 1974 he came by this particular day and was looking around as he’d usually do, going up and the rows of guitars taking the down, feeling them, when he discovered this old Stratocaster that I had hanging. He took it down, looked at this, felt of it, and fiddled around for a pretty good while.

I said – Stevie, that’s the worst guitar I guess I’ve ever traded for in the history of this business.

The guitar was an old Fender Stratocaster, a 59 model, that was traded to me maybe a week or two prior by Christopher Cross.


The Parts

The guitar that Stevie acquired at Ray Henning’s shop was actually a Parts-caster – assembled from parts belonging to several different guitars. The neck on the guitar came from a 1963 model, the body from a 1962, and one of the pickups is stamped with ’59, meaning that it was made in 1959.

Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no info on who exactly put the guitar together. Since he became aware that SRV used his guitar, Christopher Cross mentioned the guitar several times, but he never spoke of putting it together himself.

So likely, someone who owned the guitar prior to Christopher did all this, and that person is possibly not even aware of the fact that SRV used it. We’ve reached out to Christopher Cross and asked him about the history of the guitar prior to 1974, and until we receive an answer, we’ll leave the story here.

Neck Swap, Neck Break

Around 1986, Rene Martinez, Stevie’s guitar tech, swapped the original 1962 neck with a different one, citing damages and wear on the fretboard as the reason. Based on the rosewood veneer fretboard, the new neck was made around 1962/63. This means that possibly, this neck came from Stevie’s 1962 red Stratocaster, although a reliable source on this is needed.

My first wife is a ’59 Stratocaster although now I have a different neck on it, because I’d worn the other one to a point where every time I refretted it I’d have to fill in the holes. It’s the neck off another Stratocaster, but it’s the same size neck.

Classic interview: 1988 Stevie Ray Vaughan, MusicRadar

This neck remained on Stevie’s guitar until July 7, 1990. That day Stevie and Double Trouble played a set at Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel, at the end of which one of the sound baffles came crashing onto Rene’s workstation, where he had Stevie’s guitars. Number One suffered damages to the neck, and Fender quickly provided a brand new one for Stevie.

The guitars were basically holding the baffle up. It took a bunch of us to lift the thing off the guitars, and of course, the first guitar I checked on was Number One. Well, the neck had been broken; it looked like a Steinberger…the headstock was basically dangling.

Word traveled fast. I got on the phone to Fender, and they wanted to know where to send a replacement neck

Interview: Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar tech Rene Martinez

This was only about 7 weeks prior to Stevie’s passing, so all the gigs that he did between those two dates were played on a brand new Fender neck. After Stevie’s death, it was decided to put the old neck back and revert the guitar back to its original condition, as that was how Stevie had used it for most of his career.

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Fret Wire on Stevie’s Number One

As a result of Stevie using a heavy set of strings on his Number One Stratocaster, he’d often had to re-fret guitar, due to wear. Eventually, he discovered that he could just put larger fret wire on the fretboard, and solve some of his problems.

I started getting into using different fret wire because I noticed that I had an easier time playing when I had a little bit more fret. With normal guitar frets, I was wearing them out so fast, and I found out that I could put bigger frets on the guitar, raise the action, and use bigger strings.

Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan
Close-up of Stevie's Fret Wire.
Close-up of Stevie’s Fret Wire.

Unfortunately, it’s unknown which fret wire Stevie used exactly. One source of information on this is the Fender company, which uses the Dunlop 6150s on their official SRV Stratocaster. It’s safe to assume that they did the measurements, and concluded that they are indeed the 6150s.

However, Dan Erlewine, who did various measurements on Stevie’s Number One for an article published in the November 1989 issue of Guitar Player magazine, concluded that the wire measured .110″ wide by .047″ tall, which would be closer to the Dunlop 6100 set (see Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Guitar Setup by David Tannen).

One thing to point out here is that both of these measurements could be correct. To remind you, in 1988 Stevie swapped the original neck with a new one. So, the frets that Dan measured, and Fender measured, were in fact on two different necks.

Left-Hand Tremolo

Sometime around 19– Stevie replaced the original right-handed tremolo on his Number One Strat with a left-handed one. According to Cesar Diaz, Stevie’s technician, the tremolo was supplied by him.

That came from me, and it was a 50’s block that almost looks like an octagon – it has a different kind of artful milling pattern to it, and I had that assembly lying around for the longest time. I told Stevie, “If you watched Jimi, his guitar was upside down, so the whammy bar is up here and you can hit it with your elbow.

I gave it to him and I never thought he was going to put it on Number One, but the next time he comes around, he’s got it on his guitar. But he did it himself, and I think he must have used a knife or a chisel or something. That’s why there was a sticker that said “Custom” below the bridge – to cover the hack job that he did.

Cesar Diaz The Last Great Interview (SRV)


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