The "Number One" became Stevie Ray Vaughan´s workhorse trough his short but amazing career. It was Acquired at Ray Hennig’s Heart of Texas Music , Austin in 1973. It got the name "Number One" and also "First Wife"
Ray Hennig´s Heart Of Texas location.
1002 S Lamar Blvd Austin, TX 78704
It closed in 2012 and the building was demolished same year
Ray Hennig was the Godfather of Texas Blues and supplied every working musician in Texas with one form of equipment or another. He died in 2020 at age 91.
Before he took off in to stardom, Stevie was an every day fixture and spent many days´s at Hennig´s to play different guitars, One day in 1973, he found and took down an old beat up Strat that had come into the store about two weeks prior. That Stratocaster had been traded in by Chris Geppert a.k.a Christopher Cross for an Gibson.
Stevie really liked how that Strat felt in his hand because he had been searching for a bigger neck. To Hennig, that was one of his biggest "piece of junk" he had in store. But Stevie insisted that it was a keeper. So he and Hennig took it apart for inspection, assembled it and got it set up for Stevie's playing style the way he wanted.
Stevie traded in a newer Strat for the "junk strat" (which Hennig had actually loaned to him prior 😄)
But one mans junk is another mans treasure. Stevie obviously felt something special with this strat and told Hennig some time later that he never would have played the way he played if it was not for that guitar.
But the guitar he got, was more or less a composite guitar.. or.. a partcaster.
BODY: 1963 3-Tone Sunburst Body
NECK: 1962 Neck Wide D-Profile
PICKUPS: 1959 Fender pickups (appearantly)
TREMOLO: Replaced with left handed gold vintage tremolo (Saddles are mixed new and old)
TUNERS: Schaller Elite Gold
The guitar had a white pickguard on purchase, but got changed fairly quickly to a black one.
The Square-font SRV logo got added soon after.
It could be that the neck and body came out of Fender as one. But there is no real evidence that they did.
The 59 pickups is a mystery. Could be that Christopher Cross changed them. but again, no evidence to back that up either.
The original neck had been re-fretted several times with Dunlop 6100 size or similar size.
Before Stevie died, he had a different neck on it. The original was deemed unable to be re-fretted.
Around 89 or 90 Martinez fitted the neck from his "Red" that would be destroyed in July 9th 1990 at Garden State Art Center after some stage props fell over the guitar.
René Martinez (SRV´s guitar tech) ordered a new neck right away.
A new 'SRV' logo was applied to the pickguard as well..
Now with its third neck, this was the one that was on August 25th 1990 in Wisconsin. Stevie would sadly perrish in a helicopter crash right after the concert.
Martinez plan was to restore the original neck to functional state, but never got around to do so..
However, after Stevie´s passing, he mounted on the original neck anyway and handed the guitar to Stevie´s brother, Jimmy Vaughan. The guitar has been in Jimmy´s custody ever since.
The Pickups of Number One
Probably least coveted is the pickups. There are myth and stories going around. But what we know is this:
Pickups are low-output stock pickups.
The Neck pickup is the hottest of the three (This was common with ´59 pickups)
All pickups had the bobbins copper foiled. Probably done to tame the high frequencies, as they were heavy formvar wound
Stevie was in his later years in discussion with Fender to make a replica version in the late 80´s. But after his sudden passing, the plans was scrapped.
Jimmy Vaughan eventually got back in touch with FCS in 1991 to continue the project.
In 1992, the guitar was unveiled to the public at NAMM. This model is still in production today.
In 2004, John Cruz made 100 CS replicas for sale. These demand very high price today on second hand markets.
Bullock Museum's displayed the real "Number One" for the first time for the public in 2012 on the Texas Music Roadtrip exibition.
CHASING THE SRV TONE
Stevie´s tone was basically created trough his amp. He played with Low-wound pickups but with amps cranked up very high.
Stevie played aggressively and punched the strings hard.
Van Zandt Pickups was atleast installed in one of SRV's other guitars. Good source to start with pickups is with Van Zandt's
Do not be misled by Fender's pickup set called "Texas Special". These are equipped on the SRV Signature guitar. But it is fairly known that Stevie´s pickups are regular underwound 50´s style. The Texas Specials are slightly hotter pickups and they are designed to give you the SRV sound but on lower Amp volumes which is opposite of the real thing. But for the real deal SRV sound you should go for 50´s low wound or CS69´s. But low wound = Bright pickups, which to Stevie was a negative thing.. So...
Stevie did several things to tame the highs from his pickups:
He used long but cheap chords like Hendrix because they had slight capitance. His amp tech, Cesár Diaz gave Stevie an expensive high quality chord once. Stevie gave them back and said "They let too much electricity trough"
He copper foiled the bobbins on his pickups. This gave some capitance to tame the highs as well.
His neck was fairly thick. This contributed to tone down the highs as well
He used .012 gauge strings (sometimes .013). These are very heavy strings. Higher gauge strings are less bright in tone.
His amps had solid state rectifiers. Which fueled the power of the amps