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May 2014
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GALLERY: Stevie Ray Vaughan Gear

GALLERY: Stevie Ray Vaughan Gear

"Number One"

Acquired by Stevie in 1974 from Ray Hennig’s Heart of Texas Music, Austin, Texas. Price: $0; value now estimated at $1,000,000.

Age: Number One was disassembled by Fender Custom Shop employees in 2003, and they stated that the neck is from December ’62 and the body is a ’63. So Number One can rightly be called a ’63 Strat. Pickups are 1959, which is why Stevie referred to it as a ’59.

Neck size: Nut width is the typical 1-5/8” and the neck profile is “D.”

Neck adjustment: .012” relief at the 7th and 9th frets, leveling out for the remainder of the fingerboard.

Fret wire: .11” wide by .047” tall. Original height likely .055”. No particular brand or size of fretwire – the tallest bead and smallest tang that would fit in the fingerboard without damaging it. They were not bass frets. In the early to mid-80’s the fret wire was Dunlop 6100.

Fingerboard: Veneer rosewood (most other rosewood fingerboard Strats of Stevie’s had slab-boards). Radius is flatter than the standard vintage 7.25” radius due to at least two refrets, creating a 9” or 10” radius in the upper register.

String height: High action for clear, ringing tone. At the 12th fret: 5/64” on the treble E, 7/64” on the bass E. Each string with three full winds on the tuning machines for best angle at the nut.

String gauge: GHS Nickel Rockers .013, .015, .019 (plain), .028, .038 and .058. Stevie would use .011 Es when his fingers were sore. Always tuned down a half-step.

Saddles: vintage replacement saddles, not matched, modified to minimize the severity of the angle of the string break over the contact point to reduce string breakage. The strings were also run through a small piece of plastic tubing from inside the tremolo block hole beyond the saddle contact point, also to reduce string breakage. The block/bridge top plate is also ground to eliminate the sharp edge where the string contacts the metal.

Nut: Fender-style, but made of bone. (Brass nut on Scotch and Red for studio work)

Tremolo: stainless steel Fender tremolo bar (cotton at the bottom of the block hole to ease removal of broken bars). Graphite and grease lubricant on all moving parts and contact points. The lefty bar is non-original to the guitar. Stevie used all five springs on the tremolo. In photos from 1983-85 one can see a much heavier gauge tremolo bar on Number One. These were made by Stevie’s roadie’s father. Some were straight (as in the photos from the In Session recording with Albert King) and some were bent (as used at the El Mocambo in 1983). Approximately ten of these custom bars were made either to reduce the number of broken tremolo arms (Stevie still broke them), or merely because the threads in the left-hand trem block were stripped and retapped, requiring the larger gauge.

Pickup height: on the treble side - very high. Laying a metal rule on the frets, the bridge pickup touched the rule, the middle pickup almost touched it, and the neck pickup was 1/16” from the rule. On the bass side, bridge 1/32”, middle 1/16”, and 1/32” neck.

Tuners: started with original but were replaced at least twice.

Misc.: The gold-plated hardware was not added until late ’85 or early ’86. Five-way pickup switch is non-original.

Pots: stock Fender 250k. In the last tone position, a push-pull pot to cut down on hum, a dummy coil to prevent buzz, and different value capacitors to preserve the original tone.

Prior to July 1990, the original neck from Number One was retired because it couldn’t take another refret job. The original ’62 neck from “Red” was put on Number One (Red’s neck was changed to a non-Fender left-handed neck in 1986). It was the “Red” neck {grin} that was broken into pieces by a falling sound baffle after a show in New Jersey. After that, Number One had a new Fender neck until after Stevie died, when the original Number One neck was reinstalled on it.

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