Stevie Ray Vaughan Amp Settings – Get the Signature SRV Tone!

Author: Dedrich Schafer | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

Stevie Ray Vaughan is undoubtedly one of the greatest blues guitarists to ever pick up the instrument. His style and sound were quite different from other guitar greats of the era.

But why was his sound so different? Let us have a look at the gear he used and how it was set up.

SRV’s Guitars

Of course, there is only one guitar for a blues legend like Stevie Ray Vaughan: a Fender Stratocaster.

There is actually a signature SRV Fender Stratocaster that he helped design. This is the ultimate guitar for anyone wanting to play and sound like SRV.

But really any old Fender Strat will do just as fine as one designed by SRV himself. The American Professional II is one of the best Strats ever made and just one of the best guitars around today.

Even the more budget-friendly Player series is great, like this one with a Pau Ferro fretboard similar to the SRV signature.

SRV’s Amps

While SRV’s choice of amps isn’t too surprising, using a Marshall and Fender just like so many other guitarists, what is unusual is how he used them.

While most guitarists will use a Marshall amp for distortion and a Fender for clean, SRV did the opposite. He instead used the Marshall for his clean sound and used the Fender with pedals for distortion.

This setup does make more sense when you consider he was using a Marshall 4140 Club and Country. This was Marshall’s version of a Fender Twin Reverb.

The Fender he used was a Vibroverb. Unfortunately, both the 4140 and the Vibroverb are no longer in production. Fortunately, there are great modern alternatives.

The best alternative for Fender would be the ’65 Deluxe Reverb. It is a fairly close match to the Vibroverb. The Blues Junior IV is also a great choice if you are looking for something a bit more affordable.

The Deluxe Reverb is actually a great alternative to both the Vibroverb and the 4140. This also means that you don’t need to go out and get a second amp to sound like SRV.

SRV’s Pedals

SRV’s pedalboard was fairly straightforward. While he did have a decent variety of pedals, most were used sparingly. The most important part of his pedalboard was his overdrive pedal.

He was a big fan of the Ibanez Tube Screamer. He used a TS808, then later a TS9, before settling on a TS10. The TS10 is no longer in production, but both the TS808 and TS9 are and sound just as great. Even the Tube Screamer Mini is a great choice and sounds similar to the TS808.

The second most important pedal would probably be the Vox Wah that he used for solos in improv sections. And even though the Deluxe Reverb has a great built-in reverb effect, it is always nice to have a reverb pedal, like the MXR Reverb, so that you can turn the reverb off and on easily.

These are the three main pedals for getting the right SRV sound. But if you want to round your pedalboard out more, he also used a Chorus, Fuzz, and Octavia.

There are plenty of great pedals for each of these effects. But a few standout options would include the Boss CH-1 and TC Electronic Corona chorus pedals. The Dunlop Fuzzface and the Electro-Harmonix Micro POG octave pedal.

SRV’s Amp Settings

SRV’s tone is fairly bright, but with a decent amount of low-end added. This rounds out the sound quite a bit, but also gives it a nice bit of chunkiness, especially when playing with distortion.

The clean tone is a bit brighter, while distorted has some extra bass. His clean tone also wasn’t completely clean and still had a little bit of gain to it.

Depending on your amp, you will have to adjust your settings until you get to the right sound. But a good starting point is to turn everything to half, with the mids and treble slightly higher, and very little reverb.

To start:

  • Bass – 5
  • Mids – 6
  • Treble – 7
  • Gain – 5
  • Volume – 5
  • Reverb – 2

Then adjust for both the clean and distorted sound. Your settings should eventually look something like this:

Clean:

  • Bass – 5/6
  • Mids – 6-8
  • Treble – 9
  • Gain – 3
  • Volume – 5

Distortion:

  • Bass – 7
  • Mids – 6
  • Treble – 8
  • Gain – 5-7
  • Volume – 5

These settings should get you pretty close to SRV’s sound. One important thing is that SRV used his Tube Screamer as a boost pedal. The drive is set to about half, with the tone cut and volume set fairly high.

Tube Screamer settings:

  • Overdrive – 4/5
  • Tone – 2/3
  • Volume – 8/9

For a few more ideas for settings, here are the settings for a few of SRV’s most famous songs.

Pride and Joy:

  • Bass – 4
  • Mids – 5
  • Treble – 7
  • Gain – 5
  • Reverb – 2

Little Wing:

Clean

  • Bass – 5
  • Mids – 6
  • Treble – 7
  • Gain – 1
  • Reverb – 2

Overdrive

  • Bass – 5
  • Mids – 7
  • Treble – 8
  • Gain – 3
  • Reverb – 2

Texas Flood:

  • Bass – 5
  • Mids – 7
  • Treble – 7
  • Gain – 4
  • Reverb – 2

Guitar Settings

Something that also helps to flesh out SRV’s tone is to use the right combination of pickups.

On a Fender Strat, the best position would be position 4 on the pickup selector. In other words, having both the middle and neck pickups active at the same time. This gives the guitar a fat tone while brightening it up a little bit.

If you are playing a guitar with only two single-coil pickups, or an HSS configuration, just set the selector to only use the neck pickup. If your guitar has humbuckers, set the selector to the middle position so that both the bridge and neck pickups are active.

As for the volume and tone controls, they can just be set to max, adjusting the volume as necessary. Otherwise, you can use a volume pedal and leave the guitar’s volume at max.

Conclusion

SRV’s sound was quite a bit heavier and more aggressive than many other blues legends. Utilizing a Tube Screamer, and a Marshall amp for cleans, his approach was also quite unique. But just like the other greats, he didn’t achieve his status by sounding and playing like everyone else.

About Dedrich Schafer

Dedrich is a guitar player, songwriter and sound engineer with extensive music production and studio experience. He mostly listens to classic rock and punk bands, but sometimes also likes listening to rap and acoustic songs.

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