Stevie Ray Vaughan’s GHS 1300 Guitar Strings
Based on Stevie’s statements in interviews, in the early years, it sounds like he wasn’t really set on a particular set of strings, but used different gauges based on the condition of his fingers.
The gauges vary because it’s based on the shape my fingers are in. I go from an .011 to an .013 on the high E, which is the only one I lighten up on. As a rule, the others are .015, .019, .028, .038, .054 to .056 or even .058. The good thing about such heavy strings is that you can hit ’em hard and they don’t move—when you pop ’em, they stay there.Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan
Most likely, he used the GHS 1300 set, which measures .011, .015, .019, .028, .038, and .058, and occasionally swapped the high E string with a .013.
Because he was using such a heavy set, Stevie tuned his guitar one half step, to E flat, which among other things, reduced the amount of tension on the neck. Also, he’d often had to re-fret his main guitar, and he eventually moved away from the original thin fret wire, to wider and taller ones (likely the Dunlop 6105 or 6100).
Later Years, Lighter Strings?
There are some rumors that Stevie stopped using heavy strings in the latter part of his career. The main reason behind this change, allegedly, was that Stevie was now clean from drugs.
After he stopped doing drugs, I said to him, “You’re playing on .011s now. What happened to the big strings?” And he said, “I stopped doing cocaine, so I can’t do that anymore—I can actually feel my fingers now!”Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan
But, based on the measurements that Dan Erlewine did for an article published in the November 1989 issue of Guitar Player magazine, Stevie at that point still used the same old heavy set, with the .011 as the high E (see Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Guitar Setup by David Tannen).
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