Stevie Ray Vaughan’s 1963 Epiphone Riviera
Stevie acquired this guitar in 1971, trading it for a 1951 Fender Broadcaster, known as “Jimbo”. He traded the guitar with Geoff Appold, who was a music teacher based in North Texas.
I left the “Jimbo” guitar for Stevie, and he took it to school and routed it out and put two P-90 pickups in it, or attempted to, which might explain why it had two volume knobs. He didn’t want me to see what he’d done, so he traded it for the Epiphone Riviera.Jimmie Vaughan, Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan
One interesting detail about Stevie’s Epiphone Riviera is the fact that it had a Gibson Varitone switch. This is something that was not fitted on Riviera models from the factory, so Stevie obviously did the mod himself.
If you’re unfamiliar with what a Varitone switch is – it’s basically a notch filter with 6 different settings (see Vary Your Tone With The Varitone Switch!). Based on the photos, it seems like Stevie mostly used the first setting, which is in fact bypass (basically, the switch doesn’t do anything).
Stevie was first photographed playing this guitar when he was playing in the band called Pecos, circa 1971. From that point on, he continued using the Riviera as his main, until he started acquiring more guitars. The Riviera however remained with Stevie through all that time, and he picked it up again to play Hideaway in 1984 – which is where a majority of the known photos of this guitar originate from.
From the footage recorded in 1984, it is apparent that Stevie modified the guitar with a second pickguard, and potentially restored it to some degree. According to sources quoted in the book Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan, the guitar had a faded finish because it apparently sat in a store window for a prolonged time, before it got to Stevie, of course. Furthermore, during the time that Stevie used it, he had to glue the neck at least once, due to the high tension caused by the heavy string that he was using at that time.
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