10 ways to be like Stevie Ray Vaughan

I’m up early today… Gotta go over to my dad’s house to help him with
this new barbecue grill he’s getting. You see, with his new artificial
knee only 8 weeks old, he can’t lift anything heavy. So I’m helping out.

But before I go, I thought I’d write you a quick email this morning. Some guitar-related thoughts from the Claudester.

The whole BBQ thing reminds me of Texas, and that reminds of Texas blues and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

You can see where my mind always goes.

I honestly cannot remember meeting anyone who did NOT like Stevie Ray Vaughan.

He’s definitely one of the most popular guitar players of all time. And in my
opinion, one of the best and the most inspirational too.

10 ways to be like Stevie Ray Vaughan.

1. Develop a killer vibrato

Stevie’s one of those dudes who can make a single note sound like a million bucks.


It’s all in the phrasing and vibrato. Vibrato is the technique used to shake a note and make it come to life.

Practice your vibrato and focus on it.

I do have some useful tips on this specifically,
in Killer Guitar Control Secrets (guitarcontrol.com/main.php)

2. Try the Strat

The Fender Stratocaster guitar is the weapon of choice of not only SRV, but also guys like Hendrix, Clapton, Buddy Guy, David Gilmour, and other legends.

Here’s the tricky thing though: Getting a killer tone out of a Strat is NOT Easy. The single coil pickups do not wail as easily as humbuckers, so you need a really good tube amp.

Try the Strat, but be aware its a challenge. Don’t feel you HAVE to play a Strat to get a good tone. There’s plenty of blues guitar gods like Gary Moore and Robben Ford who use humbucking guitars.

3. Go Heavy

Stevie used heavier strings than normal and this can beef up your tone. It can also help strengthen your hands.

Again, caution if you try this. Heavier strings don’t always sound better. Some guitar greats use very light strings. Also, if the strings are too heavy, it can hurt your ability to bend and shake the notes.

Still, if you play a Strat, this is a good idea to try.

4. Become a monster rhythm guitarist

Everyone knows Stevie plays amazing solos, but do not overlook his killer rhythm chops. He could easily blend smokin’ blues licks with shuffle patterns and so on.

If you want to learn a ton of riffing ideas,
check out How to Play Smokin’ Blues (www.howtoplayblues.com/main.php)

You’ll learn tons of ideas that you can use immediately to expand your rhythm bag of tricks. You’ll also learn some Stevie Ray licks that will help your chops directly.

5. Learn to sing

A proper blues man doesn’t just wait for the solo and let loose… He leads the band from the first note, and really tells a story with the guitar and also with words all the way through the whole song.

Learning to sing is really rewarding, will make you a better musician, make you way more valuable to a band, and you’ll have more fun on stage.

There is nothing like singing a blues and then answering your own vocal call with some blues lick responses on the guitar.

That’s where blues magic happens.

If you want to kickstart your vocal chops, check out

6. Never Overplay

Although Stevie had some pretty serious guitar chops, he never overplayed. Everything was super tasteful. He didn’t play too much or too fast.

Everything sounded amazing because it was just the right notes. When you really have control over the instrument, you don’t need to prove anything
by “Playing Fast”.

He just played what he heard in his head. I teach the same exact approach in “Killer Guitar Control Secrets”.

7. Be Confident

If you watch Stevie play, you will notice an abundance of confidence. I mean, the guy just knew he belonged on the stage playing blues guitar.

Without this confidence, its really hard to command the instrument with authority. If you are scared, this will come through in your playing. If you are confident, the music is allowed to come out naturally.

You don’t have to be super talented like Stevie though, to have confidence.

Just keep playing and practicing and believe in yourself, and never worry about looking bad or making mistakes. Even if you do make some mistakes, it doesn’t matter because the rest of the time, you should be sounding good. And you will sound good if you play the blues like you mean it.

I also try to instill that sense of confidence in anyone who watches Killer Guitar Control Secrets. (guitarcontrol.com/main.php)

Everyone has an inner guitar god (or goddess) just waiting to play some inspired licks.

8. Go Easy on the Gain

Going back to guitar tone for a sec, Stevie was never a heavy distortion dude. That’s a common thing for blues players. He used some crunch, but it was never too much.

Since he was playing all the right notes, he didn’t need to hide behind any distortion. Also, his amps were really cranked up and that gave
him a lot of sustain.

Again with the Strat, it might be hard to get those sustaining bends without the gain on lower volume settings, but you should try to find a good balance.

Anyway, playing with a clean tone is always a good idea. If you’re used to always playing with lots of distortion for your solos, you’ll be surprised how good it can sound to turn the gain DOWN, and go for a more pure tone.

9. Become a pentatonic scale master.

Although Stevie played lots of notes, most of his licks and solos are based on the pentatonic scale.

So you should definitely master this scale ALL OVER THE NECK in the important keys like E and A.

You can sit there all day and work on it like Stevie did, but I think a faster way is to use the Guitar Scale System software to nail down these critical scales.

Do you know the E minor pentatonic scale everywhere on the neck, backwards and forward, upside and in your sleep?

If not, now’s the time to master it: www.GuitarScaleSystem.com/main.php

10. Be a nice person

Music is about life and energy. Although I never met Stevie, I read that he didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He was nice to everyone.

Who you are on the stage of life, is who you are on stage. It comes across in the music. Stevie’s music is deep and beautiful because he was coming
from a deep and beautiful place.

So, don’t be a jerk, LOL…

Be a positive source of energy in this world and you’ll be rewarded with positive inspiration when you’re on stage.

That’s all I got.

Although, I’m sure I could write a lot more about Stevie… That’s it for now.

Thanks for tuning in…

Make sure to keep checking your email box because I’m really excited about showing you my new website next week. Also I will have more news for you soon about “Real Easy Jazz”.

Keep rockin,

Claude Johnson

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